On Walt, Mearsheimer, Weiss, Greenwald And Me, Ctd

Pejman pushes back. There's a blizzard of ad hominem insults, but no argument so far as I can see, except that we should all be careful before we write for fear of unintended consequences. I understand the point, and will try to be more vigilant about hyperbole (blogs are real-time thoughts and not the place for truly considered writing), but I have to say this is not my view of what writers should do in general, regardless of the form we are using. I think our core responsibility is to tell the truth, as best we can, to our readers. Sometimes, that means saying things that might not have the best consequences in real life, or can give comfort to those who should be given none, or foment hatred, or complacency, or any number of bad things.

But my instinct when told not to say certain things in certain ways - not because they are not true, but because it is somehow irresponsible to say them - is to talk about them more candidly. I published the Bell Curve excerpt in TNR because I deeply believed it was a debate worth outing rather than stigmatizing - although it could clearly foment racism. When I wrote "When Plagues End" in 1996 about the profound impact of new HIV treatments, I knew that all the caveats in the piece would be ignored and I'd be attacked for promoting complacency and more HIV-transmission and be accused of being callous toward those left behind in the plague. But what I wrote was true, and has been borne out by subsequent events. When I wrote "What's So Bad About Hate?" I knew that many of the arguments would be disturbing and could be used by bigots to feel better about themselves. So what? Either my argument succeeds or fails. And as long as I am vigilant against my own human dark side (we all have one), I feel I should veer toward candor rather than sensitivity.

On Israel, I see a great opportunity being wasted and a country I deeply admire slowly killing itself. The notion that I should suppress these beliefs - or focus always on relaying them with extreme sensitivity to language - is one I'll resist. In fact, I think the chilling effect of this charge of fomenting anti-Semitism by criticizing the actions of the pro-Israel lobby is worse than getting it all out in the open.