KC Johnson's obviously a dogged researcher and responsible scholar ... when he wants to be. When he doesn't—that is, when facts flatter his agenda—he either brandishes his liberal credentials or boldly dissembles. Johnson rebuts those who would associate him with David Horowitz:
"Indoctrination" is a concern of some right-wing academic critics, especially David Horowitz. Yet, since Piot claims to have read the blog closely, he knows that I’m an Obama supporter who backs gay marriage and abortion rights.
KC has to be blind if he doesn't see how his book feeds into the larger right-wing narrative about academia, which for convenience one calls "Horowitzian."
Johnson's not blind. He knows what he's doing. He knows the people he must align with to do it. This isn't to claim Johnson's ideas are coterminous with Horowitz's, only that they appeal to the same people for the same reasons. Witness his commentariat. Better yet, since he distances himself from the racism and sexism so prevalent among some of its numbers, witness the meat Johnson tosses to them:
This article represents what passes for a scholarly publication in [Charles] Piot’s field [cultural anthropology]. Indeed, it is listed as a "representative publication" on Professor Piot’s CV.
Johnson may not agree with Horowitz, but he certainly appropriates his style. Piot's article is dubious. I grant Johnson that. (Just as I've granted him his due from the get-go.) And were Johnson to stop with the facts before him like any responsible scholar we wouldn't be having this conversation. Instead, he makes a leap as grandiose as the one which motivates the second half of Until Proven Innocent. To wit:
- Charles Piot's article represents what passes for scholarly publication in his field ...
- ... because Charles Piot lists it as a "representative publication" on his CV.
Unless the field in question is "Charles Piot Studies," Johnson's argument is a sloppy attempt to discredit the work of hundreds of scholars through a flip rhetorical gesture. I suspect that when he reads this post, Johnson will correct his "mistake," thereby cementing his readers' belief in his integrity. I'm not buying it. He's too smart to not be this savvy.
He makes statements hoping that no one notices them, because it's a win-win proposition. If no one does, his pack feasts upon the meat he's thrown it. If someone does, he plays the role of the judicious pack-leader, and his pack respects him all the more for his honesty ... but only because they've already stuffed a little meat down their gullets.
Rhetorically, it's as brilliant as it is dishonest. And it is dishonest. I refuse to believe so thorough a researcher as Johnson wouldn't have performed a cursory examination of the field he dismissed in its entirety and learned that Transforming Anthropology is not among cultural anthropology's flagship journals. I refuse to believe that Johnson didn't consult an anthropologist and learn that Current Anthropology and The Journal of American Anthropology are the field's representative journals. Therefore, I can only conclude that there's a reason Johnson wants his readers to assume (wrongly) that Transforming Anthropology is representative:
The lie furthers his agenda. (As will its correction.)