Jason Stanley’s Response to Rightly Considered

Last night, Prof. Jason Stanley cordially e-mailed Rightly Considered to request that we post a comment of his to our most recent post regarding the Swinburne/SCP controversy (he’d attempted to do it himself, but we’ve been having technical difficulties with our site). Prof. Stanley’s comments and clarifications are most welcome, so, in fairness and deference to him, we’ve decided to make an independent post out of them so that as many people as possible can see them and make up their own minds. His comments and our response to them are produced below:

“My original comment, “F*ck those assholes” was not about Swinburne at all (as you know). The comment was about specific people who had done specific things to a gay friend in philosophy, and I was saying I stand with that person against those specific bad actors. When I saw that you had posted a screenshot of it out of context, I became very angry and posted a poorly formulated post. It was poorly formulated, and for that I apologize. Someone emailed me and brought to my attention that it was poorly formulated, so I apologized to that person and rewrote the post to correct the poor formulation. This was all *well* before the first article came out. It’s not possible to use the new formulation or the original comment to support the thesis that my claim was about Swinburne. I found it interesting that the media outlets all used my original post, meaning that they ignored what was written, and looked for the original version. Almost all of them use the original post (I mean, if I stood by the original post, why did I change it?). Poorly formulated as even the original post was, both its conclusion and the conclusion of the official post that replaced it was about the ethics of posting out of context screen shots in private conversations.

The second point I was making is subtle, and it can and should be made without any baseless and unfair claims about people’s characters (hence I changed my original formulation). The subtle point is that if there is a possible justification for discrimination against persons that a claim could provide, one needs to be sensitive to that. Views that have some non-negligible likelihood of employment as the basis of bad actions can still be true. But one should definitely do something to avoid them being used for those bad actions.

I wasn’t at Swinburne’s paper (and my original comment, as of course you know, wasn’t about Swinburne). Perhaps he did talk about the evils of acts of discrimination against gays. Perhaps he didn’t. My original post wasn’t about Swinburne, and my angry public post wasn’t either (though the first version was poorly formulated, which is why I quickly changed it). It was a defense of the view that one has to be sensitive to the potential bad actions of one’s claims. For example, for a very long time, pogroms against Jewish people were motivated by the presumption that Jews loathe Christians. So when one says, of a Jewish person, that they loathe Christians, one is tapping into that very long justification of violence. It is one of the historically classic justifications for violence against Jews.

Perhaps it is random that of the many people commenting on my public post with invective, the one person who was singled out was Rebecca Kukla, a Jewish person, who made an obviously humorous though someone obscene comment. Kukla and I have been now singled out, not by you, but by the venues who have discussed this. One should be careful when one singles out two leftist Jews and claims that they are using a defense of homosexuals to further their supposedly real agenda of attacking Christianity. This is, after all, one of the classic 20th century forms of anti-Semitism.

Let me now turn to the substance of the charge, that I loathe Christians. What is the evidence for this claim? If you look at my written work, you will find that I have had no problem expressing even very controversial convictions. If I *loathed* Christians, given the range and number of controversial pieces of work I have published, shouldn’t there be some evidence of that? What and where is that evidence? If I really *loathed* Christians like I *loathe* mass incarceration for example, where is that in my published work? My published work suggests that I do not shy away from controversial claims that I hold with strong conviction. So my loathing of Christians must be some overlooked exception to my proclivity to defend my controversial beliefs in public. This is not consistent with my self-image.

I hate bigotry against Christians, of any denomination, with every fiber of my being. Now, perhaps I am self-deluded. But I would like to some evidence that I am self-deluded, and I really have this loathing that you say I have. In every single case in the past, when I have felt such loathing or anger, I have published about it. So before we accept that me, a Jewish person, is using homosexuality as a vehicle to express loathing of Christians, I would like some evidence other than out of context social media posts.

Your own post reveals that my original comment wasn’t about Swinburne at all. That is why you brought in my public post. But I changed my public post, precisely because of the few words that suggested an attitude towards Swinburne (people write carelessly sometimes on social media, which is why they often delete or rewrite). Surely it’s quite flimsy evidence you have provided for the thesis that I *loathe* Christians. And that’s sad because I fully agree with you about the seriousness of the charge. Bigotry against religious belief is deplorable. I don’t disagree that many academics have such bigotry, and it should be challenged. But if we are going to do this seriously, it is essential to rely on their published academic work. At a minimum, out of context private Facebook comments, even placed together with abandoned Facebook posts that were replaced by better formulations, are not sufficient evidence for such a weighty, serious charge, which, when made against a Jewish person in particular, have historically proven to be very dangerous.”

We’re grateful for these comments and Prof. Stanley’s willingness to address our concerns. Still, there are important questions that remain unanswered. I’ll address Prof. Stanley’s comments below:

Prof. Stanley points out that his original public post was written as an angry response to our posting a screenshot of a comment of his. As a result, he admits that it was “poorly formulated” and has apologised for it. He later edited this post to clarify his true sentiments on the matter. Both versions are as follows, with the edited version after the original:

“I am really mortified about this. My comment “F*ck those assholes”, posted on a friend’s private FB page about homophobes, was *photographed*. Even *worse*, it made it into *the right-wing hateosphere*, where it is being linked and relinked. I really wish now I hadn’t said that!! I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia, you know that sickness that has led people for thousands of years to kill my fellow human beings for their sexual preferences. Like you know, pink triangles and the Holocaust. I am really, truly, embarrassed by the fact that my mild comment “F*ck those assholes” is being spread. This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards homophobic religious proponents of evil like Richard Swinburne, who use their status as professional philosophers to oppress others with less power. I am SO SORRY for using such mild language. I am posting this on “public” so that there will be no need for anyone to violate any religious code of ethics and take pictures of private FB pages to share my views about such matters.”

The edited version:

“I am really mortified about this. My comment “Fuck those assholes”, posted on a friend’s private FB page about homophobes, was *photographed*. Even *worse*, it made it into *the right-wing hateosphere*, where it is being linked and relinked. I really wish now I hadn’t said that!! I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia, you know that sickness that has led people for thousands of years to kill my fellow human beings for their sexual preferences. Like you know, pink triangles and the Holocaust. I am really, truly, embarrassed by the fact that my mild comment “Fuck those assholes” is being spread. This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards proponents of homophobic and therefore evil positions such as Richard Swinburne, who thereby use their status as professional philosophers oppressively. I am SO SORRY for using such mild language. I am posting this on “public” so that there will be no need for anyone to violate any religious code of ethics and take pictures of private FB pages to share my views about such matters.”

Did you notice the difference? As far as we can tell, here’s where the changes took place:

“This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards homophobic religious proponents of evil like Richard Swinburne, who use their status as professional philosophers to oppress others with less power.”

“This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards proponents of homophobic and therefore evil positions such as Richard Swinburne, who thereby use their status as professional philosophers oppressively.”

That’s it. Prof. Stanley writes that “It’s not possible to use the new formulation or the original comment to support the thesis that my claim was about Swinburne.” Which claim? There is a claim in both formulations that mentions Swinburne. Both statements assert that “Fuck those assholes” wildly understates his sentiments towards people like Richard Swinburne. The edited version doesn’t change this. Additionally, in our latest post (the one to which Stanley tried to post his comments), we did use the edited version of Stanley’s comments. In that post, we wrote:

“For example, Yale’s Jason Stanley wrote ‘Fuck those assholes’. In a later post, he publicly clarified to whom he was referring: “[‘Fuck those assholes’] wildly understates my actual sentiments towards proponents of homophobic and therefore evil positions such as Richard Swinburne” (emphasis added).”

Notice that this isn’t the unedited, original version.

This brings me to Prof. Stanley’s rationalisation of his original “Fuck those assholes” comment. According to his defense, this comment was “not about Swinburne at all” and that it “was about specific people who had done specific things to a gay friend in philosophy, and I was saying I stand with that person against those specific bad actors.” I must admit that this is hard to believe in the light of his later, public clarification of to whom he was referring in that comment. He wrote, “I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia” and “[‘Fuck those assholes’] wildly understates my actual sentiments towards proponents of homophobic and therefore evil positions such as Richard Swinburne…” So it’s fairly clear to us from these comments that the people to whom he was referring were proponents of Richard Swinburne’s views (i.e. traditional moral views about sexuality) and Richard Swinburne himself. In fact, according to his edited clarification, “Fuck those assholes” wildly understates his actual sentiments towards proponents of these views. Hence, even if his original  “Fuck those assholes” comment wasn’t directed towards Christians with traditional moral views, he went out of his way to publicly make clear that he doesn’t think much of them, to put it mildly.

According to Prof. Stanley, the substance of our charge against him was that he “loathes Christians.” This perhaps implies that we were claiming that he loathes all Christians because they are Christians. This is not so. In our post, we wrote, “The ‘homophobic’ and ‘evil’ positions to which he was referring are traditional moral beliefs about sexuality. Apparently Stanley loathes the hundreds of millions of Christians (and presumably Muslims) who have these beliefs.” We have no doubt that Stanley likes many Christians, for there are many Christians who oppose the allegedly “homophobic” and “evil” views to which he strenuously objects. Our claim was that the above comments, which were directed at proponents of those views, indicate that he apparently loathes traditionalist Christians, i.e. proponents of those views. So when Prof. Stanley asks us what the evidence is that he loathes traditionalist Christians, it’s that he wrote that “Fuck those assholes” wildly understates his actual sentiments towards proponents of traditional Christian (moral) views. That seems to me fairly solid evidence. If he in fact doesn’t, then that’s well and good. Perhaps he should make clear that he doesn’t loathe traditional Christians and apologise to them for making public comments that can reasonably be interpreted in that way.

Just a couple more substantive points: First, Prof. Stanley writes that “[p]erhaps it is random that of the many people commenting on my public post with invective, the one person who was singled out was Rebecca Kukla, a Jewish person, who made an obviously humorous though someone (sic) obscene comment.” The comment wasn’t humorous and was hateful. That’s why we posted her comments (she, of course, wasn’t “singled out” by Rightly Considered). It had nothing whatever to do with her ethnicity or religious affiliation, at least on our part. And, indeed, there are Jews among us at Rightly Considered, as well as non-Christian philosophers. So if anti-Semitism as a motivation is what was implied, we reject this utterly (although we can’t speak for other people at other outlets). Second, we agree with him that “if there is a possible justification for discrimination against persons that a claim could provide, one needs to be sensitive to that.” But we also believe that Richard Swinburne was sensitive to this consideration in his original paper, which Prof. Stanley, by his own admission, hasn’t read. From Swinburne’s paper: “I should add…that if I am right in claiming that most of the moral obligations which I have been considering are obligations only because God has commanded them, there is no point in rebuking non-Christians for not conforming to these obligations; the only way to get them to conform is to get them to become Christians, and then they may begin to appreciate arguments for conforming to them.” That doesn’t sound like someone who’s using his power and position to oppress. 

We’d like to invite Prof. Stanley to extend his apology personally to Richard Swinburne and to traditionalist Christians who might’ve been offended by his public comments in order that we may once and for all bury the hatchet and forgive.

Conservatrarian

Conservatrarian has a degree in philosophy from the UK. He has published papers mostly on topics in applied ethics. Conservatrarian carries a Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine on his hip at all times, so mess with him at your own peril.

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25 Comments

  1. There appears to be a large, smoldering crater where Stanley’s argument, such as it was, once stood.

    As a Christian who holds that the Triune One true and living God created mankind in His image as male and female, and that God’s authoritative Word (the Old and New Testament) forbids all forms of sexual activity outside the “leaving and cleaving” one man, one woman marriage covenant, which is an earthly expression of the spiritual relationship betweeen Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) and His bride, the church, I await the good professor’s apology.

    I’m also at a complete loss as to why it is that liberals accuse those who hold to views in opposition to theirs on the issue of the immorality of homosexual activity (and indeed the immorality of all sexual behavior outside that which is sanctioned by God vis-a-vis one man, one woman marriage) of being “homophobic”. I know many, many fundamentalist Christians and can’t think of one example of “homophobia”. Not even one. Just like I can’t think of any examples of adultero-phobia, or fornica-phobia, or incesto-phobia, or beastia-phobia, etc.

    Actual Christians understand that non-Christians are enslaved to their sins and rebellion against their Creator and therefore can’t do anything but sin and rebel against Him. They’re utterly powerless to do otherwise. That’s the witness of Scripture.

    That’s why actual Christians call on all people everywhere to cry out to Jesus Christ as their one and only hope. We’re not surprised when the world acts like the world.

    In fact we used to be the same before Christ saved us, and set us free from the rule of sin and Satan over our lives, and translated us from death to life spiritually.

    Actual Biblical Christianity isn’t “homophobic” in either its doctrine or practice. That’s just a hollow, silly, liberal-speak trope.

    By the way, Stanley obviously needs Christ.

    • “Actual Christians understand that non-Christians are enslaved to their sins and rebellion against their Creator and therefore can’t do anything but sin and rebel against Him. They’re utterly powerless to do otherwise.”

      followed by:

      “That’s why actual Christians call on all people everywhere to cry out to Jesus Christ as their one and only hope.”

      Perhaps you have some esoteric interpretation of “utterly powerless,” but the exoteric meaning of it is a denial of free will. So calling on people to do something different than what they do would be a futile activity.

      “Actual Biblical Christianity isn’t “homophobic” in either its doctrine or practice. That’s just a hollow, silly, liberal-speak trope.”

      The exoteric meaning of the notorious passage in Leviticus 20 is that people engaging in same-sex activity shall be put to death, which is manifestly homophobic. Maybe in a possible esoteric interpretation of your words “actual biblical Christianity” excludes the OT.

      “By the way, Stanley obviously needs Christ.”

      A pointless statement if he’s utterly powerless to avoid rebelling against Christ – again, assuming a plain exoteric reading of your words.

      I would suggest sounding more reasonable exoterically.

    • “Perhaps you have some esoteric interpretation of “utterly powerless,” but the exoteric meaning of it is a denial of free will. So calling on people to do something different than what they do would be a futile activity.”

      The power lies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate spiritually dead humans. You could read Roman’s chapter 9 for further information.

      “The exoteric meaning of the notorious passage in Leviticus 20 is that people engaging in same-sex activity shall be put to death, which is manifestly homophobic. Maybe in a possible esoteric interpretation of your words “actual biblical Christianity” excludes the OT.”

      Sorry, try again. OT Israel was required to adhere to cultic holiness of various kinds to separate them from the many godless nations that surrounded them, which they were to destroy. God can’t be “homophobic” (that’s absurd), hence it follows that OT Israel obeying His specific cultic holiness requirements as His peculiar covenant people on earth at that point in redemptive history is not homophobic, just as stoning heterosexual adulterers was not “heterophobic”. Trope dismissed.

      “A pointless statement if he’s utterly powerless to avoid rebelling against Christ – again, assuming a plain exoteric reading of your words.

      I would suggest sounding more reasonable exoterically.

      I would suggest trying to learn something about a subject before foolishly opining and demonstrating your near complete ignorance. It just doesn’t do.

  2. Stanley’s lack of self-awareness is astounding. He suggests that there may be something sinister in the fact that it was–surprise!–“two leftist Jews” who were the focus of all this concern about anti-Christian bigotry and warns everyone to be “very careful” about associating such people with such sentiments.

    But reality has some rights here too. Since the time of Marx through the many Bolshevik mass murderers like Kaganovich through to the present era of “whiteness studies” (i.e., anti-white-gentile studies) rammed with ethnocentric anti-white Jews, there is no group of people on earth who have been more venomously effective in the propagation of anti-Christian bigotry than leftist Jews. No group is more privileged or powerful or tribalistic.

    Yes, there has been bigotry on both sides. But the fact that the merest hint of something that just might conceivably indicate “anti-semitism” is regarded as a big problem–and a handy excuse for anti-Christian bigotry–while we pretend to not even notuce that Jews have often hated and harmed Christians. Jews enabled the Moors to take Spain. Jews traded in Christian slaves in huge numbers through the middle ages. Jewish wealth funded the rabidly Christophobic Bolsheviks. The Talmud tells us Christ is in hell boiling in excrement. All major Jewish organizations righteously demand that we flood Christian lands with unvetted limitless numbers of Muslims while making no similar demands on Israel. Let’s admit, at least, that the Jewish self-image as nothing more than gentle scholars and persecuted innocents is sonewhat ethnocentric and simplistic.

    When Stanley says it’s “very dangerous” to single out leftist Jews for criticism–even when the criticism has nothing to do with their Jewishness–he is right. It’s very dangerous for you, the critic, not for him–as he absurdly suggests. Stanley would love to have one or two examples of “anti-semitism” to bolster his laughable self-image as a plucky underdog speaking truth to power. (No doubt this little comment will be seized on as an example of the dire menace to those poor little leftist Jews.)

    So his pose of vulnerability is really a threat: dare to hint at our obvious ethnocentric bias and contempt for you little people and there’ll be hell to pay.

  3. Maybe I’m the one who’s clueless here, but . . .

    How Prof. Stanley (Philosophy, Yale), in his statements posted above, could be so utterly oblivious to the core problems/issues here is beyond me. (That may well be more of an embarrassment than the things he said that initiated this spectacle in the first place, but maybe that’s just me being a stickler about what to expect from mentally acute Philosophers.)

    The money-quote in this whole affair is not “fuck those assholes,” nor is what is at issue his views on Christians.

    The money-quote, of course, is this, reproduced above in Conservatrarian’s commentary:

    “I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia, you know that sickness that has led people for thousands of years to kill my fellow human beings for their sexual preferences. Like you know, pink triangles and the Holocaust. I am really, truly, embarrassed by the fact that my mild comment “Fuck those assholes” is being spread. This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards proponents of homophobic and therefore evil positions such as Richard Swinburne, who thereby use their status as professional philosophers oppressively.”

    The money-takeaway from this is stated pithily by Ideal Observer in a Oct. 1 comment (at http://rightlyconsidered.org/2016/09/30/something-stinks-in-the-philosophy-blogosphere) :

    “It is a law of nature that leftists will equate moral disapproval of particular sorts of sexual acts with “bigotry,” “suppressing the rights of,” and “hatred of” a whole class of people.”

    That’s what this all boils down to, and everything else is irrelevant sideplay.

    And what it boils down to is this: Prof. Stanley has fucked up. He’s shown a rather ugly card. That ugly card is Campus PC run amok, a phenomenon which ends up unfairly placing conservative academics and students in a disadvantaged position.

    That’s why this here blog even exists in the first place.

    What’s more, this blog is, what, hardly a month old now, and Prof. Stanley hands them – and potentially the entirety of the very loud conservative mediasphere – Exhibit A on a platter. I mean, can it get more perfect than this. Ivy League Philosophy Professor reacts in over-the-top PC hissy-fit style (the potty-keyboard from his original posting being *irrelevant*) to a not-exactly-beyond-the-pale moral disapproval of homosexuality by a leading Christian philosopher (Oxford no less!). (I myself disapprove of that disapproval from Swinburne, but at least I can keep my head about it and not treat it as beyond the pale.)

    And also to cut through more of the bullshit:

    As others have been pointing out here on this blog in the last few days, we can only imagine how a conservative faculty member engaging in similar behavior (in its essential respect, summarized by Ideal Observer’s pithy observation, i.e., its intellectually disreputable quality — a big fat non sequitur which in this instance links moral disapproval to bigotry and oppression — combined with over-the-top condemnatory assessment of those advancing the Incorrect arguments) might very well result in the Campus Left calling for the faculty member’s head.

    Heck, Swinburne is the one behaving professionally, and with due tolerance and respect towards those whose behavior he otherwise disapproves of, and it’s Stanley (an Ivy League Professor) *already* calling for his head in a moral sense. (I’m pretty sure Swinburne’s tenure will keep him from losing his head in an administrative/career sense.) So, yeah, just imagine if a conservative faculty member went apeshit in an essentially similar scenario and how the Campus Left would react.

    So how will the holier-than-thou Campus Left crybullies react in this instance, given their stated commitment to tolerance, diversity, exploring the world of ideas, etc.? (We can only hope the Philosophy Professors have done their part to foster critical-enough thinking among those who otherwise become crybullies; such critical-enough thinking means not engaging in such things as: tribal double standards, big fat non-sequiturs arising from visceral reactions or vague stretches of association, or declarations of within-the-pale positions as being beyond-the-pale. Oh, and not being oblivious to the essential point.)

    • Say…can one even use the phrase “beyond the pale” any longer without the Crybully nitwits accusing one of racist microaggression and oppressive verbiage?

      (We already do have the abundantly-documented pattern of these twits crying “racism!” when race isn’t even involved. Criticism of Islam seems to set them off especially….)

  4. There is another point that should be made.

    Stanley’s claim that, if we are going to accuse someone of loathing Christians, “…it is essential to rely on their published academic work”, is utterly absurd.

    My memory might be a bit dim on the Colin McGinn controversy, but I remember it involving very inappropriate text messages. Suppose he had defended himself with Stanley’s claim. No one would have taken such a defense seriously. We shouldn’t here either.

    One of the key issues at the center of this whole controversy is the “climate” (to use a term that leftists love) of the discipline. Obviously, the climate of the discipline is not determined entirely, or even mostly, by published work. It is determined by what’s said and not said in classes, at conferences, and on social media. Again, suppose this blog defended itself from its detractors by saying “This isn’t our published work! You should rely on our published work to criticize us!” No one would accept such a terrible defense.

  5. Thank you for posting my reply, and thank you for the engagement. I also am grateful that you have given me the opportunity to restart a potentially productive engagement within philosophy on some important issues in our community. We live in a country, the vast majority of whose citizens are followers of one of the world’s great intellectual and moral systems, Christianity. And though the majority of philosophers in American are Christian or were raised as such, there is a significant difference between being in our intellectual community and being in America.

    I was almost always the only Jewish person in my classes growing up. In my high schools in tenth and eleventh grade, I was the first Jewish person to attend. I am very familiar with the isolation that is involved, even when there is no overt discrimination (though I grew up being asked if I had horns and such like, this was ignorance and not malice). It is woven into the tapestry of my existence what is like to be in a minority faith among a majority. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go from a community in which one’s cultural traditions and many of its assumptions are just part of the ordinary tapestry of existence, to one in which that is considerably less so. I have tried in the departments I have been in to be very sensitive to this. And my own work, both academic and public, leaves theism in any form alone.

    Thank you also for the invitation to apologize to Professor Swinburne. I have been intending to contact Professor Swinburne to explain this, but my time has been taken 24-7 with dealing with the storm directed against me. I feel badly that Professor Swinburne has been used in an ideological war not of his own doing. But I can only be responsible for what I am actually responsible for. The original private comment was not about Professor Swinburne at all. I know it, and you know it, and everyone party to that conversation knows it. The private comment wasn’t about Swinburne, and the vocabulary I used was not intended for a public space. It was about people who discriminated against a friend on the basis of her sexual orientation. None of those people were Richard Swinburne.

    Once your website made the posts public, however, I faced a difficult situation, and the anger in my public post was directed against those who did make these comments public, the members of your blog. I was worried that the others on that thread would face harsh recrimination, and felt that it was my responsibility, as a person with some power in the field, to take the heat. But I forgot that having my position at Yale makes anything I say part of the whole campus wars. For example, Rod Dreher was one of the main figures in November, 2015 who attacked our undergraduate students in very harsh terms. So that meant anything associated with me would be taken national.

    That a field-local issue became a topic that certain organs in the national media have decided to blow up, using Swinburne as a martyred victim, is not my fault. I wrote a comment, or a reply to a comment, on a private Facebook post. My comment wasn’t about Swinburne. I decided not to address that fact in my public post, because I was concerned that others who may have been addressing Swinburne would take heat for their private comments.

    This is not to say that the only issues here are the complete confusion caused by the publication of out of context private messages. I do have a dispute with Christian philosophers who irresponsibly espouse harmful theories about sexual minorities that are out of touch with the literature, current science, and the experiences of those minorities themselves. I also have another, distinct dispute with those who would violate the privacy of their friends by taking expressions of support and frustration — which were intentionally visible only to select audiences — out of context, publish them, and mislead the public as to their meaning. Anyone who thinks that is perfectly ordinary Christian behavior has a much lower opinion of Christians than I do. I think both of these distinct disputes are ones we can have in public spaces in a respectful manner.

    I want to conclude by raising a question. Why are you anonymous? Presumably you are anonymous in order to protect your privacy. You are afraid of retribution. By publishing those comments out of context, you invited retribution of an extreme form. The last week has been very extreme for me. My family, which is the core of my existence, has been frightened. I can’t here explain everything that has happened, but it has been very ugly at times. But much worse than that is the legitimation of the very real discrimination that gay philosophers have to face on a daily basis from colleagues, from students, and from the media.

    When gay philosophers try to speak up, even privately, about actual discrimination they face, they now know they risk a media storm against them. They see from my case that the student paper at their university may even add fuel to the fire.

    So: do I regret that Swinburne has been sucked into this? I regret this very much. I apologize for bringing Swinburne in at all. I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment in even mentioning his name. But my main concern right now is entirely about our gay colleagues in academia who have been watching this episode in horror, concerned that any complaints about discrimination they may raise, even in private spaces, will result in the kind of incredibly intense retribution that Rebecca Kukla and I have been singled out and subject to over the past week.

    I need to end with the issue of anti-Semitism. It is of course clear to me that your blog is not anti-Semitic. On my public post, someone posted a disturbing comment about Swinburne’s death. I contemplated deleting it but then wanted to wait to see if anyone would ‘like’ it before addressing its horrors (no one did). The proof that your blog is not anti-Semitic is that you are the only people who remarked upon that comment. The media discussion is however straightforwardly anti-Semitic. First, it was solely about me. Then, the other Jewish philosopher who posted on that thread was also targeted. What ensued was a terrible anti-Semitic narrative, channeling a virulent 20th century form of anti-Semitism, now present in Russia; that leftist Jews seek to use the issue of homosexuality to target the Christian faith. Your blog is not doing that. But your blog has been taken out of context, and causally implicated in this campaign. Must you apologize for that? I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter to me. You should probably point out the difference between your blog and how your blog has been used. I am certainly going to be aware in the future of how my comments can be used for purposes I did not intend. All of us should be.

    I hope we can have a respectful discussion about the two disputes I mentioned above. We need to have it in a way that does not invite retribution against our gay colleagues, whose experiences of discrimination need to be highlighted, rather than forced ever more into the shadows. And we need to have it in a way that does not help bring the stain of anti-Semitism to our shores. As this very comment thread demonstrates, that is a very real threat.

  6. In order to not stain ouselves with anti-semitism it would help to know the composition of this messy substance.

    Is it anti-semitic to believe on solid evidence the true propositions that (1) “leftist Jews” such as the suddenly civil and thoughtful Jason Stanley have been vastly over-represented among haters, oppressors and mass murderers of Christians, and in anti-Christian anti-European movements, and notably under-represented in the defense of the interests of Christians and non-Jewish Europeans, or (2) that such people strongly tend to apply indefensible double standards in their treatment of Jews as opposed to Christians and (non-Jewish) whites?

    It appears that is how the concept is often used (here for example). If so is that because no one believes such truths on solid evidence or because some true beliefs based on solid evidence are immoral?

    A prediction: we’ll be told it’s also anti-semitic to ask these questions without being given any serious answers.

    • Jacques, I’m sorry that I’m late to this show, as I fear I’ve missed out on the opportunity for a useful exchange (at least on my end). You say, “Is it anti-semitic to believe on solid evidence the true propositions that (1) “leftist Jews” such as the suddenly civil and thoughtful Jason Stanley have been vastly over-represented among haters, oppressors and mass murderers of Christians, and in anti-Christian anti-European movements, and notably under-represented in the defense of the interests of Christians and non-Jewish Europeans”?

      I would say, in answer to this question, “no” if the proposition is in fact true. However, it isn’t obvious to me that it’s true. For instance, it’s a fact that leftist Jews are over-represented in positions of power, relative to percentage of Jewish people that make up the US. But are they *vastly* over-represented among the mass murderers of Christians? I didn’t know that. Could you enlighten me.

    • Hi Walter,
      Thanks for asking such an excellent question: Is that stuff actually true? Or, at any rate, is it reasonable to believe? (I figure it can’t be “anti-semitic” to believe on solid grounds something that is reasonable to believe.)

      Isn’t it interesting that Stanley–the one accusing people of “anti-semitism”–doesn’t ask any of these questions, and doesn’t offer any kind of answer either. Maybe he thinks it’s obviously _not_ true, and so obviously not true that it’s not even worth refuting such claims. Or, I suspect, he really doesn’t care whether it’s true or reasonable to believe; he thinks it’s enough for his purposes (power, prestige, hurting enemies and harming friends) to just call anyone making such claims an “anti-semite”. Admittedly I can’t know his motives for sure. But this seems like the best explanation of his behavior. (Imagine what he’d say about regular white people who responded to his criticisms of their group in a similar way! We’d never hear the end of it.)

      Well, anyway. My original claim was that leftist Jews “have been vastly over-represented among haters, oppressors and mass murderers of Christians, and in anti-Christian anti-European movements”. And that claim was a bit ambiguous.

      I meant to say that they’ve been vastly over-represented with respect to the _all_ of those categories, and not that, for any one of those categories, they’ve been vastly over-represented in that one. Now that second, stronger claim is pretty plausible. (And I’m about to give some pretty good evidence for it.) But let’s just focus on the weaker claim, which is easier to defend.

      Consider 19th and 20th century Russian history. I assume we agree that Bolshevism was (among other things) a fanatically anti-Christian hate movement, that the Bolsheviks were major oppressors and haters of Christians, and mass murderers of Christians. This was probably one of the greatest examples of these phenomena in history so far.

      If we agree on that, the argument is pretty simple. Check out Kevin MacDonald’s review of Yuri Slezkine’s ‘The Jewish Century’ (‘Stalin’s Willing Executioners’). For example:

      -23 of 62 Bolsheviks in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee created October 1917 were Jews.
      – In 1919 Trotsky said that Jews were a “vast percentage” of the Cheka.
      – In the 1930s 12 out of 20 NKVD directorates were headed by Jews (“including those in charge of state security, police, labor camps, and resettlement (i.e., deportation”).
      – At that time 42 of 111 top NKVD officials were Jews.
      – “The Gulag was headed by ethnic Jews from 1930 until the end of 1938, a period that encompasses the worst excesses of the Great Terror”.
      – Kaganovich, who starved the millions of Ukrainians and rejoiced in reducing churches and cathedrals to rubble, was Jewish.
      – Yagoda, mass murderer of dozens of millions, was Jewish.
      – Yezov was not Jewish but had a Jewish wife.
      – Plausibly, Lenin had a lot of Jewish ancestry (Lenin-“Blank”, Blank being a Jewish name).
      – In 1923 a group of Jewish intellectuals published a book in which one of the contributors wrote of “the disproportionate and immeasurably fervent participation in the torment of half-dead Russia by the Bolsheviks”.

      Jews were apparently about 5% of the population at the time of the Revolution. I’d say this is “vast” over-representation however exactly we define that notion.

      I think that kind of thing goes some way towards establishing (1) on the weaker reading I’m proposing. But, obviously, it’s a big topic.

      For me the most important point is that, quite apart from whether I can convince everyone of something like (1), any reasonable account of history is incompatible with Stanley’s pose of wounded innocence. “Why are you guys ganging up on us nice harmless leftist Jews again? What did we ever do to anyone? Gee, this is really scary and not nice at all!” No. We can quibble over details but leftist Jews should be put in roughly the same category that they put Nazis and Klansmen into. They are a very nasty, powerful, hate-driven group with a lot of blood on its hands–at least as much as the Nazis, if we focus merely on the example of the Bolsheviks.

      Again, thanks for asking! I was hoping someone would have the balls and/or brains 🙂

  7. Jacques – thank you for your reply to my comment. Yes, you are meeting the “suddenly civil and thoughtful Jason Stanley”, and that could of course seem to confirm the thought that Jews have two faces, one they have in private, and the other they reveal to the outside world. I have made myself, rather embarrassingly, into evidence for that age old view about us. I won’t deny that or try to convince you that I am *really* civil and thoughtful. We are in agreement that one of the two issues that is being clearly and explicitly raised to national salience by those who have selected Kukla and I as examples are the dangers you raise, the dangers of leftist Jews (and, more generally, since it wasn’t leftist Jews who aided the Moors in the invasion of Spain, the principal reason for most European pogroms, the danger of Jews generally). The non-story inside philosophy is being used outside philosophy to raise these questions as well as questions about the dangers of homosexuals. And of course solutions are being discussed as well – the main one being to get people like me and Kukla out of the university. It’s kind of odd that a private Facebook comment by me that was not about Swinburne was made public on a blog, and then a public post which did (unfortunately) mention Swinburne, but was mainly about the two disputes I mentioned above, has become a national attack on me and Kukla, specifically on the dangers people like us pose to civilization. And I agree that it would be better just to be frank and direct about the issues. So I am grateful to you for being frank and direct about one of the actual issues folks want to discuss. And I would never deny your right to raise these questions openly and theorize about what to do. And presumably you don’t deny my right to call you an anti-Semite for so doing; me calling you an anti-Semite isn’t denying you the right to raise these questions. I would say it’s just true that you are an anti-Semite. I’m also fine with having discussions with anti-Semites in a civil manner. It’s much better to be open and explicit about the selection principle that explains this weird non-story transforming into a national story about two leftist Jews and the civilizational dangers they pose. I am grateful to you for doing that. And I don’t deny you the right to talk about these questions and theorize about solutions. What are we to do with leftist Jews and homosexuals? Those are the precisely the issues that this blog’s actions have been used to raise (unintentionally, but what’s done is done). Those are certainly the issues that seem to be most relevant for what I have experienced over the past week. The messages I receive are much more in line with your worries. It would help to bury the hatchet and make amends with my fellow philosophers, and I hope to do so. I love my fellow philosophers. But it’s not going to help at all with what I am dealing with outside philosophy, which is a more general concern about the dangers people like me, whatever that means, pose to civilization, and what to do about it. For example, it won’t at all help with you, Jacques, since you think I would be being deceitful anyway if I apologized – I don’t mean that in a hostile way, I’m just saying that is what you, and many of those targeting me, are going to believe anyway.

    • “I would say it’s just true that you are an anti-Semite. I’m also fine with having discussions with anti-Semites in a civil manner.”

      Yeah, no big deal. Just casually throw Jacques in a social category not only considered to be morally evil and indefensible, but also _dangerous_; a category that no one in mainstream academia is “fine” with in the slightest; a category that serves to _stop_ all “civil” discussion, not engage in it. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t accept the label.

      What Jacques has done is raise questions about the behavior of Jews based on empirical evidence. I’ve noticed in your public work and comments that you raise questions about the behavior of whites, males, and Americans based on empirical evidence. So, I guess “it’s just true” that you are anti-white, anti-male, and anti-American.

  8. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The main reason I doubt your claim to love your philosophers–even the “homophobic” but Jew-positive Christians–is not that you’re Jewish. One reason is many years of personal experience of the intense disdain in which conservatives and their views are held in philosophy and popular culture. But I allow that you might actually not be like 90% of leftist academics I’ve known through my adult life. Another is your behaviour and publicly (or “publicly”) expressed attitudes. I’m not going to tell you to go fuck yourself, you pompous asshole, though I don’t love you. Do you really love people like me? Well, we all have our moments I guess.

    In any case, you ask what we should do about leftist Jews. I would hope that rational pressure could lead many to knock it off–e.g., stop saying that white Euros doing exactly what Jews do are Nazi scum, while failing to even acknowledge the parallel Jewish behaviours and attitudes. But maybe that won’t work. Let me ask you a better question: What are you leftist Jews planning to do with yourselves? You guys actually have immense power and privilege. You’re a famous tenured professor at a fancy place. I’m a nobody at a nothing place. If you admit that your powerful group has interests at odds with those of my less powerful group, maybe you should consider how to work something out with us that both partied can accept. Noblesse oblige. Maybe you could ease off on the attacks and persecution of people like me and/or start criticizing Jewish behaviour that other groups rightly resent? Deal?

    I notice you still haven’t said what anti-semitism is, or why I count as a carrier–a virulent one perhaps? I know it may seem hard to believe, but I have Jewish ancestry and many of my very best friends in the world are Jewish–I mean lifelong blood brothers who in fact tend to agree with me about Jewish hypocrisy and ethnocentrism. I don’t hate these people or wish them ill. I really do love them from the depths of my soul. More than you or I love our fellow philosophers. Please explain clearly with reference to my earlier question why you consider me an anti-semite and what this concept amounts to. Or do you mean to say that I’m an anti-semite but there’s nothing wrong with that?

  9. CRD – you did overlook the public apology to Prof. Swinburne in all of that. Here it is again: “I apologize for bringing Swinburne in at all. I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment in even mentioning his name.”

    • Yes, there it is. Thank you for clearing that up. A little class goes a long way. Hopefully you’ll be able to contact him personally as you suggested.

    • The quoted apology is one for “bringing in” or “mentioning” Swinburne, as if mentioning his name is itself morally objectionable. I suppose that’s not what Jason Stanley meant, but I hope he will be clearer in his message to Swinburne about why he thinks he owes him an apology.

  10. PS–Were the Jews who betrayed Spain leftists? Well they didn’t think of themselves as such, didn’t believe in leftist principles. But then most leftist Jews today don’t believe in those principles either, not for real. They use them as weapons against the identities and sovereignty of others while refusing to even consider their application to themselves (which would of course be anti-semitic).

    Those Jews back then were doing much what Jewish organizations in Europe and the US are trying to do today re Muslim “migrants” and “refugees”. Just opening up a whitebread dull place to vibrant diversity.

  11. What happened to Ferox’s excellent little comment? It was here for awhile then it disappeared mysteriously.

    And Jason: Please tell us what “anti-semitism” means and why I’m an example of it. YOU brought it up. You accused others of this terrible thing. You can’t say what it is though? Or won’t?

  12. Gist of the disappeared comment: if it is “just true” that Jacques is an anti-semite for citing unflattering empirical facts about Jewish behavior then it is also “just true” that Stanley is anti-white, anti-male and anti-American for his formally identical claims about whites, men and Americans.

    Maybe the obvious parity is why Stanley won’t deign to define this term. It works better as a scary insulting label he gets to paste on to reasoned claims and reasonable critics that he thinks shouldn’t be allowed to “stain” respectable discourse and society. But he thinks it would be very wrong and scary for anyone to suggest that he and his leftist Jewish attitudes are any kind of “stain”.

    And, crucially, this philosophically absurd tactic works!

    So we can tell who it is who holds real hegemonic power and privilege: “anti-semite” is a killing word, though (because) it has no definite meaning; “anti-gentile” or “anti-white” or “anti-Christian” are good for a chuckle with one’s facebook friends.

    And remember: before this virulent “anti-semite” Jacques came on the scene, there had been not the slighest hint of any animus toward Jews from any of the gentle Christian souls on this thread; the issue arose _only_ because Stanley sought to shame or intimidate his critics by pointing out that some of the obnoxious behavior being criticized was behavior of “leftist Jews”, so that one just might conceivably speculate that the critics were vaguely aware of this fact and might be harboring not-nice ideas about these wonderful people–or anyway someone somewhere might get the wrong idea; so it would be better not to criticize such people at all, even for reasons having nothing to do with their proudly asserted identities (as enemies of Christian tradition and victims of Christian culture).

    It’s almost as if a white guy in Alabama in 1962 who’d made a career out of denigrating blacks were to get all huffy over the fact that these civil rights people and leftists seem to be oddly fixated on the behavior of white people not just “Americans” or “mammals”. Are they bigots or something? What did we white southerners ever do to them? Are they maybe a threat?

    But even sillier than that: imagine that all happened was that someone complained because the white guy and his cousin said something rude to some blacks, and the critic didn’t even point out that, as white southerners, they belong to a group oppressing blacks. Someone just said “Hey that’s no way to speak to a fellow American”. And still the white guy gets all huffy about his precious white identity, accuses others of bigotry, etc.

    Stanley’s career is all about singling out certain groups for collective shame and blame, but suddenly that’s not fair when anyone notices that his own group–the one he actually identifies with–is also blameworthy and shameworthy in some respects. (Like all groups, like mere humans.)

    He wants to flaunt his membership in The Tribe when that makes him seem like a noble victim, fearing the Cossacks or the peasants with pitchforks or whatever the equivalent is at Yale. In that mode he gets to denounce me and my community in our rust belt towns from his ivy league throne–we bad whites over there, he and his noble persecuted friends somewhere else. But as soon as anyone complains about his behavior, he’s just an American philosopher who happens to be a leftist Jew. “Why are you guys singling me out? Why do you act like I’m different?”

    Well that’s the game. Christians and mainstream cons, do you really want to keep playing? Then let’s at least recognize the rules and see if we can’t use them to our own advantage.

    First step: learn from leftist Jew Saul Alinsky: make the enemy follow his own rules: make rich powerful ethnocentric leftist Jews apply their nasty ruthless critique of our (mostly imaginary) “hegemony” and “privilege” to their own (real) hegemony and privilege.

    This thread may be seen as an effort in that direction.

    • Dr. Jason Stanley you are an expert on language and propaganda, right? Surely you have the conceptual tools to explain why Jacques is anti-semitic for criticizing Jews, and you are not anti-white, anti-American, for criticizing whites and Americans.

  13. Bravo! The guy who made “silencing” a thing has little problem showing us how it is done. 1) Say something intemperate. 2) When someone has a problem with it point out that your friends suggested you need protection from potential crazies who will be upset at said intemperance. 3) Have people insist that this need for protection is proof that you are a victim. 4) Make sure that any response to your intemperance is construed as a personal attack against your religion. Clearly people motivated by a philosophical opposition to homosexuality are anti-Semitic. After all if you are a left wing Jew, any attack must be motivated by your being a Jew and the left wing view you are espousing is just incidental. Stanley has effectively made it impossible to criticize him. Any criticism is thus potentially physically dangerous toward him and antisemitic, two things none of us want to be. Silencing at its finest.

    That being said, Stanley’s explanation is measured enough and (except for the silencing aspect) fair enough. We can quibble about differences, but it strikes me as better than digging in his heels and letting this degenerate into a continued shouting match full of vulgarity and invective that can only further polarize two already hostile sides. It strikes me as continuing a philosophical discourse. This is to say that he has done a lot more for civility than some of his supporters.

  14. @Jason

    The fact that a contemporary Yale philosopher relies on the anti-semitism card to “win” an argument tells everything about the demise of academic philosophy. From Aufklärung to save space, political correctness, and shaming your opponent out of the dispute. And at the end of this road: re-education camps.

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