I have made the decision to discontinue blogging at this time. I thank John and Scott for bringing me along on this ride and I thank our readers as well. I couldn’t have hoped for better writing partners or for better readers. Best regards to all.
It was left to others to infer the reasons, and infer they have. It turns out that Mirengoff had posted a response to the Obama “memorial” in Tucson that said in part:
As for the “ugly,” I’m afraid I must cite the opening “prayer” by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to “the creator” but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.
Apparently, Mirengoff’s firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, which has a pretty substantial legal and lobbying practice dealing with American Indian issues, felt this was less than appropriate. Mirengoff removed the post and apologized, and not long after left Power Line.
Steam is now coming out of Prof William Jacobson’s ears: “The criticism by Meggesto and Akin Gump was disingenuous at best. There was nothing in Mirengoff’s post which was a ‘criticism of the use of the Yacqui [sic] prayer’; Mirengoff was making a point about the absence of a Christian prayer at a memorial service for religious Christian victims.”
Which is now where I get contrary. I’m a Choctaw, and normally find the complaints of professional Indians like my erstwhile colleague Ward Churchill just as annoying as anyone, if not more so. I also thought it was a tad goofy that the only preacher at the “service” was a Yaqui supposed shaman. But the notion that Mirengoff didn’t criticize the use of the Yaqui prayer is ridiculous. I know I was offended enough at the time that I sent Paul a sharp little email. (Under my own name and not to his firm, by the way.)
Stacy McCain has some more details:
[T]here’s a lot more to this story than political correctness run amok.
The lawyer who denounced Mirengoff, James Meggesto, is a member of the Onondago Nation of New York who was hired by Akin Gump in February 2007 – i.e., right after Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats took over Congress. Megesto was one of three lawyers, including Vanessa Ray-Hodge and Madeline Soboleff Levy, hired by the firm at that time as part of an expansion of Akin Gump’s “American Indian law and policy practice”according to a Feb. 23, 2007, press release. …
So in criticizing that Yaqui prayer at the Tucson memorial, Paul Mirengoff wasn’t just being politically incorrect, he was also offending a lucrative segment of Akin Gump’s lobbying clientele, whom the firm had recently hired three lawyers to service. Small wonder that Mirengoff was likely forced to choose: Quit blogging at Power Line or quit working at Akin Gump. [Emphasis in original.]
This is what Granddaddy used to call “pissing in the soup,” and I’m not a little bit surprised, nor particularly disturbed that Mirengoff’s firm would prefer he either not piss in the soup or get the hell out of the kitchen. And frankly, I don’t agree with either McCain or Jacobson: I think a liberal blogger who offended a big client would have something large fall from a great height upon his head.
There’s one more point, though. As one of the differently-religioned (I’m a Buddhist, and my mother, also a Choctaw, converted to Judaism some years ago — when I say “differently-religioned” I ain’t just messing around) I may be more sensitive than some others to the general religious assumptions we make socially. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if people pay attention to what’s being said. Consider, for example, if we translate this by substituting references to other religions and, well, tribes:
As for the “ugly,” I’m afraid I must cite the opening “prayer” by Rabbi Schmuel Greenblatt. It was apparently was some sort of Hebrew tribal thing, with lots of references to “the Creator” but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Jew). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.
I don’t mean to excuse the organizers of this debacle; it would have been appropriate to have had a Pastor, and a Priest, and a Rabbi, and hell, an Imam and whatever, if they were going to have a Yaqui shaman. (What makes this even harder is that ever since Carlos Casteñeda, every half-pint poseur has talked about learning from the Yaqui; who the hell knows if Gonzales had any better claim to be a medicine man than I do?)
But if anyone has trouble understanding why someone might be offended, go back and read the parallel universe excoriation of poor Rabbi Greenblatt’s little prayer.