Over at the Atlantic Monthly website, Jeffrey Goldberg is ragging Glenn Greenwald for the sin of publishing in the American Conservative. Goldberg’s argument, not spelled out explicitly but vaguely smeared by implication, seems to go like this: the American Conservative was founded by Pat Buchanan, a well-known anti-Semite; by publishing in TAC Greenwald is making common cause with Jew haters.
Greenwald is a skilled polemicist, more than able to take care of himself. He quite rightly describes Goldberg as using a “guilt by association” technique. I would call it a “guilt by publication” argument.
To see what’s wrong with Goldberg’s lines of reasoning, let’s apply it to another magazine. Goldberg has occasionally written for the New Republic. Marty Peretz, publisher of TNR from 1974 to 2007 and still a presiding spirit at the magazine, is a notorious anti-Arab bigot. (See note below). For anyone who believes in human equality, Peretz’s anti-Arabism is fully as noxious as Buchanan’s anti-Semitism. If Greenwald is to be condemned for writing for the American Conservative, Goldberg is equally tainted by his links to the New Republic.
Of course, this sort of “guilt by publication” argument is silly. Both the American Conservative and the New Republic are mixed bags, featuring alike decent, intelligent writers as well as crazed ethnocentric ravings. So the fair thing to do is to judge writers for these magazines on a case by case basis, rather than lumping them all together into a common stew.
Note: For Peretz’s record of anti-Arab bigotry, see the lengthy dossier compiled by Matt Duss.
Here is a choice example from the New Republic’s website published November 19, 2006 (and later taken down):
I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) “atrocities.” They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures. That comparison shouldn’t comfort us as Americans. We have higher standards of civilization than they do. But the mutilation of bodies and beheadings of people picked up at random in Iraq does not scandalize the people of Iraq unless victims are believers in their own sect or members of their own clan. And the truth is that we are less and less shocked by the mass death-happenings in the world of Islam. Yes, that’s the bitter truth. Frankly, even I–cynic that I am–was shocked in the beginning by the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. But I am no longer surprised. And neither are you.
For Peretz, it seems unimaginable that people could be shocked by all types of violence, whether inflicted by Arabs or Americans or Israelis.