Commenting on this post, Brian Leiter complains that I don’t link to the post he wrote trying–and failing–to defend Chomsky’s comments that “anti-Semitism scarcely exists in the West.” Leiter finds such behavior “discourteous.” Oh, and as is par for the course when it comes to debating someone with whom he disagrees, he calls me “dumb.”
Let’s take some of these points in turn:
1. As should be clear in the language in my second update, I don’t go out of my way to be courteous to people who are plainly discourteous, boorish, nasty, and insulting in their own dealings with others. As such, I felt–and feel–no compulsion to be courteous to Leiter. Just because I provided a link to Kleiman does not mean that I should provide a link to Leiter, especially since it is obvious that Leiter’s habit of picking fights across the Blogosphere is very much an attention-getting tactic for his blog. Of course, I have no intention of indulging Leiter all that much in his cries for attention; I debated whether to even mention him in my original post, and then decided that giving temporary satisfaction to his narcissistic needs was outweighed by the need to show that both he and Chomsky were as wrong as one could be in gauging the existence of anti-Semitism in the West. If Leiter’s high opinion of his own intelligence matched reality, he might have understood this from the outset. If he still wants to whine, I guess there is nothing I can do about that, but at some point in time, he ought to learn that discourtesy to others reaps the whirlwind.
2. Leiter states that “a hate crime by a fringe lunatic” is not “counter-evidence” to Chomsky’s statement that “anti-Semitism scarcely exists in the West.” This is a lame argument; first of all, no one thinks that a lone hate crime–no matter how heinous–is being relied on as the sole and exclusive “counter-evidence” to Chomsky’s (and Leiter’s) assertions. Secondly–I keep having to write this–if Leiter’s high opinion of his own intelligence matched reality, he might have noticed this link in the opening paragraph of the post to which he responds, stating that “that 18.4 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats blame ‘the Jews’ for the financial crisis.” The writer of the post, Michael Drake, initially took Chomsky’s–and Leiter’s–side on the debate over whether anti-Semitism “scarcely exists in the West” (indeed, Leiter’s post shows favorable links to Drake’s writings), but now says that “this evidence is a clear rebuff to my argument a few years back, contra Pejman Yousefzadeh, and in defense of Noam Chomsky, that there is a meaningful [sic] ‘a sense in which it is perfectly reasonable to say that anti-Semitism ‘scarcely exists anymore.’ Not on these data there isn’t.” Drake is a gentleman, and a scholar, and despite our clear political differences, we have had perfectly good and enjoyable communications with one another. Leiter may want to take a lesson from his example, though of course, he won’t.
3. I don’t expect Brian Leiter to concede that anti-Semitism remains a serious problem, even in light of a poll showing that over 18% of Republicans and 32% of Democrats blame the Jews for the financial crisis. And I don’t expect him to concede the question in light of all of the other evidence that exists out there on the issue of anti-Semitism and its continued, regrettable presence in the West. That is because Leiter appears to enjoy flossing with his shoelaces.