FSG: NO PRESSURE HERE
New York City
Farrar, Straus & Giroux appreciates Alexander Cockburn’s and The Nation‘s support of our forthcoming publication of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy [“Beat the Devil,” Feb. 5]. We would like to clarify one point, however. While individuals have expressed unhappiness about our decision to publish this work, to our knowledge there has been no campaign to pressure the house “to abandon its publication,” as Cockburn seems to suggest. Indeed, we made this clear to The Nation‘s fact-checker when asked specifically about the issue.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
With figures as prominent as Alan Dershowitz and ADL national director Abe Foxman publicly criticizing FSG for signing the book, and since FSG acknowledged having received calls urging them to drop it, Alexander Cockburn’s comment that “pressure is now being exerted” on FSG passed muster with us. –The Editors
ACLU’s HOUSE DIVIDED
As one of the longest-serving members of the ACLU national board (thirty-seven years), I appreciate Scott Sherman’s comprehensive review of recent internal friction [“ACLU v. ACLU,” Feb. 5]. He accurately describes the phenomenal growth and success of the organization over the past five years, thus implicitly acknowledging the extraordinary leadership of executive director Anthony Romero and president Nadine Strossen, as well as the hard work and dedication of hundreds of national and affiliate ACLU employees. Also implicit is the fact that some people do not deal well with institutional renewal, clinging to the past and criticizing the agents of change. I believe that dynamic is at work here.
Certainly Romero, who came to the ACLU from the foundation world, has made a few missteps. Initially, he did not fully comprehend the culture of the ACLU and the eighty-three-member national board’s stubborn insistence on organizational oversight. But he is a fast learner and now has won the overwhelming support of this often fractious board. Still, for reasons hard to fathom, the handful of remaining oppositionists refuse to forgive his past trespasses and continue to exaggerate them.
One of the most outrageous canards spread by the so-called dissidents is the claim that Romero and his closest advisers attempted to purge the ACLU of opponents and muzzle dissent within the organization. I can testify to the falsity of that charge from personal experience. I have served as an ACLU general counsel for thirty-one years, and during most of that tenure I have been very vocal about my strong opposition to ACLU policy on political campaign-finance regulation. Indeed, during my very first meeting with Romero, I told him that it was one of my main goals to overthrow that policy, which he strongly supported. Never has Romero or anyone on the board attempted to muzzle me, and indeed, I have been re-elected each year as general counsel.