Lileks bad! Chomsky good!

Bloggers are saying that this Dennis Perrin guy (whose attack on James Lileks has attracted a great deal of attention) just isn't even worth fisking, so why bother?

Besides, as Lileks himself says, "Who cares?" (Via InstaPundit.)

So instead of bothering (what could I add anyway?) I'll just do what I did with Leon Kass, and supply my readers with a few choice quotes from Dennis Perrin -- the ones that appealed to my "political" and "aesthetic" sensibilities -- with a "minimum" of editorial comment.

Let Mr. Perrin speak for himself!

What bothered me almost as much as the attack on Lileks was the way he went out of his way to characterize people as mindless "warbloggers" (something Mitch Berg discusses in more detail). So I wondered what Mr. Perrin might have said about other people.

It turns out he is not even loyal to his own "friends." Here's his vicious, extremely ad hominem attack on an old friend, Christopher Hitchens -- whom he now describes as a:

former socialist and Beltway snitch who finally showed his true colors as a shill for W's gang
In a heart-wrenching psychological tug-of-war, Perrin seems to struggle, almost agonize, over what remains of his "friendship":

it's hard for me to erase the fond memories I have of Hitch.
I know how hard it must be. It's hard for all of us watching you. It must be very painful for you, having to attack an old friend. I feel your pain even as I write this.
unlike Christopher, I do not revel in blasting apart strangers.
That must make it doubly hard for you. (Once again, the Drayton Sawyer principle at work.)
His TV appearances show a smug, nasty scold with little tolerance for those who disagree with him. He looks more and more like a Ralph Steadman sketch.

But let's try to remember, Perrin "tries"

to keep my criticisms politically and aesthetically based.

And how he tries! In the comments that follow, here he is, trying to be as fair to others as he is to Hitchens.

On Andrew Sullivan:

Sullivan.... remains one of the most arrogant, pretentious jerks I've ever met.

On David Horowitz:

the insane David Horowitz, a man who shouts "TREASON!" every 90 seconds
And back to the emotional tug-of-war with "friend" Hitchens:
I wrote a long defense of Christopher in answer to Cockburn's "Hitch the Snitch" tirade, but I wasn't fully behind him.
How tough it is! Having to defend a friend you aren't "behind"! My heart really can only begin to feel his pain. Get thee behind me, Dennis Perrin!

Doubtless still feeling his own pain, but steeling himself, Perrin

was flabbergasted by the venom Hitch directed at people like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn

Imagine! How could anyone have directed venom towards the kindly, Khmer Rouge loving Chomsky! (To say nothing of Zinn -- author of A People's History of the United States!)

But, hold on!

Might Mr. Perrin possibly owe Chomsky a debt of gratitude?

Might they even be friends? Here's Chomsky himself, talking about Dennis Perrin:

In accordance with the regular pattern, two positions are represented: the media are attacked as too adversarial, unfair to Israel in this case; and they are defended as doing a creditable job under difficult circumstances. There is barely a nod given to the possibility that they might be guided by a different bias. In a question from the audience, media analyst Dennis Perrin asked ABC Israel Bureau Chief Bill Seamans why the media continue to claim that the PLO refused to recognize Israel's rights in the face of a series of statements by Arafat, which he cites, "calling for mutual security guarantees and mutual recognition." Seamans's response is that Arafat "has not made a clearcut, definitive statement recognizing Israel's right to exist," but has always added qualifications. Panelist Howard Squadron of the American Jewish Congress then dismisses Perrin's comments as "utter nonsense," and there the matter ends.

Seamans's comment is quite accurate: Arafat has added the qualification that Palestinians should have rights comparable to those accorded Israeli Jews. It is also true that U.S.-Israeli statements have no taint of ambiguity, being unfailingly rejectionist. That stand, by definition, conforms to the requirements of peace, moderation, and justice, so nothing need be said about it.

I guess that's the end of that argument! Chomsky and Perrin have settled it! Arafat and PLO good. US and Israel bad!

Perhaps in a state of grief over his faltering friendship with Hitchens, Perrin saw the need to sign (along with Chomsky) this petition, which, while purporting to condemn Cuban repression of dissidents, condemns the United States more harshly than Cuba:

Democratic change in Cuba needs to be achieved by the Cuban people themselves. The Cuban government's violations of democratic rights do not justify sanctions or any other form of intervention by the United States in Cuba. The government of the United States — which employs the rhetoric of human rights when doing so promotes its imperial goals, but maintains a discreet silence or makes only token protests when U.S. allies are involved, and which fully supports the barbaric practice of capital punishment, routinely inflicted in the U.S. — is hardly in a position to preach democracy and human rights.

And we recall too the long, criminal record of U.S. interventions in Latin America. This record has included six decades of exploitation and imperial control of Cuba, followed by an attempted invasion and a campaign of international terrorism and economic warfare, that is by now well-documented. Only a government that repudiated this record, renounced any intention of restoring its economic or political domination over Cuba, either directly or through rightwing Cuban-American proxies, and promised to respect the democratic will of the Cuban people themselves would have the moral legitimacy to call for democratic change in Cuba.

As the Bush administration, further emboldened by its military victory in Iraq, threatens to wage "preemptive" wars around the globe we reaffirm our support for the right of self-determination in Cuba and our strong opposition to the U.S. policy of economic sanctions that has brought such suffering to the Cuban people.

At the same time, we support democracy in Cuba. The imprisonment of people for attempting to exercise their rights of free expression is outrageous and unacceptable. We call on the Castro government to release all political prisoners and let the Cuban people speak, write and organize freely.

That'll teach Fidel a lesson or two, won't it?

I know this is getting tedious, but I thought maybe some of my readers would enjoy hearing what Dennis Perrin has to say about sports! (He is an expert, you know.... Wrote a book on the subject!)

Here's what he has to say about white sports fans:

"many white men...are transfixed by black flesh in motion. Dizziness occurs....Perhaps this is why, equilibrium returned, they despise black jocks in celebration."

I plead guilty to the crime of whiteness. But I'm not much of a sports fan. Is that because I'm don't "despise black jocks?" I have to admit, I've never been "transfixed" one way or another -- and as to the race of those who failed to "transfix" me? It never occurred to me! What am I missing? Should I try again?

I'll have to run this one past some of my friends -- sports fans and otherwise.

Here are more reflections from Perrin, on what makes American sports fans tick:

elements like racism, religion, patriotism, and blood lust intertwine with the love of sport to produce phenomena like Texas high school football fanatics, Hoosier hysteria, and the Yankees' Bleacher Creatures
I knew it! Sports fans are bloodthirsty, racist religious bigots! Not only that, they're (gulp) patriotic!

I am sure there's a wealth of cool quotes from Chairman Perrin I've missed, but I have to stop somewhere. And because I love W.C. Fields, I'll end this by objecting to a remark he made reviewing The Bank Dick. Making a socialist out of poor W.C. Fields simply goes too far:

Fields accurately nails the American tendency to inflate one’s importance, especially if money and fame are at stake.

Perrin is lucky the ferociously anti-tax, anti-New Deal Fields is not still alive:

The great enemy in Fields' films is the busybody, the person who in the time-honored American puritan tradition tries to tell you how to live your life. It may be your boss, your wife, your mother-in-law, the snoopy neighbor, a temperance preacher, a policeman, or an agent of the federal government. But in each case, someone tells you what is good for you and it never turns out to be what you yourself want to do--whether it is drinking, smoking, or simply going to the wrestling matches in the afternoon. Fields evidently was struck by how much time and effort some people devote to interfering in other people's lives for no reason beyond the pleasure of exercising power over them.
Sheesh! What do you suppose would Fields think of someone who tries to interpret his movies as representing a leftish triumphing of the class struggle -- almost 60 years after his death?

posted by Eric on 01.15.04 at 08:53 AM

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