Brian Leiter, on his blog: (1) Bernstein says, accurately, that Columbia Professor Joseph Massad says there are no homosexuals in the Arab world, though there are men who have same-sex contact. What, I, Leiter KNOW Massad really meant was simply to invoke Foucault's theory of sexuality, because he cites Foucault in two footnotes. [Not mentioned by Leiter, Massad adds that to the extent there are self-identified homosexuals in the Arab world, they are the product of Western cultural imperialism via a conspiracy he calls "Gay International," and they have basically invited Arab governments to persecute them because they are importing foreign ideologies.]
(2) Bernstein says that Marxism is about as scientifically valid as intelligent design, and he's right that most of what Marxists traditionally believed has been discredited. But Marxism is still a valid methodology because it's "amply supported in numerous sociological and historical studies" that "one can explain historical events by attention to how different economic classes pursue their material interests, which lead them into conflict with other economic classes." [You know, that's exactly how I go about my own day: how can I help the upper-middle-class and screw all the other classes today?] Oh, and moral and political ideas are basically just exist to promote and protect class interests. In other words, the crudest sort of Marxist materialist class analysis is still valid, even if all of Marx's other ideas are not.
(3) It's offensive, but not anti-Semitic, for Norman Finkelstein to write that leading American Jewish activists "resemble stereotypes straight out of [Nazi newspaper] Der Sturmer." It's neither offensive nor anti-Semitic for him to write that undifferentiated "American Jewish elites" are imbued with "chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism" resulting in "recklessness and ruthlessness." And it's not at all offensive to say that "coddling them [American Jewish elites] is not the answer. They need to be stopped." Perhaps if Finkelstein were wrong, it would be anti-Semitic, but he's not, American Jewish elites really are that way. And besides, a commenter notes that Finkelstein claims he is highlighting the American Jewish elites' numerous "lethal" flaws as his contribution to the fight against anti-Semitism.
(4) Bernstein says the vast majority of Freud's work is not empirically valid. I, Leiter, have a couple of footnotes in one paper where I cite a defender of Freud who claims that a few of his theses are valid. I won't mention the fact that even accepting this work as sound, that still leaves the vast majority of Freud's work empirically false. [More important, Freud never tried to empirically invalidate his work, and for decades his followers denied that his work should be subject to empirical testing. If Freud turned out to right on some things, well, you know what they say about stopped clocks.]
Back to me [Bernstein]. I'm not going to waste my time rehashing all of Massad's foibles, detailed in many prior posts on this blog, explaining why Finkelstein, who makes misogynistic [stating that a photo of two respected elderly Jewish women may "give you nightmares"] as well as anti-Semitic comments, is a creep, or debating about Marxism and Freudianism. I'll just say that if Leiter and the rest of the far left want to make Massad and Finkelstein their poster children for "scholars" who are "unjustly" attacked, they are welcome to them, just as they are welcome to Ward Churchill. I should note the irony that Leiter, et al.'s concept of academic freedom apparently amounts to "we should be allowed to say whatever we want in however offensive a manner, and not have anyone criticize us, or point out our scholarly and ethical deficiencies to relevant parties." A question for Leiter: if we were to agree that Massad's scholarship is poor, should he be granted tenure because he hates Israel, and expresses such in his scholarship?
And if Leiter wants to keep attacking the "right" for being "anti-science," while defending the idea that major aspects of Marxism and Freudianism are scientifically sound, well, that's his credibility at stake, not mine. And the really funny part is that Leiter apparently exhibits much less of the skepticism regarding Marxism and Freudianism (which historically have been embraced by the "Left") that he famously exhibits regarding evolutionary psychology (which horrifies the far left because it suggests the lack of malleability of human nature).
UPDATE: Post edited slightly for length. And for my response to an equally vapid, and equally unprovoked, attack on me by Leiter (I supposed I should be flattered that he spends so much energy on this, but doesn't he have anything better to do?), see here. And Leiter has added an update that in which he claims that I wrote that he, personally, criticized evolutionary pyschology on the grounds that it suggests the lack of malleability of human nature. The careful (or even not-so-careful) reader of the previous paragraph will see that I never made this claim; I rather claimed that Leiter apparently exhibits less skepticism of theories that his fellow far left-wing ideologues find congenial than of theories that his fellow far left-wing ideologues find problematic for their ideology. That doesn't mean that Leiter's academic critique of evolutionary psychology relies on the ideological reasons that left-wingers find it so bothersome. I'm sure Leiter, who despite his blog persona is a very bright philosopher, understands the distinction.