In the Weekly Standard’s online letters to the editor Yale Professor Jim Sleeper submits his standard non-response response, this time to Hugh Hewitt’s brilliant column of Friday last. In his standard non-response response Sleeper reiterates his original defamatory falsehoods while failing to offer one iota of evidence supporting his imputation of “neo-Stalinism” to Little Trunk’s FrontPage column. This time, however, Hugh Hewitt is allowed to talk back to the bully and point out the vacuity of his non-response:
“Since The Weekly Standard and Hugh Hewitt are deeply committed to invigorating public discourse (Tough Guy), perhaps you will share with your readers my brief reply, from the April 17 Yale Daily News, to one of the responses my column received. This might help some people who tend to read things ideologically understand better what I was actually arguing in the column itself.
“‘In 1965, [Yale President] Kingman Brewster, Jr. told my class, “To a remarkable extent this place has detected and rejected the very few who have worn the colors of high purpose falsely. This is done not by administrative edit or official regulation [but] by a pervasive ethic of student and faculty loyalty and responsibility and mutual regard which lies deep in our origins and traditions.”
“‘Writing to support that ethic, I drew a distinction not between right and left but between those who use violence or intimidation (which do require “edicts”) and those who do what Brewster cautioned against: They claim to champion dialogue while serving narrower, often unacknowledged ideological or tribal agendas against perceived enemies whose reputations and words they often distort, sometimes smoothly, sometimes hideously. Campus Stalinists refined this to a high art years ago, deftly invoking liberal pieties and principles to justify one-dimensional politics; so now do some conservative networker-warriors.
“‘A strong Yale will detect and reject them, quietly but firmly placing the burden on progressive and conservative activists to clean their houses. They’ll have to, if the rest of us are brave enough to make it clear that we’re not buying what’s pernicious or nonsensical in their claims and that we won’t be intimidated or guilt-tripped into pretending otherwise.’
Hugh Hewitt responds:
“There is an old Irish saying: When everyone says you’re drunk, you’d better sit down. Professor Sleeper had better sit down.
“Sleeper is quite energetically attempting to persuade readers of both The Weekly Standard and the Yale Daily News that he didn’t write what they thought he wrote. He is attempting to do so at the same time he refuses to apologize to the freshmen for the use of the terms ‘neo-Stalinist’ and ‘Fedayeen Uncle Sams’ in his first article in the Yale Daily News.
“One of the great benefits of the Internet is that observers of arguments like this one can instantly read the originals. Sleeper’s first column was linked in my Daily Standard piece, as was the students’ report to Frontpage magazine. Sleeper may want to plead guilty to lousy writing rather than abusive invective, but even the former won’t erase the terms ‘neo-Stalinist’ or ‘Fedayeen Uncle Sams.’ Those are serious charges, far beyond any ordinary charge of incivility. To remind Professor Sleeper: Stalin murdered millions and imprisoned millions more. The Fedayeen have been violating the rules of war in recent weeks, murdering American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. Sleeper was writing about civility in his first article. ‘Yeah, right,’ as the younger people say.
“There is a second point in Professor Sleeper’s reply that requires a little more time than his absurd claim that he’s been misunderstood. He uses a curious quote from Kingman Brewster about detecting and rejecting ‘the very few who have worn the colors of high purpose falsely,’ and claims he wrote his first piece in the tradition Brewster praised. He went on to again link ‘campus Stalinists’ with ‘conservative networker-warriors,’ and to urge ‘a strong Yale’ to place the burden on ‘progressive and conservative activists to clean their houses.’ He closed by urging his Yale readers not to ‘be intimidated or guilt-tripped’ into ‘buying what’s pernicious or nonsensical in their claims.’
“I’d like to attend a meeting of the Yale Committee on Protecting the Colors of High Purpose. I’d like to ask where have they been for the past twenty-five years and why, more recently, haven’t they called the promoters of the teach-in to account?
“More to the point, the tenured and untenured left in the academy is profoundly unsettled by the arrival of ‘conservative network-warriors’ on their campuses. The abuse of center-right students that has been a constant over the past 30 years can no longer occur in isolation, and alumni with checkbooks have begun to notice these antics. Virulent anti-American rhetoric–‘Fedayeen Uncle Sams’ is in a class by itself–gets reported upon and Boards of Trustees frown. September 11 did indeed change many things, and it energized many to demand fairness on campuses. Sleeper is trying to claim a privileged ground, upon which no criticisms may be allowed and from which he is entitled to hurl invective of the worst sort at young conservatives.”
This exchange appears on the Weekly Standard Web site under the first of Top 10 Letters.
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