(originally posted at oldschooltwentysix)
Recall the humanitarian racists, largely brought to attention by Manfred Gerstenfeld.
Humanitarian racists believe that non-white, oppressed people cannot be held to laws of humanity and requirements of the public conscience recognized in international law long ago. These "victims" are simply not advanced enough. As such, there must be a scapegoat to account for their actions because they cannot even be racist. Contemporary problems caused by the colonialism and imperialism of the Western developed world excuse the victims from any responsibility for their acts and allow humanitarian racists to look away as often as possible, even to the commission of major crimes.
Richard Cravatts is the creator and founding director of Boston University's Program in Publishing at BU's Center for Professional Education and current president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, an organization with over 40,000 academic members on more than 3200 campuses worldwide.
Cravatts references another breed, a cousin of the humanitarian racist, the moral narcissist. His recent essay, "Moral narcissism and the MLA’s obsession with Israel," is definitely worth reading.
Moral narcissism is based, not according to actual viability or justice of a cause, but on how moral narcissists feel about themselves by committing to a particular cause or movement. They live in self-approval bubbles where mutually agreed moral gestures and self congratulation constitutes a perfect and sufficient engagement with an imperfect world.
Cravatts refers to Jay Gaskill, a California lawyer who served as the Seventh Alameda County Public Defender from 1989 to 1999 who chose to devote more time to his writing projects.
Gaskill says that moral narcissists adopt a camouflage strategy to escape the moral disapproval of others by cloaking their narcissism in the trappings of ‘social justice positioning’.
These are members of “club narcissist” who live in an unspoken social compact, the first tenet of which is “We are not narcissists because we care”. The second tenet consists of a commitment to sign onto a shifting list of approved ‘humanitarian’ positions and stances with the unspoken understanding that these will require little more than gestures - bargain basement humanitarianism, of you will.
Thus the moral narcissists create an artificial a moral universe where ‘standing for’ is the equivalent of ‘doing for’.
Looking at moral narcissists in the context of anti-Israel activity, Cravatts says:Moral narcissists are easily controlled and manipulated by political elites, ideologues, and corrupt political predators. Moral narcissists are immune from the teaching effects of authentic dialogue. Moral narcissism is the disease of the modern mind.
The lure of Palestinianism has proven to be positivity irresistible to left-leaning humanists and literary scholars who burrow into Western thought to uncover the dark underpinnings of imperialism, militarism, colonialism, oppression, racism, and, as a result of one of the MLA’s notorious past presidents, Edward Said, the theory of “Orientalism,” a mode of thought which claimed to reveal the inherent racism and imperialism imbedded in Western scholarship and politics. The fascination with Third-world victimism, identity politics, and multiculturalism, coupled with harsh critiques of both the U.S. and its proxy in the Middle East, Israel, have all led academics like those in the ASA and the MLA—whose fields are, in a normal world, unrelated to these issues—to involve themselves aggressively in answering calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions solely against the Jewish state.Activists like those in the MLA and ASA, and too many others of the academic left, believe their worldview is the correct one simply because it seeks to create a world in which social justice will be realized against the forces of the imperialistic, racist, militaristic oppressors.
Cravatts provides examples to show MLA lack concern for the welfare of oppressed, such as students and women, revealing a double standard. He concludes:
Of course, the MLA’s Radical Caucus is silent on all of these obstacles to education and the free exchange of ideas, both in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and the wider world of Israel’s neighbors. It is easy to demonize Israel, and certainly it requires no bravery in academia, where moral narcissists console each other in an echo chamber of good intentions, willing to sacrifice academic integrity, true scholarship, and vigorous, honest debate in the process.What is also tragic is that these "intellects" cannot see that their blatant singling out of the sole Jewish state is an exercise in antisemitism, irrespective of how they try to justify the discrimination they practice, reckless and oblivious to the effect. As they are quick to tell the rest of us, only they care about humankind.
UPDATE: The MLA just concluded its 2014 Convention, with mixed results regarding the anti-Israel efforts. A watered down non-binding resolution was adopted, arguably to save face. An attempt to pass an “Emergency” Resolution to denounce supposed attacks on supporters of the American Studies Association boycott resolution was soundly rejected. See here and here, as reported at the blog Legal Insurrection by Professor Jacobson and others.
One might argue that civil and political communities are showing signs of awakening, as it becomes clear how extreme and activist the humanitarian racists and moral narcissists have become, caring not at all about the stated missions of their associations, but their political agendas and contorted views of social justice.