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HAROLD MEYERSON Printer Friendly Page

The Washington Post's New Leftist
By Shawn Macomber
May 26, 2004

 


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  • Editor at Large of The American Prospect
  • Vice-Chairman of Democratic Socialists of America
  • Columnist for The Washington Post
  • Political Editor and columnist of the L.A. Weekly
  • On the day after 9-11, he called for cutting the U.S. defense budget.



Harold Meyerson is Editor at Large of the left-liberal magazine The American Prospect. He is also a weekly columnist for The Washington Post and (since 2001) a political editor and columnist for L.A. Weekly (America’s largest metropolitan weekly, a left "underground" radical newspaper gone commercial). In addition, the socialist Meyerson has written for such publications as The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, The NationThe New RepublicThe New Statesman, and The New York Times.

Born in 1950 in Los Angeles, Meyerson attended L.A. public schools. He once described his mother as “part of the Old Left when it was young”; someone who embraced “the democratic, anti-Communist and somewhat pacifistic socialism of Norman Thomas”; and someone who “went to work for institutions … that embodied those values -- the War Resisters League, the League for Industrial Democracy, the [International] Ladies Garment Workers Union.”

A graduate of Columbia University, Meyerson worked as a political consultant for a range of leftist causes and candidates from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. In 1987-88 he was a regular commentator for The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

From 1989 through 2001 Meyerson was the Executive Editor of L.A. Weekly. Since 2001 he has been, as noted earlier, a political editor and columnist for that publication.

From 1991 through 1995, Meyerson hosted the weekly show “Real Politics” on radio station KCRW, the Los Angeles area's leading National Public Radio affiliate.

In 1993 Meyerson co-authored (with Ernie Harburg) the book Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz, a biography of the lyricist "Yip" Harburg, who wrote the words to the hit songs "Over the Rainbow," "April in Paris," "It's Only a Paper Moon," and "Brother Can You Spare A Dime?" But musical talent is not all that Meyerson admired about the great songwriter. Harburg was a member of the Communist Party and a close friend of Leo Huberman, co-founder of the Marxist journal Monthly Review.

In 1995, the Democratic Socialists of America's "Eugene V. Debs/Norman Thomas/Michael Harrington Dinner Committee," named in honor of three of America's most prominent socialists, presented Meyerson with an award at its annual dinner banquet. "In an age of conservatism and despair," the award read, "your persistence in advancing the 'left wing of the possible' has provided hope to those who share your vision…. [Y]ou have been unwavering in your articulation of a politics both radical and democratic." In his award-acceptance speech, Meyerson said:

"What I want to do tonight, in the best Harrington tradition, is look at three things: at the [political] right and its ascendancy, and how to assess and diminish the source of its strength; at our broad political world, the Democrats, and how to revive the source of their strength; and at our more narrow world, American labor and its allies, and how to revive the source of its strength."

On September 12, 2001, Meyerson opened his American Prospect column about the 9/11 attacks with these words: "All that is solid melts into air, Marx wrote." Added Meyerson:

"If Bush uses the [9/11] attack to send Pentagon spending soaring, the Dems have to muster the gumption to say that even with Tuesday's attack, our defense budget is still indefensibly high. If the Administration sees the attack as a graceful way to back out of an open-border policy with Mexico, and the extension of rights and citizenship to million of illegal immigrants, the Dems still must persist in their pro-immigrant line. If John Ashcroft's Justice Department sees this as the perfect pretext to squelch anti-globalization protests and to get more billions for the FBI to monitor the protestors, the Dems must fight the security apparat's consistent inability to distinguish between threats to public safety and threats to conventional wisdom."

In the April 1, 2003 edition of The American Prospect, Meyerson wrote the following about the then-recent U.S. invasion of Iraq:

"The Bush and neocon model of an America First century is either undesirable or unsustainable -- or both. Even if we accept the wholly implausible thesis that a U.S. overthrow of [Saddam] Hussein and [a] subsequent occupation and reconstruction of Iraq would democratize the Middle East,… the best possible outcome [of the war] ... would be an American (or more precisely, Bushian) defeat."

In 2003 in Detroit, Meyerson was the keynote speaker at the Democratic Socialists of America's (DSA) National Convention. In his speech, he praised the contributions that the United Auto Workers union had made to "every progressive social movement." Moreover, he named Wal-Mart as the prime example of the problems facing contemporary labor organizers.

In 2004 Meyerson was a featured speaker at the national Socialist Scholars Conference. Today he is Vice-Chairman of DSA.

 

 

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