Wednesday, March 22, 2006

No Pregnant Pause

James Freedman, former president of the University of Iowa and Dartmouth College, is dead. The New York Times has a nice obituary (reg. req'd). He was president of Dartmouth at a time when an influential proto-Bushist clique was using undergraduate life as a training ground for tactics that would later go national, and he had to take them on several times. In a typical piece of weaselry, visitors to the National Review's website today won't see anything directly contesting the NYT obituary, but will get an archive link to a 1998 hit-piece by Jeffrey Hart on Freedman:

he proclaims himself a feminist and a multiculturalist, and he is loud in his advocacy of racial preferences and special rights for gays ... Mr. Freedman is Jewish, and he makes conspicuous use of that fact when he can exploit it politically, although his relationship to Judaism is tenuous ... [we're leaving out some of the more insulting bits] ... Mr. Freedman is an awesome spectacle: The Liberal in the Age of Bill Clinton.'' ... People may be forgiven for believing the statements of an Ivy League President. They should get over that, at least in the case of Mr. Freedman.

The latter 2/3 of the article is a supposed account of the campus controversies while Freedman was president, and given the standards of accuracy at the National Review, is doubtless shite. But leave that aside.

Freedman just died. Maybe you don't agree with some stuff he said or did. But rather than actually put together an article that at least has the decency to open with a nod to his death, they dig up something from 8 years ago, plant a link without context on favoured right-wing watering hole, the Corner, knowing full well that the "right" people, literally and metaphorically will pleasingly see it. That's about as intellectually cowardly as it gets.

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