Date: Mon, 03 Jun 1996 10:55:45 -0400
To: Athena Discuss 
Subject: Re: Otabil and rhetoric

David Meadows wrote:
> Style wasn't the issue with Mr. Otabil's posts; clarity was, 

Here is what you did say:
 -What I *do* recommend to my students, however, is "Don't obfuscate your
 -scholarly gleanings with overtly florid verbiage". 'nuff said?
And also:
 -Good to see the verbal advantage tapes are paying off for you. Here's a hint
 -from someone who has consistently received excellent evaluations from his
 -students -- don't try to impress people with large words; keep the heavy
 -vocabulary to a minimum and your point will be oh so much more clear. 
I think these comments--"overtly florid", "don't try to impress people
with large words"--constitute a clear criticism of style, moreover in
rather a patronising tone.

> and it was
> primarily with just one or two portions of his post. In particular, this
> paragraph:
> >     I repeat, the state of the question does not reduce to the shape of
> contest,>and so deserves studied attention. It can however reduce to such
> only if we>unthinkingly license the hysteria of `classics'-under-threat;
> i.e., classics pawn->canonized into the icon of readable western heritage.
> One pointer to the reduction>is the prompt disclaimer of `Eurocentrism' by
> those who are else so quick to give>their opponents a bad
> name--`Afrocentrism'--and hang, nay LYNCH, it on the>stake of hallowed
> `scholarship'.
> I understand the first sentence. In the second sentence I have really no
> idea what is going on after the i.e. and I really do not understand at all
> the use of pawn in the sentence (or any of the other sentences in which it
> is used). The third sentence is ambiguous -- if hallowed scholarship is
> portrayed as a stake, then hanging, nay lynching, `Afrocentrism', on it
> might be seen as a good thing, but I don't think that is what mr. Otabil
> intends. Similarly, the labels Eurocentric and Afrocentric both come from
> the Afrocentric side; so how does that fit in?

Selective obtuseness, like selective scepticism, is a tactic used
by the tendentious.  I think you are engaged in it here.


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