By Ilana Mercer
When Slate Magazine went after President Trump’s former speech writer, Darren Beattie, it chose to libel this writer, as well.
That’s a bully’s calculus: if you can, why not ruin the reputation of another individual, just for good measure? Ruining reputations by labeling and libeling unpopular others is all in a day’s work for the bully, who has nothing in his authorial quiver but ad hominem attack.
The individual who penned an unsourced hit piece on this writer is Slate Magazine’s designated “chief news blogger.” A hit piece is “a published article or post aiming to sway public opinion by presenting false or biased information in a way that appears objective and truthful.”
Our intrepid journalist, one Ben Mathis-Lilley, does not even feign objectivity. Indeed, nothing screams Fake News like a “newsman” engaging in sloppy slander. That’s what my many dogged, anti-Semitic, readers also do. The Mathis-Lilley article was published on August 20, this year, in the section called “The Slatest.” (Slate does cutesy and corny quite well.)
Mathis-Lilley distorts the truth throughout the piece, starting with the title:
It didn’t happen. No such comparisons were made. Cannibalism serves merely as a metaphor in my book,“Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa.”
The origin of the title is expressly and unambiguously explained in the Introduction. “It is inspired by Ayn Rand’s wise counsel against prostrating civilization to savagery.” (p. 8.). The exact Rand quote is citation No. 15 in Into the Cannibal’s Pot. It comes courtesy of “Robert Mayhew (ed.), Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A (New York, 2005).”
Unlike Mathis-Lilley’s unsourced material in Slate, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot” is topped and tailed with hard evidence, and sports over 800 endnotes. Based on the evidence presented, readers come to see “that South Africans had been tossed into the metaphorical cannibal’s pot.” (p. 9).
These are facts, not slander. Slander is Slate’s purview.
Duly ignored was my polite request, addressed to Slate’s editors, to let me counter Mathis-Lilley’s claims over their pixelated pages.
After all, did not their chief counsel, Ava Lubell, Esq., promise in an email (Sept. 10, 2018, 4:22 p.m.) that Slate takes “the accuracy of [its] work seriously and would appreciate your identifying what factual inaccuracies you believe the piece contains”?
Chief counsel for Slate clearly didn’t think that Slate’s fidelity to facts was brought into disrepute by an unsound, unfounded cry, straight from the reptilian brain of their news correspondent: “Ilana mercer is a real piece of work, racism-wise!”
Such puritanical zeal would have landed Mathis-Lilley a spot on Cotton Mather’s “special court to try the witchcraft cases,”in Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1692.
“Goody Mercer, burn her, burn her.” “Goody” was a form of address for women, in the days when women were offed for so-called sorcery.
In what is “Goody Mercer née Isaacson” implicated next? Why, for the “insanely unsubtle” “cover art of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. “[I]nsanely unsubtle”: Mathis is no wordsmith. His choice of adjectives is positively Kardashian.
The cover art, of course, is the publisher’s purview, not that of the author.
In anticipation of the Mathis-Lilleys of the world, the publisher chose to preface my text with a “Publisher’s Note.” He wrote, “[Into the Cannibal’s Pot] is about ideas and ideology. When losing an intellectual argument, there are despicable people who point an accusing finger and shout racism.”
Schooled in epithets, not argument, Mathis-Lilley goes on to claim that Steve Bannon uttered the “N-word,” and that, by extension, I was a sympathizer of such ugly utterances.
Oh, Mathis-Lilley hedges his words all right. Legalistic phrases like “Mercer seems to” bedeck his sub-par prose. But that’s just dirty, dishonest, underhand writing. Never have I used the language attributed to Bannon. The daughter of Rabbi Ben Isaacson would never use language so foul about another human being.
Daddy was a noted anti-apartheid activist before it became a fashionable and safe virtue-signaling pastime. The book maligned by Slate’s Mathis-Lilley as “racist” pays homage to dad (who refuses to leave his South Africa), for being “…a leader in the Promethean struggle to end apartheid. Rabbi Abraham Benzion Isaacson’s fight for justice for South Africa’s blacks was inspired by the advanced concept of Jewish social justice showcased in Deuteronomy and in The Prophets. …” (“Into the Cannibal’s Pot,” 2011, pp. 185-186.)
The woman who Mathis-Lilley dubs “a real piece of work, racism-wise” worked tirelessly against petty apartheid. A couple of pathos-filled pages in Into the Cannibal’s Pot detail how, in one single day, with nothing but determination, this “racist” broke a bit of the apartheid bureaucracy, to benefit a beloved domestic worker, Ethel, tribal name Nomasomi Khala. (pp. 70-72)
Accompanied by me, Ethel entered the Department of Home Affairs in Cape Town as a woman whose tribal marriage was unrecognized by the authorities, whose kids (in tow) were without birth certificates, and whose decades of toil left her bereft of state benefits. Ethel was not in The System. She was stateless. But not for long. When we departed the Department, that same day, Ethel and Jim, her husband of 25 years, had had their union solemnized by a grumpy magistrate, summoned at my insistence. And the children—bless them, they had dressed to the nines for the occasion—had birth certificates.
Good people, Mr Mathis-Lilley, act. Bad people badmouth.
Next, Slate’s pseudo-newsman falsely contends that “Mercer thinks getting rid of apartheid has been bad for South Africa.”
In fact, Into the Cannibal’s Pot condemns apartheid, calling it “one of the world’s most retrogressive colonial systems.” (p. 65) “Apartheid showed a gross disrespect for human rights and international law,” I wrote (p. 222).
What I do condemn in the book is “unrestrained majoritarianism” or “simple majority rule,” as applied in South Africa (and America).
Need I remind the crushingly stupid Mathis-Lilley that “America’s founding fathers had attempted to forestall raw democracy by devising a republic” (p. 9)?
Mathis-Lilley likely doesn’t even know that in mediating the political dispensation in the New South Africa, “Anglo-American elites,” condemned in my book, sidelined South Africa’s indigenous, leading intellectuals, one black (Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi), the other white (Fredrick van Zyl Slabbert).
Both these classical liberals are cited as opposing “unrestrained majoritarianism,” and in support of a “power-sharing constitutional dispensation.” (p. 222). Both favored “a multi-racial, decentralized federation, in which elites of the various groups agree to share executive power and abide by a system of mutual vetoes and spheres of communal autonomy.”
I write in strong support of the thing instantiated in the U.S. Bill of Rights, “the preservation of the rights of cultural groups and the protection of minorities.” (p. 222).
One last ugly, baseless idea imputed to me by Mathis-Lilley is that I think “white people shouldn’t support democracy in countries in which they’re a minority population because they will be exterminated by nonwhite savages.” And I’m the pseudo-intellectual?
Every democratic theorist worth his salt knows that South Africa doesn’t even qualify as a democracy. The scholarly data cited in Into the Cannibal’s Pot stipulate that a prerequisite for a classical liberal democracy is that majority and minority status should be interchangeable and fluid; that a ruling majority party should be as likely to become a minority party as the obverse. By contrast, in South Africa, the majority and the minorities are permanent, not temporary. And voting is strictly along racial lines.
If majority and minority are perpetual or fixed, then government ceases to have a mediating or remedial function. It becomes an instrument of perpetual oppression of the minority by the majority. That’s untrammeled tyranny.
In the U.S., we still have a rotating duopoly, for what it’s worth. But not for long.
To that I object. Of that I warn.
As regards Ben Mathis-Lilley. Look, this is the Age of the Idiot*. Idiots have come into their own in a big way. The Lilliputian Mathis-Lilley is not working with much. But what’s Slate’s excuse?
*Editorial note: as demonstrated by Edward Dutton and Michael Woodley of Menie, in At Our Wit’s End, 2018
Ilana Mercer’s weekly, paleolibertarian think piece has been going strong since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa”(2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”(June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube