I’ll be writing about my appearance at UC-Riverside, during which a mob of College Rethuglicans attempted to shut us down — and failed miserably. They were an exhibit of everything I discuss in Republican Gomorrah. The night ended with the crowd on its feet and the Republicans severely demoralized. Bethany Brendon, who has profiled me before for the Highlander Newspaper, summarized the event and interviewed me about it:
Max Blumenthal is not a man afraid of controversy. The award winning journalist has been censored by YouTube, accused of being a “self-hating Jew,” and has received numerous death threats. But before last Thursday, he could never say that protesters marched in front of him with signs repudiating his leftist message.
Now he can.
At an event held at the University Theater on Thursday, Oct. 1 to promote his book, “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party,” Blumenthal, the son of Sidney Blumenthal, former President Bill Clinton’s aide, spoke and showed a few of his investigative videos to the crowd. Afterwards, he and a discussion panel were interrupted by a group of College Republicans protesting his work.
“It shows that I’m making an impact and that the opposition views me as somebody who has done a lot of damage to their cause,” 31-year-old Blumenthal explained later over a drink at Mario’s, a bar and restaurant in downtown Riverside.
Despite the commotion, which drew several police officers to the theater, the event attracted a crowd who seemed to enjoy Blumenthal’s talk and the videos that he showed.
His sarcastically biting style of speech included several jokes about extreme conservatives. His quips, such as referring to conservative talk show host Laura Ingharam as the “female Ann Coulter,” kept most of the crowd laughing throughout the night.
Blumenthal’s quirky sense of humor helps him connect to his viewers and readers and be rather blaise about the controversy he’s stirred, which includes death threats and various insults. In response to the “self-hating Jew” question, he told the media and the Highlander that, “I am self-hating, but that has nothing to do with me being Jewish.”
While signing books at Thursday’s event, he procured one of the protest signs that read “wannabe Michael Moore,” and with an amused grin, he took a picture of himself holding it in front of him with his phone.
Still, there’s a serious, somber element in his voice when he explained the purpose of writing “Republican Gomorrah” to the attendees of the lecture, including the influence of child psychologist and evangelist James Dobson.
“Dobson is the central figure in my book because beyond being the most powerful leader of the Christian right he cultivated the sensibility of the movement that he controls by exploiting a culture of personal crisis for political gain,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal targeted Dobson’s book, “Dare to Discipline,” in which Dobson advocates the importance of administering regular physical punishment to children, but while being as loving as possible after the beatings. “What is that?” Blumenthal said. “Hitting and loving at the same time? It’s sadomasochism.”
Continuing to point out the power of Dobson, he spoke about McCain receiving the Republican nomination in 2008. Dobson went on his radio show and said that he could not support McCain, stating he was at least as liberal as Barack Obama.
Blumenthal said that Dobson had, in fact, goaded McCain to choose a candidate who would appeal to Dobson and the Evangelical movement-Sarah Palin. “They didn’t care that she could hardly form a sentence… even Bush said she wasn’t qualified,” he joked.
After his lecture, he showed a few of his most popular videos. These included “Generation Chickenhawk,” which showed him at a College Republican convention interviewing young Republicans about the war in Iraq. Another video followed Blumenthal as he attended the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) 2007 and interviewed conservatives, such as Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter.
His videos and reporting in his new book are similar in style-Blumenthal earnestly seeks the truth and he’s certainly not afraid of angering people in this search for truth.
Though the book has made Blumenthal a best-selling author and has been praised for his style of reporting, there are many who have not joined his fan club.
“I do not hold the written rantings of [Sidney Blumenthal’s] son against him,” declared former owner of the magazine The New Republic, Marty Perez.
Of criticism and the occasional insults he receives, Blumenthal said over the phone Saturday night that, “I usually don’t respond; it just reflects how much of an impact I’m making. No matter what I do, whether it’s Marty Perez or the College Republicans, these people will always be hopelessly addicted to haterade.”
In addition to the protestors at the event, Blumenthal has been no stranger to controversy over the years. Earlier this year, he traveled to Israel and made a video titled “Feeling the Hate in Israel,” which showed several drunk young American Jews who were either on vacation or on traditional Birthright trips.
In the video, they responded to Obama’s speech in Egypt and used racist terms when referring to the president. The video was consequently banned from YouTube and the Huffington Post, as was its follow up video, “Feeling the Hate in Tel-Aviv.”
“The Huffington Post has always shown my videos of Christian evangelicals saying the very same things about Obama. YouTube has videos of people being beaten by neo-Nazis that are posted by neo-Nazis,” he said indignantly to the Highlander. “YouTube has videos up of people making jokes about raping women. YouTube has all those videos up. Why did they choose to single out mine?”
In addition, he wrote an impassioned response to the critics on his website, to no avail. The administrator of the Huffington Post explained to him that, “I don’t see that it has any real news value. For me it only proves that one can find drunk people willing to say just about anything. Especially drunk, moronic people.”
Blumenthal received similar criticism from other bloggers, who agreed with the administrator. Blumenthal replied on his website, arguing that, “The criticism of my video raised an interesting journalistic issue: Is reporting any less credible when interview subjects are drinking alcohol? Of course not.”
Despite the critics, Blumenthal still shows no signs of slowing down his agenda against the right wing. And to the naysayers? “I’m honored that…the racists, the homophobes, the sexists of our society hate me,” Blumenthal said. “I welcome their hatred. I invite their hatred and I wear it like a badge of honor.”