FrontPageMagazine.com | June 17, 2005
Leftwing race activist (and self-flagellating white male) Tim Wise is a piece of work. On Tuesday, FrontPage editor Jamie Glazov received an email from Wise pointing out what he felt was an injustice done to him in the profile we posted of him on DiscoverTheNetworks.org. As it happens, DiscoverTheNetworks.org is the only database of political figures on the Internet that actually invites its subjects to submit complaints and also responds to them. (The invitation is posted on the site.) By contrast, the databases operated by Wises leftwing friends at MediaMatters and RightwingWatch do not make changes in the interest of the truth either on matters of fact or interpretation when their subjects email them or call them to point out their errors. (We have tested this proposition in both cases.)
Compiling a database with thousands of profiles is not a simple matter. No one individual is an expert on such a vast array of subjects. Many of the subjects, like Mr. Wise, are too insignificant to justify the allocation of substantial resources to track down everything they have written or said. While we make every effort to check and double check our entries, occasional factual errors are inevitable. In addition, interpretations of indisputable facts are often debatable. Leftwing watchdog sites like MediaMatters and RightWingWatch, to take two examples, regularly portray policy differences with the left (opposition to racial preferences is a good example) as racism, which it is not. Tim Wise is virtuoso at this. Yet if a target of such a smear, posing as a judgment call, should email these sites to complain, they would get no redress.
On Tuesday, Tim Wise discovered that we adhere to a higher standard and are willing to make adjustments in our judgment calls, even for political opponents who have smeared us in the past and (as it turned out) are about to smear us again.
The correction which Mr. Wise was seeking through his email and the only correction he asked for (an important point, as we shall see in a moment) -- was a matter of judgment, not fact. We had referred to Mr. Wises meager academic credentials for the heights he had attained as a public speaker and recently as an adjunct professor at an Ivy League college. Mr. Wise characterized our comment as rather snide. We looked at the text he was complaining about and within minutes gave him the call. The change was made on DiscoverTheNetworks within an hour or so and the offending phrase eliminated from the profile, along with the characterization of Mr. Wise as a failed academic.
Since our generosity to Wise became the preface for a full-scale attack on us by him the very next day on CounterPunch.org, we include here the full text of Wises email to us the afternoon before. The email was sent to FrontPagemag.com managing editor Jamie Glazov because Wise had previously been invited by FrontPage to participate in a symposium edited by Jamie (on the other hand, no similar invitations have come from leftwing sites to FrontPage writers):
I was just wondering about something. Given the rather snide reference in my DTN entry, to my "only" having a B.A., I would like to know the terminal degree of each of the principal writers/editors who contribute to DTN, including but not limited to Perazzo and Tremoglie. Since having a B.A. and nothing more, apparently disqualifes [sic] one from being capable of uttering an intelligible thought, I am certain FPM would never publish the words of anyone with such "meager academic credentials" (the exact wording from my entry as I recall)...credentials which are, of course, more extensive than those of Limbaugh or Hannity, and equal to D'Souza, but well...I think you know where I'm going with this. I thank you for your prompt response to my request, in advance. Hope you're well (really)...
As already pointed out, we removed the phrase to which he objected immediately and sent him an email equally friendly in tone (although not so smarmily friendly since, unlike him, we were not preparing any unscrupulous attacks). Wise was notified of these changes in an email that read, Your point about your DTN profile is well taken, and we have corrected it; in the Corrections section of DTN, we noted the changes that had been made.
Wise responded to these gestures with a vitriolic three-thousand word attack on DiscoverTheNetworks and its creator David Horowitz. Subtitled David Horowitz and the Politics of Ad Hominem Distortion, the attacks length made clear that the previous days email was made entirely in bad faith on the assumption that we would fail the test and reject his request for a correction. Then he could include that in the indictment he had already written while wishing us well (really).
The vicious tone of the CounterPunch barrage was in stark contrast to the puling appeal of his email to Jamie Glazov. Moreover, none of the factual errors he now claimed to have found in the DTN profile -- even as minor as that he was born in 1968 rather than 1969 had been mentioned in the original email. Obviously he didnt want to take the risk that we would correct them all and thereby undermine his claim that we practiced the politics of distortion. In other words, not only was Tim Wise not interested in the truth about our standards and intentions, he actively feared the truth and wanted to suppress it. That is why he was included in the first place in a database on the left.
Here is how Wise acknowledges, in the midst of his diatribe against us, the fact that we made the aforementioned changes which he requested: The very next morning, to Glazovs credit, but also indicating the sliminess of the enterprise (given that I had to point out the irony of the critique myself before anything was done about it), the failed academic reference was gone. In other words 1) we should have agreed with his judgment of himself in the first place, and 2) by acknowledging that we may have been hasty in disagreeing so rudely with his high opinion of himself we confirmed (in his eyes) our sliminess. This is called damned if you do and damned if you dont. Which is exactly the way leftists see everyone they oppose.
Like every other intellectually challenged leftist from Michael Berube to Salons Josh Gorenfeld who has criticized DiscoverTheNetworks.org, Wise accuses the site (falsely) of painting everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman as some kind of subversive. Thus, he adds, the utterly demented inclusion as leftists, such persons as reactionary fascist and al Qaeda operative, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Arnold Schwarzenegger supporter Jay Leno, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, and film critic Roger Ebert.
As anyone who reads the profiles of Leno, Brokaw, Couric, or Ebert can plainly see, none of those individuals is presented as anything resembling a subversive, or as having some type of relationship (clandestine or otherwise) with Zarqawi. They are merely included in a picture grid that is meant to be nothing more than a tiny sampling of the contents of an enormous database, a sampling designed to give readers some idea of the breadth of profiles that can be found. In the picture grid itself, Couric, Ebert, and Leno are described as Affective (or emotional) Leftists, Brokaw as a Moderate Leftist and Zarqawi as a Totalitarian Radical. Those are big enough differences for any honest browser of the site to understand. Moreover, the definitions of these categories are explained in painstaking detail on the DTN site. Wise either read them and didnt understand them or more likely simply ignored them. As we have seen, when facts get in the way of his argument, his impulse is to bury them.
If Wise has an argument challenging our characterization of the spectrum that includes all these individuals, he should make it. Three leftists have already tried and, in our view, failed. The fact that leftists like Wise continue to misrepresent the photo grid as though we hadnt devoted tens of thousands of words and three debates with leftists explaining it to them is a testament to their most resorted-to ideological creed: My mind is made up, dont confuse me with the facts.
The grid does not imply that there are necessarily any connections between all of the individuals whose photos appear, any more than it implies that all of the nearly 2,000 individuals, groups, and funders currently in the database work together or share the same opinions on every issue. It only means that they all belong in a database about the left, much as a database on personalities from the sports world would include basketball players, football players, boxers, bowlers, golfers, marathoners, weight lifters, jockeys, and racing car drivers; or a database on the right would include libertarians like Friedrich Hayek, entertainers like Dennis Miller, conservatives like Russell Kirk, and authoritarians like Augusto Pinochet. That does not make these gentlemen buddies, or even allies. It just makes them members of what is loosely referred to as the political right. Perhaps Wise thinks Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw are Republicans. If they are not, they are somewhere on the political left. The political left, like the political right, is characterized by a certain diversity of ideas, goals, methods, and degrees of extremism (or moderation). None of this is the least bit complicated, except for those whose ideology commits them to denying the obvious.
In attacking DiscoverTheNetworks, Wise climbs a high horse to pretend outrage at our association of Zarqawi with some factions of the left. Yet the article is posted on a leftwing site that supports the Fallujah resistance Zarqawi and friends as the liberators of Iraq. Such are the standards of the critic himself. His objection to linking American leftists with Islamic radicals would be more credible if he had explained George Galloways proclamation that such an alliance exists and is desirable, or the rantings of Nicholas DeGenova, Robert Jensen, Ward Churchill and other heroes of CounterPunch.org calling for Americas defeat in the war on terror and calling that just desserts.
Like most leftists, Wise does not understand the meaning of accountability, as in being accountable for ones actions. Thus his little profile on DiscoverTheNetworks.org mentions that he opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein, a fact which he doesnt deny but nonetheless objects to our revealing. Never missing an opportunity to smear by association, Wise writes, DTN notes that I opposed the war in Iraq, which of course they characterize as my opposing the toppling of Saddam Hussein. They then insert a link to Hussein in my bio, as if to imply a connection between us . . . No, in fact, we inserted the link to a profile of Saddam for people who may have forgotten what a monster Saddam was (easy enough when Wise and his friends are obliterating the meaning of language by describing Americas cozy set-up for terrorists at Guantanamo as todays gulag.
Wise objects that his profile in DiscoverTheNetworks describes him as someone who believes the U.S. is rife with racism, a public denouncer of white people everywhere, and one who views the United States as a nation overrun by white racists ever-eager to ambush blacks and other minorities so as to vent the cauldron of bigotry that allegedly boils inside of them.
He responds to this accurate portrayal of him as follows: I view the U.S. as a nation in which racism has been interwoven from the beginning, and in which it continues to operate. But this racism is not principally the individual racism of evil white people, let alone those out to ambush people of color due to some kind of boiling hatred, but rather the more impersonal racism of institutions, whose actors perpetrate unequal treatment often without deliberate intent to harm. If anything, it is my argument that white people are far less individually culpable than the institutions in which we find ourselves dominant, the policies and procedures of which continue to advantage whites to the detriment of people of color.
Nice try. Lets not even take on the issue of whether institutions are capable of what Wise accuses them of. Because he is simply not being honest about what he has said and written. Wises writings are rich in assertions that whites harbor deep-seated hatred of blacks in their hearts; he condemns the seeds of pure evil planted deep in every one of us [white people] by our culture. Better to blame the dark-skinned for our [whites] hardship, he has written, since we can take it for granted that theyre powerless to do anything about it. Whites, as it turns out, take most everything for granted in this country; which makes perfect sense, because dominant groups usually have that privilege.
On another occasion, Wise lamented just how shallow white Americas commitment to racial equity really was. He decried the process of white bonding that goes on when white folks who dont know each other that well are in an all-white setting, and issues of race come up. Whether its in a cab, a bar, a park, a restaurant, or a college dorm room, whites almost instinctively assume every other white person in the room thinks just the way they do, and proceed to cut loose with any number of racial diatribes: about those people on welfare; those people coming across the border; those people who will shoot you at the drop of a hat. In sum: [B]y and large, white America doesnt really want racial equity.
Wise supports race preferences because he believes that whites inherent bigotry, and their natural impulse to oppress minorities, is so profound that proactive steps must be taken to neutralize it, lest it run amok. Indeed, he says, persons of color know well that they will likely have to work twice as hard to get half as far or be considered half as good as whites; and they have known that since long before affirmative action came around. But at least with affirmative action they get the chance to work twice as hard and demonstrate their capabilities.
He says that whites must work hard individually and collectively to overcome that which is always beneath the surface; to overcome the tendency to cash in the chips which represent the perquisites of whiteness; to traffic in privileges--not the least of which is the privilege of feeling superior to others--not because of what or who they are, but rather because of what youre not: in this case, not a nigger. . . . Fact is nigger is still the first word on most white peoples mind when they see a black man being taken off to jail on the evening news. The first thing we think when we see Mike Tyson, Louis Farrakhan, or O.J. Simpson (as in that murdering nigger). Well, maybe Tim Wise thinks this way. We dont.
Wise objects to the fact that his profile states the following: In an e-mail exchange with David Horowitz, Wise maintained that the increase in the prosperity of the black middle class, when compared to the white middle class...is essentially a meaningless statistical trick. Retorts Wise: This is nonsense. But then he goes on, apparently unwittingly, to prove the assertion accurate. He states:
David also insisted in our e-mail exchange, that, The black middle class is growing faster and increasing its income faster than the white middle class. . . . As I explained at the time, the fact that the black middle class is growing faster than the white middle class means little, since that would naturally be the result of having started out as a smaller sub-set of the black population, and having more room to grow, relative to one's overall population size. The white middle class has been entrenched longer than the black middle class, and has been a larger share of the white population than its black counterpart, so its growth rate is going to be smaller, but its relative position to the black middle class will still be far better, mostly for reasons of past wealth accumulation. Similarly, if you stick your kid in a closet at age two and feed them nothing but bread and water for six months, and then CPS rescues the child and places him or her in a loving home where they receive three squares a day, that child's growth rate will no doubt outpace the growth rate of the loving family's other two year old, who had always been fed well. So what? The newcomer will still be far worse off and face serious obstacles in absolute and relative terms, not faced by his or her sibling.
In other words, it is impossible, in Wises view, not to conclude that the prosperity of the black middle class, when compared to that of the white middle class, is essentially a meaningless statistical trick.
Wise also objects to the DTN reference to his rabid anti-Catholicism. Yet this is what he himself wrote on May 31, 2004:
Finally, it appears as though the official Catholic Church has lost its mind. First, a Bishop in Colorado announces (and is followed by several others around the country) that the sacrament of the eucharist should be denied to any Catholic who supports reproductive freedom for women (i.e. is pro-choice). Then, the dottering pontiff himself (through his spokespersons) announces that the Church is moving to beatify some hallucinatory nun named Emmerich, who, in the 18th century and early 19th century, claims to have experienced in visions the crucifixion of Jesus. She then proceeded, in her writings, to add to the already contradictory Gospels, her own spin on the Passion narrative, replete with a devil figure encouraging the evil Jews (of course) to kill Christ, and the evil Jews gladly doing just that. Emmerich was, as it turns out, the source of most all of Mel Gibsons most controversial parts of his latest film--not the Bible, but a crazed nun, who had apparently ingested too much acid, or whatever they were taking at the convent back in those days. Then today, there is this. Apparently, Gays and Lesbians in Chicago who make clear their opposition to institutional Catholic and Christian heterosexism are now to be denied the eucharist as well. One wonders when Catholic churches will also begin denying communion to members of their flock who support war, support the death penalty, or who are insufficiently committed to ending poverty. . . . On the positive side, 5 dozen Catholic churches in the Boston area have been forced to close. Not enough money. Pity. Maybe if the Pope would sell some of his art in the Vatican, they could take care of that little problem...ah, priorities.
Wise: DTN then claims, derisively, that I have compared Americas founding fathers to the Afghan Mujahadeen, which of course was not my work, but that of Ronald Reagan, who had a habit of labeling terrorists (like the Muj or the Nicaraguan contras) freedom fighters, and then likening them to Washington crossing the Delaware.
Was DTN wrong in stating that Wise holds this view? Not at all, as he himself acknowledges in his very next sentence: I merely noted that indeed both forces -- the founders and the Muj -- killed a lot of people in defense of their particular vision of the good, so that I suppose Reagan's analogy wasnt so far off after all.
Wise: DTN then issues several drive-by statements, devoid of any specificity. [F]or example, he writes, the reader learns that I loathe capitalism, think the prison system is racist, support an overhaul of the criminal justice system, support reparations, and am an incessant critic of Israel.
But by his own admission, all of these statements are accurate. As for the first three of these, I plead guilty, writes Wise, and am more than happy to debate the points with anyone; to number four I also assent, but only if done systemically, as community-based repair and investment (like with the Marshall Plan or GI Bill), not as separate checks sent to individuals to buy off suffering; and to number five, well, I dont know what incessant means to the folks at DTN, but given that I have written exactly five articles about Israel in almost twenty years of authoring political essays, and have given one speech on the subject, Im pretty sure that to the intellectually honest, incessant would seem like a stretch.
Okay. Well drop the word incessant. Will this elicit an acknowledgment and thank you from Wise? Dont hold your breath. On second thought, we wont. A cursory Web search of Wises writings turns up six lengthy assaults on Israel he has composed since September 2001 alone. Moreover, the Web record also contains reports of debates and speeches in which he has represented Israel as a repressive, apartheid state.
Wise makes only two points that merit consideration by us, neither of which involves any misrepresentation of his political views or activities, which is what DiscoverTheNetworks is about. First, he claims that he has not earned more than $1 million in speaking fees during his career; second, as already noted, he informs us that he was born in 1968 rather than 1969. So, I'll be waiting for a series of corrections, though not holding my breath, writes Mr. Wise. Actually, its we who will not be holding our breath. Well give him the birth date. Well wait for some documentation on the fees he was paid for the 350 odd speeches he claims to have given on college campuses. If he got $3,000 per speech not a stretch by any means for a featured leftwing speaker then well keep the profile as is.
Although we dont expect any thank you from Wise for all this effort to set the record straight, we do thank him for creating an occasion for us to show just how accurate DiscoverTheNetworks is.
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