24 January 2008

Mr. Gandhi & "the Jews" (Again)

Not long ago I posted on the outrageous public statements made by Arun Gandhi and urged people on campus to speak out in response. I am happy to say that there has been additional movement on the score. The day before yesterday the Faculty Senate at the University, of which I am a member, unanimously endorsed this resolution:
Resolved: The Faculty Senate of the University of Rochester deplores the statements concerning Jewish identity, the Holocaust, and the culture of violence made earlier this month on the Washington Post website by Arun Gandhi, president of the board of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence housed at the University. While we recognize his right to free speech, we find the religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural stereotyping fundamental to his statements offensive, aggressive, and in direct conflict with our other core values and those of the University, and therefore unacceptable.

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Anonymous Dawei from Beijing said...

Can Gandhi's absurd statements be construed as anything other than plain ol' fashioned antisemitism?

24 January, 2008 13:04  
Blogger farmer said...

This a reply to your blog, generally… and to WJT, specifically.
When, exactly, was culture not “visual”?
Why do we need still more “critique”?
How do you propose we “discriminate”?
What does “specificity of their uses” imply?

Pick up a camera and see for yourself.
Cameras are guns… the war is ideology.
And you’re too smart not to be armed, doctor.
It’s time to visualize your own political philosophy.


24 January, 2008 17:25  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Dawei - No. Jim

24 January, 2008 20:30  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Try music - listening is not necesarily visual. Try language - listening or speaking need not be visual either. But both language and music are central to every known culture.

More critique, because frankly most culture, visual or otherwise, is absorbed unreflectively.

I discriminate here the same way I do in life or in philosophy; I develop, deploy, and defend criteria that I use for that purpose (concepts and theories are tools); and I try to do so self-consciously enough to allow others to take issue with my judgements; and then I answer back. What is that so problematic for you?

People and organizations use images for particular purposes. It is important to try to figure out what those are. Otherwise the "weapons" you identify can be turned against you.

Cameras are tools. Like a hammer or a screw-driver, a camera can be used as a weapon. But it also can be used for other things. Like communicating, say?

Best, Jim

24 January, 2008 20:41  
Blogger AMEN said...

jim, i have to say i enjoy your writings very much, but find it hard to follow you when you call for condemnation of gandhi, based upon his criticisms of israel. we need to stop allowing criticism of israel and their use of the holocaust as a bargaining chip to commit atrocities, to be seen as anti-semitic. we must condemn israel for vast human rights violations and deplorable backhanded agreements made with big business. we must not call this anti semitic.

if anyone is damaging to holocaust survivors, it is certainly not gandhi, rather the violent nation state of israel, who, upon receiving hundreds of millions in reperations to the victims of the holocaust, in turn spent large portions of this money on building a larger military, meanwhile, the remaining survivors of the holocaust living in israel, live on a stipend equivalent to $20 american, a month. israel needs to be criticized. remember, america is a large force of destruction, but we couldn't do it alone, and israel is taking advantage of that, to the fullest.

27 January, 2008 02:38  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

I have no problem criticizing tthe government of Israel on various fronts and have done so here. I also have no problem criticizing particular Jews (of Catholics, or Atheisits) for actions they take, but often their Jewishness (or whatever) will not be relevant and so I would not mention it.

Gandhi insisted that "the Jews" are uniquely responsible for "the culture of violence" we confront in the modern world. That seems to me (1) demonstrably false (even if we speak of Israel as a political entity instead)and (2) anti-semitic insofar as he is targeting a heterogenous group as though they are all the same.

27 January, 2008 10:08  
Blogger AMEN said...

sure, his wording left a little to be desired, but i think you might agree with me when i say that the left's greatest enemy is the left. we tend to tear ourselves apart internally, policing the words of one another, and taking otherwise great men with great causes and reducing them to the sum of a few poorly chosen words.

i will say that i am not a personal friend of mr. gandhi's, and therefore do not know how his usual language skills are, but i do believe that people get far too worked up when "the Jews" are brought up. case in point, the passion of the scientologist, or whatever the movie is called...

people lost their damn minds over the "inherent anti-semitic undertones" of gibson's film, portraying what he, and most of thew christian world, thinks to be a real account of christ's death.

now, a jewish friend of mine lost his shit over this film, going as far as to call me and my family anti-semitic, because we refused to condemn mel gibson to a fantastical death in our minds. i like mel gibson. i like jesus. i like well shot films. seeing this film, for me, had nothing to do with jews, but i was apparently hating every jew in the world by paying my $3 at the cheap theater to see this film.

ridiculous. you see though, how insanely overused the slanderous term of anti-semitic is in the world today. it is used against people who sometimes have no inkling of hatred for anyone in their hearts, and thus performing a public "crucifixion" of their character. (i could not resist that horribly drawn out metaphor of crucifixion after thinking of mel gibson. ha!)

i guess i am just saying that it should be our job, as thinking, creative, loving individuals, to help to foster an environment not of judgement and ridicule, but of understanding and education. approach our own faults in a healing way, and approach our own people with the same amount of healing. all of this anger will lead only to separation. divide and conquer you know?

28 January, 2008 14:22  

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