Thanks to neoconservative blogger Donald Douglas (with whom I steadfastly disagree), I’ve been alerted to the existence of Andrew McCarthy’s latest venomous rant at the National Review Online (in which he compares Prof. Khalidi to “racists and terror mongers,” and calls the Middle Eastern Studies program at Columbia “a bubbling cauldron of anti-Semitism”—just in case we weren’t sure he was surveying territory well outside the reality-based community)…

…but also the existence of Scott Horton’s response in Harper’s, as calm and sensible as McCarthy is fanatical and unhinged:

This doesn’t sound much like the Rashid Khalidi I know. I’ve followed his career for many years, read his articles and books, listened to his presentations, and engaged him in discussions of politics, the arts, and history. …

Rashid Khalidi is an American academic of extraordinary ability and sharp insights. He is also deeply committed to stemming violence in the Middle East, promoting a culture that embraces human rights as a fundamental notion, and building democratic societies. In a sense, Khalidi’s formula for solving the Middle East crisis has not been radically different from George W. Bush’s: both believe in American values and approaches. However, whereas Bush believes these values can be introduced in the wake of bombs and at the barrel of a gun, Khalidi disagrees. He sees education and civic activism as the path to success, and he argues that pervasive military interventionism has historically undermined the Middle East and will continue to do so. Khalidi has also been one of the most articulate critics of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority—calling them repeatedly on their anti-democratic tendencies and their betrayals of their own principles. Khalidi is also a Palestinian American. There is no doubt in my mind that it is solely that last fact that informs McCarthy’s ignorant and malicious rants.

Of course, Douglas dismisses this as “hostility to the U.S.” that he considers typical of the “relativist left.” (For corroboration he points with distaste to a quote attributed to Obama saying, “Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine.” Oh, the horror! How could anyone deny such a thing!)  I trust that more rational minds, however, can recognize rationality when they see it.

Not afraid to point out hypocritical relativism when he sees it, meanwhile, Horton ends with a twist of the knife:

I have a suggestion for Andy McCarthy and his Hyde Park project. If he really digs down deep enough, he will come up with a Hyde Park figure who stood in constant close contact with Barack Obama and who, unlike Ayers and Khalidi, really did influence Obama’s thinking about law, government, and policy. He is to my way of thinking a genuine radical. His name is Richard Posner, and he appears to be the most frequently and positively cited judge and legal academic in… National Review.

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