APSA moves

by Henry Farrell on August 5, 2005

A minor victory for San Francisco hotel workers, who are fighting a divisive battle over contracts with their employers. The American Political Science Association has announced that it is “moving its 2006 meeting”:http://www.apsanet.org/content_18472.cfm to Philadelphia, “[d]ue to the lack of progress in the protracted labor-management dispute in San Francisco.” This is the result of a deliberate strategy by the hotel workers’ union, which has been working on persuading academic organizations not to host conferences at the hotels in question, while they continue to try to hold out. Union officials figure that it’s time for academic lefties to put their money where their mouth is, and they’re damn right. I’m delighted that the American Political Science Association has done this.

Update: I should make it clear that my understanding isn’t that the APSA is taking a political stance on the underlying merits of the issues here. Instead, I read the press release to say that given the likelihood of disruption (which would stem from leftwing political scientists boycotting, or organizing pickets, alternative meetings etc in solidarity with the hotel workers), the APSA has decided to move to a less controversial location.

Unpleasantly self-absorbed suicide bombers

by Chris Bertram on August 5, 2005

The hapless Peter Wilby has a column — “The Responsiblity We All Share for Islamist Shock and Awe”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1542996,00.html — in the Guardian today about how citizens of democracies share responsibility for the actions of their leaders. Wilby it was who famously answered his own question about whether the victims of September 11th were innocent with a ‘yes and no’, as if somehow some of them were deserving of their fate( ‘In buildings thought indestructible’, New Statesman, 17 September 2001). There’s more of the same today, with a similar slide from the notion that we as citizens should take responsibility for our governments (with which I agree) and the claim that this somehow turns us all into legitimate objects of attack (which is garbage). Of course Wilby doesn’t actually say this, he sort-of says it and then he sort-of takes it back (well sort-of, in a Guardianish sort-of way).

It is hard to pick out a low point from the article, but if I were pushed I’d go for:

bq. … a home-grown suicide bomber, dreaming of 72 virgins for himself and “a painful doom” (in the Qur’an’s words) for his victims, seems an unpleasantly self-absorbed figure.

I googled the phrase “unpleasantly self-absorbed” and found it variously applied to a book by a management consultant, some characters from _Die Fledermaus_ , and the protagonists in Lars von Trier’s _The Idiots_ .