Through my eye

A sometimes caustic view of things.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A comment on Jeremy Levitt

Actually, I have to feel sorry for Jeremy Levitt. He is inflicted with a version of the Sixth Sense, in that he sees racists and racism wherever he looks. I also feel sorry for him because he obviously went through the American educational system, even became a part of the system himself, without learning how to properly apply adjectives to subjects or to research the meanings of words before he uses them.

Here is where to find the original column by Levitt:,0,1528050.column

"It is no secret that the far right and its institutions have an unjust guttural dislike for President Obama. After allowing George W. Bush to destroy our economy and international standing without challenge for eight years, the far right's central strategy for helping America is to attempt to delegitimize Obama with trailer-park prowess."

American presidents are almost always demonized by their political opponents, few more so than George W. Bush during the last eight years, I refer your readers to the web site

for a comprehensive look at how disrespectful and "unpatriotic" by Levitt's standard the far left has been.

As a lover of language, the use of "guttural" in the quote above bothers me. Does Levitt intend to repeat in a different way the meaning of the word "visceral" as he used it in a previous sentence, or does he mean the least used definition of the adjective, guttural: being or marked by utterance that is strange, unpleasant, or disagreeable.

"This was a symbolically threatening parity of Thomas Jefferson's celebrated call for vigilance: 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.' Regrettably, this dangerously insolent and unpatriotic message was aimed at the leader of the Free World."

In the use of "parity" did Levitt mean the definitions of that word:

1. Equality, as in amount, status, or value.
2. Functional equivalence, as in the weaponry or military strength of adversaries.

Or was he thinking of parody, which offers this least-used definition: a poor or feeble imitation or semblance; travesty.

All this leads to the inescapable conclusion that Levitt suffers from the lack of a good editor, or someone to question his intent. He writes in the same vein that Jesse Jackson talks: A bit of Bible verse, a lot of misapplied adjectives and malformed logic. His idea of patriotism is diametrically opposed to that expressed in the fuller context of the quote above:

"What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure. "

Finally, I've done an extensive internet search for Jeremy I. Levitt's writings and affiliations. The man has been, according to various bios in publications, in 22 to 27 African countries, was appointed to many positions within many organizations, has a B.A from Arizona State University, J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD from the University of Cambridge, has been associated with or employed by four or five different US universities, associated with two colleges of the University of Cambridge, Managing Editor of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (but one can only find one article listed under his name) and he has some published works as either author or editor.

What I can't find is his birth year or what state or community he spent his formative years. Why did he not complete his training with the State Department?

And reading some of his scholastic works, I find a lack of academic impartiality-- a bias, if you will-- against European influences on Africa and a willingness to make unverifiable statements such as the following from :

"The principle of a democratic rule of law can be traced back to Black Egypt in the First Dynasty (3100-2890 BC) beginning with the reign of King Menes as documented by Manetho, an Egyptian scholar and priest that lived in the 3rd Century BC, in his famous work Aegyptiaca (also referred to as Aigyptiaka), the "History of Egypt", and confirmed by Herodotus who claims that Menes, politically united Upper and Lower Egypt. It was not until the Twenty Sixth Dynasty (664 BC) that the Greeks came into contact with the highly civilized political and legal tradition of Egypt and acquired the ideas of liberty and democratic equality later espoused and further developed by Aristotle and Cicero. Greek and Roman conceptions of law greatly influenced its development in Europe, particularly in England. The common law system that forms the basis of the American legal system derives directly from England and was later embraced by the newly independent American states after the American Revolution."

There is no evidence that can support the idea that Menes was one person, much less whether he was Black or Semite. Any student of history would have to scoff at the idea that Egypt was the fount of democracy--lawyers, perhaps, but not democratic ideas of equality. The whole paragraph asserts an implication that our legal system derives from a Black ruler 5000 years back in the mists of time. Bias. or not? You judge.

Myself, I can only think of the disaster the journalistic world suffered because of the uncritical acceptance of works by Janice Cook at the Washington Post and Jason Blair at the new York Times. Could the academic world be due for a similar revelation?


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