I do love this email, as it is a pristine example of an entire type. The reader begins insisting that I’m too stupid and immature for one so lofty to take seriously. He then proceeds to take me seriously, usually unimpressively, then he ends by invoking William F. Buckley (or Goldwater) as the sort of “real” conservative who would/should have nothing to do with my ilk. I get lots of these. Anyway, here’s the email:
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
In general, I make it a point to avoid responding to
your posts, usually because the lack of moral seriousness, the unbearable,
juvenile glibness of the child of privilege that you are — these qualities,
which so thoroughly inundate your postings, are typically enough to make me
despair of ever engaging you in thoughtful discussion that might — just
might — take you out of your role as house intellectual/Simpsons
quote-monger in the NRO-Fox-WH news alliance.
But this nonsense about Pinochet vs. Castro is really too much. Why
can’t decent people of goodwill agree that both dictators were and are
reprehensible? And while it is noted that you yourself make a weak attempt
to tackle the hypocrisy from Left and Right on this issue, you neglect the
fact that with the murderous Pinochet, we (the U.S.) provided him with
material aid and supported him to the hilt. Surely you agree that we must
answer for that? Surely, with Jefferson, you tremble for your country when
you reflect that God is just? No, wait — I forgot that any sense of justice
has fallen by the wayside in your depraved, Pravda-esque contortions of
morality and reason that have become necessary to defend not only Bush, but
also the larger Rightist project for which you so passionately advocate. For
extraordinary rendition and waterboarding. To expect the same man who
supports torture and the abrogation of every value for which this nation
stands to look with genuine disgust and horror on American culpability for
anything, much less our support for that two-bit thug Pinochet, is to expect
you to go so far out of character as to defy identity. For that reason, I
suppose I ought to have expected your exceptionally mealy-mouthed defense of
dictators of the Right and your outrage — outrage! — at dictators of the
As for me, I am no ANSWER/Chomsky type, but rather a straight-up liberal
in the tradition of John Rawls; I think that killing Castro might have been
a good thing to do, as it would have been with Pinochet. It’s just
illuminating to see the excuses you (and the late Amb. Kirkpatrick) for
mass-murderers when they’re on the “right” side.
I wonder what Bill Buckley thinks.
Me: There’s is way too much tendentious and self-righteous preaching here to get into and he so wildly misreads my post and is flat-out ignorant — or dishonest — about my larger positions (hardly shocking given the low esteem he holds me in). But, just for the record, I sincerely doubt there’s a lot of daylight between WFB and myself when it comes to Pinochet — or Castro.
Update: From a reader:
Just refreshed the corner while finishing my lunch. So now it’s your fault that the US supported Pinochet and didn’t deal with him? Wasn’t this the same crowd yelling at us when we wanted to invade Iraq for WMDs since we had given them to Saddam in the past? So if I understand the position, the US can’t help anyone who turns out to be less than stellar, since we will have to castigate ourselves for not doing anything, but make sure not to do anything. Yikes.
By the way, I think “house intellectual/Simpsons quote-monger” was supposed to be an insult, but that is greatest compliment of all time. Maybe you should get that put on your business cards.