The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler


Posted on | February 9, 2011 | 9 Comments

Pejman Yousefzadeh disassembles Conor Friedersdorf with admirable gusto, beginning, “I really have things I would prefer doing this evening instead of engaging in yet another blogfight with someone at the Atlantic, but . . .”

Yousefzadeh eviscerates Friedersdorf for defending anti-Israel crank Philip Giraldi and you’ve really got to read the whole thing, which includes such splend phrase-making: “Friedersdorf gives birth to, kills, and makes necessary a mournful funeral and a lively wake for scores of strawmen . . . ”

Disregarding the First Law of Holes, however, Conor kept digging, and thereby presented Yousefzadeh with the opportunity to whack him around some more.

Having recently spent some time whacking the Friedersdorf pinata — a sport to which I plan to return later — let me turn aside to address something of the substance at the heart of the dispute: Was Conor obligated to use “Rhymes-With-Shmoogle” to determine the extent of Giraldi’s anti-Israel obsession before mounting a defense of Giraldi?

As Yousefzadeh points out, Giraldi wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity at the Daily Dish. In the words of David Frum (!), Giraldi “is the blogger who claims that Doug Feith’s office in the Pentagon forged a document to build a case for war in Iraq — claims that Andrew Sullivan has disgraced himself by credulously amplifying.”

It is merely necessary to click to the second page of “Rhymes-With-Shmoogle” to find Noah Pollak’s August 2008 post at Commentary:

Should Philip Giraldi be trusted? No: He is a conspiracy theorist obsessed with Jews and Israel. In Giraldi’s world, scratching the surface of almost any event exposes the sinister machinations of international Jewry.

Now, let us suppose — as a hypothetical — that Friedersdorf were to say that Yousefzadeh, Frum and Pollak are all Zionist Jews, and that their hostility toward Giraldi is therefore merely special pleading.

To this I would respond: So what?

Really: If Jews can’t be permitted to speak out in defense of Israel, and in defense of the U.S. alliance with Israel, who is an acceptable spokesman? Yet if any Gentile defends Israel, the argument will immediately be offered that this person is somehow a dupe of the Jews.

Any student of these arguments will note how quickly ad hominem erupts, and I try to avoid casually slinging around accusations of anti-Semitism. Not everyone who is critical of Israel or the U.S.-Israel alliance is an anti-Semite, and guilt-by-association can raise complex issues, e.g., is CPAC in league with the Muslim Brotherhood?

Nevertheless, when someone persistently makes the U.S.-Israel alliance a focus of their politics, when such a person repeatedly makes conspiracy-mongering charges about Jewish influence in media and government, when this person habitually attacks known defenders of Israel (even when they’re not writing about Israel) and invariably associates himself with critics of Israel — well, when a person does all that, we might ask, “Hey, pal, you got a problem with Jews?”

People may have asked that question of Philip Giraldi. And Conor Friedersdorf might want to find out how Giraldi has answered it.

“Rhymes-With-Shmoogle.” IYKWIMAITYD.


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