I’ve got a new "Think Again" column called “Left and Right Both Do it? Wrong.” It’s here.
Naturally, I am deeply excited to read this 4500 word article on Nascar, as I have long been critical of the Times’s inability to give this great American sport its due. Do you remember how they failed to put his daddy on the front page when he died? That was an outrage. Here we learn about Junior Dale just what we need to know: “He is very, very introverted,” a publicist says. “He lives alone. He plays video games by himself eight hours at a clip. He’s a multimillionaire, yet he lived alone for months in a 20-by-20 garage loft.” The publicist makes him out to be the Howard Hughes of Nascar.
More seriously, my friend Michelle Sieff has an op-ed in the Forward here, arguing that the human rights community needs to assess the ideologies of groups like Hamas before judging the actions of their opponents. I could hardly disagree more. In fact, I think this is how “they win”—by getting Western nations to betray their ideals in pursuit of their enemies. I don’t care what the ideology was of those on the Gaza flotilla. They had every right to be in international waters without having to face the deadly force of the IDF, no matter what they believed. It’s a different story if one of these groups actually has the ability to destroy your state. As Mr. Lincoln may or may not have said, a “constitution is not a suicide pact.” But Hamas does not fall into that category. They can do a lot of damage, of course, but mostly they cause Israel to do damage to itself. Ms. Sieff makes an eloquent case for the opposite view but you can decide for yourself.
Still, let’s not put Michelle in a category with the odious Terry Teachout, who writing a loveletter to the newly belligerent David Mamet–great playwright, moronic political observer–argues that when David Margolick points out that ““Not all Jewish criticism of Israel is self-hatred, and not all gentile criticism is anti-Semitic. Jews who sympathize with the Palestinians are not necessarily neurotic…. And, by the way, not all Israeli crimes are ‘imaginary,’” he is demonstrating “the naïvete with which modern-day liberals like Margolick regard the existential threats that beset Israel? Might this lack of realism on the part of his fellow liberals have caused him to feel that his own liberal politics were equally unreal by comparison with the cold-eyed disillusion of his plays, and that the plays were thus truer to life than his political opinions?” Speaking of Commentary, Damon Linker does a masterful job of assessing the Pilgrim’s progress of Norman Podhoretz in last week’s Times Book Review, here and while I agree that Balint’s book is excellent, I find him much too kind to Thomas L. Jeffers’s unreadably awful biography of Podhoretz. Damon likes the early parts, which I might as well, had the author not thoroughly discredited himself with the rest of this nonsensical hagiography. Here is the review’s final paragraph: