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Ron Radosh

In Defense of Marty Peretz

January 9th, 2011 - 1:19 pm

Clearly, this is a witch-hunt against Peretz, by writers who have been waiting with knives sharpened for a long time. I have been waiting in vain, evidently, to find any defenses of Peretz by any of those major journalists he mentored and supported over the years. The sole exception is Jack Shafter in Slate, who noted accurately in September that “if Marty Peretz were to step down from the New Republic, there probably would be no New Republic.” He writes:

After 36 years, for better and worse, Peretz has basically become the New Republic. If we’re going to beat up Marty for being Marty—and, please, be my guest—let’s make ourselves uncomfortable by also acknowledging his contribution to journalism and thought. I won’t bore you with the names of people who have worked there, but he has always had a good eye for talent. He has always given young people great chunks of the magazine to run. Michael Kinsley was 26 when Peretz made him managing editor. Andrew Sullivan and Peter Beinart were each 28 when he appointed them editor. Franklin Foer was 31.

And that is a great accomplishment, one that few would risk taking, and that made Peretz a great editor and mentor. Shafer’s piece was written in September. So where are any of Peretz’s other defenders? Where is Rick Hertzberg, who writes for “Talk of the Town” at The New Yorker, as well as a regular blog in which he has commented on scores of people and what he objects to about them, from Charles Krauthammer to me, of whom he said I had “lost my marbles.”

So far only David Horowitz, who undoubtedly disagrees with much of what Peretz holds dear, has defended him, in a comment he posted on the comments section after the online edition of Wallace-Wells’ article.  Is Horowitz, one solitary conservative writer, going to be the only one coming to Peretz’s defense?

Nothing is harder in partisan politics than to oppose your own side when it is morally in the wrong. During the Cold War, Marty Peretz’s great contribution was to take a stand against the appeasement mentality of his fellow leftists, and their view that Ronald Reagan and America were greater threats to their nation than Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Communists. Today he is being punished for the same moral fortitude, for opposing the appeasement mentality of leftists like Beinart and Fallows, and publications like The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker and other similar publications towards the Islamo-fascists in Palestine and the Arab world.

If this is to be the case, it says a lot about the unwillingness of so many of the bien pensant liberal intellectuals to come forward. And what does that say about the integrity of contemporary liberalism, and about its adherents, who owe much to Marty Peretz, even if they do not realize it right now?

Ronald Radosh, an Adjunct Fellow at The Hudson Institute, blogs regularly for PJ Media. Over the years, he has written frequently for TNR, and counts Marty Peretz as a good friend.

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