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:
Taki,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 replyThat’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:
Paul,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 lewrockwell.com (!).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.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.“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.
Ron L. writes:
I am rather stunned by Gottfried’s comments.LA replies:
Ron’s historical perspective is most useful.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.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.LA replies:
It’s sub-moronic! And that’s being generous.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…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