Ira to MJ: Don’t question my patriotism


Ira Forman goes after MJ Rosenberg in the Huffington Post today for Rosenberg’s recent blasts at critics of the Charles "Chas" Freeman appointment. Foman, the National Jewish Democratic Council executive director, charges that the Israel Policy Forum director of policy — in addition to other Freeman backers like Stephen Walt —  seems to be saying Freeman opponents are motivated by something other the best interests of the U.S.:

Walt is not the only one playing the patriotism card. On TPM, M.J. Rosenberg recently blogged, "Unlike his [Freeman’s] critics, he is not driven by politics. He’s sometimes right and sometimes wrong but he is motivated by his belief in what is best for America." I hope Rosenberg is not implying that all of us who question Freeman’s suitability for this job don’t care about what’s best for America?

Forman continues with a cautionary word to fellow progressives:

No side comes out smelling clean when it engages in this mudslinging. However, we progressives should make a particular effort to avoid calling our opponents unpatriotic. Since at least the 1940s, progressives have undergone endless attacks from conservatives questioning our loyalty to America. Rightly, we have resented these demagogic attacks and have reserved our greatest scorn for the purveyors of such slime. We recognized that, no matter how strong our opinions might be on a given issue, it degrades our democratic culture when we resort to questioning opponents’ patriotic motivations.

The late eighteenth century essayist Samuel Johnson had it right when he mused about this use of loyalty as a political weapon. Dr. Johnson declared: "[P]atriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

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