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Savaged by a dead sheep

By Owen Paine on Thursday October 19, 2006 02:53 PM

Yet another coalition of the self-agreeing enters the ongoing tournament of folly: "name that liberal." Opening shot:
We Answer to the Name of Liberals
By Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin

As right-wing politicians and pundits call us stooges for Osama bin Laden, Tony Judt charges, in a widely discussed and heatedly debated essay in the London Review of Books, that American liberals -- without distinction -- have "acquiesced in President Bush's catastrophic foreign policy." Both claims are nonsense on stilts.

Clearly this is a moment for liberals to define ourselves. The important truth is that most liberals, including the undersigned, have stayed our course throughout these grim five years. We have consistently and publicly repudiated the ruinous policies of the Bush administration, and our diagnosis, alas, has been vindicated by events. The Bush debacle is a direct consequence of its repudiation of liberal principles. And if the country is to recover, we should begin by restating these principles.

We have all opposed the Iraq war as illegal, unwise, and destructive of America's moral standing. This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis....

We believe that the state of Israel has the fundamental right to exist, free of military assault, within secure borders close to those of 1967....

Gotta love it: "close" to the '67 borders, eh? Well, it's a small country, everything is pretty close to everything else.

But what about these these "liberal principles"? It seems by order of priority principle number one is:

Make no mistake: We believe that the use of force can, at times, be justified. We supported the use of American force, together with our allies, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
Tilt! I hit that, and read no more -- but my eye did catch this on the way out:
the Bush administration has defied evidence and logic, sabotaging its own professional civil servants. It refuses serious consultation with experts and critics.... It stifles civil servants attempting to do their jobs. It appoints cronies whose political loyalty cannot compensate for their incompetence....Reason is indispensable to democratic self-government.
My God! At long last, have they no shame? Not only do they torture and kill people, they... they... have no respect for experts! People with credentials! Oh, the humanity!

There's quite a list of Gladstonian stalwarts who have subscribed their names-to-conjure-with on this resoundingly flung gauntlet (note, the group is very very heavy on the mortarboards):

  • George Akerlof, Berkeley
  • Jeffrey Alexander, Yale
  • Eric Alterman, City University of New York
  • Kenneth Arrow, Stanford
  • Ian Ayres, Yale
  • Benjamin Barber, Maryland
  • Yochai Benkler, Yale
  • Joshua Cohen, Stanford and Boston Review
  • Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard
  • Robert A. Dahl, Yale
  • Norman Daniels, Harvard
  • Michael Doyle, Columbia
  • Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • James K. Galbraith, Texas
  • Robert W. Gordon, Yale
  • Adam Hochschild, Berkeley
  • Arlie Hochschild, Berkeley
  • G. John Ikenberry, Princeton
  • Christopher Jencks, Harvard
  • Pamela S. Karlan, Stanford
  • Michael Kazin, Georgetown
  • Chang-Rae Lee, Princeton
  • Margaret Levi, University of Washington
  • Sanford Levinson, Texas
  • Doug McAdam, Stanford
  • Jane Mansbridge, Harvard
  • Katherine S. Newman, Princeton
  • Robert Post, Yale
  • Robert B. Reich, Berkeley
  • Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale
  • Ruth Rosen, Berkeley
  • Elaine Scarry, Harvard
  • Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Richard Sennett, LSE and NYU
  • Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton
  • Jane Smiley, Carmel Valley
  • Christine Stansell, Princeton
  • Charles Tilly, Columbia
  • Michael Tomasky, The American Prospect
  • C.K. Williams, Princeton
  • William Julius Wilson, Harvard
  • Alan Wolfe, Boston College
  • George M. Woodwell, Woods Hole Research Center

Comments (3)


Tsk tsk, Robert Reich. He had some sense once. I'll take Judt over the whole bunch.

Matching words to deeds, that's a long long list of people whose support is worth absolutely squat.

You're such a pessimist, Smithee. I myself forwarded every last one of these compassionate revolutionaries a copy of my resume yesterday. Now I'm off to my deli job. ;)

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