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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Apparently Gregg Easterbrook is losing his mind. ESPN has fired him over his odd, vaguely anti-Semitic remarks at the conclusion of this review of Kill Bill, although that's not how he meant it to be taken, according to this apology. Easterbrook has written a great deal on spirituality and its intersection with public policy; I can't say I have read all that much of what he has written, but what I have read always suggested to me that he was a thoughtful individual. It is hard to square this opinion with the Easterbrook who wrote the piece in Slate about whether women should have to say anything more than"no" when they mean "no", or with this odd sentiment: "Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice." What makes it so strange is that it is so gratuitous: up to the final paragraph, this was a carefully thought review that suddenly turns into a sputtering rant about Jews. If you have ever seen a real bigot in action, you know that this is exactly the form their obsession takes: a normal conversation about traffic this morning, or the poor quality of television programming takes a turn for the weird when the person you are speaking with suddenly ascribes the problem with whatever you are talking about to the Jews or the blacks, or whatever group the person is fixated on. Easterbrook's column has exactly this quality, something I have never seen in his writing before.

Looking back, I suppose the sort of leering cheesecake stuff that was sprinkled through Tuesday Morning Quarterback might have been a warning that we were not dealing with an altogether balanced mind-- although in context it seemed like good fun. It is discouraging when someone who seemed to have a clue, and was funny on top of it, turns out to be an anti-Semitic misogynist. Who will track the New York Times quixotic attempt to correctly predict the outcome of the NFL's slate of games now that TMBQ is gone? (Via Sportsfilter.)

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