Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Another Weird Letter Thing

Here’s something that’s even worse than the Michelmore kerfuffle I recorded yesterday. It appeared in the New Republic a few weeks ago—the April 25 edition, to be exact. This is such an example of sheer stupidity that I think it deserves attention even though it is a little old. (I have a big pile of unread magazines. So shoot me.)

In a previous edition of the magazine, a TNR writer named Jason Zengerle had said that a professor named Theda Skocpol, in a speech at a Harvard faculty meeting, “included a not-too-subtle rebuke of [Harvard President] Summers’s pro-Israel comments.”

Skocpol wrote in to vehemently deny she ever said such a thing.

Zengerle responded by saying that Skocpol had said, in her speech, that Summers’s remarks about women and science was harming Harvard “in effect, if not in intent.”

Whaaaa? How is that a “rebuke of Summers’s pro-Israel comments”? Zengerle points out that Summers had once “famously accused some critics of Israel of ‘advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent.’”

Zengerle goes on to say that “it is had to believe that Skocpol’s choice of such similar wording was merely a coincidence.” He then blames Skocpol for not responding to phone messages.

Now, I am a great fan of TNR (I subscribe, as I indicated) and I also agree 100% with Summers’s remarks. I also am pretty fed-up with constant campus Israel-bashing. But to smear Skocpol in this way, on such thin evidence, is just flat-out wrong. She points out in her letter that she said nothing about Israel and has “never participated in any petition or campaign aimed at criticizing Israel.”

One of the purposes of this blog is to expose anti-Semitism and media bias against Israel. But this kind of paranoia doesn’t do anybody any good.

Zengerle, stand in the corner. You’re my dweeb of the day.

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