More on Eric Alterman's Nascar/Zabar's Culture War Split

By Jeffrey Goldberg

The Nation columnist Eric Alterman wrote, in partial defense of his statement on the listserv Journolist that many Americans, presumably those who disagree with Eric Alterman, are "fucking Nascar retards," that he is resentful of the idea, propogated, he said, by some conservative commentators, that Nascar-supporting Americans are real Americans, and that Upper West Siders (who congregate at Zabar's and read books) are not. I argued subsequently that both groups represent manifestations of the real America, but Jason Zengerle wrote in to remind me that the line between liberalism and Nascar is not so bright, noting that the racing legend Junior Johnson endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.

Before I go on, let me dispense with a question a number of Goldblog readers -- readers, as you will surmise, I had no idea existed -- have asked: just what, exactly, is a "Zabar's?" What Zabar's is, dear readers, is Mecca, but more crowded, and with lox.

Speaking of lox, John Podhoretz, the editor of Mother Jones magazine, has written to Goldblog to point out, acerbically, that Eric Alterman is drafting Zabar's into a culture war that cares not at all about Zabar's and what it ostensibly represents. He writes, "This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say Zabar's requires or deserves an ideological defense." I have to say, I disagree. Podhoretz may see Zabar's as apolitical, but he forgets that whitefish are quite vociferous about their support for a single-payer health care system (on account of their being Canadian, I guess) while herring (cream sauce division) are notably anti-Zionist, perhaps because the anti-Israel Satmar Hasidim are among their biggest supporters.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/07/more-on-eric-altermans-nascar-zabars-culture-war-split/60602/