Marty Peretz, owner and editor of The New Republic, has previously had controversial takes on the Middle East and Muslims. On September 4, responding to a New York Times article about Americans "misunderstanding ... Muslim-Americans," he released a few paragraphs that have again rattled the blogosphere (particularly libertarians and liberals).
What Peretz wrote was that, though "Muslims and Arabs" in America are generally more integrated than in Europe, there are an "increasing number of both naturalized and native-born citizens who enlist in the Islamic terror networks of our time, here and abroad." He sees few cases of Muslim-Americans speaking out against radical Islam, even when Muslims are the ones being targeted by radicals. His closing paragraph:
But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.
As was the case in controversies past, bloggers are extending their responses to comment not just on Peretz himself, but at the way in which the magazine he owns is now being associated with his views.
- 'The First Amendment Is Not ... A "Privilege,"' writes Andrew Sullivan, a former New Republic editor, at The Atlantic. "There have been fewer more distressing experiences these past couple of months than witnessing the casual conflation of al Qaeda with American Muslims," he continues, calling this rhetoric "deeply unfair to a community that has, unlike some in Europe, integrated and succeeded in this country and deserves respect and inclusion, not suspicion and fear."
- The Amendment That Keeps Peretz Afloat "I for one am thrilled that the First Amendment gives Peretz the right to offer his racist views up for public consumption," writes left-leaning Matt Yglesias, "but it's unfortunate that a number of very good writers seem to see no problem with the fact that their work goes out under a masthead nominally edited by this character."
- Pot and Kettle Peretz, observes Radley Balko, "says the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right, and concludes that Muslims haven't earned it. Of course," he continues at The Agitator, "if you were to accept Peretz’s absurd first premise, you might conclude Peretz hasn’t earned it, either."
- A Thought Experiment Attorney Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings reposts the paragraph with the word "Jews" substituted in for "Muslims." Writes Martin: "Can you imagine the uproar that would occur if a major media outlet had published [that]?" The fact that Peretz's diatribe was directed at Muslims, in this society, "serves to put a respectable veneer on something that is truly vile."
- Background: How to Read Peretz "Marty Peretz owns the
New Republic, a venerable, 95-year-old magazine of politics, arts, and
culture," explains Salon's Alex Pareene.
"And because he owns it, he is allowed to call himself
'editor-in-chief' and the magazine has to publish his racist rantings."
After reviewing Peretz's argument, he concludes: "I like to imagine
Peretz's blog posts as being angrily muttered by a crazy person on the
subway. Try it at home!"