- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Buchanan takes columnist to task

One has to admire the chutzpah with which Dennis Prager promotes his book in his column "Pointing fingers with reckless aim" (Commentary, Saturday). Right up in his first paragraph, this huckster puts his title, subtitle and publisher and describes its contents.
Mr. Prager then goes into a litany of libels against Jews dating to the Middle Ages: the belief of "tens of millions of European Christians … that Jews kidnap and slaughter non-Jewish children before Passover to use their blood for baking matzo," the belief that Jewish folks "caused the Plague," that they were responsible for the collapse of the French Panama Canal company, that they knew in advance about the September 11 attacks.
After this recital, I am introduced: "And now Pat Buchanan and other Americans believe (or at least say) that America is going to war against Iraq 'because of the Jews.' "
Question: Where did Mr. Prager get this quote? Nowhere in my 5,000-word March 24 cover article in the American Conservative ("Whose War?") does any such statement appear. Not only have I never written that "America is going to war against Iraq because of the Jews," I have written the opposite. In my March 13 column, urging mercy for Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, I wrote this of his comment about the strong support of the "Jewish community" for the war:
"Now, about this comment, it is, first, wrong. We are going to war because Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell are convinced we must disarm Baghdad and regime change is the only way to effect it. Second, according to polls, the Jewish community is only about as hawkish as the rest of the nation, with 59 percent supporting war."
Why did Mr. Prager fabricate this quote? Because he could not find in my 5,000 words one sentence to justify linking me with those who told "grandiose lies" about the Jewish people. Bereft of evidence, he decided to plant it. For those interested in what I did say and do believe, here is the gist of my article:
There is a neocon War Party, some of whom were plotting with Israel for war on Iraq as far back as 1996. These individuals urged Israel to ditch the Oslo peace accords when support for Oslo was U.S. policy. Other neocons who run the Weekly Standard, the New Republic and Commentary have been shrieking for a "World War IV" against eight or nine Arab and Islamic nations, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In decrying their warmongering, my piece cites sources on the left and right and names exactly who these two dozen neoconservatives are.
Mr. Prager closes by saying that I have "an amoral view of America's role in the world." Well, at least, it is an American view, the view of every president up to Woodrow Wilson: Stay out of foreign wars, be on guard against "passionate attachments" to any country other than our own. As our first and greatest president wrote in his farewell address:
"[A] passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils…Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause …"
The "tools and dupes" President Washington warned against are the Dennis Pragers who propagandize for endless wars, for other men's sons to fight and for interests other than those of the United States of America.

McLean, Va.

D.C. misses out on Marathon

According to the article "Officials upset by canceled marathon" (Metro, Friday), D.C. Marathon's organizers canceled Sunday's event because of security concerns, and District officials are outraged. Tony Bullock, Mayor Anthony A. Williams' spokesman, dismisses suggestions that crowds of runners and onlookers might be tempting terrorist targets, especially during the current military action in Iraq. Instead, he asserts the reason for the cancellation was greed and profit. That's rich. I'm sure the District's anxiety is purely over the lost prestige that the annual event brings and that any monetary concern is a distant secondary (or even tertiary) matter.
Yet, I'm willing to see things from the District officials' point of view: that security shouldn't be a concern. After all, the District currently has "only" some 1,500 unsolved murders on file, from 1990 to 1999, and succeeded in closing a whopping 37 percent of such cases in 1999 alone. With a success rate like that, why should anyone fear the possibility of terrorists doing something during a 26.2-mile footrace along public streets, especially because terrorists might not care about being caught in the act?
The article noted a particular irony. District officials such as Mr. Bullock complained that organizers of the marathon were "ducking" their responsibility and said "their phones were unplugged and top officials were nowhere to be found." Sound familiar? It ought to, at least to D.C. residents who have had the unmitigated pleasure of dealing with their own city government, and perhaps explain why the District's population is declining as its residents flee to the relative sanity of the suburbs. Maybe District officials should take a moment's pause for some healthy introspection before complaining about other folks' behavior. At least D.C. Marathon organizers, under normal circumstances, offer a functional and satisfactory product.


A kiss from Judas, not Athens

The piece about Christopher Hitchens' transition to the right ("Hitchens' journey," Culture Friday) contends that "Mr. Cockburn is publicly accusing his old friend of homosexuality." This is entirely untrue. I did recently comment on Mr. Hitchens' notorious enjoyment of alcohol, a taste on which he dwells at some length in a recent column in Vanity Fair, saying (optimistically, in the view of many of his acquaintances) that it is his servant, not his master. Maybe in the virtuous offices of The Washington Times the two tastes are regarded as synonymous.

In an effort to account for Mr. Hitchens' increasing seclusion in fantasy, I discussed Korsakoff's syndrome, a condition of advanced drinkers in which delusions attain paramountcy in the drinker's brain. Back in Clinton-time when Mr. Hitchens tried to get his close friend Sidney Blumenthal nailed by Congress on a perjury rap I did allude in a column to Mr. Hitchens' habit of greeting friends with a proffered kiss on cheek or even lips, but my allusion there was to Judas Iscariot, not to Athenian practices.


Petrolia, Calif.

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