Beyond All Criticism?
Farber, Daniel A., 1950-
We knew, of course, that we were treading on dangerous ground in challenging radical multiculturalism. In writing Beyond All Reason we argued that the radicals' postmodern theories conflict deeply with their own laudable goals of racial justice and progressive dialogue. In particular, we tried to show that these theories had anti-Semitic and anti-Asian implications, and that they undermined community and impeded dialogue. In this way, we hoped to persuade the radicals to abandon these theories in favor of alternative methods of fighting for their goals. Of course, life is never that simple. Unfazed by our claims, the radicals have leveled a barrage of charges, both in this symposium and in a number of earlier reviews in other academic journals. The two most important charges are that we distorted the radicals' positions, and that we made illegitimate consequentialist arguments based on the very identity politics we decry. We deal with these charges in the next two sections of this essay. A third section shows that the responses to Beyond All Reason often illustrate the very dangers we originally wrote about, especially the risk of undermining dialogue and community. In general, the radicals' responses to Beyond All Reason resort to the self-sealing ideology we described in the book: radical multiculturalists seem to view their scholarship as beyond all criticism.