De Blasio’s appalling proclamation

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

Here’s a new item for our ever-growing files on The Nation – whose well-nigh nonpareil history of useful stoogery we’ve dipped into rather frequently since beginning this site – and on current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose participation in a City Hall tribute to Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe we’ve also taken note of.  It was, of course, only a matter of time before the left’s Manhattan-based flagship weekly and the Big Apple’s stridently progressive mayor ended up in the same item. The convergence of the twain took place earlier this month, when de Blasio issued a proclamation declaring July 6, the magazine’s 150th anniversary, “The Nation Day” in New York City.

Yes, politicians issue such proclamations all the time. And, yes, they rarely mean very much. Last year, after all, de Blasio himself declared August 20 “Al Roker Appreciation Day,” in honor of the Today Show weatherman’s 60th birthday.

Nation_Day_Proclamation_ccBut the text of de Blasio’s proclamation about The Nation was not just the usual empty boilerplate. Recalling the magazine’s founding in 1865 by prominent abolitionists, de Blasio stated: “A century and a half later, the integrity and audacity of America’s oldest weekly magazine are still very much intact.” He went on:

New York has served as The Nation’s home and history-making partner through Emancipation, the Great Depression, two world wars, the civil rights movement, and into the age of technology. Whether taking politicians to task, exposing the lasting effects of war, profiling our state’s progressive labor movement, highlighting the intersection of economic justice and criminal justice, critiquing the rising cost of higher education, reporting on conflicts in Syria or South Sudan or outlining strategies for keeping hope alive, The Nation continues to shed light on the disenfranchised, mobilizing its readers to articulate and reaffirm their values and to take action in the name of progress (necessarily ruffling not a few feathers along the way).

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

This spectacular load of B.S. might have penned by editor Katrina vanden Heuvel herself. In pretending to sum up The Nation‘s history, it entirely omits, among much else, the magazine’s decades of vigorous Stalinist apologetics, of poisonous personal attacks on anti-Communists, and of enthusiastic support for enemies of America and of liberty. It ignores the magazine’s inflexible devotion to a far-left, freedom-hating ideology and its routine practice of blithely twisting or deep-sixing facts that make that ideology look bad.

17/11/05-CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS-Christopher Hitchens, a controversial British-born, U.S.-based journalist; former left-wing, now a conservative, was in Toronto on Thursday to speak at the Grano Speakers Series. He spoke to the Star in his hotel room in the morning.(Photo by Peter Power/The Toronto Star)pmp (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Christopher Hitchens

Speaking of ideology, perhaps the most outrageous part of de Blasio’s proclamation was its opening: “Healthy debate. Consistent reflection. Diverse voices. Nuanced perspectives.” Right. Tell us another. We only wish the late Christopher Hitchens were alive to read this nonsense and comment on it. Hitchens, of course, was the longtime Nation contributor who, after 9/11, dared to dissent from what had instantly become the magazine’s party line about that atrocity – namely, that the U.S. had “asked for it” – and ended up quitting the staff in 2002.

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Katha Pollitt

In his last column for The Nation, Hitchens lamented that it was becoming “the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden.” Among the inhabitants of that echo chamber was (and is) Katha Pollitt, whose first response to 9/11, it will be recalled, was to write an article explaining why she wouldn’t let her daughter, in the wake of the atrocity, fly the American flag –that vile symbol of imperialism and oppression – from the window of their apartment, which was located only a few blocks from Ground Zero.

No city suffered more on 9/11 than New York. No American magazine showed less sympathy for the victims, and more “understanding” for the perpetrators, than The Nation. For the mayor of that city to issue an official proclamation congratulating that magazine on its anniversary – a proclamation in which he whitewashes its history and overlooks its disgusting reaction to the attack on the Twin Towers – is a disservice both to the truth and to the people of the city he was elected to serve.

The Nation post-9/11: finding new enemies to love

We’re taking an extended look at the history of the American left’s flagship weekly, The Nation, which this year is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a special issue that’s available for free online – and that does a pretty neat job of airbrushing and whitewashing that history. We’ve seen how The Nation, during the Cold War, served as a Stalinist mouthpiece, an apologist for the Khmer Rouge, and an enemy of Western freedoms.

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Katha Pollitt

Then came 9/11. The response of The Nation was predictable. After the Twin Towers were brought down, columnist Katha Pollitt wrote a self-satisfied screed about her refusal to let her daughter, whose high school was “only blocks from the World Trade Center,” fly the Stars and Stripes from their apartment window. While the smoke was still clearing, Jonathan Schell preached that if Americans wanted to prevent another such assault, they needed to “understand…the sources of the hatred that the United States has incurred” – the point, of course, being that the U.S. had brought on the attack through its own actions. Naomi Klein took the same line, accusing the U.S. of having “become expert in the art of sanitizing and dehumanizing acts of war committed elsewhere…The United States is a country that believed itself not just at peace but war-proof, a self-perception that would come as quite a surprise to most Iraqis, Palestinians and Colombians.”

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The late Christopher Hitchens

In the whole rag, the lone voice of logic and decency was longtime contributor Christopher Hitchens – who soon found himself driven out of The Nation for recognizing the 9/11 perpetrators not as pitiable, justice-seeking victims of evil Western imperialism but as vile jihadist haters of American freedom. (Interestingly, The Nation‘s anniversary issue omits all of these pieces, boiling down its entire coverage of 9/11 to a snippet that takes up part of page 171.)

150th_issue_cover_otu_imgThe post-9/11 posture of The Nation on Islam has been no surprise. After all, the one constant at the magazine, ever since its embrace of Communism, has been its determination to hold fast to its anti-American ideology in the face of one onslaught after another of facts that thoroughly discredit that ideology, and to evince sympathy for whatever totalitarian entity has set itself up against U.S. “hegemony.” Daniel Greenfield summed up  the whole business quite neatly in 2013: The Nation has “learned nothing from the past. Instead it repeats history as farce, stumbling from one tyranny to another in the hopes of finding progress somewhere among the corpses.” Having “aided the Soviet plan for world domination,” Greenfield noted, The Nation is now “doing the very same thing for the Islamists.” Indeed.

Tomorrow we’ll wrap up our series on The Nation with some closing observations about its anniversary issue – and a thought or two about its future.