A Few Tasteless Words about Irving Howe

By Cockburn, Alexander | The Nation, June 14, 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Few Tasteless Words about Irving Howe


Cockburn, Alexander, The Nation


The slush about Irving Howe is ankle-deep. Tributes have run in The New York Times (Michael Weinstein, the salesman of "managed competition"; also Leon Wieseltier), The New Republic, Newsday, The New Yorker and The Nation itself, by Ted Solotaroff ("He leaves the vivid air around him, in Stephen Spender's words, signed with his honor"). This is not to mention a column on Howe in The Washington Post by E.J. Dionne, surely the most overrated political commentator of the late twentieth century, except for Sid Blumenthal, Joe Klein, Michael Kramer, Mark Shields and Charles Krauthammer, who, be it noted, is against intervention in Bosnia.

Howe's prime function, politically speaking, in the last thirty years of his life was that of policing the left on behalf of the powers that be.

A glance at the obits tells the whole story. In the 1960s Howe "was . . . denouncing the violent, authoritarian strains of the New Left" (Weinstein). "About the authoritarian tendencies of the New Left, and the shabbiness of many of its notions, nobody was more withering" (Wieseltier). "Howe rejected the New Left cults of youth and expressive violence in the '60s, the cults of Castro and Ho Chi Minh and Mao" (Dionne). "He vigorously scolded the student Left for its intellectual laziness, authoritarian arrogance and occasional barbarism" (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune). Get the idea?

In other words, Howe was an assiduous foot soldier in the ideological Cointelpro campaign to discredit vibrant political currents electrifying America and supporting liberation movements in the Third World, the only significant general mobilization of a left in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. One of Howe's particular contributions was promulgation of the libel on the New Left, or "the Campus Left" as he affected to call it, as enemies of Israel and, ergo, anti-Semites.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Few Tasteless Words about Irving Howe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?