Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Opposition to Sobran speech receives publicity


WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes would be the most prominent:

As with Kevin Barrett, the issue is not whether {Sobran} should be censored, it’s whether he should be sponsored, paid, and given a platform that confers a modicum of credibility. This continues a critical conversation that has been going on for more than 50 years: is anti-semitism a legitimate part of modern American conservatism?
If conservatives can’t draw the line with their own wingnuts, how do we hold the left responsible for embracing their whack-jobs? The decision to invite Sobran was a huge lapse in judgment (aren’t there any other credible speakers out there?) and a potential embarassment for the sponsors of the Forum.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Spivak & Bice ask, “So is he an anti-Semite or what?”

Blogger James Wigderson sparked the cyber-debate Saturday morning – coincidentally, the Jewish New Year – by blasting the conservative Wisconsin Forum’s decision to bring in columnist Joseph Sobran to speak in Milwaukee on Sept. 28. On his blog Wigderson Library & Pub, he says Sobran continues to “promote his anti-Semitic views and has associated with Holocaust deniers.”

Wigdgerson {sic} then takes aim at Owen Robinson of the blog Boots & Sabers for saying the event “would be a blast to attend.” That’s when the fun begins, with numerous people posting charges and counter-charges in the responses at both Boots & Sabers and Wigderson Library & Pub.

Brian Fraley agrees with me, and asks where is his decoder ring? Troy Fullerton heard Mel Gibson is busy Thursday, so Wisconsin Forum picked Sobran. Mike Mathias answers whether this a First Amendment issue. Grumps at the Happy Circumstance reminds us of the burdens of free speech,

Sobran is the flip side of Kevin Barrett. A free society has a stake in allowing these fools and worse to say their piece. Government has no place denying them their right to spew bile, venom and filth into our society.

However, the people of a free society has to accept the responsibility of being free. It is up to us to condemn and bullyrag those who foul our society with their nonsense. It is incumbent on a free people to stand up and say, “This shall not pass in our society.”

And special thanks to for linking to me.

This is not to say that my view has unanimous support, much to my disappointment. Rick Esenberg believes that Joseph Sobran won’t upset the horses.

As for Joe Sobran, my impression is that he is an intelligent writer who says stupid things about Jews and Israel. Its hard not to think that there isn’t a black part in his heart, although Buckley has denied that this is so.

But I am not a fan of imposing orthodoxies on who can be invited to speak – particularly after the speaker has been invited. There are some people with bad opinions who make no sense. They cannot be engaged because they are uninterested in the rules of rationality. Ward Churchill, Kevin Barry and homophobe (the word fits here) Fred Phelps are examples. There is no point in inviting them to speak because discourse is not possible.

I am not convinced that Sobran falls into that category. I think he is almost completely wrong about what I take to be the premise of his talk, i.e., that “the Jews” (as if they are a monolithic body)have taken over conservatism. But I don’t know that he is incapable of linear thought or that the subject itself is beyond polite company.

I’m not sure what rational dialogue can be had with Sobran given that longtime colleagues tried and failed to talk Sobran away from his obsession with Israel and Jews before sadly conceding Sobran needed to be pushed out at National Review. Since then he has only gotten worse.

Bill Christofferson says, “Let the wingnut speak.”

If we give the Nazis a permit to rally at the State Capitol, these conservatives certainly can invite whomever they like.

Is this a great country or what?

It’s amazing Christofferson’s laughter didn’t cause any typos.

Blogger Dad29 has been especially critical of my efforts, going so far as to lump my criticism of Sobran in with my criticism of the 33rd assembly district in electing Scott Newcomer. I dislike Democracy and I dislike free speech, apparently. If I were half the wit Dad29 claims that I am, I might suggest he is the first Post Modern Conservative.

I promised to give Owen Robinson’s response, and Owen’s response is incredible.

Geez… I step away for a few days and people start slandering me as an anti-Semite for this post. I’m not going to dwell on it because readers of this space should know that I am not. If y’all don’t know that, then I can’t help you. I can’t prove a negative and am not going to waste everyone’s time trying.

The truth is that I was unaware of the controversy surrounding Sobran or that some folks consider him anti-Semitic. I saw the bio and the subject of the forum and thought it would be interesting to attend. In a cursory glance through links provided on other blogs and elsewhere, I remain unconvinced that Sobran is an anti-Semite, but I can see why some think he is. A term like “anti-Semite” is a very serious charge and it is very often thrown about carelessly.

Let’s get on to more important things, shall we?

I have yet to see any evidence of someone accusing Owen Robinson of anti-Semitism. It’s simply irresponsible to claim such a slander without providing evidence. Since he has not responded to my e-mails, I’m sure he’s trying very hard to just “move on” to “more important things.”

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