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Ken Stein’s anti-Carter Phlegm January 26, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, history, Israel, Jimmy Carter, Logic, narrative, Other.

I was listening on the way into work today to an interview with Ken Stein about his reaction to Jimmy Carter’s new book and I have to say that I don’t really care for him.  I have not the expertise to really talk constructively about the disagreements between Carter and Stein, unfortunately, much less the Israelis and Palastinians, and I probably never will.  I’ve never read any of his books, including the one he wrote with Carter back in the 1980s.  But if the imprecise language and odd, traditional dualist logic of his interview persona is any indication, I would find them a trial.  Two quick examples:

1)  He believes that Carter is characterizing the bad situation in the Occupied Territories as entirely the fault of Israel.  And he claims, simultaneously that (and I’m paraphrasing a little here on this one because I couldn’t write it down while driving–not in Lowell, not during the commute time of the morning) if you tell this story, you can’t “unpack it” in such a way that one side is at fault.  Note: that is exactly what he accuses Carter of doing–unpacking it in such a way that it shows that Israel is at fault. 

Perhaps he meant to say that one shouldn’t.  Such statements require a different mode, a subjunctive one, which is used in English to indicate value judgements like this, among other things.  Perhaps Stein didn’t want his statement to sound like a value judgement.  Perhaps he wanted it to sound like a statement of fact. . . .

2)  This one is a direct quote, because I had reached the frigid wasteland of the faculty/staff parking lot by this point in time. 

“History always tells us the truth is somewhere in-between.”

Not to pick nits, here, Dr. Stein, but it tells us nothing of the sort.  Perhaps the ones that you write tell us this.  I have read many histories that do not simplistically group conflicts into two opposing sides and then claim that the truth is in-between. 

Is the glass half empty?  Is it half full?  To Dr. Stein, the glass is three-quarters full, or something close to that.