Editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, who has become the crazy uncle in The New Republic's attic, says he is sorry for half of his most recent anti-Muslim tirade. He has been under great pressure, from Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times and from an eloquent coalition of students at Brandeis, his alma mater.
Peretz says he is sorry for writing, "I wonder whether I need honor these people [Muslims] and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse." He admits he wrote the sentence, but he says now he does not believe it. Let's take him at his word, although you wonder because it doesn't read like he accidentally dropped something or misplaced a modifier. But maybe he just had a couple of extra glasses of wine before hitting the send button.
But he makes no apology at all for his other offensive sentence: "Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims." He writes, "This is a statement of fact, not value."
Is there any other group of people that the editor-in-chief of an influential American publication could get away with libelling in this way?