Peretz caused a stir when he wrote in a column earlier this month that Muslims in the US should not be entitled to constitutional guarantees of free speech.
“Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims … So, yes, I wonder whether I need honour these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse,” he said.
Peretz has made two apologies, saying he was wrong to say Muslims should be stripped of their free speech rights, but defended his assertion that Muslim life is cheap. “This is a statement of fact, not value.”
Critics say they are only the most recent of a long line of bigotted columns in the New Republic by the former Harvard professor that have drawn accusations of double standards in how the American media confronts prejudice. Peretz, who is a strident supporter of Israel, has said in conversation that he believes Palestinians are unfit to have their own country and suggested that Arabs are genetically violent.
Although Peretz was criticized in a New York Times column after his recent comments, critics have contrasted the reticence of the American media over his views with the barrage of condemnation for the journalist Helen Thomas, after she said Israel’s Jewish population should “go home” to Germany, Poland or the US. Peretz was among her severest critics, calling Thomas wicked and a Jew-hater.
Some prominent American bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, accuse the US mainstream media of protecting Peretz because of his connections.
“Marty Peretz has a lot of connections at the highest levels of media and politics. He’s a good friend of Al Gore who he has been championing for a long time. The way things work is that once you enter this realm of being respectable and serious it is almost as if anything goes,” said Greenwald. “The New Republic is considered respectable in Washington and so the fact that the editor-in-chief of that magazine is a ranting, raving bigot, it’s almost as if he’s immunised because he’s in this circle of respectability.” +