Last week, New Republic owner and editor in chief Marty Peretz said something horrible about Muslims. Peretz wondered whether he should "pretend" that Muslims -- as a whole -- "are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment," which he was sure they would "abuse." This is not particularly surprising, considering that the man hates Muslims and has been writing unambiguously bigoted things about Muslims and racist drool about Arabs for decades. What is surprising is that today, he apologized.
Jack Shafer called Peretz out in 1991, and nothing about his worldview has gotten any less toxic since then. And after a three-year hiatus, Matt Duss is again updating the beloved Peretz dossier, your one-stop shop for anti-Arab and anti-Muslim vitriol from the publisher of one of America's foremost liberal magazines.
But for years, most prominent media people politely ignored Peretz, which really just enraged him even more. Those who criticized him were usually liberals whom he could dismiss as, I guess, anti-Semites and self-hating Jews. But this last weekend, Nick Kristof used Marty's recent unpleasantness as the lead anecdote in his New York Times Op-Ed column about the worrying resurgence of anti-Islam hysteria in the U.S.
And I guess Peretz's friends read the Times, and they respect crusading Op-Ed columnist Kristof's opinions. Because this, finally, inspired an apology from Peretz, and the admission that he doesn't specifically want Muslim-Americans to be strung up and lynched.
But he is only kind of sorry. "I wrote that," he says about his First Amendment line, "but I do not believe that." (Hm.)
He is not sorry for writing, "Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims." "This is a statement of fact," he writes today, "not value." (Yes, "Muslim life is cheap" is a statement of "fact." This fuckin' guy.) Peretz even argues that Kristof agrees with that statement. Kristof, needless to say, disputes that.