Reply to Gottfried

Paul Gottfried, after writing a wholly unnecessary article, “Auster’s Anger,” attacking me over a single, legitimate question I asked of him in a thread that was about Taki, which required a long reply from me to set the record straight, in the course of which I held him to task, not for writing for Taki, but for excusing what Taki had said about Israel being Nazi-like, has now written yet another article attacking me, though half his article is in response to VFR commenter Ron L. (Ron Lewenberg). It would have been so much easier for Gottfried simply to say in response to my original article, “I don’t agree with Taki’s statements, I support Israel, end of subject.” Instead, he defended Taki over his “Nazi” charge against Israel, thus opening himself to severer criticism than I initially had had in mind, and since then he has kept swinging wilder and wilder.

Thus he writes:

Allow me to note two inconvenient facts. One, I am strongly on the Israeli side in the current assault on Hamas military sites, although not in the same bloodthirsty fashion as Lewenberg Auster, and the ranters at the New York Post. There is no reason to rejoice about shedding human blood, even when it seems necessary for the survival of one’s people or co-ethnics.

Gottfried is “strongly” on Israel’s side, but reserves all his venom for Israel’s supporters, calling them “bloodthirsty” individuals who “rejoice about shedding human blood,” even while he defends Taki who equates Israelis with Nazis, and who in his latest article calls the passive, peace-crazed, wimpified Israeli leadership “butchers”—that same leadership that withdrew from Gaza, letting Israel’s sworn enemies take it over and bombard Israel for three years with rocket and mortar fire, until Israel finally struck back at Hamas to stop the attacks. Taki describes Israel as a Nazi-like state for defending itself, and Gottfried, who is “strongly” on Israel’s side, has no problem with that. But he condemns as rejoicers in human bloodshed people whose position is simply that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself. Patrick Buchanan did the same thing as Taki in April 2002 when Israel, after enduring escalating suicide bombings for a year, finally sent its forces into the West Bank to uproot the terrorists, and Buchanan called Israel “the mirror image of Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Gottfried writes:

Finally it is ridiculous for Larry to tell me that he was not suggesting that I cut my ties to this website and its patron. His references to both have become so vitriolic that it is hard for me to draw any other conclusion. Several times he has indicated to me that I was consorting with vicious anti-Semites through my association with Taki’s Top Drawer. Larry may have told me in passing that he is not trying to force my hand, but my assumption about his not wanting me to write for this website seems entirely reasonable, given the spleen he has unleashed against it.

I don’t know what communications between us Paul is referring to. I’ve already explained my e-mail to him about Taki in my last article. Further, given that Gottfried indulges in fantasies that I am bloodthirsty and that I rejoice in the shedding of human blood, why should anyone credit his memory that I told him he was consorting with vicious anti-Semites and told him he should stop? At the core of Gottfried’s intellectual life for the last 20 years—no, the last 28 years, ever since M.E. Bradford was turned down for chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities—have been unending fantasies of victimization and betrayal, and what he’s saying now about me is more of the same.

As further evidence of Paul’s tendency to imagine things, let’s consider the simple question by me that made Paul feel victimized and that spurred this debate between us. I wrote, in the initial article in this exchange:

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?

From Paul’s point of view, this question was a wrongful, aggressive act on my part against him. In fact, the question was entirely legitimate and appropriate. I wasn’t telling him what to do (as though I have such power), I was asking him a question that deserved to be asked. Furthermore, since, as he has made clear, he has no problem in writing for Taki, why should my question have been a problem for him? Why does he resent my question so much? Why didn’t he simply answer the question and be done with it, instead of launching this battle between us?

And here are more Gottfried fantasies:

But I do wish that Larry would stop referring to those who do not share his opinions as anti-Semites. The neoconservatives and their liberal allies are already playing that game quite nicely on their own, and there’s no way that Larry can break into their monopoly, no matter how hard he tries.

Just take that in. According to Gottfried, I am such a monster that I call people anti-Semites, the most damaging thing you can say about someone, simply for disagreeing with me. In reality, I call people anti-Semites who express and invoke hatred against the Jewish people, who with an evil indifference to truth demonize Jews as Jews, who see Jews as the enemy of mankind, who see the Jews as the source of all ills. In fact, I’m so precise in my use of the word anti-Semitic that I don’t even describe outright enemies of Israel as anti-Semitic, unless there is specific proof of the latter. For example, as I’ve explained many times, though Patrick Buchanan is an inveterate bigot against Israel, I’ve never called him anti-Semitic, because he has never attacked Jews as Jews. Similarly, prior to today, I didn’t call Taki anti-Semitic, I called him an Israel-hater, which he undeniably is. But today I called him an anti-Semite, when he turned Bernard Madoff into a symbol of Jewish perfidy and wrote:

Israel can now safely be called the Bernie Madoff of countries, at it has lied to the world about its intentions, stolen Palestinian lands continuously since 1948, and managed to do all this with American tax payer’s money. Every American taxpayer, starting with George W. Bush, has Palestinian blood on their hands thanks to the butchers that run Israel.

This Bernie Madoff of countries, this perfidious and lying Jew of a country, this country whose entire history from its founding has been one vast act of fraud and theft making it deserving of Arab attacks and denying it the right of self defense, this country led by “butchers”—such is Taki’s picture of Israel and the Jews. With those remarks, Taki’s anti-Israelism crossed the line into anti-Semitism, and of a particularly gross and disgusting kind.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

A blog called Endiana says that the Auster-Gottfried debate is “absurd squabbling,” and “abject silliness,” and I reply.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 08, 2009 11:55 PM | Send

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