There are two things Glenn Greenwald and I have in common – which is two more than I realized only an hour ago.
He has the flu, according to his latest ‘Comment is Free’ post, and I have flu-like symptoms due to a recent ill-advised flu shot.
The other more substantive commonality pertains to one acknowledgement in his post – one of seven miscellaneous observations by the Guardian’s new U.S. blogger.
In the context of complaining about the alleged recent smearing of Matt Stoller (former Democratic staffer and MSNBC producer) as a racist, Greenwald pivoted to make a broader point:
“There are few things more reckless and disgusting than publicly smearing someone as a racist – easily one of the worst things you can say about someone in America, for very good reason – purely for partisan gain. That’s especially true when you are well aware that you have no basis for the accusation.
For years, neocons did the same thing with “anti-Semitism” charges. They seized on a real and serious problem – anti-Semitism – and converted it into an exploitative, opportunistic weapon to punish those who deviated from their political views, particularly on Israel. The worst part of that behavior – aside from ruining people’s reputations by casting them as bigots without any cause – is that it dilutes the power of that term and makes it no longer effective to use when it actually appears.
That is precisely what spouting knowingly baseless accusations of racism achieves. Obviously, racism plays a substantial role in motivating some of the hostility toward the first African-American president, just as anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel. That’s precisely why it’s so vital to avoid casually exploiting those terms for gross partisan opportunism: because people will stop taking the terms seriously when they genuinely arise.
Few things are lowlier than tossing around those accusations purely to discredit someone for partisan gain. It happens often, but this case is particularly egregious given the accuser’s admissions in the comment section combined with the total lack of retraction or correction by that blog.
While I was shocked to read Greenwald acknowledge that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”, I gather from his additional complaint about those who “exploit” the term “anti-Semitism” to “discredit” people that he may have been stung by criticism about his own record of advancing Judeophobic narratives concerning ‘dual loyalty’ and the danger of ‘Jewish power’.
I’ll leave you with a brief selection of quotes by Greenwald and you can judge for yourself if he has been unfairly smeared as a commentator who subscribes to anti-Semitic calumnies. (These quotes were documented in a report I wrote about antisemitism on progressive blogs for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2010.)
- “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
- “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
- “The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”
- “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.”
- “Anyone who has argued that a desire to protect Israeli interests plays too large of a role in our foreign policy has been subjected to some of the most vicious and relentless smears. Ask Juan Cole about that, or John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Those tactics have, as intended, prevented a substantive debate on this question, as most people have feared even approaching the topic.”
- “If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.”
- “It is simply true that large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.”
- “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?”
- “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).”
Glenn, the floor is yours.
- The Guardian’s Ewan MacAskill and Jewish money (cifwatch.com)
- Glenn Greenwald on Israel’s ‘extreme violence’ against Muslims & US “child-killing” drones (cifwatch.com)
- ‘Comment is Free’ correspondent Glenn Greenwald vs. American tolerance (cifwatch.com)
- Islamists attack American diplomats. The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald attacks moral sanity (cifwatch.com)
- BBC World Service hosts antisemite Gilad Atzmon (bbcwatch.org)
- AKUS ‘dares’ to criticize Glenn Greenwald (cifwatch.com)
- Glenn Greenwald notes that unnamed sources told Chris McGreal Israel controls CNN. So, it must be true! (cifwatch.com)
- Defamation: Combating the assault on the Jewish state’s legitimacy at the Guardian (cifwatch.com)
- Jewish reaction to thousands of antisemitic Arab cartoons: No riots, no injuries, no deaths (cifwatch.com)