We should give thanks for Melanie Phillips, who writes for the right in a column for the Daily Mail here in the UK, and now has a book out in the US with Encounter Books (other new titles: How the Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security, How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting the US Economy, The Bad Science and Bad Policy of Obama's Global Warming Agenda - which would make Phillips's The World Turned Upside Down a really snappy title if it hadn't already been taken by the Diggers, Christopher Hill and Chumbawamba). Our thanks are not so much due for her outlining of the history of the property rights, ideas and politics of the West, all originating with the Hebrew Bible, and the shocking devaluation of all three (and much besides) since the Enlightenment: civilisation ruined thanks to Francis Bacon, Rousseau, Hume, Comte, Marx, Bergson, William James, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Gramsci, Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins, liberation theologians, Princess Diana, Professor Nutt, someone called Matthew Fox, Madonna, Cherie Blair - and Barack Obama. Nor is our gratitude due for her elucidation of why human beings are not in any way responsible for climate change, which her selected 'real' evidence shows isn't happening anyway. We don't have to be thankful for her explanations of the historical and legal rectitude of Israel's claim to Gaza and the West Bank; the fact of Israeli victimisation at the hands of almost everyone except the US neocons, another someone called Robin Shepherd, Nick Cohen and the Christian right; and the revived and almost universal hatred for the Jews. It's not even her analysis of the Quran and the inevitable violence and hatred (again, lots of hatred) for the West that it fosters, or how she tries to help us understand that Western civilisation can only survive if the state of Israel does, for which we have to be grateful. It is for the following paragraph we should give thanks:
Those who believe that Israel is the historic victim of the Arabs - and that its behaviour, while not perfect, is generally as good as could be expected given that it is fighting for its existence against an enemy using the weapons of religious war - typically have a rational, non-ideological approach to the world, arriving at conclusions on the basis of evidence. Those who believe that Israel is the regional bully hell-bent on oppressing the Palestinians, and who equate it with Nazism or apartheid, are generally moral and cultural relativists who invert truth and lies, right and wrong over a wide range of issues, and are incapable of seeing that their beliefs do not accord with reality.
LRB 13 May 2010 | PDF Download