The Bizarre Behavior of The Nation
April 12, 2008
Phil tells us that The Nation is furiously denouncing anyone who would dare suggest that Obama is anti-Israel, even denouncing totally mainstream Palestinian advocates like Rashid Khalidi in the process.
Way back when I had illusions about the possibilities of a righteous left, I hated The Nation like it was nobody’s business. Certainly even now I have no love lost for it. But they deserve credit where its due, and historically that has included the Middle East.
What makes all of this so bizarre is the odyssey of their star columnist Eric Alterman, who went from siding with Bill Buckley’s witch hunt against alleged anti-Semites (but really just anyone who opposed the First Gulf War and George H.W. Bush’s conversion to the Henry Wallace movement) to becoming, first, the foremost defender on the left of Walt and Mearsheimer, which he followed up with his most excellent article on Marty Peretz in The American Prospect. Alterman was even so bold as to declare, much less acknowledge, that the future of Judaism itself is at stake.
Yet the article could only run in The American Prospect, not The Nation!!! This struck me as both odd and significant at the time, and confirmed first by The Nation suddenly taking an all but 180-degree turn when it published this negative book review by Daniel Lazare, and now with the present calumny.
There was definitely a change in party line at The Nation – I attended in September 2006 a symposium/debate on the Walt-Mearsheimer paper at Cooper Union where The Nation had one of only two or three literature tables outside. But today, they have no problem with Obama’s relationship with their ex-terrorist friend Bill Ayers (I myself am more than willing to overlook it as well), but a pussycat of an Arab professor at Columbia is beyond the pale.