Fascinating exchange of letters in The Nation this week, about which I’ll write more later. (By subscription only, but there’s a sneaky way to get to it which I’ll explain then.) I seem to have been sucked into the whole fracas indirectly because of my earlier posts on Ralph Schoenman. Speaking on Cloak and Dagger Radio recently, Schoenman attacked me and Max Holland. (Click here if you’re just dying to hear his actual words, somewhere around the 15-minute mark.):
A CIA media asset by the name of Max Holland, and one of his close working colleagues who is a miserable little creature named Paul Mitchinson who used to write for the National Post in Canada, basically what I call pimps for the imperium, they are promoting this thesis everywhere that the work of Jim Garrison and my work and Joan Mellen’s work were really on behalf of the KGB.
At seventy, Schoenman has been employing this mode of attack for decades. Doris Lessing, writing about her years of political activism in the 1960s, captured Schoenman’s character perfectly in her memoirs:
[Schoenman spoke] in that style perfected by History itself, combining idealism with a cold clipped precision, and full of contempt for opponents, who were by definition cowards, poltroons, and morally defective … He sat down to lean forward and engage my eyes with a stern gaze that was reminding me of previous avatars of Lenin, liars on principle; but that gave rise to interesting questions … Does it count as lying when the liar knows perfectly well his listener knows he is lying?
[Doris Lessing, Walking in the Shade : Volume Two of My Autobiography -- 1949-1962, pp. 268-70.]