I'm attaching Marty Jezer's letter to the editor of the Nation -- a
response to an Alexander Cockburn column that starts off with Senator
Jefford's defection, but then gets off on Jezer's treatment of the 1968
Chicago demonstration and (it's hard to follow the logic) Todd Gitlin's
position on Nader-Gore.
Also attached is my own letter to the Nation.
This is a copy of the letter I've sent Victor Navasky, publisher and
editorial director of The Nation and Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor. If
you've read this week's Nation you'll understand the reference. My Bob
Kerrey article, which most of you've seen when it was first published, is
attached. If you think that Cockburn seriously distorts what I wrote,
consider writing a letter to the editor of The Nation (33 Irving Place, NY,
NY 10003 or www.thenation.com). And please send me a copy. Cheers, Marty
I suppose I should be tickled that Alexander Cockburn has again attacked me
in The Nation ("Beat the Devil" 6/18/01), that he includes me in his little
boys game of "I^Ym more radical than you" intramural insult battles.
For the purpose of personal attack, he quoted what I wrote about Bob Kerrey
(from my column in the Brattleboro Reformer) totally out of context,
thereby misrepresenting my position on Kerrey and the war in Vietnam. I
suppose I can write a letter to the editor on this (and still might do it)
but since it^Ys your policy to give columnists the final word, this would
only present him with another opportunity for a dishonest attack.
What I would most prefer is a published statement of apology from The
Nation and a commitment to demand from Cockburn some honesty and truth.
In this instance, Cockburn dumps on me for denouncing what I considered Dan
Rather^Ys overly harsh and politically misdirected attack on Kerrey. Yes, I
was critical of Rather for pressing Kerrey on whether he committed a war
crime. But the context of my complaint was that by focusing on Kerrey, Dan
Rather was able to avoid discussion of the larger issues of the war, which,
in my column, I covered in some detail.
In brief (and the full column is enclosed), what I wrote was:
"As a public advocate of draft resistance and a participant in nonviolent
civil disobedience against the war, I . . . have no judgement on what Bob
Kerrey and his SEAL Squadron did in Thanh Phong.
"From start to finish, the war in Vietnam was a lie . . . . (I then spent
500 words explaining the lie, concluding that) Kerrey^Ys angst is a personal
matter. What our country did in Vietnam is public; it^Ys a festering wound
that won^Yt ever heal until the crimes we committed are openly acknowledged."
There^Ys no hint of my opposition to the war in what Cockburn has written.
Indeed, Cockburn further slanders me (as he has done before in his column)
by mischaracterizing my position (spelled out in my biography of Abbie
Hoffman) on the election of 1968 by describing me as a "Humphrey lover."
Cockburn^Ys style is often to attack people for their views without ever
addressing those views in substance.
In one of his other syndicated columns about my position on Humphrey he
wrote, "Down the years Marty has told his fellow progressives in Vermont
that while Carter/Mondale
/Dukakis/Clinton may not have everything that a radical might desire, they
were better than their Republican opponents." Where did Cockburn get this?
His assertion, as anyone who knows me would confirm, is absurd. One
documented fact is that from 1980 to its demise I was on the steering
committee of the Vermont Citizens Party and even wrote an article touting
the Citizens Party in The Progressive, October 1982. While this particular
lie about me was not written in The Nation, it does indicate the level of
research that goes into Cockburn^Ys personal attacks.
Victor, my personal complaint is minor. More important is that there are a
growing number of activists who, committed to justice, despair that the
left, as reflected by Cockburn, no longer provides hope for change.
Cc: Katrina vanden Heuvel and other interested parties.
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