I have received only one copy of your filthy magazine, but that is enough.

I based my decision to subscribe to Chronicles on an ad you mailed me.  The ad made it appear that Chronicles is a serious, conservative publication similar to those I already subscribe to: the Wall Street Journal, Human Events, National Review, Washington Times Weekly, American Spectator, and The Mindszenty Report.

But upon reading your filthy publication (pardon me, I repeat myself), I came across George McCartney’s article on the Valerie Plame case (“Neocon Follies,” In the Dark, January).  That is one of the most disgusting articles I have ever read in a supposedly respectable publication.

I’m outraged at the assertion that Scooter Libby deserved to serve more than 30 months in jail for something he said to the FBI.  He was not under oath, and he merely had a different recollection of a trivial incident than Tim Russert had.

I find McCartney’s use of the term neoconservative offensive.  Other than being a code word for Jew, the word doesn’t have much meaning.

I (a Catholic of Irish descent, by the way) am offended by the gratuitous references to Israel in an article on Valerie Plame.  McCartney’s definition of neoconservative is made clear in his reference to “the neoconservative’s dearest objective, the defense of Israel.”

And why is there no reference to the shameful behavior of Colin Powell and Richard “Leaker” Armitage in this article?

Anyway, I learned from McCartney’s article that I’m a neoconservative.  I believe that the United States should be a friend of Israel, and I don’t hate Jews.

—Donald Patrick Kerwick

Hamilton, OH

Dr. McCartney Replies:

I’m glad to learn that Mr. Kerwick doesn’t hate Jews.  To do so would be counted a grave sin, at least in our Irish Catholic tradition.  If I’m not mistaken, however, he seems to think I’m not happy with Jews.  This would come as a surprise to my Jewish friends, in general, and my Jewish brother-in-law, in particular.  Which brings me to the term neocon.  I had thought the canard that it was code for “Jewishness” had been laughed out of court almost as soon as it first surfaced a few years ago.  Neoconservative is a term long and proudly embraced by former liberals who migrated to the right.  Mr. Kerwick might consult two articles by the godfathers of the movement: Irving Kristol’s 1979 “Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed ‘Neoconservative’” and Norman Podhoretz’s 1982 “The Neoconservative Anguish Over Reagan’s Foreign Policy.”  The neocon label only became problematic for a few in the movement when they found themselves being criticized for egging America on to embark on fantastical missions in the Middle East.  Then suddenly, neoconservative became an antisemitic slur.  But only a few in the movement have argued this, and then only briefly.  It’s an unworthy attempt to shut down legitimate debate by labeling critics of the neoconservative agenda bigots.  Most in the neoconservative movement—Irving’s son, Bill Kristol, for one—recognize it for the cheap trick it is and will have nothing to do with it.

As for Mr. Libby, Patrick Fitzgerald unquestionably proved his case.  I suspect that Libby was taking the fall for his brave boss, Mr. Richard “I had other priorities” Cheney, but, if so, that’s his choice.  If, as I further suspect, Cheney was responsible for compromising Valerie Plame, I would have much preferred to see him brought to account for this execrable ploy.

As for defending Israel, I suggest Mr. Kerwick consult Haaretz, Israel’s leading daily newspaper.  There he’ll find editorials arguing passionately that American neocons (the editorials use this supposed slur with abandon) have imperiled Israel incalculably.  An article by Daniel Levy on America’s wholly unwarranted invasion of Iraq concludes with this thought: “Disentangling Israeli interests from the rubble of neocon ‘creative destruction’ in the Middle East has become an urgent challenge for Israeli policy-makers.”

I will be sorry to lose Mr. Kerwick as a reader.  He clearly needs instruction.  I urge him to wash his hands of the filth he’s evidently picked up elsewhere and try Chronicles’ cleansing pages once more.