On Eric Alterman's 'Fucking Nascar Retards'

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Eric Alterman responded to my criticism of him for referring, on the liberal listserv JournoList, to those Americans who like watching fast cars drive around in circles as "fucking Nascar retards" by apologizing for the use of the word "retard" but by further explaining that his revulsion toward Nascar is not actually a revulsion toward Nascar but is a revulsion provoked in him by conservative commentators who equate Nascar with Americanism:

What I objected to, and what I've written about frequently--and would have been understood, I imagine, by most of the people in that private, off-the-record conversation--was the putatively liberal mainstream media treating the folks who like Nascar as "real Americans" and the rest of us who like jazz, foreign films, and prefer pinot noir to Budweiser as un-American commies who should have no say in our country's future. This is why I am always defending New York, academics, the Upper West Side, even Zabar's which always appear to be fair game with the So-called Liberal Media. With the election of a law professor, ex-Harvard Law Review editor from Hyde Park who made no apologies for his brilliant writing talents and middle-to-high-brow tastes in literature , I thought we would finally stop hearing from  pundits like John Podhoretz, Ann Coulter, David Brooks,  Michael Ledeen and Laura Ingraham telling us that real Americans are white, Christian, live in the middle of the country and hate people like myself and my friends.

Read the whole thing, but I do agree with Alterman's defense of Zabar's America, which is no less or more American than Nascar. But because I am a uniter and not a divider, I would argue that one could simultaneously enjoy Nascar and enjoy Zabar's, and everything Zabar's stands for. In fact, I would imagine that a perfect day at the Charlotte Motor Speedway would include an onion bagel with Nova and sable (though I prefer the sable at Barney Greengrass, actually). And also a book or two, for those duller moments in the race. Maybe this book, come to think of it.  In other words, I do disagree with the idea that Nascar is America and Harvard Law School is not.  

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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