Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I made a mistake

Two nights ago, when I was tired and sweltering in New York, I mistakingly posted a link to a review of A Mighty Heart. I correctly described it as scathing.

A number of people contacted me to say that they did not think the tone of the review was of the calibre of this blog.

I have reread the review and decided that, while the tone was certainly not one that I would adopt, the contents were solid. So I posted that comment in response to the criticisms some readers had sent and left it at that.

Then this morning I gave it some more thought and decided that tone counts for a lot. In this day and age of vituperative politics and the like, I don't want to contribute to that atmosphere.

Therefore, even though it may be contrary to accepted blog practices, I am deleting that post. Those of you who want to read Debbie Schlussel's review will be able to find it, I am sure, on her website.


dev said...

blog practices.???

i thought this blog was one place where we cud enjoy freedom of speech n freedom of thought stuff..

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Well, I am a bit of a novice in this regard, but I have been told that once you put something up it's not really cricket to take it down...

In any case, it's down and thanks for your comments.

Steve said...

I wouldn't want to let pass what has happened here. Unlike many of us in the academy, you courageously revealed the human qualities that really are the mark of an open and inquiring mind -- a mind that changes, a willingness to consider new facts, and the rare ability to think about tone and the feelings it might or might not hurt.

Sometimes I think these are old fashioned values, replaced by a desire to alwasy look certain and consistent and tough.

Well Deborah, my existing admiration for your work is now augmented with the knowledge that you are a decent, humble person to boot.

You changed your mind and then you changed it again. And you admitted it. Admitted it! As University professors, we both know how rare this is.

Can I toss in one question? What do you think of Saul Freidlander's new book and of the decision of the Washington Post to allow Daniel Goldhagen to do their review?

Prof. Steve Gorelick

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Thanks for your very kind comments. Taking down that post and acknowledging why I did so did not seem like such a remarkable action. I guess your comments go to show how rare it is for people to do what should be considered the norm, i.e. admitting you made a mistake when you did!

Re Goldhagen: Daniel Goldhagen wrote a book which was amazingly popular [which immediately provoked a lot of people against him... plain old jealousy methinks].

One may disagree with some of his conclusions, even disagree with them ardently, but why should that disqualify him from reviewing books or giving lectures or doing anything else in the scholarly world?

I must say it strikes me as strange that he never got an academic job. Was this the academy's way of punishing him for making such a splash with his first book?

One small ironic footnote: one of those greatly responsible for "bringing him down" was Norman Finkelstein.

[In the interests of full disclosure, Goldhagen reviewed my book for the WPost.]

Ian Thal said...

It's perfectly fine if (as you have done) you explain your rationale for deleting one of your own posts-- just as it is perfectly fine for a blogger to go back and correct grammatical, spelling, or factual errors (preferably with a note about the correction) in his or her own blog.

Admiting a mistake and explaining a shift in position, is a sign of integrity and shows respect to the reader.

Different bloggers take different ethical stances towards their blogs-- by issuing a correction, you were being true to your own ethical code.