Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I started it

I wrote Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review Online, last night, asking him why he thinks Marc Cooper hates him so much. He responded, "Who's Marc Cooper?" So I sent him the link, and here's his response today:

One of the interesting developments of appearing in the LA Times regularly is that I've activated a whole new constituency of people who don't like me. For example, I don't really know who Marc Cooper is. But a couple readers say he's normally a fairly open-minded liberal. Maybe. But not judging from this typical lefty yelling. Apparently Cooper thinks it's self-evident that I'm illiterate and historically ignorant -- and that I'm a "shout show clown."

Since Cooper's snideness is representative of a vast amount of blowback in recent weeks, let me just respond in brief. A) I haven't been on a "shout show" in years and I turn them down all the time. B) Illiterate? Try harder. C) Perhaps Cooper could try to explain why my argument was "ahistorical drivel"? Is he saying that the views of three of the 20th century's most esteemed liberal historians amounts to nothing? Does he believe it is so self-evident that I'm wrong it doesn't merit a thoughtful rebuttal? Was FDR completely honest in the run-up to World War II? About Lend-lease? Are his dittoing readers content with such substance free high-chair pounding?

I'm not exactly in a great position to throw stones about name-calling, but I do it less than I used to and I always try to do it in the context of an argument. Cooper should give that a try.
I found Cooper via Michael Totten, who said he was a liberal with whom one could reasonabley discuss politics. I don't read him very regularly, but he's always seemed pretty reasonable until I came across his rant against Goldberg, who I also think is pretty reasonable.

I didn't know Goldberg used to do "shout shows"--maybe he's calmed down since then. Anyway, I like Goldberg's use of "self-evident" in the above: "Does he believe it is so self-evident that I'm wrong it doesn't merit a thoughtful rebuttal?" Some write to persuade and some write to get something off their chest and get a "you tell him!" from the peanut gallery. Cooper's usually done the former. It's easy to slip into reading the latter when it's something you agree with. It takes a lot more effort to make your case in writing and only a little less effort to read it.

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