No Comment — September 15, 2007, 11:59 am

The ‘B’ham News’ Revs Up the Slime Machine

A No Comment reader who works at the Birmingham News tells us that a certain editor and writer at the illustrious Pravda of the South are royally pissed off at Representative Artur Davis. It seems that Davis’s questions and press releases on the Siegelman case are making a decisive difference in pushing the matter forward. And the reputation of the News, which has played a key role in the anti-Siegelman campaign by giving press cover to the cabal and by disseminating and lending unwarranted credibility to claims of the prosecutors who front for it, is on the line. So what’s the answer? According to my source, the word went out: Slime Artur Davis. If you can’t hit him personally, at least slime some senior aide who works for him. Do it quickly.

I am told that the News will use one of its marquee writers for this, probably one who has been deep in the anti-Siegelman vendetta. Also, the News has been busily poring over the list of Davis’s staffers, family, and other associates to find someone it can land a blow against, hopefully in time for the Sunday edition.

The message that the News wants to deliver is simple: Davis, you’ll shut up if you know what’s good for you. The right adjective for this conduct: thuggish. By a newspaper, moreover. Note: they won’t lift a finger to look into any of the Simpson allegations—all they do is shovel lies attempting to discredit Simpson. And, it seems, anyone else who raises questions about the matter.

It brought back some old memories. Back in the late Soviet period, I worked for Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Elena Bonner, helping out whenever I could, and mostly keeping anxious track of their welfare in a harsh and threatening environment. I remember that when the authorities were angry at Sakharov, they had a number of tools they could use for a sort of graduated response. And one of their favorite tools was to have the media launch an attack—sometimes on Sakharov directly.

But there was a problem with that. After all, Sakharov was a sacrosanct figure, a hero. They didn’t want to publicize the fact that he was critical of them. So it was much easier to take target at someone close to Sakharov. And the favorite target was his wife, Elena Bonner—perhaps the bravest and most determined human rights advocate I ever had the privilege to work with.

One of the most striking incidents related to Efim Davidovich, a Holocaust survivor and then Red Army colonel who sought and was denied permission to emigrate to Israel, and thus became a refusenik. Davidovich played a key role in documenting and publicizing events of shocking anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union, including one particular incident—the murder of a 14-year-old boy by a group of teenagers whipped into an anti-Semitic rage. But in the view of the justice authorities, there was no anti-Semitism, and the shocking circumstances of the case were therefore officially suppressed.

Davidovich returned his medals as an act of protest over the failure to examine and prosecute this case. And Sakharov and Bonner met with Col. Davidovich to discuss how to advance his case.

In response, and as a caution to get Sakharov to shut up, Pravda published an attack on Elena Bonner, decrying her “anti-Soviet behavior.” She was complaining about the fairness of Soviet justice; she was suggesting that there was anti-Semitism; therefore she was disloyal to the state and deserved to be scapegoated. Sakharov describes this episode in pages 443-45 of his Memoirs.

History, alas, so often repeats itself. In essence what Bonner and Sakharov had done was expose a gross injustice and demand that it be fixed. And that is exactly what Artur Davis has done. But for those who cower in the shadows and who thrive off of this injustice, that was a threatening act. It warranted a reply blow. So tomorrow let us scrutinize the News closely and listen for the echoes of Pravda.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2016

American Idle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My Holy Land Vacation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The City That Bleeds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

El Bloqueo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vladivostok Station

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ideology of Isolation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The City That Bleeds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing."
Photograph (detail) © Wil Sands/Fractures Collective
Post
Inside the July Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.

The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”

Artwork: Camels, Jerusalem (detail) copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Post
Europe’s Hamilton Moment·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"We all know in France that as soon as a politician starts saying that some problem will be solved at the European level, that means no one is going to do anything."
Photograph (detail) by Stefan Boness
[Report]
How to Make Your Own AR-15·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Even if federal gun-control advocates got everything they wanted, they couldn’t prevent America’s most popular rifle from being made, sold, and used. Understanding why this is true requires an examination of how the firearm is made.
Illustration by Jeremy Traum
Article
My Holy Land Vacation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"I wanted to more fully understand why conservative politics had become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson

Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:

36,000

A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.

A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today