Would Mother Jones read Mother Jones?

by Charles Davis


I’m not going to pretend this is some recent, tragic downfall; we’re talking about a publication that fired Michael Moore after just four months because he refused to publish — amid a U.S.-backed right-wing insurgency that left 50,000 dead — a liberal hawk’s hit piece against Nicaragua’s Sandinistas, after all.

It’s nonetheless worth noting, however, the incongruity of a magazine named for a radical activist who embraced civil disobedience in defiance of unjust laws and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the state’s legal actions against her hiring a careerist Democratic pundit, Adam Serwer, who explicitly rejects the notion that those who kill as part of unjust wars of aggression are moral actors who bear any responsibility for their actions, morality being the sole province of our betters in political office. He even maintains that one’s support for members of the military ought to be “unconditional,” just as soldiers themselves, in his view, ought to kill and be killed without question, anything less than blind allegiance to authority being a potentially grave threat to the republic. Serwer also defended on narrow legal grounds the U.S. government’s extrajudicial killing of an apparently unarmed, detained man — an argument he defended with ripped-from-TheWeekly-Standard Chomsky and pacifist-bashing — and, rather than respond to actual arguments that were made, mocked yours truly because I work for an antiwar group that is nowhere near as “prestigious” in his view as, hold your laughter, The American Prospect.

Unfortunately, Serwer’s brand of smug apologia for the Democratic Party, mixed in with a healthy dose of condescension toward those who fail to see the electoral system and the law-making process as the be-all and end-all of political agitation, will fit right in at the modern Mother Jones. This is a formerly radical magazine, remember, that employs the invasion of Iraq-supporting, bailout-defending Kevin “I’d literally trust [Obama’s] judgment over my own” Drum (warning: his writing may cause drowsiness) and which attacked Ron Paul, not over his odious views on immigration, but because the latter wants to end the war on drugs, stop arresting sex workers and would have “sought Pakistan’s cooperation” in the arrest of an international fugitive, things that were once known as Standard Left-Wing Positions.

So no, I’m pretty sure that, were she alive today, Mother Jones would not be reading Mother Jones.

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