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An Open Letter to Jim Brady: Who is Augustine?

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Dear Jim,

We need to talk.

We’ve had our moments in the past but I’m worried about you, man.  This is bad.  Really bad.

I know it must’ve been damned near impossible to resist hiring some warmongering punk who ought to be in Iraq himself to sling proxy mud on those liberal bloggers who have beaten you like a rented mule, especially when you learned his old man was up to his elbows in Jack Abramoff.  

But you’re supposed to be the go-to online guy for the Post, right?  Isn’t it your job to know the ins and outs of the "fever swamp?" It’s not exactly an online secret that Red State is a bastion of racism, and Box Turtle Ben is one of the founders. But did you not do any due diligence and look at the guy’s history?  The Hotline Blogometer’s William Beutler — a conservative DC blogger himself who would presumably know — has identified Ben as the "Augustine" of Red State.  You need to step up and say if this is true or not, Jim.  Right now.

It was bad enough when "Augustine" wrote on the day of Coretta Scott King’s funeral that she was a communist .   Then he  said the KKK had better moral fiber than the Supreme Court .  But now digging through the "Augustine" archives we find via Steve Gilliard that he posted this quote from First Things without comment:

People who are poor and black are a drag on society. We would all be better off if there were fewer of them. Since we have, with little success, spent trillions of dollars over the past several decades trying to make poor blacks non-poor, it is time we recognize that there are more efficient means of eliminating the drag. Stated so bluntly, many readers might find that way of putting the matter morally problematic. The extermination of anti-social elements does, after all, have a somewhat controversial history. One thinks, perhaps inevitably, of the Holocaust, but it did not start or stop there. Six years ago, economist Steven Levitt and law professor John Donohue sparked a brouhaha with their claim that abortion is probably the greatest crime-prevention measure ever invented. Now that argument has received renewed currency in the bestselling book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Levitt and his co-author Stephen Dubner. In recent years there has been a 30- to 50-percent drop in crime, and many explanations are offered: new policing methods, more than two million people behind bars, the drop-off in the use of crack, and on and on. But a careful analysis of the data, say Levitt and company, indicates that the biggest factor, far and away, is that the millions of young men most likely to commit crimes were killed early on. A refreshing note of candor in the current discussion is that nobody is denying that all those fetuses killed in the womb were really human beings. So it seems the question of when human life begins has been settled once and for all. The dramatic decline in crime began eighteen years after Roe v. Wade, and a few years earlier in those states that liberalized their abortion law. Of course, most of the commentaries steer away from a too-explicit reference to race, although everybody is aware of the astonishingly inordinate incidence of crimes committed by young male blacks and the equally inordinate incidence of abortions procured by black women. In one interview, Levitt said his findings had little or nothing to do with race; his research on the correlation between crime and unstable family situations was based on Scandinavian research. Well yes, but nobody to my knowledge has suggested that the problem of crime in the United States is significantly related to the problem of Swedish immigration. Levitt, like Donohue, is also careful to say that he is not a supporter of the unlimited abortion license. I notice that many other commentators make a point of saying that this discussion is not about the rightness or wrongness of abortion. It just happens that killing black babies has the happy result of reducing crime. I do not question the research or logic of Levitt’s argument. If a specifiable group is inordinately responsible for a social problem, it follows that eliminating a large number of people belonging to that group will reduce the problem. It is hard to argue with that. What is morally odious is the cool and disinterested way in which the commentariat is discussing what might fairly be described as racial cleansing. It’s too bad about all those dead babies, but it is a kind of solution to the crime problem, if not a final solution. Meanwhile, those who style themselves black leaders, especially political leaders, are overwhelmingly in support of the unlimited abortion license, thus maintaining their distinction of being the only ethnic or racial leadership in history to actively collaborate in dramatically reducing the number of people they claim to lead. If they had been allowed to live, there would be about twenty million more blacks in America. White racists have reason to be grateful for what is sometimes still called the civil rights leadership. In another lifetime, before he succumbed to national ambitions, Jesse Jackson regularly declared that the war on poverty had been replaced by a war on the poor. There is more than a little to that. Having despaired of preparing young blacks to enter into the opportunities and responsibilities of American life, the society apparently decided to eliminate them before they had a chance to become a threat. The story of the Exodus plays a large and understandable part in black history: "Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, `When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live." Today’s black leaders are more compliant, much to the satisfaction of those who think we would all be better off with fewer black people.

Ask around.  Or maybe you already know, you’re the "online guy."  When you post something like that without comment — especially on a site like Red State that depends on the racist contingent for its lifeblood — it absolutely means "I agree."  Or in white guy water cooler parlance, "word up." 

I’m going to come to your defense here Jim because I can’t believe even you would hired a guy knowing he espoused something like this.  Despite the fact that the Post has done more than its fair share to credential this President, his unjust war and his normalization of torture, I can’t believe you would knowingly make this zero the poster child of the Washington Post and taint every journalist in the place with this kind of bigot baggage.

No, if your previous actions are any indication, you consistently demonstrate that you can’t rise above ego, it’s your primary motivator and one of the hallmarks of weak management is the tendency to hire those even less experienced and weaker than themselves. I think we can probably chalk this one up to another flare.

But it does not bode well for your future employment prospects.  Your old friend jukeboxgrad has been monitoring the post.blog and tells me that at its peak yesterday the comments were posting once every 30 seconds — roughly twice the rate they were during the Deborah Howell debacle.  You’re now in "email a comment" mode only, which means that under your masterful helm the blog has once again been rendered inoperative.  Dead in the water.  I know you don’t want to admit to your bosses what a big deal this is, Jim, but we both know it, don’t we?

At a time when the Washington Post is cutting its news room staff by 10%, did you really hire a guy who said of your most popular columnist "Dan Froomkin is without question a lying weasel-faced Democrat shill"?  You need to answer this and you need to answer it now Jim.  If the Deborah Howell mess showed nothing else it ably demonstrated that the era of "hang tough" journalism is over, and when something like this happens you need to address it or it will only continue to fester.

You need to tell us, one way or another.  Is Ben Domenech really Augustine? And if so, is this someone you think is appropriately writing for the Washington Post?

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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