It’s quite an honor to have finally been made the object of a smear campaign. They say that’s when you know you’ve really made it — when you’ve got h8rs chomping at the bit, looking for any opportunity to tear you down. At long last, it seems my moment has arrived. Willie Osterweil, a self-decribed “aspiring novelist” (though currently a film critic for the milquetoast lefty Kulturzeitschrift, New Inquiry), has dedicated a whole blog post to my denunciation: the delightfully-titled “Ross Wolfe, piece of shit.”
For this, I must thank him. My only regret is that it didn’t come from someone bigger. Osterweil’s a small fish in a smaller pond, a real knave’s knave, puny even by Lilliputian standards. Sure, he might enjoy private evenings on the Upper East Side — attending ultra-exclusive, invite-only weekly readings at “an unmarked clandestine bookshop,” Brazenhead Books — but otherwise he’s something of a pissant.
He’s sort of like the token “white knight” character commonly parodied online, heroically leaping to the defense of helpless maidens, rescuing them from persecution by wicked whitebros like himself. Really, though, it’d probably be more accurate to call him a “white-guilt knight,” because he feels his actual duty (as a privileged white-able-cis-Ivy-League-straight-blah-blech-male) is to protect any discursive formation or enunciative modality — theories, for those unschooled in Foucault-fu — that supposedly “empower” women. And the wretched of the Earth more generally.
Nevertheless, it is still very flattering that a respected member of Manhattan’s chicest literary club would take time out of his day, away from his fellow salonistes, to pen such an adorable diatribe. I’m touched, truly.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t mind a good bit of invective. Character assassination is always welcome; people can think of me what they want. Sadly, Osterweil’s effort falls well short of its mark, however. Predictably, while his post is peppered with charming, if empty, threats of violence (“Ross Wolfe clearly hasn’t been punched in the face nearly enough,” “we all bleed the same color when I stab him,” this coming from a dude who thinks MMA fighting or even men saying “listen” is too violent) and quaint, darling sobriquets (“human garbage,” “motherfucker,” “piece of shit”), one can’t help but feel that his anger ultimately ends up undermining him. I must’ve really gotten under his skin; he really does seem quite upset. At times you can almost feel the blood vessel bursting in his eye as he decries, with a few apoplectic, rage-filled keystrokes, “abusive mother fuckers” like myself.
Besides, it seems like he’s reaching a bit in his attempt to defame me. It’s surely a sign of desperation that he’d seize on some rude shit I said in passing about an ex in trying to to discredit me, as though this invalidates everything I’ve ever written. Yet perhaps we should be kind to Herr Osterweil. He’s not a particularly bright or resourceful individual, after all. Let us spare him this scrutiny.
Certainly, name-calling has no place on the Left. Insults about someone’s weight or physical appearance are strictly off limits. What kind of blithering reactionary would write lines like the following:
Bakunin has become a monster, a huge mass of flesh and fat, and is barely capable of walking any more. To crown it all, he is sexually perverse and jealous of the seventeen year-old Polish girl who married him in Siberia because of his martyrdom. He is presently in Sweden, where he is hatching “revolution” with the Finns.
It’s quite clear that fat Bakunin is behind it. If this damned Russian really thinks of intriguing his way to the top of the workers’ movement, then the time has come to give him once and for all what he deserves and ask the question whether a pan-Slavist can be a member of an international workers’ association. The fellow can very easily be tackled. He should not imagine that he can play a cosmopolitan communist for the workers, and a burning national pan-Slavist for the Russians.
Surely, one must be a right-wing buffoon to publish such witheringly sarcastic lines as this:
The “well-rounded character,” as the barrister Hermann so delicately described his spherical client, the hereditary [Karl] Vogt of Noughtborough, to the District Court in Augsburg, the “well rounded character” begins his enormous travesty of history…
The last “proof” adduced by Vogt, who is still “by no means at a loss,” to demonstrate my entente cordiale with the secret police in general and “my relations with the Kreuz-Zeitung party in particular,” consists in the argument that my wife is the sister of the retired Prussian Minister Herr von Westphalen (“Magnum Opus,” pg. 194). Now how to parry the cowardly stratagem of our fat Falstaff? […]
What on earth could have induced Herr F. Zabel, that fat and tedious bore of the National-Zeitung, who is usually so cautious, to kick over the traces and translate Vogt’s street-songs into leading articles?
And this is to say nothing of the mean names he called Lassalle. Yes, we ought only to fire nerfballs at one another. It’s hard telling whose fragile feelings might be hurt by such harsh language.
In all seriousness, though, many thanks to Jonathan Munis, Jasmine Curcio, and Mohammad Salemy for having my back. Others, too, no doubt. This really is a trifling affair.