If anything, Ed Herman was a tough old SOB, never backing down from a fight of ideas with the liberal intelligentsia, using evidence, rigor and logic, to the point of proving a scientific theorem. His detractors never took on his written record, they carried out character attacks with the Red Herring, deliberately falsifying his intended meaning. But he had restraint in dealing with activists and writers who were honest, supporting those who needed to move further to the left, pressing against those sympathetic to liberals
At a 1998 media conference in Austin, Ed participated in a session with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, tactfully remaining silent when she brought up the “2 million killed by Pol Pot” on her show the week before, unaware of Noam and Ed’s work exposing official lies around the figure of 2 million. Later, he wasn’t so gracious, excoriating Democracy Now! in private as Louise Arbor lied about Yugoslavia and Rwanda, tossing pillows with Amy, as they blamed the official enemies of Western Civilization.
Ed was heavily involved with the Pacifica struggle of the late 90s and early 2000’s. I interviewed Ed a few times on the struggle, as always he used documented facts to form his opinions and his writings. He came under fire from Sal Landau and Danny Schecter, whose friends had jobs within Pacifica, never answering the facts of Ed’s arguments, only condemning him for engaging in “left suicide.” He penned a letter, also signed by Howard Zinn and Noam, asking Dan Coughlin, the interim ED of Pacifica, to take action against the smear campaign against Bob Buzzanco, carried out by pro-Israeli activists in Houston. Coughlin, too worried about cash-flow, let Houston’s KPFT slide into chaos, ending in the eventual removal of the activists who ran the station as volunteers.
His battles with George Monbiot of The Guardian over Rwanda and Ian Williams of IWPR over Yugoslavia are instructive. They would take Ed and David Peterson’s work selectively to make their point, then refuse a full debate, getting their editors to block or censor Ed’s rebuttal. A typical tactic I’m sure Noam and anyone else critical of the establishment are familiar with.
Ed was approachable and carried a wide range of friends. He was especially close with Doug Dowd, whom he lamented missing when Dowd moved from San Francisco to Italy. I first met Ed at the Austin media conference, after finishing volume 1 of “The Political Economy of Human Rights: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism” In between talks I ran into him at a hallway bulletin board. I couldn’t help but admire this giant, he put his hand on my shoulder and smiled, “We’re in this together.”
Ed enjoyed good food and fine wine. He feared the world would have to head severely south before the public would take notice and rise up against the right wing tide. He said the only thing that kept him going was a good bottle of red wine. I did my best to keep him supplied, sending a few bottles every quarter to help him in his battle against liberals like Steven Pinker and the growing horde of Obama/Clinton supporters. Unfortunately there’s always the constant stream of Orwellized propaganda coming out of the corporate media, giving Ed the opportunity to publish constantly in Z and Monthly Review among other magazines. His last article in Z appeared this October.
Though Ed didn’t have Noam’s scope of knowledge, what he did know, he knew with Chomskian detail and rigor, making him unassailable on an honest playing field. I’m honored to have been on his to/cc list of emails he sent out every few weeks with important critiques or one of his upcoming submissions to Z magazine attached. He also sent the occasional humorous article or collection of nature pictures, giving us a break from the tedium of capitalist mendacity.
In the past decade or so he started signing his personal emails as “Old Comrade”, maybe in response to my thanking him for 6 decades of unrelenting critique of power and lying by establishment forces. Ed Herman has an amazing record; at least 20 books and hundreds of articles. He really was one tough old SOB, but always against the powerful and its servile sycophants. I hope his legacy will live on as our “Old Comrade.”