Blogs > HNN > For the Record: I Am Not an African-American

May 8, 2006 3:18 pm

For the Record: I Am Not an African-American

I don't know how or why this happened, but apparently some conservative blogger read one of my fall 2005 posts here at Theory and Practice criticizing Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans. The blog is being quoted widely, describing me as an African-American. For the record, I am not one.

This sort of thing tends to happen to me frequently. For the record, I am not a woman (much less Diana Hsieh, philosophy graduate student at University of Colorado, Boulder), not a Muslim, not a libertarian (or faux libertarian), not an anti-Semite, not a legal positivist, and not a Machiavellian power-lusting denier of the rights of man, either. While I'm at it, maybe I should add that I'm not consumed by envy of Professor Robert Mayhew of Seton Hall University, and am not "absurd".

Sorry for any disappointment or inconvenience I may have caused anyone for not being what it would be polemically useful for me to be.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Actually, in this case I think the explanation was that my criticisms of Nagin were unsparing. The assumption seems to be that only one African American could criticize another one that way, so (given my name) I must be one.

Esposito inferred that I was a woman by doing a very hasty Google search to figure out who I was and discredit me. Ignoring several dozen other hits, he found one that seemed at first glance (or maybe first glance to someone who was drunk) as though I was Diana Hsieh. Without any further explanation, he inferred that I was Diana Hsieh. These are the research procedures of the doyen of contemporary Islamic Studies with a hifallutin chair at Georgetown, an institute subsidized by Saudi money, and immeasurable media cachet.

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Thank you for that highly relevant comment. I am an anti-Zionist of a sort, though I suppose of an odd sort. That of course had nothing to do with the sort of labeling Skoble was discussing, but never mind.

I am the last one to abjure the use of labels, as would be plain to any reader of this blog. "Idiot," "imbecile" and "asshole" often fit like a glove, too.

Michelle Fram Cohen - 5/16/2006

Judging by "Poisoning the Well: The False Equation of Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism" the Anti-Zionist label fits like a glove.

Aeon J. Skoble - 5/16/2006

Part of the problem is the laziness and ignorance of the labelers. The sad truth is that far too many Americans simply cannot differentiate among: Muslim, Hindu, Arab, Persian, Indian, Pakistani, etc. But they also think that an American with a MuslimIndianArabPersian name must be black. So they "infer" that Irfan Khawaja is an African-American. (How they "inferred" that you're a woman escapes me, however.)
This is a little different from the political labeling, although laziness and ignorance figure there also.

Darren Michael Peterson - 5/12/2006

I went to the link where it was claimed that the author was "absurd" and wouldn't you know it? I was considered irrelevant and something else... oh, wrong on my premise.

Since this seemed to be a blog dedicated to philosophy they tried to use "high brow" ways of calling the other people idiots just because we didn't agree with their desire to summarily execute Saddam Hussein.

They have all these snide little ways to frame their responses to make it appear you don't either understand the question, the premise or know what you are talking about.

You would think that he shot their dog or something the way that they are dancing around in a blood lust. But, being highly intellectual, they try to present it as "obvious" that what the administration says and what we all "know" should be enough.

I swear, anyone that tries to use their supposed intellect to attack the messanger rather than the message really ticks me off! Grrrrrrrrrr.

Jason KEuter - 5/12/2006


Darren Michael Peterson - 5/12/2006

Ms. Biondi,
Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. I am waiting to do my student teaching so I can get my license to teach. I hope to teach social science. I would love to hear more about the critical thinking series!

I want to encourage students to be critical consumers of information. Such as picking an issue and finding a couple of reputable source that are pro and con. Compare and contrast sort of stuff.

In my posting about non-partisan think thanks being an oxymoron, our questions should be answered by the best information that we can find... based upon the reality and not the adherence to a particular political philosophy. Sadly, too many "think tanks" come to a problem with a political agenda and then search for only the information that supports their already formed opinion.

While I do profess to being liberal, I tell my children that I believe the Democratic party most closely reflects my values and wishes for America. That does not mean, however, that I agree with everything they, or a particular politician, stands for. I use the example of "group think" that I have seen within this administration to illustrate the dangers of not having a vigorous dissenting voice.

I also explain to them that we should always want a robust oppositional party, for I cannot find a single instance in history where a one party system was a good thing. Therefore, respect the other party and try to remember that they serve the purpose of keeping even people we might agree with on their toes.

Carrie-Ann Biondi - 5/11/2006

Here, here, Mr. Peterson! I cannot tell you how pleased I am to know that you are raising your children to care about the truth and integrity rather than about winning arguments. Public discourse is rife with fallacious reasoning, much of it in terms of the well-poisoning fallacy that you are pointing out.

You should be interested in a weekly critical thinking series that I shall be launching on our blog very soon. So please stay tuned . . .

Darren Michael Peterson - 5/9/2006

I love labels... they are used to denote meaning which often is not related to the accuracy of a person's opinion... rather a convenient way to disparage or to dismiss. "Oh, don't listen that him, he's just a (fill in the blank)."

I tell my children that they should never defend a person of a particular party if they don't agree with what that person says. It is more important to maintain your dignity than it is to win an argument. This also means that no one gets a free ride at the expense of my integrity.

It is sad when the best argument a person can come up with against a position is to attack the person and not the content.

In other words, "You are wrong because of a), b) and c).

Not, "You are wrong because you are a (fill in the blank).

I will say again, the President is wrong when he says that this nation has a math and science education crisis. It has a social science crisis. People are not critical consumers of information. They do not know how to base their opinions on the facts, rather than the sources.