Let’s see: In the last 72 hours, we’ve seen a tiny amount of news coverage for the Malaysian politician who said "Jews run the world" (nothing about this in the LA Times for example), and the pillorying of a general for expressing his religious views in church. What is making news instead is a tempest about Gregg Easterbrook.
Easterbrook is genuine, independent-minded writer and thinker. I once embarrassed him slightly by comparing him favorably to George Orwell; like Orwell, his political orientation leans slightly to the left, but his clarity and hard-headedness incline many of his judgments to the right. His 1995 book, A Moment on the Earth, is in my mind the most sensible book ever written about the environment. For this good deed he was relentlessly attacked by the politicized wing of the environmental movement.
On his New Republic weblog (see here), he attacked the violent content of the new Tarantino movie, Kill Bill, and went on to criticize movie studio executives for putting money-making above moral considerations. He then went on to reflect that that Jewish movie producers behind Kill Bill ought to know better, as they belong to the ethnic group that has suffered such extraordinary violence in recent history.
Trouble is, that’s not how it came out as he originally worded it. It sounded like he was recycling the old stereotype of Jewish money-mongering. For this Gregg has profusely apologized and said that what he wrote was "simply wrong."
This is not the end of the story. It seems no apology can be direct or profuse enough. There is a campaign under way to ruin Gregg, get him fired from his gig as a football analyst on ESPN’s website, and undermine his forthcoming book, The Progress Paradox, which I know will be a terrific book. (I saw him preview some of it last spring, and it is good stuff.) Undoubtedly his enemies and critics will use this recent episode as a means of discrediting his book, and his other work. (He has, for example, defended the Bush administration’s environmental record in Time and the LA Times.)
One small thing we call can do as a show of support is go on to amazon.com and pre-order Gregg’s book here.