Thursday, September 23, 2010

Attn Conservatives: You've (figuratively) 'received the e-mail' from Fred Gottheil... How have YOU replied?

In reply to: Townhall - Australian Muslim Cleric Calls for Beheading -- Who Cares?, and this section in particular:
Dr. Fred Gottheil is an economics professor at the University of Illinois. He calls himself a "Keynesian-type economist" who is "not afraid of deficit spending" -- not exactly Reaganesque.

In January 2009, some 900 academics signed a four-page petition calling for a U.S. abandonment of the support of Israel. Gottheil learned that many of the petition signatories belonged to faculty from women's and gender studies departments. He decided to conduct an experiment.

Would the same professors sign a "Statement of Concern" over the anti-human rights, anti-gay, anti-woman practices in the Muslim Middle East? Gottheil composed a four-page document citing evidence of atrocities, along with the names of Muslim clerics and scholars defending these violations of human decency. He e-mailed his statement to 675 signers of the anti-Israel petition.

What happened? "The results were surprising," Gottheil said, "even though I thought the responses would be few. They were almost nonexistent."

Bottom line: Barbarity in the name of Islam is not even remotely condemned to the degree that the West condemns insensitivity by cartoonists, politicians and anti-Islam clerics. Why? A denunciation of Muslim practices suggests a superiority of American values and culture. The left finds the very notion objectionable.

Gottheil put it this way: "If leftist 'progressives' really cared about women, gays and lesbians, then they would be fighting for their rights in places where such rights are really violated -- like under Hamas in Gaza and under the mullahs in Iran. But doing so would legitimize their own society and its values and therefore completely cripple their entire identity and life purpose, and so their purported concern for women, gays and lesbians has to go out the window."

I don't know about this Gottheil thing... I mean, Dr. Gottheil sent his Statement to these 675 professors as a private e-mail from his college account. (It's unclear whether he sent them individually, or as mass-mailings, likely to get caught in spam filters.) There is no indication of how many actually received his unsolicited missive (vs the spam folder) or how many of the folks who did actually see it in their in box tossed it away before even reading it because they had no idea who he was. Even among the folks who did receive and actually read it, there's no saying how many saw that this was one lone professor with no human rights organization or website behind him, and tossed it away as being unproductive. (And that's only one possible reason that a person who got as far as reading it may've chosen not to reply...)

The bottom line is, counting the number of people who didn't respond to a single unsolicited e-mail from a stranger that may or may not've even made it into their "IN" box is hardly the best way to determine who does and does not care about the rights of women or gay folks in Middle Eastern countries. (If you ask me, the real discovery here is the ineffectiveness of Dr. Gottheil's methods in taking action for human rights.)

While the fact is that very few professors replied, it'd be foolish to assume any particular causation from those facts alone, especially when there are so many other possibilities...

Besides... An argument could be made that if Dr Gottheil really cared about the women and homosexuals of the Middle East, he would've cast a wider net than to only send a single e-mail to one small set of professors who'd signed one obscure petition a year and a half earlier. If he really cared, he'd've followed up with the people he solicited e-mails from. And if he really cared, he would've done something--anything--regarding this issue since.

And by the way, the same goes for every person reading this comment (all of whom obviously have "received the e-mail" about the human rights abuses Dr Gottheil wrote about, and have done... what? ...about it since...)

Maybe it's time to stop feeling smug and superior to all those lib'rul professors, and instead start talking about what YOU'VE done about this issue since reading the story about Dr Gottheil and his Statement of Concern...

I'm just sayin'...

To peruse all my other commentary on this subject, previous and since, click the "GOTTHEIL" label, below.

Also, Dr. Gottheil's Statement of Concern is now posted at, and is accepting signatures from anyone willing to speak out against human rights abuses in the Middle East. As you're obviously interested in the story, I urge you to step up and sign it: Support Regarding Discrimination in the Middle East against Women, Gays, and Lesbians Petition

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