I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Response to Jonah Goldberg's tantrum

Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review's Corner, purported to reply to the post I wrote at Daily Kos which discussed, in part, Goldberg's fear and anger over a speech given by Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman.

In that speech, given last week, Foxman warned of the serious danger posed by religious extremists in America, who, according to Foxman, are seeking to "Christianize" the Government and eliminate the church-state separation. Goldberg melodramatically labeled the speech a "horrible, horrible mistake" because it was going to make the Christian Right angry at Jews, something which really scares Goldberg. I wrote the Kos diary to discuss (OK, to celebrate) the growing split among religious conservatives, on the one hand, and the other Republican constituencies on the other, and used Goldberg's reaction to the ADL speech (as well as George Will's potent warning today about the Religious Right) as an illustrative example of this fracturing.

Goldberg's "reply" to my post is characterized by both his obvious anger at what was written and his corresponding attempt to show how indifferent he is:

Some guy named Glenn Greenwald at Daily Kos thinks he's pierced my soul.

Some guy named Jonah Goldberg just wrote three full paragraphs in the Corner full of vitriol as part of a strenuous effort to show how unbothered he was about that post. Looks like the symptoms of a pierced soul to me.

In a very long and silly post, Greenwald claims I write based on fear, blah, blah, blah. I generally find people who offer up these sort of theories are imposing their own mental states on others. But who knows?

The irony here is that Goldberg labeled Foxman's speech an act of "cowardice," even though it was Foxman who bravely stood up to the most powerful political group in the country, the Christian Right, while Goldberg was hiding under his bed, pleading with Foxman -- for the "sake of Jews" -- not to make them angry. If there was "cowardice" anywhere, it was clearly with Goldberg's actions, not with Foxman's.

Or, to put it another way using Goldberg's words, Goldberg's calling Foxman's speech an act of "cowardice" might be an example of someone "who offers up these sorts of theories (and is) imposing their own mental states on others." But who knows?

I'm probably going to write a column about this next week -- about the ADL, not this Greenwald guy -- but for the record I don't think Foxman's being a fool for risking the wrath of Christian conservatives. I think he's being a fool because guys who think like Greenwald make up the ADL's donor base and they want to hear this nonsense from Foxman.

This makes no sense. Why would Foxman be a fool for expressing views which his membership wants to hear? Isn't that what a Director of an advocacy organization is supposed to do?

Goldberg just invented this theory of why he criticized Foxman in order to deny, apparently out of embarrassment, that he said in his original post that Foxman's speech was such a "horrible, horrible mistake" because it would make the Christian Right think that Jews were attacking Christians and that would be a bad thing for Jews. But after denying that this was his meaning, Goldberg proceeds to make the same exact point all over again:

My concern is that Foxman's effort will contribute to the idea that the secular-liberal war on Christianity is in some significant way a "Jewish" attack as well. That's not good for the Jews, not good for America, not good for anybody.

Can't you smell the fear oozing from every word? Goldberg is petrified that the Christian theocrats -- with whom he thinks he can maintain an alliance in order to be protected -- will be angry if their theocratic agenda is pointed out and criticized. So Goldberg, driven by this fear, wants everyone -- and especially Jews -- to keep quiet about it and just lay low, lest the Christian Right's anger spills over to Goldberg, too.

It's fine if Goldberg believes all that, but he really ought not to be running around calling other people cowards while he expresses these fears. The contradictions are really too transparent to conceal from anyone.

What is really motivating this vitriol is the fact that the GOP knows that its dirty little secret is being revealed -- namely, that Republicans have consolidated political power only through an extremely unholy alliance with a crusading movement that is anything but conservative in its desire to impose religious rule on virtually every aspect of American law and culture. Social conservatives are now demanding more and more to be fed, and their demands are -- finally -- starting to be too much for many of the non-theocrats in the Party, who, to their shame, overlooked and excused the excesses of this fanatical group for far too long but now seem finally to have had enough.

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