The Times Remembers Joseph Coors, "Right-Wing Nut" -- December 30, 2003 --
By: Clay Waters

Times Watch for December 30, 2003

The Times Remembers Joseph Coors, "Right-Wing Nut"

The year-end edition of the Times Sunday magazine is subtitled "The Lives They Lived," a special issue marking a few dozen noteworthies who passed on in 2003. The Times liberal sympathies are on stark display in its tributes to two men on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Liberal contributing writer James Traub's selection on the death of Joseph Coors Sr. is titled "Potent Brew--His name said beer, but his money helped finance a right-wing revolution." The text itself is much less respectful: "I was never so fond of beer that boycotting Coors was much of a sacrifice. It was certainly tougher, when I was a little kid, to pass up the Welch's Sugar Babies because Robert Welch, or so my mother told me, was a founding member of the John Birch Society. Since Joseph Coors was a right-wing nut as well (and a Bircher to boot), I stuck to Michelob."

Traub explains why such a wacko is worthy of the paper's ink: "Coors himself was just a garden-variety conservative until 1953, when he happened across the book that converted so many merely disgruntled right-wingers into active members of a movement: Russell Kirk's 'Conservative Mind.' He came to the attention of Paul Weyrich, another movement figure who dreamed of establishing a policy institute that could germinate conservative thought as groups like Brookings had long done for liberals. In 1973, Coors gave the organization $250,000, plus another $300,000 for a building. And so the Heritage Foundation was born." Then it's back to Traub's political advocacy: "Joseph Coors was an easy guy to boycott. Bill [Coors] once described his brother's politics to The Rocky Mountain News, not admiringly, as 'far right to Attila the Hun.' It is time, however, to give the Hun his due. The institutions fostered by Coors's money are precisely the ones that liberals are now trying so desperately to imitate."

Compare that snarling take to the sympathetic profile of another ideological figure who died this year, the pro-Palestinian left-wing intellectual Edward Said. The Columbia University professor is best known as the author of "Orientalism," which argued, in the words of New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets, "that Westerners are inherently unable to fairly judge, or even grasp, the Arab world. In fact, any attempt to do so amounts to an act of intellectual imperialism."

The tone is evident in the yearning title of the piece, penned by Palestinian writer Anton Shammas: "Looking For Someplace to Call Home." Shammas writes: "At the memorial service, a reading from the Arabic translation of his autobiography, 'Out of Place,' replaced his English original in a moment of sheer magic, giving his life a home of sorts, a posthumous place, a mandate inside his virtual mother tongue....He believed that the intellectual has an ethical commitment to relentlessly and unflinchingly speak out, against all odds, against all grains and against all hegemonies--real, imagined and self-proclaimed. Like Adorno, he believed in the individual thinker whose power of expression is a power that enacts a movement of vitality, a gesture of defiance, a statement of hope. And that is quite a place to live." Not a discouraging word is spoken about Said, though there's certainly room (Check out Ibn Warraq for a takedown of Said's scholarship).

For Traub on the life of Joseph Coors Sr., click here.

For Anton Shammas on the life of Edward Said, click here.

Conservatives | Joseph Coors Sr. | Palestinians | Edward Said | James Traub

Bias By the Letters

Sunday Week in Review features "What We Said And What We Meant, A to Z," a rundown of the year in vocabulary by wordsmith Tom Kuntz. Times Watch went "Oh?" when Kuntz got up to Q: "Q is also for quagmire, an old word that some think now has new life in Iraq."

For Kuntz's take on the other 25 letters, click here.

Iraq War | Tom Kuntz | Quagmire

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