Best take so far on Blumen-journalism


Max Blumenthal has made a name for himself as a guerrilla videographer for the left, plunging into the centers of rightist activity and extracting embarrassing revelations of what he evidently believes is the rotten conservative core.

This works, at times. Confronting Anne Coulter at a conference of conservatives about how she could claim any status in critiquing the personal lives of public figures was brave and funny.

Other times, it’s just mean and, frankly, stupid. He’s made a career of getting religious conservatives to chat up their end-times beliefs, and then pretending that those beliefs are ambitions. This is dangerous, and would be (rightly) decried on the left if it were used against Muslims. In recent dispatches, I’ve noticed, the evangelicals are on to him and steer away from his leading questions about Armaggedon, instead insisting that their affection for Israel lies first and foremost in its status as a democracy.

He’s been touring Israel and the Gaza Strip lately, posting his entries at Philip Weiss’ blog. Here’s his latest, featuring drunk American bochers in downtown Jerusalem waxing racist after President Obama’s speech.

 And here’s how Blumenthal’s collaborator, Joseph Dana, sums it up:

The question is why more journalists are not covering this story. All you have to do is walk the streets of Jerusalem and you will find dozens of people that harbor the same beliefs. As a resident of Jerusalem, I can say that the people represented in this video are not members of a fringe group or simply drunk college kids. These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors. This is what Obama is up against.

Jerusalem is a city of 750,000 people, two thirds Jewish. These guys — they’re ubiquitous on the midrehov in the summer months, it’s true — are not even its permanent residents.*

The city is layered, complex, fraught – and so much more than this tripe. Please: Would Weiss post video extracting the worst of thug culture and claim it as representative of the African American experience? How grotesque.

Best take is from the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates:

For what it’s worth, on a very visceral level, what I see is a bunch of drunk racist white kids, doing what I’d expect a bunch of drunk racist white kids to do. I don’t really have "higher expectations" because of the particulars of the Jewish experience, anymore than I have "higher expectations" for  Irish-Americans due to the oppresive immigrant experience of their ancestors. Nor, when it comes to, say, homophobia or nativism, do I have "higher expectations" for blacks because of segregation and Jim Crow. (Though I do have higher hopes, mostly because I’m black and I want us to represent.)

Oppression corrupts, just as often as it ennobles. Perhaps more often.


Man listen, hand me a fifth of Henny, a video camera, and an hour, and I’ll show you Negroes claiming that God’s messenger lives in a space-ship orbiting the earth.

Read the whole thing.

Max has some real talent. It’s time for him to grow up and put it to good use.

*Best ever scene, witnessed about 15 years ago on a similar summer night: One skinny bocher lurching near another and screaming "Look at her again and I’ll f*** your face up. I will. I’ll f*** it up." Such pilpul!

Recommended from JTA