Peter Brimelow, VDARE, April 3, 2020
I must admit I was pretty startled early in the morning of Friday, January 9 when, reeling back after the usual breakfast battle with the children, I glanced at my cellphone and saw that POLITICO already had an article, [Anti-immigration author sues NYT over ‘white nationalist’ label, by Josh Gerstein, January 9, 2020] about our defamation suit against the New York Times which we had filed the previous evening not 12 hours before. We were meeting a litigation deadline and had planned to refine our complaint before actually serving the New York Times and going public sometimes in the next two months. But it seems the internet has speeded everything up—just as it has made the Main Stream Media more careless, and its libels more damaging. Which is one reason we’ve been, very reluctantly, forced into litigation.
You can read our provisional complaint here [PDF].
It’s important to realize, as many jeering Leftist commenters on the various MSM comment threads apparently did not, that the New York Times has already conceded that it was wrong and we were right.
Its original article, A Timeline of Steve King’s Racist Remarks and Divisive Actions [by Trip Gabriel, January 15, 2019, archive link], an attempt to smear the heroic Rep. Steve King by claiming an (absurdly tenuous) connection with me, referred to me as an “open white nationalist.” The headline also counted merely meeting me briefly on the platform at a public conference as a “racist” and/ or “divisive” action.
The plain fact, however, is that I’m not at all an “open white nationalist”—to the contrary, I have specifically denied being a “white nationalist.” My position: I’m a civic nationalist. In other words, I look forward to voting for Michelle Malkin when she runs for President on an immigration moratorium platform.
Similarly, I say explicitly in a response to an FAQ that has been posted on the VDARE.com menu bar since 2006 that VDARE.com is not a “white nationalist” site. It is a forum site that will publish anyone, of any political or racial persuasion, who has a rational criticism of post-1965 immigration policy.
This certainly does include a few writers whom I would regard as “white nationalist” in the sense that they aim to defend the interests of American whites. They are not white supremacists. They do not advocate violence. They are rational and civil. They brush their teeth. But they unashamedly work for their people—exactly as La Raza works for Latinos and the Anti-Defamation League works for Jews. As immigration policy drives whites into a minority, this type of interest-group, “white nationalism,“ will inexorably increase.
So our lawyer sent the New York Times a letter smacking it over the snout and demanding a retraction.
The New York Times did not deign to reply. But it did perform a “stealth edit” on its website—removing the word “open” and adding to the words “white nationalist” a hyperlink to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (also libelous) description of me. (This happened sometime between January 17 and January 24.)
However, although the New York Times had here tacitly conceded the justice of our charge, it did not follow its own published guidelines and acknowledge that it had done so.
Those guidelines state portentously:
Because its voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small (even misspellings of names), promptly and in a prominent reserved space in the paper. Whether an error occurs in a print article, a digital graphic, a video, a
tweet or a news alert, readers should expect us to correct it. There is no five-second rule. It does not matter if it was online for seconds or minutes or hours.
We Stand Corrected: How The Times Handles Errors, by Rogene Jacquette, June 7, 2018
And, from my point of view, it was particularly vital that this stealth edit be acknowledged—because, of course, the libel remained uncorrected in the New York Times’ print edition. Yet this was the version that was seen by millions of people and was, for example, read into the Congressional Record [January 16, 2019] by Rep. Bobby Rush (D.-IL).
Until the New York Times has formally acknowledged its correction, I can hardly go to Rep. Rush and ask him to correct his entry—which I naturally expect he will then do, as a man of honor.
(Ironically, Rep. Rush himself could fairly be described as a “Black Nationalist.” The co-founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, who once said “we advocate offensive violence against the power structure,” served six months in jail for taking a gun into a police station and commented more recently: “I don’t repudiate any of my involvement in the Panther party—it was part of my maturing.”
Of course, I’ve never done anything like that. It’s almost as if there is a double standard).
Accordingly, our lawyer wrote to the New York Times again, asking that it acknowledge the correction, pursuant to its own published guidelines, and/or publish a letter from me putting my defense on the record.
The publication of Letter To The Editor had, in fact, had been the resolution of an earlier go-round with the New York Times. On August 29, 2017, it published an Op-Ed by law professors David J. Herzig [Email him] and Samuel D. Brunson [Email him] demanding that the Internal Revenue Service strip VDARE.com and Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance of our 501 c (3) tax-exempt status because, according to them, we were “white supremacist groups.” After a certain amount of argument, New York Times ran [September 6, 2017] a Letter to The Editor from Jared and myself refuting this ridiculous smear and pointing out that the professors simply wanted to suppress speech with which they disagreed.
But this time, the New York Times did neither. It refused to acknowledge publicly that it had made the change. And it did not publish my Letter to the Editor.
At this point, I should stipulate that, while I spent some 40 years in the Main Stream Media, a significant portion of that was in Canada, plus writing a column for six years for the Times in the U.K.. In both jurisdictions, the Common Law understanding of libel still applies. Basically, you have to get facts right. A mistake, even if honest, is not a defense to libel.
The U.S. is also a Common Law jurisdiction, of course. But here libel protection was gutted for elected officials, later expanded include to all so-called “public figures,” by New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), in which the U.S. Supreme Court (Earl Warren, proprietor) unilaterally rewrote the law in order to get some black Civil Rights activists who had published untruths about a Southern law enforcement official, and their ideological ally, the New York Times, off the hook.
Since Sullivan and its progeny (e.g. Curtis Publishing Co. v Butts), American “public figures” (basically, anyone active in public life e.g. even an obscure journalist like me) has had to prove, not just that the published libel was false—that the facts were wrong—but that it was published with “actual malice.” In other words, that it was published with knowledge that it was false, or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
As more than one Supreme Court justice has observed, “actual malice” has come to be an almost impossible standard to meet e.g., Justice White in Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc. (1985), or Justice Thomas in McKee v. Cosby (2019).
Notwithstanding Sullivan, in both the Canadian and the U.S. Main Stream Media, there was a procedure you were trained to follow if you were making a controversial assertion, to show that you were not motivated by malice:
- Contact victim beforehand and at least go through the motions of getting his side of the story. (In the internet age, this should obviously include a hyperlink to victim’s website, so readers can judge for themselves).
- If victim objects after the story appears, publish a letter from him and/ or make a correction. This was not a complete defense to libel—the libel had, after all, appeared and the damage had been done—but it was supposed to show that you were not motivated by malice.
- (This was an unspoken rule): to further show you are not motivated by malice, stop writing about victim.
Of course, it would be difficult to stop writing about the victim if he were e.g. Donald J. Trump. But it is less difficult to do if the victim is e.g. me/ VDARE.com, which the New York Times had contrived to mention only 24 and 5 times in 42 years prior to 2019—despite the fact that we were right, and the New York Times was wrong, on immigration, the greatest public policy (and political) issue of the age.
But in this case, the New York Times’ Trip Gabriel did not contact me before publishing his libel. Plus, of course, the New York Times subsequently refused to acknowledge its mistake publicly, although implicitly conceding it was a mistake by (partially) correcting it.
And, finally, shockingly, the New York Times continued to smear us throughout 2019:
- In August, 2019, Ashley Tabaddor, a Leftist immigration “judge” (they’re actually bureaucrats, like insurance claims adjustors) had a hissy fit because the Department of Justice news briefing had included a link to a VDARE.com story that dared to criticize her as a “kritarch” i.e. a legislating judge, a term she claimed, ludicrously, was “anti-Semitic.”
(You might have thought, as an regular American under the impression that you live in a free society where debate is allowed, that the job of a “news briefing” is to provide, well, news. But our Ruling Class now demands to be protected from dissenting viewpoints. And the Trump Justice Department did indeed cave and promised to not to include items from VDARE.com again).
The New York Times eagerly publicized Tabaddor’s crazy claim [Justice Department Newsletter Included Extremist Blog Post, by Christine Hauser, August 23, 2019], again without deigning to contact us.
“Many of the extremists on VDare who use this term are in fact anti-Semites, and they may intentionally be using ‘kritarch’ as a way to express their anti-Semitism, but on its own, the term is not self-evidently anti-Semitic.”
In other words, “kritarch” is not an anti-Semitic term, but when we use it, it is.
Needless to say, of course, Hauser did not provide an explanatory link to VDARE.com.
- Again, on September 13 2019, the New York Times ran a story Top Immigration Judge Departs Amid Broader Discontent Over Trump Policies (by Katie Benner), about a different immigration judge, as part of an attack on the Trump Administration’s effort to get control of the federal immigration bureaucracy a.k.a. the Deep State.
Benner’s story contained this gem:
Last month, tensions increased when a daily briefing that is distributed to federal immigration judges contained a link to a blog post that included an anti-Semitic reference and came from a website that regularly publishes white nationalists.
The hyperlink in Benner’s story was not to VDARE.com, of course, but instead to Hauser’s August 23 New York Times story. And, naturally, Benner made no effort to contact us.
Indeed, on this occasion the New York Times editors chose to shield its delicate readers from VDARE.com’s dread name completely. But the hyperlink, and the context, makes it undeniable that the reference was to us.
And Benner’s story contained a significant escalation in the New York Times’ malicious campaign against VDARE.com. Whereas Hauser’s August 23 story featured a faux debate about whether the term “kritarch” was anti-Semitic, Benner’s September 13 story just flat-out announced that our blog post did indeed contain an “anti-Semitic reference.”
This is what we at VDARE.com call “smear creep.” As an allegation is repeated, it tends to intensify. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that too many journalists in the Main Stream Media now practice what I have called “not journalism but Googlism”—they just search the internet and rip off what they find, inevitably introducing errors in the process, a phenomenon we call “The Telephone Game” after the children’s party game in which messages are passed on and get progressively distorted. (This is what I believe happened with Trip Gabriel’s original January 15 libel, and I think I know his source: Republicans Have Tolerated Steve King’s Racism for a Long Time, by Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine, January 14, 2019, which links to this, from the Daily Kos
Obviously, contacting the victim of this sort of pile-on and asking him about the allegations would be a corrective. But, all too often, this is no longer done.
The New York Times is America’s Paper Of Record. Its pronouncement that VDARE.com did something “Anti-Semitic” will be a Smear Heard Round The World. In American politics, there could not be a more serious accusation. And now it will be taken as gospel all the way down the rest of Main Stream Media food chain.
Accordingly, in consultation with our legal counsel, I sent this updated Letter To The Editor:
As part of your campaign to demonize all dissent on immigration, you recently claimed that a blog post on the webzine I run, VDARE.com, included “an antisemitic reference” (September 13, 2019 ). Yet your original story on this blog post (August 23, 2019 ) reported that even Aryeh Tuchman of the Anti-Defamation League grudgingly conceded that the “reference”—the term “Kritarch”— has “long been used to describe ‘rule by judges’” and that “the term is not self-evidently anti-Semitic.” So your September 13 version is a classic example of smear-creep.
Similarly, you earlier referred to me as “an open white nationalist” [January 15, 2019]. But VDARE.com is an equal-opportunity forum site open to all critics of the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act regardless of color, creed or national origin. And I have specifically stated that I am a “civic nationalist,” for example in an interview with SLATE (February 23, 2018).
This “white nationalist” smear has become increasingly toxic over the course of 2019 because of Left’s unscrupulous efforts to link it, and all dissent on immigration, to violence. Yet you have repeatedly refused to acknowledge your error, merely stealth-editing it to remove the word “open,” with the result that the original version still exists uncorrected in print and in many other places, for example the Congressional Record.
You do now link on “White Nationalist” to an attack on me by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But this is the direct equivalent of me calling the New York Times “fake news” and citing President Trump.
Except, of course, that it would be true.
But the New York Times refused to publish even this very moderate protest against its arrogant and malicious behavior.
- Incredibly, even after this exchange, the New York Times ran yet another attack on VDARE.com and myself [The White Nationalist Websites Cited by Stephen Miller, by Katie Rogers and Jason DeParle, November 19, 2019].
Apart from repeating libels from the Southern Poverty Law Center—and, remember it is no defense to libel (even in jurisdictions no longer strictly following the common law) that you have attributed the libel to someone else—the Rogers/ DeParle article misquoted me:
Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDARE, believes that diversity has weakened the United States, and that the increase in Spanish speakers is a “ferocious attack on the living standards of the American working class.”
Naturally, the hyperlink here is not to VDARE.com but to a quite separate and typically disingenuous Leftist smear [VIDEO: Peter Brimelow attacks multiculturalism at CPAC, by Sonia Resnick, Colorado Independent, February 9, 2012] of my talk to a 2012 breakout CPAC session on the Public Choice consequences of Canada’s Official Language policy—with all mention of this self-evidently innocuous subject deliberately suppressed.
If the hyperlink to VDARE.com had been supplied, readers would have seen that it wasn’t the immigration of Spanish-speakers in itself that I said was a “ferocious attack on the living standards of the American working class,” but instead the tendency of employers to demand bilingual employees in response to Spanish-speaking immigration, thus materially disadvantaging the monolingual native-born population. For this reason, as I pointed out in my talk, Canada’s majority French-speaking province of Quebec, which actually cares about its people, has banned businesses from requiring employees be bilingual in French and English.
(Rogers/ DeParle treated American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor even worse, quoting him as saying that “newcomers are not the needy; they are the greedy”—whereas Jared was in fact talking specifically about the Syrian “refugee” influx. In his polite way, Jared has applied for a correction through the usual channels. Needless to say, he has heard nothing).
So, to summarize the story to this point: throughout 2019, the New York Times showed a systematic pattern of (1) portraying me and the webzine I edit as racial extremists through consistent misrepresentation; (2) refusing to contact us, thus denying us the chance to refute (or at least protest) these misrepresentations; (3) refusing to hyperlink to us, thus denying readers the chance to see for themselves that we have been misrepresented; (4) refusing to correct misrepresentations, and to acknowledge surreptitiously correcting one misrepresentation, albeit merely on its website.
Let me make clear: Personally, I absolutely do not care what the New York Times, and the people who run it, think about anything. And I have shrugged off a great deal of abuse since I broke the taboo and started writing critically about America’s immigration disaster in 1992. So why have I decided to sue for libel now?
Partly it’s because I’ve realized that mud sticks. The rise of the internet has meant that nothing ever goes away, and everything always gets worse, especially because so many Main Stream Media journalists nowadays are in fact unscrupulous Leftist vigilantes determined to propagate the worst possible interpretation. (See “Smear Creep,” “Googlism Not Journalism,” and “The Telephone Game” above).
But mostly it’s because this sort of charges have increasingly serious real-world consequences. In effect, America now has a Cultural Marxist corporate elite that does the bidding of its emerging Totalitarian Left.
Thus, despite (or more accurately because of) the fact that Donald J. Trump won the presidency essentially advocating VDARE.com’s long-held positions on immigration, we have suffered a wave of demonetization and deplatforming, for example by Amazon, Google Adsense, PayPal, MailChimp, and several others. And more than half-a-dozen hotels have cancelled conference contracts with us in the last three years after coming under political pressure, even though they have had to pay us significant liquidated damages.
For example, when our account with the bulk email service Constant Contact abruptly stopped working—although we had been faithful paying customers for some ten years—Lydia called and was told: “We no longer service your industry.”
Lydia: What industry is that?
Customer Service Girl: [Consults screen]…White supremacy!
Weirdly, the Main Stream Media has emerged as a proponent of censorship Amid one MSM such campaign to get social media to suppress dissident (and competing) voices e.g. White nationalists are openly operating on Facebook. The company won’t act [By Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian, November 21, 2019] which specifically calls on Facebook to ban VDARE.com, Facebook announced that it was no longer going to make basic logical distinctions between “white nationalism,” “white separatism” and “white supremacy” (which was already banned) [Standing Against Hate, About.fb.com, March 27, 2019].
In other words, Facebook’s apparent answer to the question I posed above to the New York Times is: American whites do not, in fact, have any interests that they are entitled to defend!
All of which means that when the New York Times asserts we’re “white nationalists,” it matters. Especially since Trump’s election in 2016, VDARE.com, immigration patriots and the Dissident Right generally, are in what the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu called “Death Ground”—we have to sue or be driven entirely out of the public square.
Maybe suing won’t work. Maybe we will indeed be driven entirely out of the public square.
But we have to try. What alternative do we have?
And there are heartening signs that the flawed SULLIVAN decision is—after nearly sixty years—finally collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.
Thus it’s not generally realized that defendants in libel actions brought by “public figures” now habitually make no effort to defend the truth of what they’ve said. They just assert it’s an expression of their opinion—i.e. that they have a license to lie.
For example, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asserted on July 22 2019:
We literally learned today that that outlet the president is promoting shares staff with the Kremlin. . . . In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda. The on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.
(Emphasis added). The “outlet,” One America News, sued, saying
Maddow’s statement is utterly and completely false. OAN is wholly owned and financed by the Herrings, an American family. OAN has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government.
Shamelessly, Maddow’s lawyers asserted in response that Maddow’s claim
…is nothing more than a vivid, hyperbolic turn of phrase.
In other words, when Maddow said “literally…really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” she didn’t mean “literally” literally (so to speak). She just meant “figuratively”—the exact opposite.
Or, “this is something I feel like saying.”
Or, “I have a license to lie.” [Rachel Maddow: “Russian Propaganda” Just Opinion; Defamation Suit Fails, by Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, October 22, 2019.]
Needless to say, it’s not just “hyperbole”—exaggeration—to assert that OAN “literally is paid Russian propaganda.” It’s a direct statement of fact that is qualitatively different from just saying, for example, that OAN echoes or agrees with “Russian propaganda.” And it’s simply wrong. Maddow has produced no evidence that cash changed hands. She isn’t even trying to produce evidence. In other Common Law jurisdictions, this libel case would be a slam-dunk.
It is often said American politics are becoming more extreme and polarized. I generally argue that’s because, thanks to the 1965 immigration disaster, the bases of the two major political parties in fact really are polarized, with the GOP essentially white, the Democrats essentially non-white with leadership provided by some atypical white subgroups, and essentially nothing in common.
But I also now think that, since Sullivan removed the check of truthfulness, political rhetoric has increasingly spun out of control. Extraordinarily dehumanizing accusations, designed to drive the victims out of the public square and to destroy private lives, have become routine.
There are many examples of this, not least in regard to VDARE.com. But probably the most important current example: the Russia Hoax—the extraordinary allegation that the Trump Administration somehow “colluded” with Russia during the 2016 election.
(Trump’s comments during his 2015-2016 presidential run [Donald Trump: We’re going to ‘open up’ libel laws, by Hadas Gold, Politico, February 26, 2016] suggest that, in his own weird way, he understands the instability introduced by Sullivan, which he no doubt had many opportunities to contemplate during his long career as a New York celebrity. Needless to say, this was greeted with the usual MSM ululations [ Donald Trump pledges to curb press freedom through libel laws , by Ben Jacobs, Guardian, February 26, 2016]).
How much more defamatory can you get than claiming that your elected President is in league with a foreign power—while simultaneously claiming that the fact you have no evidence to support this claim is immaterial?
What kind of rational public debate can survive this magical thinking?
Accordingly, the Trump campaign has filed three lawsuits:
- Trump campaign sues Washington Post for libel over ‘false, defamatory statements’ about Russia ‘conspiracy’, by Brian Flood, Brooke Singman, Fox News, March 3, 2020;
- LIBEL: Trump Campaign Sues New York Times Over Article Claiming an ‘Overarching Deal’ With Russia, by Tyler O’Neil, PJMedia, February 26, 2020.
- Trump campaign sues CNN over ‘false and defamatory’ statements, seeks millions in damages, by Brian Flood, Brooke Singman, Fox News, March 6, 2020
However, the growing exasperation of American “public figures” with the ultimate consequences of the Sullivan decision is far from exclusive to Trump, or to Republicans. Thus Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) , running for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, has filed a suit against her fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton for describing her as a “Russian asset” [‘A Fighting Chance’: Tulsi Gabbard Could Possibly Win Her Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton, by Madeleine Carlisle, Time Magazine, January 22, 2020].
Again, any normal person could reasonably assume that Clinton was alleging Gabbard was an agent of a foreign power. Accordingly, in Britain or Canada—and in the US prior to Sullivan—Clinton would be required to prove this sensational claim. Of course, she cannot. So she would lose. And public discourse would be that much more rational going forward.
(For that matter, a restored law of libel could have done much to halt various much-denounced but apparently unkillable right-wing conspiracy theories, for example that President Obama was born in Kenya, Bill and Hillary Clinton are serial killers or that Democratic officials are engaged in child sex rings).
The conventional wisdom is that all such libel actions, including ours, will fail. But this reckons without the seismic shift that appears to be developing, finally, against the fact-free abuse zone created by the Sullivan decision. A key development: in 2019, the remarkable Justice Clarence Thomas commented in a concurring opinion on a libel case called McKee v. Cosby:
New York Times [vs. Sullivan] and the Court’s decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.
Instead of simply applying the First Amendment as it was understood by the people who ratified it, the Court fashioned its own “‘federal rule[s]’” by balancing the “competing values at stake in defamation suits”…
We should not continue to reflexively apply this policy-driven approach to the Constitution. Instead, we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we.
…We did not begin meddling in this area until 1964, nearly 175 years after the First Amendment was ratified. The States are perfectly capable of striking an acceptable balance between encouraging robust public discourse and providing a meaningful remedy for reputational harm. We should reconsider our jurisprudence in this area.
Kathrine Mae Mckee V. William H. Cosby, Jr. On Petition For Writ Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The First Circuit Thomas, J., Concurring S
Signifying the growing unease about Sullivan, law professor Glenn Reynolds responded Clarence Thomas is right: Here’s why Supreme Court should revisit libel law overreach (USA Today, February 27, 2019). And on hearing of our lawsuit, he commented on his famous Instapundit blog:
JANUARY 10, 2020
PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: NY Times Slapped With $5M Lawsuit For Citing SPLC, Branding Immigration Hawk a ‘White Nationalist.’ I would have added a zero to the claim, though to be fair he’s also asking for punitive damages.
(Link in original).
Reynolds’ link was to NY Times Slapped With $5M Lawsuit For Citing SPLC, Branding Immigration Hawk a ‘White Nationalist’, by Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media, January 10, 2020.
O’Neill obviously read our filing carefully. Given VDARE.com’s long and lonely struggle against the Southern Poverty Law Center, it’s nice to see this earnest member of the Respectable Right has now gotten the message—
The lawsuit is right to call out the SPLC for its scandals and its partisan smears. Shamefully, media outlets like CBS News, The New York Times, the Miami Herald, and the Palm Beach Post have buried the SPLC’s scandals even while reporting on SPLC pressure campaigns in recent months. [Links in original]
—even if he felt obliged to triangulate in his conclusion:
I personally think Brimelow’s stated views on race are contemptible, and I view VDARE with suspicion. However, it seems he has a case here.
O’Neill also made an important point about the dreaded “white nationalist” smear:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “white nationalist” as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.” Brimelow may have repugnant views about race and intelligence and he may advocate for a kind of white identity politics, but according to Merriam-Webster, that does not make him a white nationalist. [Link in original]
Quite right, although it’s a sign of the times that even the Merriam-Webster word gnomes have fallen into the Facebook trap of eliding “white nationalism” with “white supremacy” and other objectionable policies. As I suggested earlier in our FAQ, the only rational definition of “white nationalist” is, simply, someone who defends the interests of American whites.
And had the label maintained this neutral construction, we might not have sued. Manifestly, however, it has not. Now much more than a term of general term of abuse, it has now become a charge intended to arouse the “public ridicule, contempt, or aversion” [Mencher vs. Chelsey, 1947] that have long been understood as the hallmarks of defamation—hence the deplatforming and hotel cancellations.
O’Neill has grasped something that others have missed: the white nationalist charge has acquired, or been assigned, a definite and exceedingly malign meaning.
This definitional problem was also addressed in an extremely impressive article by Powerline’s John Hinderaker: Sue The New York Times? They Deserve It [January 10, 2020]. Hinderaker endeared himself to me by stipulating “Brimelow is not a nobody” (!) and adding
Brimelow’s complaint asks for $5 million, plus punitive damages. I would love to see him get it. The New York Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center are two utterly corrupt institutions that, in a just world, would be driven into bankruptcy by libel suits.
But Hinderaker went on:
…the fact that “white nationalist” is essentially a term of abuse with no precise meaning will help the Times. What is a “white nationalist”? I, personally, have never met one, and there is no “white nationalist” political movement. The concept is purely hypothetical. Absent any clear definition, the Times will argue that its description was a mere statement of opinion that can be neither true nor false.
We, of course, argue that, as noted by O’Neill, the label is now more than hyperbole with no precise meaning. Moreover, the New York Times has already conceded it was wrong to call me an “open” white nationalist. It just won’t follow its own rules and fess up to it. That’s seems to us to be pretty “precise.”
So Brimelow will probably lose, unless the Supreme Court significantly revises the constitutional constraints on traditional libel law, as many believe it should do.
Be that as it may, lawsuits like this one are an important contribution to freedom. Corrupt institutions like the New York Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center need to be attacked whenever possible, and popular support needs to be mobilized behind the idea that newspapers and partisan organizations should not be given carte blanche to lie with impunity about their political opponents. [Emphasis added]
I just don’t know if I, and my tiny VDARE.com, will prevail in this libel action against the great Alpha Person of the U.S. media. I don’t know why the New York Times has refused to acknowledge that it has in fact retreated from its original libel and/or publish a Letter To The Editor about it, something my employers’ lawyers would certainly have insisted upon had I made such a mistake at any point in my 40-year MSM career. I don’t know why the New York Times, and apparently much of the political elite, has become so irrational and intransigent, especially since Donald Trump appeared on the scene.
But I do know that someone will eventually prevail against Sullivan. The current regime of unbridled lies is too unstable. People actually believe what they read and passions get too inflamed. It will come to blood—indeed, it has already come to blood, as Representative Steve Scalise could tell you.
In an ideal America, of course, our legislators, state and/or federal, would address the issue, there would be a debate, and the law of libel would be amended. In the America that actually exists in the third century since the Philadelphia Convention, Sullivan will be chipped away, if not absolutely overthrown, by unelected judges. As always, this will be an unprincipled political process. And it may well be that neither Donald Trump nor I (great duo!) are sufficiently “sympathetic” litigants—a consideration that should not, of course, make any difference in law—for judges to take the risk.
But they might be tempted by Tulsi Gabbard’s sweet face.
At the very least, our case will establish that the New York Times is openly claiming a license to lie, further contributing to the public’s mounting alienation from the Main Stream Media that has been such a marked feature of the last fifty years.
And at the most, we have Hinderaker’s opinion that “lawsuits like this one are an important contribution to freedom.”
So this is why I have to conclude by asking our loyal and much-loved donors to help us in Brimelow vs. New York Times Co. Throughout the bitter years in which VDARE.com’s honest efforts to build a self-financing business, for example as an Amazon Associate or as a Google AdSense partner, were abruptly and arbitrarily cut off by Politically Correct corporate bureaucrats, we have been comforted and sustained by our donors’ instant and angry awareness of what was being perpetrated and their willingness to rally around.
Now I must ask you to help us in striking back against the heart of the Main Stream Media.
Taking on the New York Times will be horribly expensive. But we honestly feel we have no choice.
And, while the New York Times can well afford litigation, my experience in the MSM was that libel actions are an immensely painful and salutary experience for the defendant regardless of the outcome.
But it is a check on libel that can only be activated if victims litigate.
Please give generously. Not just to defend freedom for all Americans, but to help ensure that the cause of immigration patriotism is not driven entirely out of public debate.
I and my family will be most grateful—and so, I sincerely believe, will be those who the Founders referred to in the Preamble to The Constitution, as “ourselves and our posterity.”