Thursday, May 16, 2013

Apocalypse and Puckered Lips Now: Hawking Ignorance beyond the Stratosphere

NORMAN SIMMS May 16, 2013
Stephen Hawkings just announced he will not travel to Israel to speak. He has decided to listen to Palestinian colleagues who tell him not to go. Stephen Hawkings, from his wheelchair, hunched over and only able to speak through an elaborate talking device, acceded to the pressures of those who wish to divest, boycott and sanction Israel. A great scientist, a great communicator, for all his disabilities, thus puts his name and prestige squarely on the side of the "suffering" Palestinians and against the State of Israel-that monstrous Zionist entity, that Apartheid State, that-that-words hardly matter when you can splatter out your hatred from your puckered lips. One of the greatest and most intelligent men of our age has succumbed to the mind-numbing propaganda of those who, against all facts, in defiance of all historical evidence, and in the face of manifest truth, those who hate the Jews, although they have to call them, at least some of the time, Israelis or Zionists-or colonialists, or imperialists, running dogs of American capitalism.

Of course, Stephen Hawkings only implies that he is listening to these Palestinian scientists, that he will do as they say, and so will not add his iconic presence and his world-renowned prestige to the side of the great satanic enemies of mankind.  No matter, as so many commentators have already pointed out, he, like many other disabled persons, sufferers from horrible illnesses that disfigure the human body, are able to live productive, though hardly normal lives, precisely because of the scientific, technological and humanitarian achievements of the State of Israel. These so-called liberals, human rightniks and compassionate interpreters of history want to divest themselves and the institutions that they serve of all financial interests in the Jewish State, they want to boycott the academics and the scientific knowledge of those persons associated with and serving the "illegitimate" State of Israel, that "grand mistake of history," and they want to censure any and all individuals, groups and organizations that support and associate themselves with the Jewish State.
Therefore, one wants to shout out GOOD: Stop at once from benefiting from and using all the medicines, medical prostheses and other devices, and scientific information developed by the "pigs and apes", that is, Jews, who live and work in Israel. No longer invite Israeli professors and intellectuals and artists from participating in your own cultural activities.  Prevent Israeli students, lecturers, and experts from attending your universities and research institutions. Send them all packing, taking with them their know-how and their expertise.  Live, then, if you can, on the tiny dribble of useful information produced by the Palestinians in their as yet non-existent state.
Stephen Hawkings probably does not mean any of this.  He may not believe that Israel is an oppressive, exclusionary state based on humanitarian principles, or on Jewish moral responsibilities. After all, he is one of the greatest minds in our lifetime but, alas, in his decision, he proves himself a moral idiot.  He understands the meaning of time, its origins in the very creation of the universe, and the mathematical principles of all that is current in cosmology: yet he does not understand the meaning of history, the basic facts of politics, and the significance of truth and justice.
I am sure that we will soon see him, with many of his behind-the-scenes helpers, boarding a plane and flying to Damascus to put his much-viewed body and his mechanically produced voice on the line to protest against all the massacres and war crimes being committed in Syria. He will then go to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh and a host of other Moslem and Arab states to celebrate their fine records in human rights and their crowning achievements in science and the arts. And if that is not enough, then even further, with his heightened sense of moral responsibility and political insight, he may go to North Korea to congratulate their Great Leader on his excellent food-distribution programme and largesse to less-fortunate countries in the West.
But enough of satiric-satanic curses.  Now the bigger epistemological question. Does a person, male or female (or some combination of the two), famous and touted for his excellence in one field, namely, cosmology, have the right-or maybe, not so much the right, as the intelligence to speak as an expert in other fields, such as politics, ethics or anything else? We certainly know that qualifications in such fields as sport, cinema and cosmetic or sartorial beauty allow media celebrities to speak out on all topics and to receive world-wide attention and adulation, no matter how bizarre or shallow their remarks. While this is understandable and laudable for air-heads and blowhards, does it carry over for scientists, novelists or journalists?
Everyone has the right to speak his or her mind, provided, one would have thought, in the bad old days before political correctness, there was a mind to speak and that mind was somehow or other knowledgeable about what it purported to spout forth. Now-a-days, when people are famous for being famous and knowing how to manipulate the media, it is proper and just for those with enough tattoos, dingle-dangles and associated bling on their well-sculpted bodies (whether or not in unmentionable parts of the person, though the hidden sections can and must be exposed to continue the celebrity status) to announce whatever pomposity, platitudinous nonsense, or defamatory crudity they wish. Texts, tweets and u-tubical versions of their statements go viral.  The stars are invited to TV talk shows, show-off shows and are interviewed by hosts with even less savvy, street-smarts or noos than they display.
Thousands of years from now, visitors from stars in other galaxies far away, will discover our archives and marvel at our achievements, nothing so wonderful, we may rest assured, than Stephen Hawkings pronouncing his disengagement from the very land, people and state that made it possible for him to become all that he has become.  And then it will be time for the End of Time.
Norman Simms is the author of Alfred Dreyfus: Man, Milieu, Mentality and Midrash (Academic Studies Press, 2011).  The second volume in the series, Alfred Dreyfus:  In the Context of His Times: Alfred Dreyfus as Lover, Intellectual, Poet and Jew  should be out towards the end of this year; and a third volume tentatively entitled Alfred and Lucie Dreyfus: Illusions, Delusions and Allusions is being prepared for 2013.

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