Dershowitz on Leftists

In his piece bemoaning the silence of the "extreme left" on the massacre in Beijing, Dershowitz uses a deceptive and irresponsible device. By condemning Kunstler, Chomsky and others for what they didn't say, Dershowitz is free to infer from their unstated positions whatever is most convenient to his thesis.

In doing this, Dershowitz departs significantly from professional ethics. Most important, if a journalist phones someone for an interview--Dershowitz had his assistant make the calls--and the interviewee is not there or refuses to respond to the call, the writer is forced to stick to previous statements or other verifiable evidence. Instead, Dershowitz bases his condemnation of the extreme left partially on Chomsky's secretary who said, "He has no comment." And by dragging in the totally irrelevant fact that Chomsky once defended a Holocaust denier, Dershowitz's attack becomes transparently personal.

These devices may do the trick on the Morton Downey show, but if Dershowitz deployed such arguments in a court of law, his opponents would rip him to shreds. As a professor of law he no doubt knows that, which makes his absurd representation of the extreme left's position on China all the more irresponsible.


Santa Monica

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World