Thursday, May 19, 2005

A special kind of stupidity

One of the more illustrative aspects of Michelle Malkin's recent retraction of her attack on historian Peter Irons is the nature of the mistake she made.

It was, in a word, stupid. Embarrassingly stupid. And her continuing inability to understand it reflects a really special kind of stupidity.

Here, once again, is what Michelle wrote in In Defense of Internment:
While working for the commission, [Aiko] Herzig Yoshinaga parlayed her tax-subsidized archival research -- which "formed the core" of the commission's primary documentation -- into evidence for private lawsuits challenging the Supreme Court's World War II rulings upholding the war powers of the executive branch. She had met and befriended Peter Irons, an activist attorney and legal historian, during her tenure on the commission and surreptitiously shared confidential documents with him.

Malkin's chief defense is that she obtained her characterization of the exchange from a reading of an article that was itself in error. Fair enough, but it doesn't end there.

Neither the article's author, Thomas Fujita-Rony, nor his sources (authors Mitchell Maki and Megan Berthold) characterized the documents as "confidential." Only Malkin did that.

There's a reason for that. The documents, as Malkin well knows, were from the National Archives. And documents in the National Archives are available to any member of the public. There is nothing remotely "confidential" about them. Anyone who's had dealings with the National Archives would know this.

Of course, Eric Muller tried pointing this out to Malkin back in August 2004. Malkin, typically, brushed him off.

It was only when Peter Irons, the chief object of the smear, threatened legal action that Malkin finally got around to admitting that maybe she had gotten a little out of hand with a couple of words.

But if you read Malkin's e-mail exchange with Irons, it's clear she has never fully tumbled to how badly in error she was, and how grotesque was her smear.

Irons begins patiently enough and tries to keep it convivial, but as Michelle's special brand of obtuseness sets in over the exchange, he starts letting her have it. I particularly enjoyed this little missive:
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 20:19:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: duh!


I'm now convinced that you're a little dense. So let's run through this one more time for Michelle's benefit, class. Okay?

Eric, what did Michelle write in her book?

Teacher, she wrote that Aiko "surreptitiously shared confidential documents" with Peter.

Very good, Eric. Tom, who did Michelle cite for this claim?

She cited me, teacher. But I didn't write anything about Aiko sharing any kind of documents with Peter. I wrote that Peter shared documents with Aiko, but I didn't say anything about their being confidential.

Okay, Tom. Who did you cite for Peter sharing documents with Aiko?

Well, I cited Megan in the Maki book.

Megan, what did you say in your book?

Teacher, I said that Peter had not been allowed to copy documents at the Commerce Department. But I didn't say anything about their being confidential.

Well, did Peter say anything to you about their being confidential?

No, teacher, he didn't.

Would you have any reason to believe they were confidential, Megan?

Well, I know they came from the National Archives, and even a dummy like Michelle -- oops, I'm sorry -- would know they were available to any member of the public.

Let me ask Aiko a couple of questions. Aiko, did you slip Peter any confidential documents?

Of course not, teacher. I couldn't have gotten them from the Archives if they were confidential.

Well, Peter, do you have any idea why Michelle would say that in her book?

Actually, teacher, I do. But it might hurt her feelings to say why, and her feelings are very easily hurt.

Michelle, would it hurt your feelings for Peter to tell the class why he thinks you wrote those untrue things about him and Aiko?

No, teacher. My parents always told me, if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Okay, Peter, go ahead.

Well, I think Michelle wrote those untrue things because she was lazy, sloppy, in a rush to turn in her book, and because she wants to grow up and become a rip-and-tear, slash-and-burn, slice-and-dice, right-wing journalist, and make a lot of money.

Class: Way to go, Peter!

Michelle's comment: "This is just weird."

You have no idea just how weird, Michelle.

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