Today everyone is talking about Alan Dershowitz’s article in the Hill complaining that he has been socially banned on Martha’s Vineyard because of his advocacy for Donald Trump.
[S]ome of my old friends on Martha’s Vineyard.. are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Martha’s Vineyard. One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited…. Others have said they will discontinue contributions to organizations that sponsor my talks.
This is all familiar to me, since I lived through McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented alleged communists on civil libertarian grounds were shunned. Some of these lawyers and victims of McCarthyism lived on Martha’s Vineyard. I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have. I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly. Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties?
These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove. But one good thing is that being shunned by some “old friends” on Martha’s Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were. From a personal point of view, I could not care less about being shunned by people whose views regarding dialogue I do not respect…
I will not change my views as a result of these attempts to ostracize me, but there are some who may remain silent for fear of being shunned. Silence is not my style….
Jeet Heer marvels that Dershowitz was not shunned before and mocks:
Socrates was forced to eat hemlock. Ovid, Dante, & Emma Goldman were sent into exile. Margaret Sanger was jailed. Rosa Luxemburg, Gandhi and Martin Luther King were killed. Spinoza was excommunicated. Alan Dershowitz can’t find anyone to dine with at Martha’s Vineyard.
Norman Finkelstein comments, via email:
“Oh, he wants ‘vibrant debate’: I suppose that’s why he threatened to bankrupt University of California press if they published my book [Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-semitism and Abuse of History, 2005], and called on Governor Schwarzenegger to kill the book.
“Oh, and I suppose it’s because of his opposition to McCarthyism that he sent a 60-page smear document to every faculty member and administrator at DePaul so as to deny me tenure [in 2007].
“Oh, sack of shit, Thy name is Dershbag.”