ALTERMAN AND THE GLOBE. On February 7, Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young referred to a recent commentary by Eric Alterman - a liberal pundit who is also Jewish - as "anti-Semitic" (or would be if it had been written by "a non-Jew," she wrote), or even as evidence that Alterman is a "self-hating" Jew. (Young's column is online here.)
Alterman's offense, in Young's eyes: expressing some understanding for the British Muslim Council's decision to boycott the 60th-anniversary ceremonies surrounding the liberation of Auschwitz. Alterman, Young noted, had written on his MSNBC.com weblog, Altercation:
[T]he Palestinians have also suffered because of the Holocaust. They lost their homeland as the world - in the form of the United Nations - reacted to European crimes by awarding half of Palestine to the Zionists.... To ask Arabs to participate in a ceremony that does not recognize their own suffering but implicitly endorses the view that caused their catastrophe is morally idiotic.
The expectation that a commentator's views must be in lockstep with his or her ethnic, religious, or sexual identity is always distasteful - particularly when blacks, women, gays, or Jews are labeled "self-hating" when they refuse to toe the perceived party line.
Then again, maybe the "self-hating" label is justified on occasion. That's what I found myself thinking when I read a stunning recent commentary by author and pundit Eric Alterman ...
This is rough, nasty stuff - way out of bounds, in Media Log's view - and I've been wondering when Alterman would respond in public. The answer: today. In a long post on Altercation, he introduces readers to the dispute and reproduces correspondence he's had with the Globe, including ombudsman Christine Chinlund and Nick King, an editor of the Globe's op-ed page. He also reproduces letters from supporters. Read the whole thing - my attempt at summarizing this really doesn't do it justice.
People who know Alterman also know he's fierce in defending his views and himself. This isn't going away. Indeed, he writes:
There are many journalistic issues raised here regarding the Globe editors' irresponsibility in allowing it to be used by a know-nothing ideologue like Young, and I hope to deal with most of them in the future, here and in The Nation. [Alterman is the media critic for that magazine.] Today I am merely providing the record of my correspondence with the newspaper.
In other words, today is just the first installment in what is likely to be a long, ugly battle. Indeed, the title of Alterman's post hints at just how ugly this could get: "Slandered in the Globe."
Perhaps Young will write about this herself next Monday. Chinlund's next column would normally run next Monday as well. This could be interesting.