I don’t know Josh Treviño, nor am I particularly familiar with his work. I follow him on Twitter and have seen his appearances on cable news shows from time to time. He is, by almost all accounts, a respected voice in the conservative movement. Not the next William F. Buckley Jr., to be sure, but far and away more intelligent and influential than most of the content on the internet.
The British daily the Guardian recently added Glenn Greenwald, formerly of Salon, and Mr. Treviño to its team of writers. Mr. Greenwald’s opinions certainly don’t align with National Review’s, but that’s entirely besides the point. He is a well-respected author, who will likely be a valuable addition to the Guardian. Why certain liberals are having a hard time saying the same thing of Treviño is worth considering.
First some background.
M. J. Rosenberg used to work for Media Matters, but left after his repeated use of the term “Israel Firsters.” In an article for the Huffington Post, Rosenberg claimed that his use of the term was in reference for the pro-Israel AIPAC crowd, who, in his view, were clamoring for an Israeli strike against Iran.
But in that same article he promised not to use the term again: ”It has proven to be a distraction, allowing the pro-war lobby to focus on my choice of words rather than the substance of my arguments. I will not be using it again, for many reasons including the fact that some good people were genuinely offended by it. That was not my intention. My intention is to focus like the proverbial laser on the threat posed by war with Iran and the 45 year occupation.”
#more#Well, that was in March, and we can’t expect Rosenberg to keep his word. Since then, his screeds against “Israel Firsters” have been unavoidable. It should be pretty apparent why the “Israel Firster” charge is a slur. It’s wrong for the same reasons that it’s wrong to call Catholics “Papists” or to baselessly question the loyalty of any group of citizens. An “Israel Firster” is someone who, well, thinks of Israel’s interests before America’s. As it happens, the two nation’s interests are basically the same: economic freedom, liberalism in the Middle East, undisrupted access to fuel sources, etc. Of course, as is the case with any two nations, Israel and the United States do not agree on every issue, and some American Jews do tend to take Israel’s side on those issues. People like Rosenberg conflate these “Israel Firsters” with traitors who ought to be expelled from polite society. Of course, Rosenberg didn’t call Danny Glover or Sean Penn “Cuba Firsters,” or Tom Friedman a “China Firster.”
Anyways, since leaving Media Matters, Rosenberg’s writing has dived into the worst sort of paranoia featured on the internet. (It’s a bad sign when Media Matters isn’t paranoid enough for you.) When the Guardian announced its hiring of Josh Treviño, Rosenberg fell off his rocker.
He tweeted, “Tell Guardian not to hire White Supremacist Josh Trevino. Write firstname.lastname@example.org.” And then, in reference to Treviño’s Hispanic heritage, he added, “Can Hispanics be racists? I submit George Zimmerman. Case closed, Racism can & does pervade all groups.” And most recently, “I need to face reality. Trevino’s White Supremacy attitudes makes him the ideal spokesman for new GOP.” Cute.
Treviño is a racist, according to Rosenberg, because he, unlike Rosenberg, is firm in his support for Israel. When anti-Israel activists attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, Treviño Tweeted, “Dear IDF [Israeli Defense Forces]: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla — well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”
In a new column for the Guardian, Treviño defended the sentiment behind the tweet: “The Gaza flotillas sought to render aid to a known terrorist group — and, in my view, its participants were morally complicit in that. Moreover, in these circumstances, Israel was within its rights to prevent the breach of its blockade and to defend itself by force, if necessary, in so doing.”
By Rosenberg’s mangled logic, Josh Treviño is a racist, because he thinks the IDF has the right and moral obligation to use force against those who threaten its sovereignty. Even Americans. Huh? Treviño didn’t say, “Kill brown people!” He thinks that Israel, which includes its fair share of minorities, has the right to defend itself.
And that’s what Rosenberg really objects to.