“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The Curious Case Of Rupert And Gilad.

with 4 comments

I have been waiting for Dr Rupert Read to comment on his blog without success, and I am not sure quite what to make of Dr Read’s recent conduct. I could, of course, be very critical, it is hard to see how anyone could read the racism embedded in Gilad Atzmon’s work and not be alarmed.

But Dr Read did apologise, he said sorry, which should be an end to it, and it would be, if he hadn’t compounded the problem by making some quite curious and absurd claims afterwards :

Dr. Read: “I think that the influence of ‘the Israel lobby’ in this country as in many others is nefarious.” [My emphasis.]

Nefarious, readers will remember is defined in Webster’s 1913 edition as:

”Wicked in the extreme; abominable; iniquitous; atrociously, villainous; execrable; detestably vile. ”

Further, Dr. Read went on to praise the recent Dispatches programme which has received questionable reviews, still more disappointing is Dr. Read’s inability to explain himself in a lucid and considered fashion.

Normally, we should try to be charitable to those caught up in these mistakes and if they make amends quickly then that should be it. However, from his comments Dr Read doesn’t appear to have learnt anything in the process, anything meaningful. He might well have learnt to be more careful or hide his opinion’s concerning “Israelis”, he might have learnt how to give out a quick apology. Yet it all comes over as rather unsatisfactory.

Unsatisfactory coming from a professional academic, who is one step away from a professorship, someone who in normal circumstances would be considered a critical thinker, an intellectual, someone who could balance in his head numerous arguments and counter arguments in a trice, except that is not what comes over in his statements on this topic.

This is the difficulty, imagine you know someone highly intelligent, articulate and otherwise well balanced yet they hold a strong negative opinion against a particular group of people, and are incapable of articulating why they hold such an opinion in a rational fashion.

In such circumstances the natural conclusion to draw, is not that their views are based on reason, but some bias or prejudice. Let me make it clear I am not accusing Dr. Read of being an antisemite or anywhere close, but his inability to look at these issues rationally and objectively is somewhat mystifying and rather inadequate.

I know the simple answer would be to assume prejudice on Dr. Read’s part, but I am not entirely convinced as I have run across many politicos and a few academics, who were loath to ever admit they were wrong, could not rethink their positions and often showed a striking lack of self-awareness, the recent British MPs’ expenses scandals showed that.

The same could be true for Dr Read’s attitude, that it is more of a character flaw than an active prejudice? I am not really sure. Either way it is rather peculiar that a professional philosopher cannot defend his own views, strongly held views, by clear-cut and comprehensive argumentation.

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2009 at 12:09

4 Responses

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  1. I found that all a bit strange too – he seemed civil and well meaning certainly but I was surprised, given the nature of his academic background, that he didn’t pick up on some of the resonances of the material he cited. I was comparing this with my experience of teaching 7JC where the students were prepared to engage with why people found that play problematic. Only one person in the group had ever heard of the blood libel, for example, but they were willing to think about why that aspect of antisemitic discourse might affect people’s reactions to the play. One spoke very well about how the phrase ‘tell her’ is followed by a mixture of true and false statements which makes the status of a line such as ‘tell her we killed the babies by mistake’ genuinely uncertain.


    25/11/2009 at 22:04

  2. […] The Curious Case Of Rupert And Gilad. […]

  3. The really scary thing about all this though is that Rupert Read is in fact a reader in philosophy at UEA. A reader in philosophy who it seems cannot examine issues in a rational and objective way… says it all really.

    Oh No Not Rupert Read

    10/09/2010 at 14:55

  4. Can’t help but agree with you Oh No. It’s not just on this subject that Dr Read is incoherent but most others I’d say, having read his blog in the past, with my mouth open and a strange grin. Sometimes you just have to laugh seeing that he can barely string together a few sentences that actually follow on logically one from another. But there you go. Maybe it’s just that modern philosophy is nonsensical and makes a person like that, or maybe it speaks volumes about the terrible state of our education system. As for what it says about the Green Party …….

    dumbing down

    11/09/2010 at 17:03

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