Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Globe Special: No Cheers For Cockburn

What I remember about Cockburn is when I was a subscriber to the Nation some 20 years ago he pooh-poohed Oliver Stone's JFK. I soon dropped the subscription.

"Alexander Cockburn, leftist writer known for caustic criticism; at 71" by Colin Moynihan  |  New York Times, July 22, 2012

NEW YORK — Alexander Cockburn, the acerbic left-wing journalist and author who though born in Scotland thrived in the political and cultural battlegrounds of the United States, died Friday in Germany. He was 71.

The cause was cancer, said Jeffrey St. Clair, a friend and colleague. St. Clair announced Mr. Cockburn’s death Saturday on CounterPunch, the website the two men edited.  

Yeah, I used to get Counterpunch, too, and even sent them some money once. Eventually I reached a point where I knew they were controlled-opposition and that was the end of that.

Mr. Cockburn kept his illness a secret, St. Clair added, and continued writing almost until the end of his life. “His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid, and deadly as ever,’’ St. Clair wrote.

He had regular columns in ideologically disparate publications like The Nation and The Wall Street Journal and became known as an unapologetic leftist of the sort who appeared to take pleasure in condemning what he saw as the outrages of the right and what he often considered the tepidness and timidity of the US liberal establishment.

At The Village Voice, Mr. Cockburn cowrote, with James Ridgeway, a political column. He wrote another column called Press Clips, which often condemned what he saw as the ethical failings of other journalists. But Mr. Cockburn, who often fiercely opposed Israeli policies in the Middle East, was dismissed from The Voice in 1984 after The Boston Phoenix reported that he had accepted a $10,000 grant from group that critics called pro-Arab.

I suppose there is a little good in all lefties.

Mr. Cockburn said he had taken the money for a book project and had planned to return it. That particular book was never written, but after leaving The Voice, he wrote several books, including a collection of essays called ‘‘Corruptions of Empire,’’ “The Golden Age Is in Us: Journeys and Encounters, 1987-1994,’’ and ‘‘The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon,’’ written with Susanna Hecht....

He famously feuded with Christopher Hitchens, who was not only another expatriate but a writer for The Nation as well, over a variety of polarizing issues. When Hitchens died of cancer last year, Mr. Cockburn did not mince words in a remembrance of his former friend on CounterPunch.

I never much cared for their squabbles. Probably another reason I dumped it.

‘‘He courted the label ‘contrarian,’ ’’ Mr. Cockburn said of Hitchens, ‘‘but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he had he would never have enjoyed so long a billet at Vanity Fair.’’


Related: The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts 

He just failed the litmus test for lefties. 

Did he repent before he died?

The 9/11 Conspiracists: Vindicated After All These Years?

Nope -- and they even know about the dancing Israelis.