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Gore Vidal Blasts Racism Claim

Posted on Nov 10, 2008
Gore Vidal
Zuade Kaufman / Truthdig

By Gore Vidal

I read with astonishment a piece by Andrew Gumbel, “Whose America Now? Not Gore Vidal’s,” which appeared in The Huffington Post recently. Mr. Gumbel, I am told, is a British journalist who, like so many before him, has immersed himself in our native tabloid culture, having been well-seasoned in the British variety. Not since Jonathan Swift have we heard such a voice out of those foggy islands.

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Some time ago, Vanity Fair asked me to see an interviewer, as they were planning a Spanish edition and wanted an interview with me for some purpose. Imagine how shocked I was at the Republican-style lies that he spread about me for reasons hardly clear. I look forward to when I am in court with him, at which point I shall learn more about who and what were behind this weirdly venomous and libelous piece.

Usually when a hack journalist decides to invent an all-out attack on someone, attempts are made to sound like the one being libeled, but he apparently could not go to this trouble. Instead, he writes, I gave him “a look of pure contempt” when I allegedly said slaves have a hard time making poetry (this might have been a warning for him not to try poetry). I am told that multiple innocent readers of The Huffington Post sent in for copies, apparently in good faith that what was supposedly my part of the dialogue was indeed true.

Next he pretends that I am attacking Barack Obama, whom I have been supporting for some months now—in print, on radio and on television—and as I write he is the president-elect. Gumbel seems to know nothing about my political writing, as he babbles on: “Vidal, like many of his generation and social standing, clearly cannot fathom how the son of a single mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father could presume to occupy the Oval Office.  And while he expressed his distaste with an extraordinary degree of frankness, not to mention racial venom, he is far from the only one.”

Gumbel, in his confusion and malice, now lumps together as proto-racist Hillary Clinton, among others, with me. This is very fanciful. Then he goes in for some deep thoughts, in which the most superficial of Brits always like to indulge when they are flunking a grade. He also mentions as part of a “backlash” Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, who “are far from the first political figures to suggest that ‘their America’—parts of the country that subscribe to their ideology and conform to their idea of how society should function—is the real America.”


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He then writes a rapid series of lies about me. “Vidal’s reactionary bile is part of a clear historical [sic] pattern that has, at different times, condoned the slavery he alludes to; espoused open prejudice against immigrants, Jews, Catholics and the industrial working class; and embraces the notion that democracy is somehow too precious to be entrusted to more than a fraction of the people governed.”

All of this is pure nonsense. I trust that when Mr. Gumbel is in court, he will explain to us where he found anywhere in my work a condoning of slavery or any other kind of “open prejudice” he counts among his primitive inventions about me. (Mr. Gumbel’s gifts for fiction are less than he presumes.)

One of The Huffington Post’s kindly readers writes in how he would like to think my “unfortunate quote was actually [my] japing on what a hypothetical blueblood might think, and not his own opinion.” This is generous. But since this fairly lengthy libel is all untrue, I cannot take credit for being the P.G. Wodehouse de nos jours.

Editor’s note: Gore Vidal, a frequent contributor to Truthdig, discusses Obama’s candidacy in this video clip from April 2007. Andrew Gumbel has written one piece for Truthdig.

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By Sepharad, November 16, 2008 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just did what I should have done before commenting here: read the transcript of R. Scheer’s interview with Vidal, asking what he thought of Obama. Here, GV’s answers are much more characteristic and characteristically delivered than the Gumbel quote, an almost irrelevant response to a similar question. Though GV is definitely an elitist, I’d have to have more proof than Gumbel’s Huffpo piece (video or tape of the interview, standard journalist’s procedure) before accepting the comment on slaves and their inability to write poetry without a beat. The novels he wrote about historical figures he admired—Aaron Burr, Abraham Lincoln and Justinian—reflect his sometimes quirky but always accurate takes on pols in the spotlight, consistent with his response to Scheer—“He’s a mystery ... not yet presidentized.” I can think of no plausible explanation for the alleged statement, except that GV’s fine mind has suddenly begun to wander, or that Gumbel was overcome by Vanity Fair’s imperative to “dish” on celebrities, in contrast to high-quality reportage they also publish (a maddening combination).

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By Paracelsus, November 16, 2008 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

On second thought, perhaps we could get a paean to menstrual cramps. I’m not infallible.

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By departed, November 16, 2008 at 2:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter) - in defense of doggrel - bit of the soldier, bit of the sailor, explorer, slave and gaoler

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By Paracelsus, November 16, 2008 at 1:49 am Link to this comment

“Slaves have a hard time making poetry,” he said, relishing the shock factor, “unless it’s got a beat.”

Poetry without music is just a pedestrian list of complaints. It’s not even got the magical spontaneity of a mad man’s rant. I suppose it degrades into doggerel of an anxious teenager or the sighs of a bedraggled, over worked house wife complaining about menstrual cramps. Bloody awful. But to a beat, poetry is invigorated with some epic and sublime quality. It sprouts wings, unless it was just too bad to begin with. Some of the best poetry came from slaves anyhow. They have suffered sublimely, and culture is built upon cruelty to paraphrase Nietzsche. There is nothing epic or cathartic about the poetry of a banker or a swizzle stick maker. Soldiers, explorers, and sailors for some reason make fantastic poets. Robert Service stands out. I am not sure who said the above, but I think the suffering heart of a slave accompanied by syncopation is the essence of cathartic lyric poetry, and we, his sadistic audience, are hardened without his musical plaints. Perhaps our betters can be convinced to put down their staffs and flails for a moment just to listened to the humanity they have lost.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

PatrickHenry, November 15 at 7:02 am #

There are many peoples of the world who have an oral tradition of passing down history on to the next generations (especially slaves) in song form.

Verbal art (poetry), would be no different.

Agreed.  But you cannot infer from that that ALL slaves can do is create songs with a beat.

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By PatrickHenry, November 15, 2008 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

There are many peoples of the world who have an oral tradition of passing down history on to the next generations (especially slaves) in song form.

Verbal art (poetry), would be no different.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

KDelphi, November 14 at 8:18 pm #

ITW—Alot of people here, and, on the other site, by the author at HuffPo are telling me that Vidal woudl not have meant it in a racist way. Ok, fine. But, how woudl you have felt if someone with less literary credentials had said it?

What if some “lowly Left Wing wacko” had said what Vidal said about Obama?

Would you have stil not thought that it was racist?

“Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”

Yup, it’s racist no matter who said it.  I had some doubts but I’ve resolved them upon further reflection. 

I have no doubts.  The statement is racist and no shifting of context or alteration of the author can change that.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Vidal says: “Instead, he writes, I gave him “a look of pure contempt” when I allegedly said slaves have a hard time making poetry (this might have been a warning for him not to try poetry).”

Sorry, Gore, but your pathetic attempt to cloud what you REALLY said is belied by Gumbel’s actual quote:

“Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”

You VERY CAREFULLY left out “unless it’s got a beat.”

Of course you did.  Because that one phrase makes your entire defense A LIE.

And you are certainly smart enough to know it.  But I hate that you think that I (and everyone else) is too stupid to realize the lie, because you are so much smarter than the rest of us.

At least be man enough to admit what you said and either defend it or apologize for it.

Otherwise, Mr. Vidal, you are NO DIFFERENT than Bush and Cheney.  Got that?  NO DIFFERNT!

Notice that

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By KDelphi, November 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

ITW—Alot of people here, and, on the other site, by the author at HuffPo are telling me that Vidal woudl not have meant it in a racist way. Ok, fine. But, how woudl you have felt if someone with less literary credentials had said it?

What if some “lowly Left Wing wacko” had said what Vidal said about Obama?

Would you have stil not thought that it was racist?

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By Paracelsus, November 14, 2008 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

@ Inherit The Wind

Yeah. Gore Vidal isn’t a racist.  He’s just an elitist who thinks Barack Obama is nothing but a slave, incapable of anything but coming up with a song with a beat.

Tell you what, Mr. Veedle. I’m one American who is DAMN GLAD Obama’s going to be the President and not an arrogant prick like you.  We are about to be released from 8 years of rule by a set of elitist pricks like you and look what they’ve done to our nation and the world!

I think you have lost your sense of fairness. Mr. Gumbel smeared and defamed Mr. Gumbel. The context doesn’t even make sense.

When I asked him about Barack Obama, with his formidable rhetoric and cool temperament, he gave me a look of pure contempt and uttered perhaps the most reactionary single comment of this election season.

“Slaves have a hard time making poetry,” he said, relishing the shock factor, “unless it’s got a beat.”

Asked him what about Obama? The question is vague. The reply is a nonresponsive. If I were a judge, I would intercede to get clarity. The ambiguity makes the whole story stink. Remember, dear IHR, that justice is not just a word, but a point of view.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

Yeah. Gore Vidal isn’t a racist.  He’s just an elitist who thinks Barack Obama is nothing but a slave, incapable of anything but coming up with a song with a beat.

Tell you what, Mr. Veedle. I’m one American who is DAMN GLAD Obama’s going to be the President and not an arrogant prick like you.  We are about to be released from 8 years of rule by a set of elitist pricks like you and look what they’ve done to our nation and the world!

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By KDelphi, November 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

blogdog—You ARE unaware of how arrogant you are! I thought that you were!

Your “elegant” post (??)..oh, never mind. Do they really “like” this stuff over at FluffPO? Do you talk like that all the time? What did you expect? Do you have a professor or someone you can show it to that can critique it for you? Because you just come off as—unbelievable!

Why are you so arrogant? Is there something special about you (that someone ELSE has said about you) that I should know?

Hey, lets see some of you stuff—-or do you fear throwing pearls before swine.Show me how you are on par with Vidal, as far as your writing goes.

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By Folktruther, November 14, 2008 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Our lesser appreciation of your talents then I’m sure they merit, Blogdog, revolves around your assetion that the relation between artistic Elitsim and class snobbery is neither here nor there.  Oh, its there alright, Blogdog, and it offends some of us.  The stench, blogdog, the stink!

But nobody’s perfect and we all crawled out of the same can of worms that you did. We have our little ways of expressing dissent and you shouldn’t take our personal criticism of you personally.  I, for example, try to insult everyone equally. 

Unfortunately, when people lead with their esthetic chin as you do, sometimes I get carried away, as may others as well.  Some of us possess an awful frivolity and do not possess the ability to view your involvement with “classically informed architechtonics’ with the solemnity that it udoubtedly deserves. 

But most people don’t hold grudges and recover from their levity and continue on, as serious as we were before.  Maybe if you lightened up a little?

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By blog dog, November 14, 2008 at 1:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By KDelphi, November 13 at 11:29 pm #
Sepharad—Youre right. He’s an asshole…

Thank you. I know I wrote I’d be leaving, but this is just too good. It is exactly that for which I come to Truthdig: gratuitous, ad hominem invective, the sweetest kind; conjured from purely illogical misreading, blindly slung, gloated over and what’s more on the heals of I said good day, SIR!!

A good day, indeed - just makes my day! Were we in the same room, no doubt I’d be riddled with bullet holes by now. I love it!

Shouldn’t everyone feeling shorted on abuse be introduced to Truthdig? Tap out a few posts, politely, civilly, honestly, then check back in for the abuse. Craft an opinion and feel the pain. The more honesty, the more abuse. The more elegant the post, the more scurrilous the slur. It doesn’t get better than this.

Thank you again. Thank you all so, so much. This is the best abuse I’ve taken in a long time. It’s pure. It’s guileless. It’s perfect! Alas, I will now serve my penance and just STF up!

PS: Have taken a Truthdig Oath: never acknowledge any awards.

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By KDelphi, November 14, 2008 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

Sepharad—Youre right. He’s an asshole…

I wonder if Vidal wil be reading this…will he “suffer him lightly” or “gladly”, do you think?

He himself claimed that “The word aristocrat is never said by our rulers”. He has been CALLED a “torch bearer”—but , if asked, he would probably say something denigrating about the phrase, as applies to himself..He likewise had very little good to say about formal education.

I dont like everything he wrote, and he has an elitist attitude—but, at least he isnt arrogant enough to “award himself a prize”.

If one has to constantly proclaim oneself, perhps one should just STF up! Wait for someone else to do it..and wait..and wait..

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By KDelphi, November 13, 2008 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

blogdog—I knew that you had used the term “torch bearer”, because, I find the term unbelievably arrogant when referring to oneself. Usually, one waits for OTHERS to call him a “torch bearer”.

You said, “I celebrate (with Gore Vidal, a fellow artist and prolific torch bearer of our Western Classical heritage…”

I am curious—who are “your people”? What is “our/your culture”?I have never met Vidal either, but I would be extermely cautious about calling anyone a “fellow” of mine if they had not given consent. Especially in such a self-agrandising way.

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By Sepharad, November 13, 2008 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

KDelphi—Your response was way more gracious than blogdog deserved. Your earlier post was completely understandable, very unvulgar unelitist-like. Folktruther used to constantly call InheritTheWind a Zionist lout, but ITW bounced it right back at him until his hostilities at least abated. You need a thick skin on TD sometimes. Whoo-hoo! (As I yell when my mare is zigging and zagging like crazy on those little twisty rolling river/creekside roads. Am too shy to yell Hoka-Hey anymore as I did as a kid, thinking it was a Lahkota warcry, but TAO Walker says it’s a prayer. Not very dignified to gallop around the countryside shouting out someone else’s prayer.)

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By blog dog, November 13, 2008 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE: I wonder if Vidal would consider you his “contemporatry”, a “torch bearer of Western Classical culture”.

I find your alleged mental superiority, to be the very corrupeted,vulgar elitism you claim to detest. Are you a friend of Vidal’s?

KDelphi, November 13 at 8:46 am - sorry to have overlooked this - didn’t notice you were writing specifically to me. Please accept my apology for so tardy a reply.

As for Vidal considering me a “contempratry” [sic] - I don’t see why he wouldn’t, since he’s only about 25 years older than me, which means to date we’ve shared roughly 60 years of contemporaneous history. Perhaps you mean “peer.” In that case, certainly not. Unlike Mr. Vidal, I have published only a handful of works that will outlive me, and nothing so critically acclaimed as the bulk of his opera.

As for “mental superiority,” I’ve made no such claim. I thought I made it very clear that my confession of elitism is related solely to my attention to a refined artistic aesthetic - something I believe we share, that is myself and Vidal. My own artistic output, in fact, draws often form vernacular sources, though structured in Classically informed architechtonics. The vernacular is the genuinely rich river of human expression, but enduring art calls for the high relief of a refined aesthetic.

I’ve never met Gore Vidal, but would certainly love to do so. I’ve heard him interviewed many times. And, as someone else pointed out, he indeed does come across as not suffering fools lightly - case in point:  from his clearly annoyed exchange (about 15 years ago) with pop-culture-sycophant “Fresh Air” radio host, Ms. Terry Gross, he seemed to convey a speculative air, which I share: How does this person hold onto this job? Of course, he didn’t say so, but who knows what was edited out? Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have said so, and when I’m being interviewed, never do, no matter how brisk the breeze between the host’s ears.

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By KDelphi, November 13, 2008 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment


I said good day, SIR!!

Gee…I wish I was a superior being like you…

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By PatrickHenry, November 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

A blog on someones opinion on anothers opinion about their opinion.

Am I right on this?

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By blog dog, November 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, Folktruther, to “get down with le peuple” as you seem to recommend for one and all, isn’t, for some of us, the end and be all it is for others, especially those of us working in the musical arts, who, though sympathetic as we might be toward one or another “cause” simply cannot stand the dreadful “music” or “poetry” that tends to show up at political rallies or in most coffee shops.

I never recommend anything to anyone when it comes to art, but will lend no measure of support to the doggerel that passes for same and is wildly touted as such by common stylish posers, the ubiquity of whom is beyond tally.

I never invest in ad hominem exchanges, but don’t expect it of others. Though you know nothing of me, clearly you cannot resist. As a for instance, I will share with you only one more thing about myself before departing this thread, as it fast descends into typical blogeshpere virulence.

I bailed from academia after my two years of tutelage with the only genuine artists I ever finally encountered there. That was when I saw his pedant “colleagues’” back-stabbing envy making his life miserable and unproductive. It soured me on the scene, so to speak.

I’ve never held an academic position, rather choosing, before building my own publishing concern, to support myself in the sort of dirty, sweaty, mythically “honest” labor you seem to imply would cause me to “unlearn” the academic pollution of Western Civilization. The myth is yours, dear one.

Though I have worked, sweated, drank and sung the songs of the street “down with le peuple” all over the world, literally, there is simply no way the country songs of the fine folk of Central Europe, for example, can compare artistically with the way they’re rendered by the likes of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Dvorjak, et al.

That said, such simple songs I would immediately embrace over the trashy pop dreck that posses as “art” and is so voraciously consumed by the American “peuple.” I am not the only artist I know, trained to the sensitive nuances of sound, who literally cannot tolerate the acoustical environment of a typical American shopping mall nor the insane head-banging, thunder dome of a typical pub for more than a few minutes. Most chefs I know feel the same way about “fast food,” and when it comes to the written word, I have no doubt that Mr. Vidal is every bit as unforgivingly elitist.

However much you may confuse the elitism of serious artists with class snobbery, ultimately it is neither here nor there. What stands the test of time does so regardless of how it strikes its audience du jour, or the proscriptive invective of those such as of yourself, Folktruther. There really is no accounting for taste, learned or unlearned.

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By Folktruther, November 13, 2008 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

KNOWBUDDAU & BLOG DOG-  Noone in their right minds expect a poet to think straight, least of all a prosimetric mytho-poetic Zen poet.  But it does appear Knowbuddau that in your previous incarnation you were a living example of what we now refer to as a practicing dingbat.  And you seem to have inherited some of this Divine madness that you need to pursue…Huffpo?  Try to get a hold of yourself.  Ommm, Ommmm.

On the other front, your Big Mistake, blogdog, was Continuing your Education.  You were probably a normal sort of loony before that.  It instilled the Educated Elitism that has been the bane of your Existence, such as it is.

Gore Vidal, I am desolated to inform you,  is not a Great Artist.  I like some of his novels, especially Creation, for their historical content.  Since, to his credit,  he takes a stance contrary to that of professionally Educated historians.

I think, however, he is one of the great essayists of the English language in the 20th century, ranking with Twain, Menckin, James Baldwin, Doris Lessing,George Orwell, and G. B. Shaw.

Like them, he was uneducated.  None of the above writers attended college and some did not finish high school.  Their native wit was therefore not diminished, diffused and restricted by the gibberish indoctrinated in the young to prevent them from thinking illegitimate thoughts.

This, unfortunately, cannot be said of you, Elitist blogdog, you poor boob. You obviously believe that stuff that they taught you in school.  I feel compassion for you.  Another gullible, miseducated Elitist.

Unlearn, blogdog, unlearn before it is Too Late!  Forget all that drivel about being an Elite and install yourself in the masses.  It is the only way to acheive that authenicity that your poetry requires and, I have no doubt, you can creatively express.

But stay away from prosimetric mytho-poetic Zen rhyme.  That specialty is already taken.

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By KDelphi, November 13, 2008 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

blogdog—I am not sure qhat you realize how bourgeoisie your post sounds! I wonder if Vidal would consider you his “contemporatry”, a “torch bearer of Western Classical culture”.

I find your alleged mental superiority, to be the very corrupeted,vulgar elitism you claim to detest. Are you a friend of Vidal’s? I have heard him speak, and, while I am under no illusions that he is more intelligent and educated than I am, I doubt he would find most non-Western trained people repugnant as you seem to, and I am not certain that he finds “Western Classical culture” to be innately superior—as you also seem to.

Dr Robert Hollinger on “The Dark Side of Neo-Liberalism”

“..contains some
perfectionist and elitist ingredients that are much discussed and criticized
today, especially (and indeed not surprisingly) from the egalitarian wing
of political theory.19 Mill’s “aristocratic liberalism”, to use the term coined
by Alan Kahan,20 is classified alongside Burckhardt’s and Tocqueville’s
liberalism owing to their similarity in terms of a dislike for the masses
and the middle class, their contempt for mediocrity and fear of its potential
hegemony, and their lack of belief in the centralized state.21…..

......Small wonder, then, that a political philosopher like Mill (whothinks is needed is a means to attest the “individual mental superiority”
that is not influenced by traditional English traditional class-biases which
favor the upper classes.”

Mill’s electoral system of plural or proportional voting relies on the
humanist supposition that a superior degree of virtue or intelligence is
paralleled by a superior political competence – which is, of course, a
highly problematic assumption. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle himself
clearly distinguishes between the intellectual virtue of the philosopher,
which is appropriate for a contemplative life, and practical reasoning or
the capacity to deliberate on political matters.26 If we were to follow this
classic distinction between intellectual and moral virtue, we would hardly
agree with Mill that it is reasonable, for example, to grant highly gifted
intellectuals a superior level of electoral competence.”

But, since you have already declared yourself intellectually superior, I suppose there is no need to find a means of discerning that. You will simply tell us.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 13, 2008 at 5:07 am Link to this comment

re: Bryant

Sorry to read of your Huffing Post comment troubles. But I think you are right about the whole neo-liberal Hollywood thing. The AIPAC/Israel deal is the third rail of American politics, and the successful celebrities within the power orbit know this. It is always hands off, when it comes to questioning Jewish authority, especially the never ending river of money and ordnance pledged to Israel year after year.

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By CJ, November 13, 2008 at 2:27 am Link to this comment

Haha, indeed not since Jonathan Swift, or so Mr. Gumbel likely dreams. Read at Huffington, Arianna of which should have thought before allowing posting. (Her too, Gore.)

This alone is sad enough:

“Across the country, young people are being energized into political activism in ways unseen (sic) since the Vietnam War and—in contrast to the counter-cultural (sic) movement of 40 years ago—given real reason to suppose the future belongs to them.”

Like Gumbel—based on photo—would know. Not exactly, but no matter since point is not-too-subtly otherwise. But otherwise, not only no form but also no substance. The latter to do with inaccuracy concerning facts of history. Evidence enough of “hackery” for me.

But so’s not to appear to pick on only one thing, also the following:

“In a deeper sense, it is about who gets to run this country.” This is followed with standard tripe of how “For too long…,” etc., etc.

Who knew? Long before most of us, and especially before Mr. Gumbel, Gore Vidal knew. Not that Mr. Gumbel knows yet, not when he expresses naïvely inane astonishment over events, half of which he merely imagines. And then assails a master, from whom he should have thought to take only notes.

Where has Mr. Gumbel been all these years? If Vidal did give him a look of contempt, I can’t think why! Is Gumbel guilty of confusion or only of malice? Both from what I read of Gumbel.

Packaged bilge, Mr. Gumbel. Re Obama, re American culture, re American way of politics, re all of it. Every damnable word of it, whether or not to do directly with Vidal, whom you reduce to launch pad, whether out of confusion or malice. Or both. Certainly out of some spite, since not a wit of truth to accusations, anymore than to remainder of piece. Possibly in attempt to construct for yourself a “rep” as iconoclast. As though none attempted THAT before! Almost invariably falsely, if not fraudulently.

I’m reminded of when D. Miller undertook a similar exercise when he venomously verbally assaulted Norman Mailer in the Op-Ed pages of the WSJ several years ago. Mailer’s reply was printed later. In his brief retort Mailer informed Dennis that he was sorry to hear Dennis lost his position in MNF booth. Where D. Miller now? Who knows; who cares?

Leaving aside Vanity Faire, which would be more fair were it more accessible. (Personally, I cannot be bothered to wade through Channel-scented pages in search of minimal treasure hardly worth the hunting for. Truthfully, I never managed to locate T of C in any copy. Perhaps because no contents worth listing.)

I take no joy in knowing Vidal feels need to sue this Gumbel. No person Vidal’s age should be so burdened with having to waste life remaining laying down the law to and for low-life. But…Gumbel said it and he should pay for having said it. Huffington too for having allowed posting of libel.

As for “reactionary,” I can’t just now think of a better exemplar than Mr. Gumbel himself, insofar as commentary is revelatory of a wolf in ignorantly pretentiously condescending sheep’s clothing.

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By Sepharad, November 13, 2008 at 2:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal has long been one of the best essayists, author of spellbinding historical fiction and many other fine historical and literary work. I’m a secular Zionist, but can see that while Vidal may not be wildly in love with Israel (he plumps for the perceived underdog like many Israel-haters without really doing the homework) he is no anti-Semite. Sometimes he likes to be whimsically contrarian, especially regarding such an easy target for liberals as Israel represents, but the man is not the dangerous sort of anti-Semite—as, for just one example, the kind reflected by too many posters on TD, who crowed that the economic meltdown is “surely going to make all those rich jews scramble” and the like.

Also included as anti-Semites in my book are those who hugely exaggerate the power of the Israel Lobby, the powerfulness of Jews in the media, in Hollywood, in high finance, etc. Trust me: if WE were in control things would be in much better shape, much more egalitarian, based on the disproportionate number of Jews who are active in civil rights and liberal activist groups. But no, Americans have always clung to the aristocracy we do have: the East Coast elites—Bushes, Kennedys, Rockefellers—in their desperation to blame someone, blame the Jews.

My husband, who is closer to being an old radical Marxist than anything (though he thinks Marx asked the right questions but didn’t have a clue as to the solution, which he thinks is perhaps closer to highly-regulated campitalism)  went so far as to suggest that people who think that Jews exercise undue influence on our country’s foreign policy and economic function, evilly amassing wealth and power, are both fools and dupes. He believes the WASPs still run the world, along with a handful of oil-producing magnates and maggots, and suggested “...if they’re too blind or lazy to do real research, or even just look at the names on the Fortune list of the richest men in the world, or Forbes 500, they deserve to be doomed by their delusions.” He sees people like Kissinger as tools of the WASPs, and believes that anyone foolish enough to be led down that gardenpath by their despicable anti-Semitism don’t deserve to call themselves revolutionaries. (Myself, I believe this economic crisis is beginning to evoke the scapegoat mentality of Germany in the 1930s and the Romanian, Polish and Russian pogroms in medieval through mid-19th century periods during which, happily for me, my ancestors had enough sense to bolt to Palestine,  Eretz Israel. Scapegoating Jews, gypsies or anyone else never cured the plague, the hard times, or the 20th and 21st century ills of the world.

TAO Walker’s world offers the highest and most potentially realizable ideal, though some of the worthwhile modern miracles in medical science would be a desirable addition. Many Native Americans have touched and expanded my and my family’s lives in too many ways to catalogue here, and many too personal to recount. We spend as much time as is possible in the Nations, our eldest son was long ago adopted into a Lahkota tribe, and we’ve grown into a life not like TAO Walker’s Eden because we are not in a community, but despite my husband’s modern work in biotech/biomed research and our political theories and concerns, we’re as off the grid as we can be and most of our day-to-day living is in the natural world, with our horses.

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By blog dog, November 13, 2008 at 1:19 am Link to this comment
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By Folktruther, November 12 at 12:19 pm # ...Vidal has fought bigotry of all kinds.  However, he IS elitist,

So what! Elitism of the aesthetic sort, if come by honestly, is nothing to sneer at. You know Mr. Vidal was initially educated by serving as “reader” to his blind grandfather, Senator T.P. Gore.

Can one imagine a richer education? And, can one imagine how so richly educated a young man, who must then be forced to commune with countrymen, mostly so poorly educated they can’t find Zurich on a map and so boorish, that busting noses over brewskies is a commonly celebrated pastime, cannot help but view himself as somehow set apart.

The slur of “elitism” is nowhere more common than in Amerika. I know this too well, being raised by utterly uneducated folks, prone to drinking themselves into oblivion. But, then after touring, in my early twenties, all of Europe and half of Asia, entirely under my own power and in the meanest and cheapest of conveyances, and with some of Vidal’s best writing to keep me company - reading Justinian while wending through the Levant enlivened and enriched it greatly - I finally discovered the real cultural heritage of “my people,”  I then returned to the US, set about continuing my education through to a post graduate degree, became an artist practicing in the Western Classical tradition, and in a place and time where the ubiquitous popular culture is so utterly vulgar, I sometimes find it hard to breath.

After all this, I feel no shame in calling myself an “elitist.” Moreover, I view it as my duty to “my people,” to advance (through my elite perspective) our culture, along the lines of our Western Classical cultural heritage, within the rigor of our shared Classical aesthetic of beauty, grace and logical clarity of structure and form, as a means of expressing the universal humanity in every emotion.

That is not to reject a contemporary language, which is not to be confused with Classical aesthetic. One does require some measure of education to know the difference. In that respect. I am proud to share with a great artist like Gore Vidal the label of “elitist,” in the classical sense. As well, this should not be confused with common material elitism, which, in it’s typically base manifestation, is, in fact, a vulgar corruption of the real meaning of the word.

Simply put: I celebrate (with Gore Vidal, a fellow artist and prolific torch bearer of our Western Classical heritage,  if he wishes), the joy of our shared elitism. I am fortunate and honored to be his contemporary.

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By KDelphi, November 12, 2008 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment

knowbuddha—Who said any of the stuff you are saying that they say here??

I read Huff Po for along time. I can document the cases I have said happened.

I dont like seeing anyone banned from any site, unless they break specific rules that are POSTED.

People are being banned and censored alot, and it is NOT helping things.

No, I dont think I want to check out your zen poetry, because you seem so judgemental for a buddhist(??)

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By knowbuddhau, November 12, 2008 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

I knew the Gumbel hit piece was BS as soon as I read the “slave” quote.

To all who are dissing HuffPo: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I was one of the many readers who called the Gumbel post suspicious right away.

As for overzealous efforts to sell premium subscriptions: never seen it. I’ve been a member there since 2006, never once have I seen even a suggestion of a price for membership.

As a Zen poet, I find the debate there of the highest order; that’s why I stay.  I delight in making my points in 250 words or less.  The style of poetry I practice is technically known as prosimetric mytho-poetic expression.  I do a little akphrsiticism now and then, too.  (Whaddya mean, you never heard of them?  I thought you all were oh-so erudite here raspberry )

I use the same username there as here: knowbuddhau.  If you’re curious what a Zen poet has to say on current events, look me up.

I’m a devoted student of Democracy Now! as well.  I can count on conversing with the guet from DN!, very often the same day.  For example, I saw Eugene Jarecki on DN! in the morning, commented on his article on HuffPo, then saw him again on The Daily Show that night.

You really should think twice before spouting off, especially when your specious diatribes are so easily debunked.

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By Dave "knowbuddhau" Parker, November 12, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All of you who are dissing HuffPo evidently don’t know what you’re talking about.  I was among the many readers there who called this article suspicious right away.

And the charge about HuffPo charging for premium subscriptions is surreal.  I’ve been a member since 2006.  I’ve never seen any such effort.

I make HuffPo my home because of the great comments there.  As a Zen poet, I am very demanding of my interlocutors.  The comments there are of the highest order.  (If you’re interested, I always use the same username: knowbuddhau, on all the sites I visit.  Look me up.)

Even though I read Truthdig, I’ve rarely felt compelled to join in your conversations.  The specious diatribes that dominate this thread are precisely the reason.

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By Hesperion, November 12, 2008 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

It is shameful that this renowned historian,author, statesman advocate for a TRUE republic is even having to defend against this moronic annoyance. I own all of his works and there is NO reading of ANY of it that could even hint that he holds racist views. As for the Huffpost, they have lost most of their credibility by their screening of viewpoints in tampering with comments alone. Admitting this Gumble, a frustrated hack to the ranks that include so many astute and learned writers is proof that they are not really good arbiters of truthful expression. If I had not given up on them long before this would surely finish it for me.

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By anna sklar, November 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is anyone else a tad concerned that President-elect Obama has appointed several members of the previous Clinton administration to his transition team?  I can only hope that they have been appointed for their skill in vetting potential appointees, and not to recommend former members of the Clinton Administration.  Saul Alinsky would not have approved and I still WANT CHANGE!

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By KDelphi, November 12, 2008 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Bryant—Gawd! Banned from HuffPO?? I haven been there in ages.

This banning of alternate views has GOT to STOP! I think someone should take legal measures.

However, HuffPo is a “private” site, funded by those who buy “premium subscriptions”—and dont they let you know about it!

But publicly funded and tax exempt sites had better take notice! It is ruining the interent.

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By Folktruther, November 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Vidal was accused of anti-Semitsm, Troublesum?  You know his life partner (he is gay) was Jewish.  But it doens’t matter.  Aipacers like Inherit characterize anyone supporting the Palestinians as anti-Semitic.

Vidal has fought bigotry of all kinds.  However, he IS elitist, being the sibling-in-law ( a term I just made up) of Jackie Kennedy.  His mother, whom he disliked, was married to a man who had Jackie by another wife.  Enough, I suppose, to enhance any ego, except Vidal’s, whose Elitism derives from his upbringing.

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By David Kosh, November 12, 2008 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No way to be elegant about this. Anyone who believes Gore Vidal is a racist is a dumb****.

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By troublesum, November 12, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

20 years ago Vidal was accused of hating Jews.  If you don’t accept the recieved wisdom of the establishment they have to tear you down one way or another.  The Huffington Post is just a mouthpiece for the Hollywood democrat crowd.  It’s a website wrapped in tinsel.

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By The Other Katherine Harris, November 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Initially, they took a Democratic line (and were big Obama supporters, when I was still hoping for Edwards); lately, however, they’re all over the road.  I’ve been incensed by a number of right-wing rants (and ads) there, which one presumes are meant to broaden readership and raise the ad rates.

Thus, Mr. Gumbel’s screed didn’t strike me as “out of place” on Huffy, but it certainly did strike me as a particularly egregious pack of lies.  I’m very glad that you’re forcefully condemning it, Mr. Vidal.  You’ve been a light to my path, ever since I was a college girl (and I’m in my 50s now).  Thank you for your many splendid works and general erudition and elegance.

That America could produce a Gore Vidal allows us to hold our heads higher, shamed though we are by the likes of Darth Cheney, Caribou Barbie and the Shrubbery.

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By KDelphi, November 12, 2008 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

beerdr—you are correct, and, to comopound the problem, the MSM (and even such persons who seem to have such potential as Bill Maher), treat it (and the people who obtain wealth from them) as serious journalism/journalists.

I think that Huffington is capable of some very serious jounralistic integrity. I just havent seen it as of late. The so-called Left has been so fearful of “losing to another conservative—(which they may had inadvertently done)that any quip or queston is put to scrutinty by teh neo-liberal police. And I am sick to death of it.

There are “token naysayers” an alot of these sites—-some may be plants—but they aer quickly ganged up on by as trolls. I am not sure what there is to do about it. But, at the rate tath “I was kicked off of..” sites are springing up, lawsuits could be inevitable.

Not of you…lol..not angry at you..

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By Bryant, November 12, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have been prevented from posting comments on Huffpo for over a year now. I will have to get a new e-mail address in order to ever be able to. I cannot re-register, and they will not send me my password to get back on there. I don’t know who else they do this to. But they do not like comments that undermine their credibility. They are simply an arm of the most entrenched elements on the Democrat Party establishment, the same ones who are just as tied to Big Business and AIPAC as anything that the Republicans have to offer. I hope that some of the fallout from Vidal’s suit serves to damage their crediblity in the public eye as much as possible.

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By Folktruther, November 12, 2008 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

This conflict between Vidal and Huffpo is an increasingly open clash between pro-imperialist truthers, like Huffpo, and anti-imperialists, like Vidal.  Gove is by no means a radical, but he has consistently opposed, with exceptions,  the Neo-American imperialism and police state.

Huffington goes where the power is and now it is Obiden.

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By JanL, November 12, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GV:  You are of a stature and rep that calls for ignoring this—drop the lawsuit, please, we all know you don’t have a racist bone in your body!  You dignify his flak with a suit.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 12, 2008 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

re: KDelphi

Putting aside my own run ins, and the fact that my blog is linked on the Off The Bus page, does not change the fact that the Huffington Post has gone down in editorial quality. But since stories about Jennifer whats-her-name being ticked about some other whats-her name STEALING her boyfriend, it is not surprising that that HuffPo would publish spurious trash about Gore Vidal. A profit driven enterprise demands more eyeballs, so photo galleries of the Governor of Alaska’s wardrobe and pictures of her preteen daughter wearing high heels, are certainly not out of line, as far as their perceived venue is concerned.
It is difficult for some to grasp that the Huffington Post is not particularly a site for serious political discussion, although that still does sometimes happen, but much more rarely these days. No, it is more like Vanity Fair, a celebrity gossip driven machine crafted to sell products, that occasionally will feature a piece of actual journalism.

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By Netizen, November 12, 2008 at 1:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am deeply sorry this has happened to you, and hopefully most of your readers will know it couldn’t possibly be true.

Thank you for suing Gumbel.  This has to stop.

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By Reader, November 11, 2008 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is a giant. Gumbel is just another insignificant limey ass here in the US to make a buck. He’s not even smart enough of an ass to be Andrew Sullivan. Gore will destroy him in court.

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By Paracelsus, November 11, 2008 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

Another Curse

May Myra Breckenridge have no mercy on Andy.

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By KDelphi, November 11, 2008 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

Anyone who has read HP , anytime since the Dem Primary season, should be disappointed. Even more disappointing are the people they send out to the “Liberal FOX” version of the news-MSNBC. For a liberal to watch this is pure cognitive mastrubation. If you are a neo-liberal—you will not have the cognitive dissonanace of having to hear ANYTHING that you disagree with. How soothing…

Roy Secuff was on a few times with Matthews, Olbermann, etc. When Obama was given teh primary nomination, Secuff says to Matthews, “Hillary is like the runner up in a beauty pagegant, waiting backstage for her nude phoho ops”. Matthews said the “HA!”

Later M. Dowd was on and said, to Obama’s nomination “Some say he is not black enough,thers say he is not white enough But, we look and he is the blessed child"Nobody challenged her sanity in the least. I thought maybe she should check her hormones.

Alot of Obama supporters (NOT Obama himself—back off!Grrr) Having been at an apparent loss of words as to Obama’s policies or positions have led a merry chase of “lets nab a racist”, especiially fun for them , apparently, when it is someone older than 20

It was like “Are you a racist?” ( has nothingo do with taht) Well, then…what s wrong with you?” It was especially venemous in swing states..

The day I voted for Oama, I got an Obama Trojan in my email, AND banned from a “liberal ” website for criricizing Obama—now THAT is irony for you!

You “ageists”!

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By blog dog, November 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE: By moe, November 11 at 11:53 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought this guy was dead.

Even after he’s dead, he’ll outlive most of us. Name anyone posting anywhere in the blogesphere whose legacy will reach within a country mile of Vidal’s. Go back to your Gameboy.

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By KDelphi, November 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

From HuffPo?? Like my sister said about being banned from CD—“Wow. What an honor”.

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By antispin, November 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

One must pity the poor innocent Gumbel who knows not what he has wrought.  “Then he goes in for some deep thoughts, in which the most superficial of Brits always like to indulge when they are flunking a grade.”  Now superficial Brits, I agree, are fair game, but, to be fair, an editor might substitute the word “oft” for “always” here, I mean, dear sir, do try to tamp down your wrath a tad and be gentle with the hapless fool.

And second thought…let him have it!

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By moe, November 11, 2008 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought this guy was dead.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 11, 2008 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Gore Vidal is old school, where a gentleman’s honor is something he takes seriously.

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By SamSnedegar, November 11, 2008 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

I marvel that Vidal would even notice this pimply-faced natterer, let alone write something in reply to his slander.

I rejected and removed the Huffington Post from my daily rounds years ago; why hasn’t everyone?

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By Folktruther, November 11, 2008 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

A standard hatchet job, now being done by the Dem media as well as the Gop media, as the Dems move continually further to the right.  Gore is an icononclastic progressive who is anti-imperialist and there is no room for anti-imperialist Dems among imperalist Dem leaders.

This kind of thing will become more common as an anti-imperalist left forms, especially as Israel’s Likud Zionisn is attacked.

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By Jim Yell, November 11, 2008 at 7:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So much has come through the door this past month that I can’t remember the specifics of the article refered to. I can remember being very disappointed in what was claimed and that it would reflect anything that Mr. Vidal would have said, as it was so contradictory to what I would have expected from him.

It is a relief to have him say it is not so. I will be interested in hearing what transpires in the trial.

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By mackTN, November 11, 2008 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve read Vidal for decades and still remember with glee his coverage of the Democratic 68 convention during which he cursed William F. Buckley as a pockmarked crypto-fascist. 

Writers these days don’t have the intellectual heft to do any kind of analysis above the tabloid level.  Vidal should have protected himself and examined the credentials of the interviewer sent to him.  I hope he takes this guy for the pennies he is worth.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, November 11, 2008 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

Often people like Mr. Gumbel have no respect for anything other than cold hard cash, hopefully a day in court with a few angry lawyers will change that.

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By Fahrenheit 451, November 11, 2008 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

Ah, comeon, it’s the Huffington Post for crying out loud.  What do you expect?  Sic em Gore; get em good.

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By Mr. Tuttle, November 11, 2008 at 2:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m shocked that would allow this type of dribble to be passed off as journalism.

I think Ms. Huffington owes Mr. Vidal a rather large and humble apology for condoning this gross slander to appear under the masthead that carries her name and supposed editorial guidance.

Maybe those responsible (actual editor and sub-editor) need to spend more time at the Paris Hilton/tabloid side of the Huffingtonpost.


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By thebeerdoctor, November 11, 2008 at 1:28 am Link to this comment

Mr. Vidal I hope, will sue the pants off the idiotic bastard.

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By libertarian, November 11, 2008 at 1:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gumbel’s former trade as a hatmaker has caused his brain to swell with nasty older stocks of cork-bottled chemicals which were never discarded. The swelling also makes his wooden teeth ache. Keeping his head close to his old (very nice) typewriter as he pecks away allows him to inhale the cleaner fumes used on that machine; this time carbon tetrachloride. The poor creature’s body is on the verge of exploding in a spray of discolored chunks and all Vidal can think to do is nag, nag,


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By slovenia, November 11, 2008 at 12:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I asked, on HuffPost, in a comment after the Gumbel piece, if Huffpost used sub-editors.  Anyone with a passing acquaintance with Vidal’s work would’ve spotted the nonsense of which Gumbel’s column was full.  How do submissions by non-staff writers get on sites like HuffingtonPost and Truthdig?  What is the vetting process?

Has anyone seen an apology on HuffPost?  Is HuffPost responsible for what they post?  Should they be co-defendants in Vidal’s lawsuit?  I truly don’t know how it all works on Internet sites.

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By evan, November 11, 2008 at 12:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The great thing about ankle-biters such as Gumbel is that they are so easy to kick.

Mr. Vidal is a bright light of reason in a murky world.  Long may he wave.

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By mud, November 11, 2008 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

Get um Gore. Get um good and don’t let go.

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By Alan, November 10, 2008 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Internet, Love It or Heave It”
>What was that?
>>A fly, a biting fly.
>No, I think, I think that was the internet.
>>Ya think so?
>yeah, it’s like the wind, only less so.
>>How so?
>I dunno, it’s the internet.
>>It’s our family now.
>The internet?
>>Long live big brother!

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By Sheila, November 10, 2008 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems that to embrace celebrity or to be a victim of it is to make a deal with the devil.  You, Mr. Vidal ,deserve your impeccable reputation. I am sorry you have been put in a position of this nature.  Do not worry.  Writers such as this guy have no impact.  And thank you for supporting Obama who was fortunate to receive your endorsement prior to the election.

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By abdo, November 10, 2008 at 11:30 pm Link to this comment

what is the responsibility of the H. Post in publishing dubious material.

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