Andrew Sullivan’s Hypocrisy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 27, 2010

Responding to an anti-Obama comment which referred to the President as “it,” instead of as “him,” Andrew Sullivan makes the following remark:

All of which is par for the course, except for that last pronoun. It? Obama is a thing or an animal? Sometimes, the underlying feeling just slips out, doesn’t it? I really don’t want to believe that the underlying passion among some against the president is racist at its core. And yet, there it is.

Recall that in past instances, when nasty Internet comments were directed at a rhetorical foe of Andrew Sullivan’s, the Inspector Javert of Trig Palin’s matrilineal line dismissed the importance of such comments by stating “[l]ook: I know it’s awful to read bigoted emails. And relatively new bloggers may be unused to the routine bile. But you need to accept it as part of a new media with no filters.” In this case, however, not only is the comment not dismissed as “part of a new media with no filters,” it is used to categorize “the underlying passion among some against the president” as “racist at its core.” No doubt that there are some amongst the President’s detractors who are racists. But there are certainly some amongst the detractors of people like Jeffrey Goldberg who are anti-Semites–a fact made abundantly clear in their comments. Apparently, those people were never deserving of a Sullivanesque dressing-down. Shows where Sullivan’s priorities lie.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/david.r.block David Block

    How does he have any credibility left?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Jeff.Faria Jeff Faria

      He doesn’t.

  • Jsallison

    You’re still reading Sullivan? O.M.G.

  • Postmaster

    I just don’t get it. Why do people read Sullivan? Has he said one useful, non-hypocritical thing in the last five years? If so, I’m unaware of it. Like Christopher Hitchens, Sullivan is a poor read even when you agree with him, never mind when you don’t. Simply being able to string together nice-sounding words is not a substitute for excellence in thought and reasoning, and muddled emotional crap is still muddled emotional crap, regardless of what opinion is being peddled.

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      Given Sullivan’s influence, it is necessary to push back against his nonsensical commentary. I read him in order to do so.

  • http://twitter.com/nsivakumar Nagarajan Sivakumar

    Mr Yousefzadeh,
    You probably need to be awarded a gold medal for patience given that you have continued to read Mr.TrigTruther – I gave up in January of 2008 when his sycophancy for Obama and his daily bashing of Hillary was so obnoxious that I could not stand his abominable commentary anymore.

    Frankly he has zero influence on anything and I wish people stopped responding to his nonsense.He has proven to be intellectually dishonest (please read Peter Wehrner’s devastating take down of Sullivan position(s) on the Iraq war – any self respecting blogger would have probably called it a day after his/her dishonesty was so thoroughly demonstrated. But not so for this guy who fancies himself to be ….a “journalist”.

    If you think that he is making all these statements about the blogosphere being “part of a new media with no filters” in good faith, you are fooling yourself.He has so damningly contradicted himself before on even bigger issues like Iraq that you should not really expect anything better from him.

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      I don’t think that Sullivan makes many comments in good faith. I do think, however, that he possesses influence, and that it is necessary, as a consequence, to push back against him.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        Which method of pushing back is more effective, the umpteenth reasoned logical takedown or blanket mockery of anybody who still reads the man? You may think that reasoned fisking is the answer but the alternative needs serious examination because I think that a good chunk of his remaining readership views Sullivan as a cultural check box to tick off. You read him in order to supply yourself with the right raw material for water cooler and party commentary.

        Among certain crowds, not reading him is a sign of the outsider, the person who does not belong. Your takedowns will never affect these people because their loyalty to the Daily Dish is that of the unthinking parrot.

        • Pejman Yousefzadeh

          Which method of pushing back is more effective, the umpteenth reasoned logical takedown or blanket mockery of anybody who still reads the man?

          On this issue, I embrace the healing power of “and.” In any event, seeing as the Left regularly and consistently attacks bloggers on the Right with influence, so as to marginalize those bloggers and make them embarrassing to their cause(s), I see no reason why the favor cannot be returned, especially when Sullivan has made it abundantly clear that he deserves it.

  • Anonymous

    Sullivan dismissed the smear on Stephen Walt that was based on anonymous comments directed at Goldberg. Here, he is merely pointing out the racist nature of a comment left on a site. There is no guilt by association being made on Sullivan’s part.

    He’s denounced anti-semitic statements so many times on his site its hard to keep count. On the other hand, there’s barely any mention on this site denouncing anti-islamic postings often made on popular conservative websites.

    • Omaha1

      The comment which Sullivan was referring to was immature and ignorant, as demonstrated by the use of all caps and “OBUMMA”. How is that so different from the “anonymous comments directed at Goldberg”? I don’t see the distinction that makes one “racist” and the other just “part of a new media with no filters”.

      In any case, I think that characterizing the use of “it” as racist is a bit of a stretch.

    • Guest

      Hi, Andy!

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      There is guilt by association via his comment that “Sometimes, the underlying feeling just slips out, doesn’t it? I really don’t want to believe that the underlying passion among some against the president is racist at its core. And yet, there it is.” (Emphasis mine.) Please read more carefully. As for whether there are anti-Islamic statements made on other websites, and whether you think that I have not been sufficiently vigilant in denouncing them, I obviously cannot serve as a kind of omniscient denouncer of bigotry, though obviously, I am against blanket anti-Islamic statements and sentiments. I don’t ask of anyone else that they should be omniscient denouncers of bigotry. The point here–which you obviously miss–is that Sullivan knew of anti-Semitic statements made to Goldberg, but was dismissive of them. No omniscience was required; Sullivan was fully aware of the anti-Semitic statements being made. He is also fully aware that someone referred to the President as “it,” but instead of dismissing the reference as “part of a new media with no filters,” Sullivan immediately considered it a “racist” comment. Therein lies the quite obvious hypocrisy.

      • http://www.thegantry.net/blog Anonymous

        I suppose it would have been too difficult for Auntie Sullivan to dismiss the comment as merely rude & ignorant. If that upsets him we should talk him into reading the comment sections on Hot Air or Ace of Spades, just to watch his head explode. :)

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      Let us note that I have found nothing whatsoever on Google indicating any denunciations by Redux46 of anti-Islamic postings.

  • Omaha1

    Reading Andrew these days is oddly compelling, like one of his “View From Your Window” contests where you try to figure out just where he is coming from today. His bizarre fixations (the Palins, circumcision aka Male Genital Mutilation!), mental gyrations (claiming that a massive, intrusive health care is “moderate” and “conservative”) and insistence that he is NOT anti-semitic, despite almost daily screeds on Israeli “settlements” are a wonder to behold. That he is still employed by the Atlantic just demonstrates that some websites will do anything for higher traffic.

    I knew I would enjoy this post about Andrew’s hypocrisy, which is legendary. My favorite example is one I blogged about, where he condemns Rush Limbaugh for “slobbering” over former president Bush. Yes, really, Andrew thinks such “slobbering” is bad.

    Second favorite is where he suggests that Willow Palin might be causing gay teens to commit suicide by calling someone a “faggot” on Facebook, while conveniently forgetting to mention the time Christopher Hitchens called him a “lesbian” on national TV.

    • http://www.thegantry.net/blog Anonymous

      Omaha, I hate to pick nits, but why do you refer to “settlements” with scare quotes around the word? Isn’t that what they are?

      I mean, they aren’t gas stations, parking lots, or vacation spots, are they? What word would you prefer, colonies? Outposts? Brave New Worlds? ;)

  • simon

    “Apparently, those people were never deserving of a Sullivanesque dressing-down. Shows where Sullivan’s priorities lie.”

    Andrew Sullivan doesn’t denounce all the racism or anti-semitism he reads on the internet, therefore he shouldn’t denounce any of it. Sully writes hundreds of blog posts a weak, and he very rarely writes anything as fucking stupid as that.

  • simon

    “Apparently, those people were never deserving of a Sullivanesque dressing-down. Shows where Sullivan’s priorities lie.”

    Andrew Sullivan does not condemn every piece of bigotry he may read on the internet, therefore he should not condemn any piece of bigotry he reads on the internet. Sully posts hundreds of posts every week, and he rarely makes arguments as atrocious as this.

    • Anonymous

      “Andrew Sullivan does not condemn every piece of bigotry he may read on the internet, therefore he should not condemn any piece of bigotry he reads on the internet.”
      That’s not what I argued. But congratulations on posting a comment free of profanity. This time, I won’t delete it.

      • simon

        Yes it is what you argued, in fact you did it twice by suggesting that since he accepts some bigotry exists in emails he can never refer to it, and that since he doesn’t comment on bigotry on Goldberg’s blog he can’t comment on bigotry full stop.

        I actually agree that picking on “it” to diagnose racism is bizarre, but the key point of your post is suggesting he is hypocritical – and he simply isn’t. He gives out an award for inflammatory rhetoric by the left! He also tries to prevent bigotry on his blog by not having a comment section.

        Apologies for the swearing – new to the blog and read your post that ended with ‘you tool’ and assumed you’d be fine with it.

        • Anonymous

          No. I argued that Sullivan is willing to ascribe racism to a comment that attacks a politician he agrees with, and to expand his “argument” by stating that “the underlying passion among some against the president is racist at its core,” while at the same time turning a blind eye to actual racist comments, or, at best, dismissing them by saying that it’s all part of new media. He can comment on bigotry all he wants, and I am not stating that “he can’t comment on bigotry full stop.” I am stating that I wish he would be consistent about his comments on bigotry, but that’s too much to ask. In any event, while I am accusing him of being hypocritical, I am not stating that he is precluded from commenting on bigotry. Hope that cleared things up.
          Arguing that Sullivan’s refusal to have a comments section is because he wants to prevent bigotry is laughable.
          Finally, as it is my blog, the rules that apply to commenters do not apply to me. And “tool” is not a swear word.

          • simon

            Wrong. He did not dismiss the comments on Goldberg’s blog, he said they were bile, but that these things are inevitable on the internet. Again, he condemns the comments. There is no dismissal of the content. I agree that his argument regarding the use of “it” is weird, but it is not hypocritical to write a longer post exploring the bigotry than he did one time before.

            Have you read Althouses blog comments? The ones which called him an aids monkey, and said they hoped he went blind and died? Do you think these comments would be more or less prevalent on his own blog? If you’re arguing that he trying to stop debate, then why does he have a Dissent of the Day item? Indeed, one of the dissents last year castigated him for saying that since Bill Kristol did not condemn anti-gay violence in Uganda he was implicitly supporting it – the very same mistake you make. Sullivan apologised, as you should.

            I also read some comments saying ‘crap’ – I know it’s a lot less offensive but made a genuine mistake.

            Finally, where are your blog posts condeming Althouse’s comments section? Where is your condemnation of human rights abuses in Rwanda? Where are your blog posts on the attack on Prince Charles yesterday? You are turning a blind eye!

          • Pejman Yousefzadeh

            Oh, this is truly ridiculous.
            First off, he did dismiss the comments, stating “[l]ook: I know it’s awful to read bigoted emails. And relatively new bloggers may be unused to the routine bile. But you need to accept it as part of a new media with no filters.” That’s a dismissal. It cannot be clearer. As for Althouse, I haven’t read her comments, because I don’t read her blog. Asking me to condemn them therefore is absurd. Equally absurd is your claim that because I condemn Sullivan’s hypocrisy, I have to also spend time condemning every evil thing on the planet. I have not called for anyone to do that; my post is about Sullivan explicitly stating a double standard regarding anti-Semitic e-mails to Goldberg, and a comment made about President Obama, issues that Sullivan expressly addressed on his blog. I have not used this topic and/or this post to bash Sullivan for not addressing the Armenian genocide to my satisfaction; had I done so, your foolish last paragraph would have some bite. As it stands, the last paragraph just looks desperate.
            As for your third to last paragraph, if you think that it would be better for Sullivan to refrain from having a comments section because you believe that his comment section would become a hate-fest, that is your business. But it is absurd to think that Sullivan is refraining from instituting a comments section simply because he is worried about a breakout of bigotry. He can moderate his comments–Megan McArdle does so all the time.

          • simon

            Look I’m in the UK and it’s getting on midnight so this is my last comment for the moment, but if the quote you’re using as an example of his dismissal contains the words “bigoted emails” and “bile” then you seriously need to recalibrate your expectations. And where are you taking into consideration Sullivan calling out anti-semitism in other posts, such as his post on Glenn Beck’s shows on George Soros?

            The comparison with McArdle doesn’t work because of the differences in traffic, a better one is Krugman who moans about the comments every day. And the no-comments policy is actually a result of annual polls they used to hold where they asked the readers whether they wanted them. The readers didn’t, because it would incite bigotry.

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