Two Good Freeman Post-Mortems
I don’t agree with every word, but I think they get the broader themes right.
Did a small group of misinformed, intellectually intolerant individuals stir up a wave of criticism of Chas Freeman that distorted his record to the point that it was impossible for him to assume the role for which he was nominated? Yes. Are many associated with historical support for Israel? Yes. In so doing did they lead to a great disservice being done to Freeman and to the U.S. government? Also yes. But is it fair to say that they represented the views of the broad spectrum of people who support a strong U.S. relationship with Israel? No. Is it fair to say that all were part of an orchestrated attack? No. Further, while I hate what happened, as Americans we must defend the right of the Freeman opponents to lay out their views…and many of those concerns, the ones based on facts, were perfectly legitimate to raise. The problem is when political leaders cave to the sentiments of the electronic mob. In so doing, it is they and not the critics of the choice who debase the process and rob the government of the diversity of perspectives it needs. The actions and arguments of some members the anti-Freeman crowd disgusted me. But it was in the capitulation to them that the greatest disservice was done.
There were legitimate reasons to question Freeman’s appointment, most notably his stance on China. But his statements about Israel hardly reached the level of animus that, for example, the National Review detected, deeming him a “savage critic of Israel.” This was absurd. But conducting an open, fair interrogation of his views was clearly not the aim of his critics. Instead, the affair has had the whiff of a purge trial, in which the hanging judges had decided his fate from the outset.