The Marty Problem

There are a lot of very talented writers who work for The New Republic. There are many whose work I admire, and because of that both The Plank and The Stump are well worth reading. But whether we’re talkingabout Chait, Cohn, Judis, Fairbanks, Cottle, Scheiber, or any other very talented writer under the TNR banner, on some level they should always have it hanging over their heads that they worked under, and thereby enabled, Marty Peretz. Here’s Marty’s latest meandering into the Gaza conflict:

I pity them their hatred of their inheritance. Actually of both their inheritances, Jewish and American. They are pip-squeaks, and I do not much read them. But when any one of them writes a real doozey it is likely to come to my attention.

I have known one of them, Spencer Ackerman, a smart young man but, alas, not as smart as he thinks and certainly not as smart as he needs to be. He worked at The New Republic for maybe two years or even three for which I apologize; you can look up his trash by yourself.

They were brought to mind in a short piece by Noah Pollak who, although he writes for Commentary’s “Contentions” blog, is about as free of conservative cant as are Niall Ferguson, who writes occasionally (too occasionally) for us, and Christopher Caldwell, a Saturday regular at the FT.   

“Juicebox mafia,” the tag-line for the Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein and Ackerman trio, was provided by a regular contributor to TNR. An excerpt from Pollak:

Matthew Yglesias writes something dumb enough that it needs no elaboration:

But already the number of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets has increased (from a baseline of zero) since the retaliatory attack that was supposed to prevent such killings.

Pollak is correct about Yglesias’ flippant allusion to the killing of two Israelis by rocketry in the heat of ongoing battle, although other Israelis were sent to their deaths during the six-month “cease-fire.” Some cease-fire. The point is that civil society is impossible with 50 missiles a day raining on your head. And it is a civil society that is at stake here. Whether the Gaza Palestinians can ever have a truly civil society is another question, the answer to which — given the Arab societies that surround them — is probably “no.” Sorry to disappoint you.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and it’s probably not worth the effort, but just this once I can’t resist. For starters, Peretz basically trots out the “self-loathing Jew” line without making it explicit, which is about as low as it gets. What anyone’s ethnic “inheritance” has to do with anything I don’t really know, other than that Marty seems to think every Jew everywhere must agree with him and reflexively cheer on everything Israel decides to do, even if it’s not in Israel’s interest. It’s the same as the reflexive right-wing “love it or leave it” meme, and it makes equally little sense when given an iota of thought.

Secondly, there’s the cheap, gratuitous, slam at Spackerman. Putting aside the cheap, weak, and rather contradictory potshots, there’s something just downright low about the editor of your former magazine “apologizing” for your writing. That’s especially true at TNR, where there’s a lot of writers who should be routinely apologized for, Marty being chief among them. To put it as bluntly as I can, and to state the obvious, Mart Peretz is a racist, as evidenced by his belief that, ” The point is that civil society is impossible with 50 missiles a day raining on your head. And it is a civil society that is at stake here. Whether the Gaza Palestinians can ever have a truly civil society is another question, the answer to which — given the Arab societies that surround them — is probably “no.” In other words, Arabs are sub-human animals who aren’t cabable of civilized living. This is, of course, the same sort of logic that’s been used to justify holding Africans in slavery, criminalizing homosexuality, various ethnic wars around the world, and ironically enough, the centuries of oppression of the Jewish people. Which isn’t surprising, in so much as bigotry is bigotry no matter whom it’s directed against, and it’s at least helpful when people are upfront about their bigotry, but bigotry it is all the same.

So while Marty is in an apologizing mood, every writer under the TNR banner should be apologizing for him. Of course that won’t happen, since Marty writes the checks, but anyone who carries on silently while their boss spews blatant racism on the same webspace they inhabit should not complain if that comes back to haunt them in the future.

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