Gottfried on Auster on Taki and Gottfried

The other day, after Taki Theodoracopulos had written an article at his website in which he equated Israel with Nazi Germany, I wrote an e-mail to him asking him to remove View from the Right from his Favorite Blogs list. I then posted the e-mail at VFR. In the same thread, I wondered how Paul Gottfried, with whom I’ve corresponded for many years, would respond to his editor’s portrayal of Israelis as Nazis. Gottfried now writes at Taki’s Magazine about “Auster’s Anger”:

Having already received several frantic notes about Taki’s comments concerning Israel’s campaign against armed Hamas members and other targets in the Gaza region, perhaps I should go public before these mounting inquiries get out of hand. In the case of Taki’s sworn enemy Larry Auster, there may be nothing that I could possibly say to placate his Achilles-like wrath….

Mr. Gottfried clearly suggests that my note to him was among the “several frantic notes about Taki’s comments” that he has received. He describes me as “Taki’s sworn enemy,” and he says that nothing can placate my “Achilles-type wrath.”

In his usual manner of dealing with intellectual disputes, Gottfried characterizes my statements about Taki in terms of emotions, anger, enemies, hate, revenge, not in terms of truth and facts.

Here, in its totality, is the e-mail I wrote to Taki:


I’m not a regular reader of Taki’s Magazine, and of course you can do with your website what you like. But I would ask you as a favor to remove my blog, View from the Right, from your list of favorite blogs. I do not want to be associated in any way with a website that compares the Israelis with Nazi Germany.

The Israelis withdrew from Gaza three years ago, endured three years of constant rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into Israel, and now, three years late, are finally defending themselves by seeking to destroy Hamas’s ability to target Israel. The Israelis behave like peaceniks, and you equate them with Nazis. Furthermore, you write, “It’s always been perfectly clear to me that the Israelis are the ones sowing terror and the Palestinians are the ones besieged.”

And what would you do if your country were being attacked by mortar and rocket fire from an organization sworn to the destruction of your country?

Again, I ask you to remove View from the Right from your blog roll.

Lawrence Auster

Any “Achilles-like wrath” there? Any anger at all? Not that anger would have been out of place. But in my note I was polite and spoke to Taki in a respectful tone, acknowledging his dignity by saying that I was asking him “as a favor” to remove the VFR link. Stronger disapproval was stated later in the same thread when I agreed with a commenter who had remarked that Taki is an “idiot” for comparing the hyper-liberal peacenik Israelis to Nazis. I also called Taki an Israel-hater, which is indisputably true.

Now what about my “frantic” note to Gottfried? Here is my sole comment about Gottfried in that thread:

And, by the way, how will Paul Gottfried, who is pro-Israel, and John Zmirak, who has never been anti-Israel, feel about their editor equating the Israelis with Nazis? They’ll accept it, in order to have some place to write. And has Gottfried accepted Taki’s rule not to refer to his own positions as conservative? If so, how does he now describe himself?

I sent to Paul the comment along with a link to the thread under this subject line:

You’re mentioned in this thread and are welcome to reply

That’s it. That’s the sum total of what I said about and to Paul Gottfried on this issue. This is the comment that he led his readers to believe was a “frantic” note he had received from me expressing my implacable, Achilles-like wrath.

I wrote a brief paragraph asking how Gottfried would respond to Taki’s comment—and Gottfried replies with an entire article called “Auster’s Anger.”

Now what about Gottfried’s statement:

Moreover, Larry has told me more than once, that, if I were indeed a friend of Israel, I would keep my distance from this website.

While my memory could be wrong, I am sure that I never said to Gottfried that he should not write at Taki’s. Indeed, it’s impossible that I said that to him, because it would go against my view, stated on several occasions to friends, that while I personally would never write at The American Conservative (not that TAC would ask me), conservative writers need to get their work published, and they should try to do so wherever they can. However, it’s also true that my question as to how Gottfried would feel about “[his] editor equating the Israelis with Nazis,” was clearly challenging Gottfried to explain why he chooses to write for an enemy of Israel. Which I think is a legitimate question. (More on this below.)

In any case, the only e-mail to Gottfried on the subject of Taki that I find in my folders is one I sent to him last October 4 dealing with Taki’s boasting in print of his affairs with married women:


I don’t like to say this, but Taki is a disgrace. Of course, that’s always been true, but one’s hopeful thought that Taki’s disgraceful ways were behind him is dispersed by his recent article boasting about his affairs with married women. And when the head of a website does something like that, then by necessity the others at that website defend it or excuse it, and everyone ends up tainted.

As an example of how people get tainted by their leaders and their environment, look at Zmirak’s latest article where he references something called MILF and brings Sarah Palin into connection with it. I won’t tell you what it means. I just found out myself. But here are the Google results.

I don’t tell other people what to do. Conservative writers need outlets, and readers. But for myself, if Taki’s Magazine were the only magazine on earth, I wouldn’t write there.


The e-mail had nothing to do with Israel. It does not tell Gottfried that he should leave Taki’s site, but just the opposite: “I don’t tell other people what to do. Conservative writers need outlets, and readers.” As for my being Taki’s “sworn enemy,” isn’t that rather extreme? Lots of people think Taki is a disgrace. For heaven’s sake, he’s famous for being a wealthy lowlife (he boasts of it himself), and many people consider him an anti-Semite, though I don’t think I have ever called him one. In the thread under discussion I called him an Israel-hater, which, again, is an unchallengeable statement.

Also, simply saying that I would never write at his site is hardly treating him as an enemy. Taki is not someone to whom I’ve paid much attention over the years. Among VFR’s 12,000 entries there are 53 entries where the word “Taki” appears, and, while I’m sure I’ve made a critical comments about him from time to time, almost all of the references to him at VFR are about articles by other people at his website, not about him personally. However, I do notice an entry by me last March, concerning Taki’s fond tribute to William F. Buckley.

Taki has an affectionate column remembering William Buckley, whom (I did not know this) he knew well and who, as he tells it, took his side throughout life, even seating Taki and his wife next to him at his 80th birthday party at the Pierre Hotel, while “some neocons nearby turned green.” Taki seems to be the only person in the paleocon/paleolibertarian camp who has good things to say about Buckley, but I must say it is nice to see something affectionate about him coming from those quarters, after reading Peter Brimelow’s harsh attack on him, which a VFR reader described as a savage indictment.

If I were Taki’s sworn enemy, would I have written this?

In that same entry I also write:

Also, I notice to my amazement that VFR, the scourge of the paleolibertarians, is still on Taki’s blogroll, right between Justin Raimondo (!) and (!).

Now let’s return to Gottfried’s comment:

… there may be nothing that I could possibly say to placate [Auster’s] Achilles-like wrath….

Meaning, I’m a person so filled with anger that I’ve tragically lost all sense of proportion, as happened with Achilles.

For the fun of it, let’s consider Achilles’ anger, as expressed in its most implacable, most unreasonable form, in his speech in Book IX of The Iliad, in which he replies to a diplomatic party sent by Agamemnon offering him every conceivable gift if he will put aside his anger at Agamemnon and return to the fighting. Achilles, of course, utterly rejects the offer:

I will join with him in no counsel, and in no action.
He cheated me and he did me hurt. Let him not beguile me
with words again. This is enough for him. Let him of his own will
be damned, since Zeus of the counsels has taken his wits away from him.
I hate his gifts. I hold him light as the strip of a splinter.
Not if he gave me ten times as much, and twenty times over
as he possesses now, not if more should come to him from elsewhere,
or gave all that is brought in to Orchomenos, all that is brought in
to Thebes of Egypt, where the greatest possessions lie up in the houses,
Thebes of the hundred gates, where through each of the gates two hundred
fighting men come forth to war with horses and chariots;
Not if he gave me gifts as many as the sand or the dust is,
Not even so would Agamemnon have his way with my spirit
Until he had made good to me all this heartrending insolence.

Now that’s implacability that goes beyond all reason! That’s Achilles-like wrath!

Gottfried confuses a principled position with unreasoning anger.

* * *

As far as Gottfried’s substantive handling of the Taki-on-Israel issue is concerned, his main point (apart from his saying that he needs a place to write, just as I predicted he would say) seems to be that Taki’s equating of the Israelis to Nazis is no big deal, everyone does it. In other words, if other people compare Israelis to Nazis, it’s ok for Taki to do it. For Gottfried, everything is relative.

Gottfried then veers off into his usual obsession with the neocon Israel-defenders, whom, he says, he finds vastly more repulsive than the people who are calling the Israelis Nazis and cheering for the destruction of the Jewish State. Then he writes:

If these should be my allies in a campaign against Taki, I’ll leave them to Larry Auster, as people whom he should get to know better. From my observations it seems that the “conservative movement” has ostracized him as much as they have me. For all of his invectives against Israel’s enemies, the most impassioned Zionist war-hawks in the US, next to himself, will have nothing to do with poor Larry. This should send him a message (but I doubt that it will) that it is better to disagree amicably with Taki than to try to please our real enemies. Those enemies lead zombie armies that are not allowed to think for themselves on issues that matter.

Of course the “conservative movement” has never ostracized me, because I’ve never been a part of it. From the beginning of my writing career, I have taken positions, particularly on race and immigration, and then on Islam, and even on Israel and the Arabs, that have placed me outside the mainstream conservative movement, though of course I agree with it and support it on various points. Again, Gottfried seems wholly unable to see an issue in terms of truth and principle. He somehow imagines that in my writings defending Israel from its mortal enemies I have been seeking the favor of neoconservatives, and that I am therefore sad that they have rejected me. The truth, of course, is that I state the truth as I see it, which, forgive me for my quaintness, is what I thought being a writer was about. Gottfried, the paleocon relativist who sees every issue in terms of loyalties and hatreds, is wholly unable to grasp what I’m about.

* * *

A further example of the paleocon tendency to reduce all disputes to personal attacks is seen in a blog entry by Red Phillips, entitled “Lawrence Auster Attacking Taki.”

Here are highlights:

Lawrence Auster has some good things to say on immigration, but he is not without substantial problems.

He is an ideological nationalist and as such gets Lincoln wrong and is an enemy of “neo-Confederates.” (I hate that term but use it here for clarity.) He also bashes paleos and particularly doesn’t like Thomas Fleming.

What lies behind much of this is his pathological inability to tolerate differences on certain subjects. And he is very public with his grumpiness.

If I had the same disposition as Auster, I would publicly disavow and demonize them and stomp off to an ever smaller phone booth in a huff.

Now Auster is at it again. He has called out Taki for his recent article on the Israel vs. Gaza conflict. While I think it is generally unwise to make Hitler and Nazi comparisons, because it is such an emotional subject and the neocons, for whom it is always 1939, do it all the time, Taki is not “comparing” Israel to the Nazis in the way that Auster implies. Taki is making a numeric comparison of the ratio of people killed on both sides.

Auster is an ethnic Jew who converted to Christianity. He is VERY sensitive to perceived anti-Semitism.

“Has substantial problems.” “Pathological inability.” “Grumpiness.” “Stomp off.” “VERY sensitive to perceived anti-Semitism.” This is the typical way paleocons, as well as Darwinians, anti-jihadists, and other factions I’ve criticized, refer to me. When responding to my criticisms of their side, they are unable to deal with the issue at hand in terms of the issue at hand. Everything is personalized, everything is turned into the suggestion that there is something personally wrong with me. Such is the level of discourse in so much of the conservative Web.

- end of initial entry -

Ron L. writes:

I am rather stunned by Gottfried’s comments.

He asserts that Rahm Emanuel’s father belonged to an organization that received aid from the Nazis. That is obscene slander. The Irgun Zvai Leumi did no such thing. Its operations against the British ended on September 1, 1939. Throughout occupied Europe and Nazi-allied countries, members of Beitar, the Revisionist Zionist organization from which the Irgun recruited, aided the British. Members of the Irgun worked for British intelligence in trying to put down Arab revolts in Iraq. The extent of Irgun Nazi ties were a single meeting with other Zionist organizations, where they tried to convince the Germans that they would help resettle Jews if the Nazis would expel them rather than kill them. Outside the delusional barkings of anti-Semites, people trying to save the Jews of Nazi occupied Europe would be a good thing.

Perhaps. Gottfried was thinking of Lehi (Freedom Fighters of Israel), or the Stern Gang as it became known after its leader Avraham Stern. Stern and dissident members of the Irgun broke from the Irgun over the issue of aiding the British. When other Zionist organizations found that Lehi were negotiating to help the Nazis in return for better treatment of Jews in occupied Europe, they turned on Stern and betrayed him to the British. Menahem Begin hardly worked with the Nazis. He fled the Nazi invasion and was arrested as a British spy by the NKVD, spending 2 years in a Gulag. His father, mother and older brother were all killed by the Nazis. As part of the Polish Army in exile, Begin was sent as a liaison in the British Mandate of Palestine, where he later joined the Irgun.

That Ben Gurion, a man known for ordering the artillery attack on the Irgun ship the Altalena, to spread malicious lies is a given. It is only because of the graciousness of the Irgun and its decision to lay down its arms to prevent a civil war, that Ben Gurion did not suffer the fate of Rabin, who actually commanded the Hagannah troops who attacked the Altalena.

It is sad that Gottfried would accept as dogma the word of socialists and the current propaganda of Neo-nazis and Arabists, but not do an iota of research himself. Were he to care about the truth, he would notice pattern of leftist Zionists and leftist Jews joining the Arabs in smearing right-wing Zionists for crass political ends. It fits with Gottfried’s intellectual laziness. His desire to take a middle ground on the issue of Gaza precludes him from remembering that Israel tried to work the PLO after it left Gaza. It precludes him from noting that Israel left intact the infrastructure it had built, after it forcibly expelled Jews from the land. It precludes him from noting that the closing of Gaza occurred only after Hamas, which had already used Gaza as a staging base for attacks on Israel, was elected by the Gazans on a platform of destroying Israel. And his unwillingness to consider the differences between Israel’s limited attacks and the Nazi liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto goes beyond mere sloth. As with his desire to attribute exterminationist goals to you and to serious right Zionists, it is the actions of a man blinded by ideology. The truth is less relevant than being the court Jew of the grievance movement known as paleoconservatism.

LA replies:

Ron’s historical perspective is most useful.

What also struck me is the way Gottfried describes himself as pro-Israel, then makes clear he has no problem with the allies and supporters of Muslims seeking to destroy Israel. People calling Israelis Nazis? It just rolls off his back. The ultimate determining factor for Gottfried, as I’ve noted many times before, is not what he believes in but what he’s against. What he’s against, of course, is the neocons. That’s the one absolute in his world, and all other things are relative to it. So, because the neocon defenders of Israel arouse absolute revulsion in him, Jew-hating allies of Muslims seeking to destroy Israel don’t bother him so much. His revulsion at the former is absolute, his opposition to the latter is relative. Meaning that his opposition to Jew-hating allies of Muslims seeking to destroy Israel is not based on the inherent rightness or wrongness of smearing Israelis as Nazis and supporting Israel’s would-be destroyers; it’s based on its being less strong than his absolute opposition to neocons.

January 5

Lydia McGrew writes:

I thought that Paul Gottfried’s post about why he writes at Taki’s was illogical and childish. If, for example, his wife makes a particular comment about Israel, this does not in and of itself mean that it is not an outrageous comment.

LA replies:

That’s the level of argument we find with Paul Gottfried and so many paleocons. If Paul’s wife agrees with some moronic comment Taki made about Israel, then it must be true. (Which takes the Argument from Authority to a new level. Now we have the Argument from the Wife. Hmm, what would be the Latin for that?) If I defend Israel, it’s because I’m seeking favor with the neoconservatives, or, as Red Phillips put it, it’s because I’m “VERY sensitive to perceived anti-Semitism.” Everything is personal. Everything is emotional. Everything is tribal in the stupidest sense sense of the word. No notion of truth or principle or justice. And, hovering over the whole thing, a thuggishness never far removed from anti-Semitism. I don’t think that calling Paul Gottfried the court Jew in this enterprise, as Ron L. did above, is far off.

And by the way, there was no need for Paul to defend Taki’s despicable remarks. He could have said, “I respect Taki, but I dissociate myself from his statement about Israel,” and left it at that. Instead, he went out of his way to rationalize it.

Michael Hart writes:

I thought your remarks about Taki were moderate and completely justified. Thank you for making them.

Ron L. writes:

The Red Phillips thread on this at Conservative Heritage Times post on this has truly degenerated into open antisemitism.

It truly is sad. I regularly comment there, but am beginning to find it pointless.

LA replies:

It’s sub-moronic! And that’s being generous.

What’s a smart guy like you doing in a dump like that?

(Dylan paraphrase.)

January 6

Alan Levine writes:

I fully agreed with your attack on Taki and your comments about Paul Gottfried, and I have told Paul that—with some reluctance; he has been reviewing a manuscript of mine.

Jim N. writes:

I consider myself a paleo, but at the same time I don’t really see anyone out there writing for me. Much of the writing of these other self-described paleocons is intellectually incoherent and often childishly immature. I stopped reading Taki’s Mag many moons ago for that very reason. While I like and respect both Paul Gottfried and Daniel Larison, I find the other writers there to be, let us say, not of the intellectual caliber required to lead a revolution. Moreover, most of them seem to be in fact libertarians, not paleocons, possessing (judging by what they write) all of the libertine tendencies that that name implies. As for my problems with Chronicles and Dr. Fleming, don’t even get me started…

Anyway, I think you’re being too defensive in writing a long apologia and defense of your email. The truth about it is obvious enough to anyone who reads it. There’s no sense in giving those guys the impression that Gottfried’s points are so salient that they require extensive rebuttal.

LA replies:

Well, on one hand I would tend to agree with you, as Gottfried’s article was no big deal, and I myself had doubts whether it was worth replying to. But if you read his article again, you will see that he made numerous statements that really did require a reply. The fact that he made my brief paragraph about him into the occasion for an entire article called “Auster’s Anger” (the typical response I get whenever I criticize anyone); the fact that he said that I had told him that he should not write at Taki’s, which was not true and I needed to correct; and, most remarkably, his defense of Taki, in which, completely unnecessarily, he digs himself even deeper and makes himself an apologist for people calling Israelis Nazis—all this and more merited a careful reply in my opinion.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 04, 2009 10:04 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):