Marty Peretz insists that I denounce Marty Peretz

Apparently if members of a religious group don’t denounce bad behavior by other members, the whole group becomes unworthy of free speech. So says Marty Peretz, in a stunningly bigoted rant directed at Muslims. Since he and I are both Jews, by his rule I have an obligation to denounce him. Consider him denounced.

Marty Peretz, sounding more like a columnist for Der Sturmer ranting about “the Jews” that I would have thought possible in this century, says that Muslims shouldn’t have the “privilege” of free speech because some Muslims do bad things and say crazy sh*t and other Muslims fail to denounce them with sufficient hysteria.

Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

Since Marty Peretz is Jewish, and I’m Jewish, if I failed to denounce Peretz for the crazy sh*t he says then Peretz would want to take away my First Amendment privileges.

So I hereby denounce him.

– May Marty Peretz by accursed.
– May Marty Peretz be accursed at his lying down, and at his rising up.
– May Marty Peretz be accursed in this world, and in the world to come.
– May his mouse-hand forget its cunning, and his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth.
– May the soul of Marty Peretz be cut off from all Israel.
– In these Days of Awe, may Marty Peretz not be written in the Book of Life.
– Let the name of Marty Peretz be anathema.
– F*ck Marty Peretz, and the horse he rode in on.

I hope that’s sufficient, but if not I’m prepared to make the denunciation longer, or more specific, or more obscene, as required. I set rather a lot of store by my First Amendment privileges, and would hate to lose them.

In other words, what James Fallows said, except that Fallows isn’t Jewish and I am.

Update Additional curse added per Zasloff’s suggestion.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “Marty Peretz insists that I denounce Marty Peretz”

  1. Peretz can say intemperate things, or say complicated things intemperately. I was taken aback I must admit by his characterization of First Amendment "privileges" since they of course are not privileges but rights. And I certainly wouldn't say the things I think he's trying to say the way he says them. I don't think he's a racist however. In a completely different realm, I felt that the Republican political leadership's rhetoric in the 90s was not unrelated to McVeigh's terrorist act. They weren't exactly responsible but they had acted irresponsibly. Ditto anti-abortion leaders, religious or not, who fail to take a sufficiently strong stand against violence and intimidation aimed at medical practitioners or patients. These failures to responsibly exercise leadership can be pretty upsetting. In the worst case one is left wondering whether the people in question are trying to have it both ways. Again I ask, does this simply make no sense whatsoever to you?

  2. If Peretz wants to write a column asking Muslims to denounce the violence and extremism of other Muslims, he's free to do so. No doubt he can come up with an explanation of his own reticence in denouncing the violence and extremism of other Jews, including many of his favorite Israeli politicians. (If Muslims must say "Hamas is terrorist," why can't Peretz & Co. say "Begin was a terrorist"? Or admit that some of what happened in 1948 was ethnic cleansing?)

    But when he uses language like "Muslim life is cheap" and suggests that he and his friends get to decide who and who does not have the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, I get less interested in finding the pony in the pile of h.s.

    On one point I agree with Peretz. Other Jews – more, other Zionists – have a special obligation to distance themselves from what Peretz says in their name. Thanks to Begin, Sharon, and Bibi, I no longer qualify as a Zionist, but I'm still a Jew. Thus the post.

  3. I, on the other hand, think he's a racist. (Or whatever the word might be instead for a multiethnic world religion, but racism will do). And I don't think that's a completely different realm than lb's next point: Peretz's privileged position serve to make his racism and bigotry respectable to some. He knowingly fans flames, he should know what that can lead to and how wrong it is.

    Good post, thanks.

  4. I agree with Thomas Nephew's point that Peretz too, by virtue of his position, has a particular responsibility to exercise appropriate leadership in what he writes, and that he hasn't exercised that leadership appropriately in all cases. He needs to watch his language. I don't believe that he's a racist or a bigot. Per Mark's point, I don't think he actually believes that Muslim life is cheap. I believe he thinks Muslim societies have a serious problem with political and sectarian violence and that much of their political and religious leadership has been derelict (or worse) in addressing this problem. i agree with that.

    Mark, I'm shocked that Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu turned you against Zionism. Obviously your diagnosis of the reason why a peaceful reconciliation remains out of reach is a great deal different from mine. But regardless I find it hard to fathom. And wrong.

  5. Larry, according to my rulebook, saying "this entire race/religion/culture is not worthy basic human right until I say so" draws Peretz a go-directly-to-bigot card. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, etc.. If Peretz had said "It is self-evident that Muslims have the same free speech rights as anyone else, BUT (arguably racist generalizations blah blah) … ", then I suppose you could dig deeper into his views and see how far gone he is. But that's not what he said.

  6. I'll just point out that this is how racism is properly dealt with. Quick and clear. Hopefully one day our friends on the right will learn how it's done.


    Peretz's apology for his statement regarding the First Amendment rights of Muslims in America is contained above. As well as his explanation regarding his statement re the "cheapness" of Muslim life. I think his language was unnecessarily provocative but I agree with him that the notion that this was a value judgment of his was a misreading.

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