Posted -- January 29, 2001
David Lieberman, "Scholarship as an Exercise in Rhetorical Strategy: A Case Study of Kevin MacDonald's Research Techniques"
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Predictably, MacDonald's work on Jews has established a significant following among white supremacists and other right-wing extremists ready to embrace any argument promising a rationale for antisemitism. MacDonald himself disavows any responsibility for this phenomenon, arguing that he should no more be held accountable for the political applications of the truths uncovered by his scientific inquiries than Albert Einstein should be held accountable for political decisions taken to deploy nuclear weapons. I believe, however, that this brief critique will suggest that MacDonald's role is more than that of a passive object of attraction for confirmed antisemites. By virtue of a pattern of tendentious and opportunistic misuses of its principal source, the portion of MacDonald's work to be examined here falls so far short of the standards of scholarly discourse that it can hardly be construed as an example of the dispassionate pursuit for scientific or historical truth. To the extent that his work rests on profoundly unreliable readings of its source materials, I would argue that MacDonald is indeed directly and personally responsible for its appeal to those who long for (or seek to enact) the social and political rehabilitation of antisemitism.
My references throughout these pages will be to the following volumes:
Disclaimer: Readers should be aware that I have had several exchanges with Kevin MacDonald via the discussion list H-Antisemitism, a resource of the H-Net network of academic discussion groups sponsored by Michigan State University. I have also been a member of the H-Antisemitism editorial board and am currently serving as web-editor for its associated internet site.
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