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July 05, 2018

Dear Professor Dershowitz:

You’ve had a brilliant career but like an alarming number of aging big shots these days you appear to have lost your way. No doubt you can still weave abstract legal arguments with the best of them but you seem to have lost your capacity to appreciate the broader contexts of American life.

Your most recent embarrassing claim that your wealthy friends shunning you is comparable to McCarthyism is strong evidence that your mind has narrowed considerably in old age.

You seem to want desperately to believe that your defense of Trump’s civil liberties is no different than your defense of other unpopular actors and that the political effects of your imprimatur should have no bearing on your views in this matter. Indeed, you wear your professed blindness to these effects as a badge of honor. You shouldn’t.

If you want people to believe in the purity of your cause, then you should not kowtow to the political and media allies of Trump. Surely, you are smart enough to know how your new found friends on the right are using your advocacy. Why make their job easier? Why not make your precise legal points precisely and exclusively in credible forums where your views will be properly challenged? Why give credibility to those who will twist your narrow legal arguments into unbounded political propaganda? I fear that the reason you don’t provide clear and frequent qualifications to your arguments on this matter is that you know that doing so would limit the newsworthiness or popular cachet of your claims.

Professor Dershowitz, your friends are shunning you because your self-righteousness and love of the limelight have been exploited by bad actors in the furtherance of bad actions. Donald Trump is not a client whose civil liberties are being squashed. Your defense of him is not like your frequent defense during your career of unpopular speakers in the name of free speech. Trump is the openly corrupt President of the United States and by defending him you are now punching down, not up. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemies of freedom. You are effectively a mob lawyer now, not a champion of civil liberties.

Your friends don’t hate you Professor Dershowitz. They pity you because you have allowed yourself to be used. They are sad for you and don’t know how to hide from you their belief that you have squandered a lifetime of hard earned credibility. America’s enemies, foreign and domestic, cheer you on while laughing at you behind your back. Your friends, on the other hand, are embarrassed for you. 

I understand you said recently that this episode has shown you who your real friends are. I found that particularly sad commentary because it seems to indicate that you really are a perfect mark.

Dershowitz, Trump

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