Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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.

Wrote Young:

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.


John Farrell said...

Hmm. It's no longer available online, I'm sure, without paying for it--but didn't Young actually quote Alterman as saying that all Arabs--not just Palenstinians-- across the board have a right to regard Israelis with hatred because of the way Israel has treated the Palestinians? That does strike me as a stretch (although that doesn't qualify Alterman as 'self-hating' in my opinion)

John Farrell said...

Okay...here it is, from Eric's own site: "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—which is why, I guess, I’m not surprised Andrew’s doing it."

I think he should've said Palestinians, not Arabs in general. But that said, Young did go over the top....

Anonymous said...

The Reason site has published Alterman's response in full, along with a reply by Young here.

When I first read Young's column in the Globe last week, I thought it was way off-base and over the line. I almost wrote the Globe then, but I figured hey, Alterman's a big boy and he'll certainly have something to say about it.

I read his letter a few days later, and thought that was pretty terse for him.

What I *can't* understand (or stomach) is that the Globe wouldn't afford him anything near "equal time" for a response. And King's attitude seems incompetent in the extreme.

My attitude vis-a-vis Israel is a lot closer to Young's than Alterman's, but I think Young slimed him in her column. And not allowing Alterman a response at length is downright disgusting.

Tim W said...

I can understand why Alterman's letter was edited for space--you can only print so many letters. But why did the op-ed page decice that printing not one but two Joan Vennochi columns in a week was a better use of space than giving Alterman a chance to respond?

The Globe in fact does have Young's article available online: here.

Anonymous said...

Young and Alterman at least seem to agree that Arab Muslims in the West care primarily about themselves AND that they're bringing their conflicts with them to Europe and America, YET both Alterman and Young support Muslim mass immigration. Their little spat over whether Alterman is self-hating or not is irrelevant compared to the fact that they both support policies that will destroy the West.

Hey, G-man, say something more really interesting about Bushie's homo pal!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous --Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for Mr. JOE CONASON!!!~Anthony G.

Anonymous said...

Alterman vehemently -- every day, again and again, takes issue with this line from Young's Globe column: "There is, for instance, the way Alterman not-so-deftly conflates Muslims with Arabs ..."

His position seems to be that, since he did not use the word "Muslim," it was Young doing the conflating. But wasn't Alterman's original post about a group called "the British Muslim Council"? I mean, Young was right: not so deftly conflated, Eric.

This part of the hubhub strikes me as trivial -- or at least it would be if Alterman wasn't beating it to death in his blog -- but can someone explain to me how Young was wrong on this point?