The Return of Martin Peretz

The controversial New Republic editor is once again in the news as a New York Magazine profile explores his character

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Sunday’s New York Magazine featured a profile of The New Republic's controversial editor and partial owner, Martin Peretz. Benjamin Wallace-Wells chronicles the path that created Peretz's "belligerent" personality and his relentless devotion to Israel. The author follows Peretz in the wake of his latest, and perhaps greatest controversy, in which he was chastised by fellow journalists and Harvard alumni for making unflattering generalizations about Muslims.

The profile has solicited mixed reactions, and while it appears that it perhaps evoked some degree of sympathy for Peretz, many readers merely found their negative opinions of the man reinforced.

  • Unconvincing Denial of Racism  In one part of the profile, Peretz attempts to counter accusations that he is racist by listing examples of black or Muslim friends and employees. Salon’s Alex Pareene is unimpressed by this demonstration, writing, "Not sure how being friends with black people proves you don’t hate Muslims, though especially when you write so often about how much you hate Muslims." Pareene insists that the profile is sad but worth reading and concludes, "The New Republic and the American press in general, are better off without him."
  • A Lesson in Tokenism  When reading the article, the same scene reminds Daily Caller blogger Mike Riggs of his own grandmother who had once made a similar vain attempt to deny her own prejudices. The moral of Riggs' story:
This is what is so tricky about tokenism: You do not have to be a liberal to know that there is something gross about listing human beings as if they were items on a grocery list. And you do not have to be a bigot to believe, or hope, that knowing and loving and associating with people who are different than you matters for something, and that those associations can improve and redeem you.
  • 'Blogging Can Be Dangerous'  Ben Smith at Politico sees the profile supporting his own belief that Peretz's slip into controversy can be blamed on his blog. "I've thought for a while that blogging can be dangerous, and cited Peretz's blog, The Spine, as the case in point," Smith explains. "A blog can extend a writer's reach and voice. But it can also diminish someone who, like Peretz, had no evident filter and a reputation to lose."
  • Good News for The New Republic's Readers  Not a fan of Peretz, Talking Points Memo blogger M.J. Rosenberg is relieved by the former editor-in-chiefs decision to step down to a less-involved position and discontinue his blog, declaring that "now I can start reading the New Republic again, which somehow survived Peretz, and remains, in my opinion, a good magazine."
  • A Few Details Are Still Unclear At Mondoweiss, Philip Weiss is left with unanswered questions after reading the Wallace-Wells story which he refers to as "an excellent piece, very sad." In response to the news that Peretz's blog, The Spine, will soon cease to exist, Weiss writes:
I'd like to know the whole story. His blog items are often the most the most popular items on the New Republic site. Who killed Peretz's column, and why, because of racism? When will this happen?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.