Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alex Cockburn

I read on comrade Laleh Khalili's Facebook that Alex Cockburn has died.  I started reading him early after I came to the US in 1983.  He started at the Village Voice and then moved to the Nation.  I used to subscribe to the Nation (when it was not a mere propaganda sheet for the Democratic Party) and would rush to read him and Hitchens (at the time--I am being honest).  I felt that they were brave in tackling Israel unlike most American leftists.  I then attended a panel in the 1980s when both were featured.  I was quite eager to see them in action.  I immediately thought that Cockburn is the serious one and felt that Hitchens was a poseur and a non-serious shabbih (show-off).  Cockburn was a forceful speaker but in a non-dramatic tone.  I later shared a panel with him in San Francisco.  I felt he was a bit aloof but always respected him and his courage.  I also liked the work of Counterpunch.  In 2006, during the Israeli war on Lebanon, Counterpunch published what it said was an interview with Hasan Nasrallah by two Turkish journalists.  I read the first part and quickly decided that this was a hoax.  I immediately posted on my blog an alert that this interview was a hoax and that these are not the words of Nasrallah. Cockburn was furious at me and wrote an angry response.  I then made it clear that I won't go after Cockburn or Counterpunch because I regard them as comrades.  I also noted that some on the left need to lighten up.  Courage against Israel was rare when I came to the US in 1983, and now it is more rare. The courage of Cockburn is much appreciated.