Davenport, propositions and persons

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Tue, 19 Mar 1996 21:33:28 +0900

Clyde Davenport writes, in re my views of certain statements
about China and Taiwan,

"I cannot not let pass his comment in the final paragraph in
"Davenport on Taiwan <long>" that his charge that I was racist
was justified, and that he was entitled to use the crude language
he did to express this point."

Let me say as clearly and emphatically as possible that I have not
and do not say that Clyde Daveport is racist. I did say that certain
*statements* he made sounded, to my ear, not much better than,

"the crude "'They're only *racial epithet deleted*. *expletive
deleted* 'em,"

and I did mean precisely that.

While seeing how easy it is for Clyde to see an attack on his
words as an attack on himself, I would like to insist that it just
ain't so. One of the things I like immensely in my own cultural
mix is the, I think it was Luther's, statement that we should hate
the sin and love the sinner, and the more general disposition
which crops up again in places like the Catholic doctrine that the
moral state of the priest does not affect the efficacy of the
sacraments,the view of the New Critics that works of literature
can be examined apart from the authors' biographies, and the
objectification of language by linguists and logical empiricists, to
separate for critical purposes how we judge propositions and
how we feel about the people who utter them. What I like in this
position is the moral generosity that allows one to see that
ordinarily very wise and good people may occasionally say
something foolish or evil and, conversely, that thoroughly
reprehensible people can occasionally utter useful truths. In the
present case it would be very foolish indeed for me to accuse
Clyde Davenport of racism on the evidence of one statement in
the course of enthusiastic debate.

John McCreery
March 19, 1996

P.S. As I have just returned from a business trip on which I
averaged only about three hours sleep a night for two nights
running, I think I had better wait to reply to the rest of Clyde's
very interesting post until I have had a good night's sleep.