November 2007

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Michael Medved blames the media for exaggerating America's involvement with slavery.
News and Opinion

In Medved's Bed

-- Charles Smolover

I don’t know which four big lies about Israel and the Middle East radio talk-show host Michael Medved discussed when he appeared in Bala Cynwyd on October 23, 2007. I did not attend. But the "The" in the title of his talk, The 4 Big Lies About Israel and the Middle East, suggests that Medved managed to sift through the legion of lies floating around the subject and identify the absolutely, no-doubt-about-it biggest four.

That classic expression of Medvedian know-it-all arrogance comes as no surprise to anyone who listens to his show or reads his books and columns. After all, this is the man who revealed to a stunned nation that Happy Feet, the Oscar-winning, 2006 animated feature about dancing penguins, had a sinister pro-gay subtext. But what may surprise those who attended his talk, which was sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of the Main Line and supported by Kehillah of Lower Merion and the Jewish Federation’s Center for Israel and Overseas, is Medved’s thoughts on America’s enslavement of blacks. Basically, he doesn’t think it was such a terrible thing.

In a column published on the Townhall website back in September, Medved argued, among other things, that there is no reason to believe that today’s African-Americans would be better off if their ancestors had remained behind in Africa, that the U.S. did not become a wealthy nation through the abuse of slave labor, that the U.S. merits special credit for the rapid abolition of slavery – and that’s just half of it. By the time he lists all six of his reasons why slavery has gotten a bum rap, he reveals a level of ignorance about U.S. history and the economics of the slave trade that is simply astounding. Not to mention morally repugnant. Author and screenwriter Trey Ellis addresses this repugnancy from an African-American perspective in his must read column.

Morally repugnant was how one of the sponsors of Medved’s talk characterized his slavery piece after I brought it to that person’s attention, two weeks before Medved was scheduled to speak. Alas, in the opinion of some sponsors, the train had left the station. One said, you "can’t pull the plug whenever a hired speaker says something that we disagree with after we have committed to the engagement." Really? I think you can.Of course, it involves the challenging task of letting your moral compass guide your actions, but that is apparently too much to ask of some in our community.

A week later, on October 15, Medved invited infamous anti-Semite Ann Coulter to his radio show, giving her a chance to defend the morally repugnant views she expressed on Deutsch’s television show. Medved treated her with kid gloves. He never forcefully challenged her hateful views of Jews or her warped understanding of the Hebrew Bible, which she refers to as the Old Testament. For example, she continually reiterates that she and other Christians accept the OT, but Medved is either too ignorant or deferential to point out that what many Christians actually accept is a distorted, misinterpreted and mistranslated version of the Hebrew Bible specifically designed to validate Jesus as the messiah and, in the process, invalidate the fundamental covenantal precepts of Judaism. Incredibly, Medved appears to express more solidarity with a fellow right-wing blabbermouth than he does with the Jewish people. Unfortunately, this revelation did not move the sponsors of Medved’s talk to take action either.

But can’t we look the other way? After all, Medved is such a staunch supporter of Israel. And Israel needs all the help it can get, right? Wrong. Surely we can do better. Surely we can find knowledgeable, passionate and inspiring speakers to educate us about the Middle East who don’t come with Medved’s despicable baggage.Surely we and the State of Israel are not in such desperate straits that we need to climb into bed with people like Michael Medved for comfort.

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