Just something I sent to a few friends … 🙂

Hey everyone. We won. Read this:

“I do not think that any group or class of persons in the United States should be denied the protections of the First Amendment, not now, not ever … I do not mean to suggest that the Constitution and its order of rights should in any way be abrogated. I would abhor such a prospect. I do not wish upon Muslim Americans the sorts of calumnies that were endured by Italian Americans in connection with Sacco and Vanzetti and Jewish Americans in connection with communism.”

That was Marty Peretz, apologizing this Monday morning. What a change.

Now, his full apology was not that great. He tried to explain away some of his words, instead of fully acknowledging that they were hurtful and incorrect. Still, in the course of a weekend, we were able to persuade the editor-in-chief of The New Republic to swallow his pride and admit he did wrong. That took courage on his part, and solidarity on ours.

We accomplished something special together. With the simplicity of sincerely speaking out for our beliefs – just with the power of speaking from the heart and boldly declaring that attacking the dignity of our fellow man is unacceptable – we made this world a better place.

Good work!

Listen. Peretz apologized; that is victory. Another victory: we as a community publicly demonstrated our commitment to our shared values. Sometimes, it takes courage to stand up for your beliefs. When a member of our family does wrong, the ethical life demands that we condemn his actions, and steer him towards justice. Courage is not found only in censuring your opponents.

Yes, we had the obligation to take a stand, because Marty Peretz is a prominent and honored member of our family. We had this obligation not just because of who he is, but because who we are, and what Brandeis is.

You know the story as well as I. 1948 was a time when Universities across America were barring their doors to the unpopular, the feared, and the other. As a bold challenge to this mentality, the founders of Brandeis did something amazing. They created a place where everyone, regardless of race, religion, or class, was welcome. That spirit of social justice is baked into the bones of this place. It is the foundation upon which all else is built.

That is why Peretz’s words were so reprehensible. That’s why we had the obligation and the duty to act, to remind him of the Brandeis way. That’s why he realized his mistake.

We love Brandeis. Marty Peretz loves Brandeis. We succeeded for that reason.

Thank you. We’ve done a wonderful thing.

– Sahar Massachi, Kevin Diep, and the rest of the Justice League.

12 comments on “Victory”

  1. Alex N. Says:

    Wait. Are you really taking credit for this?

  2. Sahar Says:

    He definitely knows about us, and people who know him tell me he feels a great affinity with Brandeis and would be moved my us.

    We weren’t necessarily the primary reason he backed down – we were definitely one of the reasons.

  3. Nathan J. Robinson Says:

    Did Peretz receive the letter, then? I thought the signatures were still being collected when he apologized.

  4. Rob H. Says:

    How did he find out? I was under the impression this hadn’t been sent to him at all.

    Could we contact him and actually get a response directed to us in his own words?

  5. Sahar Says:

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/09/11/brandeis_repudiates_racist_alum_martin_peretz/

  6. Bret Matthew Says:

    I’m not saying the petition had no affect on Peretz, because I don’t know that. But I wonder, then, why he addressed his apology to Nick Kristof, and no one else. If he was truly moved by us, wouldn’t we have gotten a quick mention too?

  7. Bret Matthew Says:

    You probably should have mentioned Kristof in this post, too.

  8. Josh Waizer Says:

    This is absurd. Aside from the fact that he specifically cites Kristof as prompting the apology, plenty of other people commented prior to the apology that deserve more credit.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-weiler/on-marty-peretz-racism-an_b_709502.html
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/07/tnrs-peretz-muslims-unwor_n_707321.html
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/09/a-harsh-thing-i-should-have-said-martin-peretz-dept-updated/62613/
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/features/view/feature/Marty-Peretz-Wonders-if-Muslims-Deserve-1st-Amendment-2000
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/peretz-muslims-are-indifferent-to-human-life-and-therefore-unworthy-of-first-amendment-protection/
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/09/in-his-gut.html
    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/09/polite-conversation.html
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/09/07/marty_peretz_racist
    http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/muslim-life-is-cheap-wtf/
    http://robertpaulwolff.blogspot.com/2010/09/times-that-try-mens-souls.html

    These are the original criticisms; when reading other articles reporting the reactions, the one who gets cited the most is Kristof, followed by James Fallows and Andrew Sullivan. Jonathan Weiler and the Huffington Post, Matthew Yglesias, salon.com and others seem to be getting some mention. The only places that really mention the “Brandeis Petition” besides the two you really like are the Jewish Telegraph Agency, The Jewish Review publishing the JTA article, Jewish Press International, and Marxmail.org.

    After the apology, the major news sources reporting on the issue attributed it to to Kristof and make no mention of this petition; presumably because Peretz actually said in his apology that it was in response to Kristof. In fact, even individuals at Harvard asking them not to honor him are getting more publicity than this, prompting a response from the man himself.
    http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2010/09/16/blog_post_stirs_mixed_emotions_over_harvard_honor_for_educator/

    Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort and agree with the sentiment, if not the wording of the petition. However, when influential writers, bloggers, and news organizations report on a matter in such a negative light, to claim that it was an obscure petition (which wasn’t even sent yet because it only had a bit more than 300 of the 500 signatures required at the time of the apology) that persuaded the editor-in-chief of the New Republic to back down is laughable and your attempt to take credit for it is both irresponsible and upsetting.

  9. Sahar Says:

    There’s a difference between taking some credit and all the credit.

    Also, Marty knew about us. I’d say we were probably the second-most important factor (after Kristof), but that’s not something anyone can prove.

  10. Josh Waizer Says:

    I agree. That’s not what you do.

    “we were able to persuade” assumes all the credit.

    “We accomplished something special together. With the simplicity of sincerely speaking out for our beliefs – just with the power of speaking from the heart and boldly declaring that attacking the dignity of our fellow man is unacceptable – we made this world a better place.” “Simplicity” implies that there are not additional complexities which contributed towards the end result, and “just with the power” is an exclusive phrase.

    “That is why Peretz’s words were so reprehensible. That’s why we had the obligation and the duty to act, to remind him of the Brandeis way. That’s why he realized his mistake. We love Brandeis. Marty Peretz loves Brandeis. We succeeded for that reason.”

    This attributes it entirely to his love for Brandeis and the Brandeis way.

    I think it’s safe to say the majority of people would interpret that as taking full credit, but even if that weren’t the case, you fail to mention the primary catalyst for the apology and a lie by omission is still a lie.

  11. Sahar Says:

    Josh, if we wanted to take all the credit, we wouldn’t have linked to Peretz’s apology where he cites NIck Kristof, believe me.

    I agree with you that there’s more nuance than was contained in the email. I’d respond with the idea that there’s more nuance than can be contained in an email, at least an email that is reasonable short and eloquent.

    So yeah, I hear you.

  12. Alex N. Says:

    …there’s more nuance than can be contained in an email? What about an email that said “We showed our opposition and came together as a community and it is possible that Marty Peretz saw it and it affected his decision to apologize.” Hey look, it’s shorter than your email. I don’t want to be mean, and I understand why you would send out the email as you did, I just don’t think you should suggest you’ve reached the limits of the medium.