Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
A few weeks ago I had a lively argument with my good friend Doug Bloomfield, the popular columnist for Jewish newspapers and former AIPAC legislative director. Doug was writing about columnist/candidate/commentator Pat Buchanan (Read his Jerusalem Post story here), and meditating on the lack of outrage over the fact this guy continues to have a national pulpit, so to speak – not on some wacko neo-Nazi Web site, but on MSNBC.
Buchanan is yesterday’s news, I insisted; who even listens to what he says about such topics as accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk?
Doug’s response struck me as sound; Pitchfork Pat may be old news to those of us who have covered his serial outrages over the years, but to younger viewers of the network he’s an affable, funny, smart guy whose views on Israel, Jews and the Holocaust get a big and undeserved credibility boost by virtue of his polished style and his affiliation with a “real” network.
Now Menachem Rosensaft, a New York lawyer and Holocaust activist with a streak of hyper-persistence, is on the case.
Rosensaft, too, argues that Buchanan gains legitimacy by virtue of this major-media platform and by the refusal of MSNBC to even acknowledge the currents of controversy surrounding him.
He is calling on Jews to write to the president of MSNBC and force the network to react to the “disclosure that…Buchanan sponsored a Holocaust denial forum on his Website.”
That forum was closed down, but Rosensaft remains outraged that the network has not responded to his complaints or to the fact Buchanan’s long history of controversial statements on the Jews, the Holocaust and Israel.
Why, he wants to know, is the former Republican presidential contender treated differently than David Duke or Louis Farrakhan? Why the double standard for a man many Jews consider in the same league?
And shouldn’t we all be concerned about “mainstream” pundits on the right who exploit and fuel public outrage in ways that have traditionally led to upsurges in anti-Semitism — a trend he links to last week’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, an institution he served for many years?
So far, no response from the network. And not much indication the Buchanan issue is troubling most mainstream Jewish leaders. As Bloomfield said, “where’s the outrage?”