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Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Laura Dellatorre writes on Free Dartmouth:

(Even More) Posturing Impartiality on the Dartmouth "Observer"

Stam, of course, was the pro-war advocate from the oh-so-politically-neutral Government Department. Now, the implication is that when Edsworth (his opponent) makes statements against the war, he is using dirty rhetoric to appeal to those gullible (and probably communistic) anti-war activists. When Stam makes his points, however, it is merely "analysis," and totally neutral. I am reminded of a great comment Roland Barthes makes regarding literary criticism, which can be applied here to political analysis (no, he wasn't perfect, but his point here is perfectly articulated):

Ideology is smuggled into the baggage of scientism like contraband merchandise. Criticism is more than discourse in the name of "true" principles. It follows that the capital sin in criticism is not ideology but the silence by which it is masked.

Mr. Webb, please spare us the fatuous appeal to detached rationalism and admit your (rather glaringly obvious) ideological leanings.


1) For the last time, we're a multi-partisan blog, not a non-partisan blog. And stop using the quote marks around Observer - we're not socially-constructed! Now "Free" Dartmouth on the other hand...

2) Frank has an ideological position - most people do. But I give him credit for trying to be rational and intelligent about it. Would you prefer that he resort to rhetoric and bluster?

3) I don't understand your use of the phrase, "oh-so politically-neutral Government department." Was that meant as sarcasm? The link you provide suggests that the Government department as a whole IS neutral, because it does not fund political activism. I can't speak about the individual professors (although Vijay assures me that they're mostly Democrats).

4) Laura, you weren't even at the debate. How then can you counter Frank's claim simply by trotting out a quote from Roland Barthes? Would you care to explain Barthes's own ideological position? And yours? While both professors employed rhetoric - Frank should acknowledge this - I have to say I found Stam's argument more convincing. Edsforth spent a lot of time criticizing the Bush administration's policies by bringing up the motivations for the war. But what matters more? Motivations or consequences? What he could not provide, however, was a viable alternative policy towards Iraq. Stam, on the other hand, pointed out the bad record the US has had in the Middle East, but he argued that instead of letting that record persist, the US should rectify it by invading Iraq. Such an invasion would be morally-justified in more ways than one. Edsforth acknowledged the human rights question, but he seemed to have very little to say about how the international community should stop Saddam from committing genocide against his own people.

5) Once again, I'd like to draw your attention to this article, in which Saddam's personal bodyguard spills the beans on Saddam's hidden weapons programme.