[Marxism] Letter to NYT Book Review on Darrow and Defenders

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 24 12:10:22 MDT 2011

On 7/24/11 1:31 PM, Tom Cod wrote:

> Today's NYT book review published a letter I wrote to them taking
> issue with a review of two bios of Clarence Darrow that impugned
> Darrow's defense of criminal defendants.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/books/review/entitled-to-a-defense.html?_r=1&ref=review

This is the same exact problem I had with the documentary that William 
Kunstler's daughters made about him:

Sarah Kunstler was 12 years old and her sister Emily was 10 when I met 
with Michael Ratner and his sister Marjorie Ratner, the wife of Bill 
Kunstler, at Bill Kunstler’s townhouse in Greenwich Village in 1988. I 
was there with Michael Urmann, the executive director of Tecnica, in 
order to get their advice over how to respond to the initial charges of 
the FBI that Tecnica was part of an espionage network running high 
technology out of Nicaragua into the USSR. Little did I suspect that 
Marjorie had begun to view her husband as having lost his radical mettle 
by this point, a view she expressed at some length in her daughters’ movie.

The main complaint is that by the early 1980s, Kunstler had begun to 
sully his reputation by becoming an attorney for people like Larry 
Davis, a Black drug dealer who had shot 6 cops during a bust, El-Said 
Nosair, the Egyptian who had killed Meier Kahane, and most 
inauspiciously the Mafia don John Gotti, who is seen being embraced by 
Kunstler at the conclusion of a successful defense. These “bad guys” 
were nothing like the Chicago 8, the Lakota Indians leading the Pine 
Ridge occupation or any other of the “good guys”, both male and female, 
who had made the sixties and seventies so exemplary.

Their gripe is reminiscent of what has been said about Ramsey Clark, who 
made his legal expertise available to Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam 
Hussein, two of the most hated figures of polite liberal opinion in the 
United States. Without dwelling too much on the political confusion of 
the Kunstler kids, I can only say that Kunstler was only following in 
the footsteps of people like Clarence Darrow, who not only defended John 
Scopes against charges of teaching Darwinian theory to his public school 
students, but the cold-blooded murderers Leopold and Loeb. If one 
believes that a Larry Davis did not deserve the best lawyer available to 
him, then clearly Bill Kunstler’s daughters did not understand their 
father very well.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/three-2010-documentaries/

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