First published at FrontPage Magazine on March 8 2007 here.
The successes of the academic freedom campaign and the publication of The Professors have produced a rash of websites and a phalanx of pundits devoted to attacking them. Their assaults deploy the unsavory weapons of the character assassin trade – distortion, smears and concocted tales, and a reflexive pouncing on every intellectual disagreement or error honestly made or innocent confusion and treating them as if they were unambiguous, calculated and malicious “lies” by the adversary target. The assumption is that if such tactics are repeated often enough, the enemy will find himself buried under such a pile of sludge that his arguments will simply disappear.
There is nothing new in such tactics. Since the days of Stalin (and Lenin and Marx before) the left has thrived on scorching hatred for its opponents and an attitude of no quarter on the political battlefield. In the free fire zones of the wars they fight, no one can oppose a leftist position on reasonable grounds or for reasonable concerns. The purity of the leftist cause can only be doubted by “fascists,” “racists,” “homophobes,” “enemies of humanity” and “liars.” Opponents of the left are sickening specimens of the race – indecent and unworthy of common respect. To dignify their arguments is a crime against humanity and its aspirations for a better life. They need to be eliminated from the discussion once and for all.
Among the websites driven by these passions is FreeExchangeOnCampus.org, which is financed by the teacher unions, and Media Matters and Campus Progress, which are funded by George Soros and the billionaires behind his operations to unseat President Bush. And one of the attack dogs of the campaign is the son of Sidney Blumenthal, the White House operative who Clinton assigned to destroy the character and credibility Monica Lewinsky and other of his female victims who showed a readiness to defend themselves and fight back.
This Blumenthal son, Max, has his own website at MaxBlumenthal.blogspot.com as well as a column at HuffingtonPost.com, and has published in The Nation and similar venues. Still journalistically wet behind the ears, Max has eagerly embraced the father’s career path, specializing in hit pieces that target political enemies of the left. As one with such an ambition would, Max proudly displays the comments of his victims like trophies on his site. An encomium by Christopher Hitchens, for example, describes him as “A young skunk who hasn’t learned to piss yet.” There are others. If Max’s father had a sense of decency, his paternal instincts might have led him to caution his son before embarking so early on a bottom-feeding career. But Sidney Blumenthal has no such decency and would not even know how to perform this paternal function if it occurred to him to do so.
Max attended my debate with Ward Churchill on April 7 and filed a “report” for his blog and Huffington Post. The article began on this note: “The fact that hundreds of people would gather on the campus of a major university to watch a serious debate on the merits of a bill as insane as Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights, which would allow students to sue their professors and mandate the hiring of one right-wing professor for each professor who assigns supposedly left-wing material, was a victory in itself for the right’s favorite red diaper baby.”