Phi Beta Cons

“All of This Is Untrue”

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the distinguished scholar Robert Trivers of Rutgers wanted to set the record straight about his opinion of Alan Dershowitz:

In regard to Alan Dershowitz’s commentary “Finkelstein’s Bigotry” (editorial page, May 4): In it he asserts that “He [Norman Finkelstein] has encouraged radical goons to email threatening messages; ‘Look forward to a visit from me,’ reads one. ‘Nazis like [you] need to be confronted directly.’”

But all of this is untrue. I wrote the letter in question (April 15, 2007), but without Prof. Finkelstein’s knowledge, interest or approval. The key sentences had nothing to do with Prof. Finkelstein: “Regarding your rationalization of Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians, let me just say that if there is a repeat of Israeli butchery toward Lebanon and if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis — and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself — need to be confronted directly.”

As for being an academic goon: I am late responding because I was in Europe lecturing after receiving the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

He set the record straight, for sure.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.