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Old July 27th, 2012 #1
Alex Linder
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Default Alexander Cockburn

Alex Cockburn, RIP

I always enjoyed reading Alex Cockburn, especially when I disagreed with him, which was over the half the time. In "Beat the Devil," his column in the Nation, he unmasked the stupidity and hypocrisy of his colleagues. Whenever he fulminated against the editors, you could almost see Victor Navasky cowering under his desk.

Alex was the real thing, one of the last leftists who actually believed in something more than self-promotion or increasing the burden of taxes, regulation, and surveillance on ordinary human beings. He often went too far on too little evidence, and his thinking was often infected with the maudlin sentimentality one expects from a leftist. Sentimental or fierce, he was almost always worth reading.

His untrumpeted and unblogged death was in stark contrast with those of other celebrity journalists who have gone to their grave drawing attention to themselves. Not surprisingly, his enemies on the right and left--he inspired equal numbers of both--have been quick to insult his memory. The obituaries make interesting reading, not simply because it is amusing to see little men attack the dead, but also because they tell us what we must never never say without incurring official displeasure.

Alex is almost always condemned for anti-Semitism. It's not that he ever put forward a race-theory, much less scape-goated Jews. No, his anti-Semitism was of a subtler kind. He refused to demonize Arabs, and he criticized the government of Israel when it did what any moral person, including lots of Israels, knows to be immoral.

Another of his sins was his consistency. When the rest of the anti-war left got on the bandwagon for American imperialism, Cockburn continued to criticize American's crusades to remake the world in his image. On the other hand, he also consistently defended little people from the gigantic interests of monopoly business and monopoly government. He even opposed gun control, using the Chestertonian argument that it was simply an attempt to disarm and enslave the people. Worst of all, perhaps, in the eyes of the phony left, was the rational skepticism he applied to the religion of Global Warming.

In reading the anathemas hurled at Cockburn, you can learn what our masters don't want you even to think, much less dare to utter. But I'm forgetting one other charge that has been made frequently: Alex Cockburn is supposed to have made an alliance with the evil "palaeoconservatives" at Chronicles magazine, to which he contributed a regular column. Like most things said about him, this is a lie. We took his syndicated column and put it on our website, even when we strenuously disagreed with his arguments. I was proud to run it and pleased every time knee-jerk conservatives took me to task for it.

Alex Cockburn was rumored to be prickly, though John Fund in a fair-minded obit at National Review Online pays tribute to his good humor. I only met him once, and he was extremely kind to a man he must have regarded as either a pariah or a righwing nutjob. He promised to pay me a visit to look over our "shop." I did the same, though nothing came of it. We exchanged notes and calls once or twice during the Wars of Yugoslav Succession, and I do believe I helped him to tumble to the truth, even though it went against his pro-Muslim grain. To this day, American politicians say their country is fighting terrorism, even though they are perfectly happy to help Islamic terrorism in Kosovo.

Like him or not, agree with him or not, Alex Cockburn acted more like a man than a journalist. His ferocious style made enemies right and left, but his fearlessness also won him respect from the only sort of people who are entitled to give it. May God have mercy on his soul.
Old July 27th, 2012 #2
Hunter Morrow
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Hunter Morrow

That's a crying shame. Always liked that guy. Reminded me a lot of Hitchens.
Old October 22nd, 2012 #3
America First
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Alex I missed this news !

I had read Alexander Cockburn's "Beat The Devil" two page center fold column in every issue of The Nation.

The Nation reduced it to One Page, over some outrage where the joo's were yelping about some column Cockburn wrote that pissed them off, also Gore Vidal's column presence reseeded TNM, but that may have been by his own choice can't remember.

I knew some one personally who knew Alex Cockburn, and now they have both passed away, and his last residence for years was in Pretoila CA. if the spelling is correct.

He was no fool, and I do know the joo's did get after him several times, especially on his writing on about the mid East in the early 1980's.

His father was a commie, and Alex Cockburn attended private boarding schools in England.

His great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather General or Admiral Cockburn burnt down the White House, and drank the best bottled wines with his men that had been left by the retreating American's of 1812.

I have known two men who knew him and they both called him a decent White man.

He and Hitchen's who both had columns in The Nation Magazine, got in to a big feud and did not talk to each other, don't know how that ended, but they are both gone now.

He was jooo wise with out doubt, but still made it in the media, as did Gore Vidal.

His sister, and brother are writers too one being in B.C. Canada or use to be there.

R.I.P. Alex Cockburn you wrote few important things, so long.
Isn't it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most?

We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples
to lead our country to destruction.

-Charles A. Lindbergh

Last edited by America First; October 22nd, 2012 at 01:53 PM.
Old October 22nd, 2012 #4
America First
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Alexander Cockburn, Acerbic Writer and Critic, Dies at 71
Published: July 22, 2012

Alexander Cockburn, the mordant left-wing journalist and author who though born in Scotland thrived in the political and cultural battlegrounds of the United States, died on Saturday in Bad Salzhausen, Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment, his family said. He was 71.
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Alexander Cockburn, seen in 1977, critiqued the news media in a column for The Village Voice.
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The cause was cancer, said Jeffrey St. Clair, a friend and colleague.

Mr. St. Clair announced Mr. Cockburn’s death on CounterPunch, the Web site that the two men edited. Mr. Cockburn kept his illness a secret, Mr. St. Clair, added, and continued writing until the end of his life.

“His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever,” Mr. St. Clair wrote on the site.

Mr. Cockburn at various times had regular columns in ideologically disparate publications like The Nation and The Wall Street Journal. He became known as an unapologetic leftist, condemning what he saw as the outrages of the right but also castigating the American liberal establishment when he thought it was being timid.

His opinions, however, were not easily predicted. In a 2009 CounterPunch article on health care reform, for instance, he expressed misgivings about legalized abortion, saying that it was “now widening in its function as a eugenic device.”

Wayne Barrett, who worked with Mr. Cockburn (pronounced CO-burn) at The Village Voice in the 1980s, recalled him in a telephone interview as “a punishing writer.”

“He had a remarkable mind and he could write so quickly,” Mr. Barrett added.

At The Voice, Mr. Cockburn wrote a political column with James Ridgeway and another column, called Press Clips, in which he critiqued the news media and often mocked what he saw as the ethical failings of journalists.

But Mr. Cockburn, a fierce critic in the columns of Israeli policies in the Middle East, was dismissed from The Voice in 1984 after The Boston Phoenix reported that he had accepted a $10,000 grant from a group that its critics called pro-Arab. David Schneiderman, The Voice’s editor at the time, suggested that the grant created a conflict of interest.

Mr. Cockburn said he had taken the money for a book project and had planned to return it.

That particular book was never written, but after leaving The Voice, he wrote several, including “Corruptions of Empire” (Verso, 1988), a collection of essays; “The Golden Age Is in Us: Journeys and Encounters, 1987-1994” (Verso, 1996); and “The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon,” written with Susanna Hecht (HarperCollins, 1990).

Alexander Claud Cockburn was born on June 6, 1941. He grew up in Ireland and graduated from Oxford. Among his ancestors was Sir George Cockburn, an English admiral who helped burn down the White House in 1814, during the War of 1812.

His attachment to left-wing journalism — and controversy — was forged very early. His father, Claud Cockburn, while covering the Spanish Civil War for The Daily Worker, joined the Republican forces fighting the rebellion of Francisco Franco. (Claud Cockburn, under a pseudonym, also wrote novels, including “Beat the Devil,” which was made into a film with Humphrey Bogart and which his son used as the title of his column in The Nation.)

In London, Alexander Cockburn worked for The Times Literary Supplement and The New Statesman, before becoming a permanent resident of the United States in 1973.

He joined The Nation in 1984 after leaving The Voice, and took that magazine’s old rivalry with the more centrist New Republic to a new level. He referred to the contents of The New Republic as “the weekly catchment of drivel.”

After Martin Peretz, the longtime owner and editor in chief of The New Republic, had a fainting spell in Paris in the late 1980s, Mr. Cockburn gleefully wrote that Mr. Peretz had been dining at an expensive restaurant where patrons were “so bloated that they have to be rubbed down with Vaseline to squeeze through the door.”

When Mr. Cockburn wrote a column drastically revising downward the number of deaths attributable to Stalin, Mr. Peretz suggested that Mr. Cockburn “has a sentimental interest in this controversy but not the credentials to evaluate it.”

Mr. Cockburn is survived by a daughter, Daisy Cockburn, and two brothers, the author Andrew Cockburn and the British journalist Patrick Cockburn. The actress Olivia Wilde, a daughter of Andrew Cockburn, is his niece.

Mr. Cockburn also famously feuded with Christopher Hitchens, a fellow British expatriate and onetime friend who also wrote for The Nation, over a variety of polarizing issues.

When Mr. Hitchens died of cancer last year, Mr. Cockburn did not mince words in a remembrance on CounterPunch.

“He courted the label ‘contrarian,’ ” Mr. Cockburn said of Mr. Hitchens, “but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he had he would never have enjoyed so long a billet at Vanity Fair.”

Reprinted from Sunday’s late editions
Isn't it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most?

We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples
to lead our country to destruction.

-Charles A. Lindbergh



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