Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Wallis "Refutes" Anti-Semitism Charge

At a BRICUP "fringe" event outside the UCU meeting where delegates voted to boycott Israel (and refused to examine anti-Semitism in their movement), UCU leader Sean Wallis gained some notoriety by saying the legal threats directed at the boycott movement stemmed from lawyers backed by those with "bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down."

Wallis has now responded with a definitive refutation:
I came back from Congress (and an academic conference at the weekend, so I did not see any emails) to find myself accused of anti-semitism by people imputing racist ideas to me that I
* do not hold,
* find utterly abhorrent, and
* have spent my lifetime opposing.

The person who posted the accusation anonymously did not ask me what the remarks she alleges I made meant. Instead she alleged anti-semitism by association, referring to a racist right-wing US conspiracy theory regarding the Lehmann Brothers that I was unaware of at the time, as an explanation of what I really ‘meant’ to say.

In other words, the anti-semitism in the chain of reasoning she claimed I advanced consisted of the views she imputed to me, not in any words that I said.

I am not saying any more on this subject on the activist list, except
the following.

For the record, I utterly refute the allegation.

Wait...that doesn't refute it at all. Wallis doesn't actually deny saying the words. Nor does he give an alternate interpretation of what his statement actually might have meant. He just asserts he meant something different, without telling us what that might be, and considers that a refutation.

Wallis' "denial" only makes sense in the world rapidly emerging on the far-left in which nothing is anti-Semitic, ever (which makes a lifetime of opposing it quite the cushy gig!). The move being made here is that anti-Semitism is immediately said to be a groundless charge unless we can somehow prove what is in the heart of the speaker. Wallis' past forays into the field have made it pretty clear that he buys into this view: Defending a fellow "left" academic who approvingly reposted material from David Duke on his listserve, he wrote that critics "have not produced a shred of evidence that contributors to the list endorse racist views. In the case of the witch-hunt directed at Jenna Delich, no evidence was produced that her inclusion of a link to a racist’s website was anything other than an honest mistake." Anti-Semitism, in this view, has nothing to do with the effect it has on the victims (Jews) -- it is solely an inquiry into the state of mind of the perpetrators, who are always as innocent as a White Republican politician good left-wing comrade.

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