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Posted Monday, September 7, 1998


What does the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Really Stand for?

William F Buckley Jr. wrote the following piece long ago (our reader sends us the clipping from The St. Louis Globe-Democrat dated September 19, 1980) to remind us.

ADL defames itself by honoring Hefner


by William F. Buckley, Jr.


IT IS AXIOMATIC that the village underworlder will seek the approval of the same community he systematically despoils by ostentatious public benefactions. Joe Bananas supporting the local church. Billy Sol Estes hosting a boy scout picnic. Louis B. Mayer contributing to an institution of higher learning.

No one has practiced the art of civic diversion more prodigiously than Hugh Hefner, the founder of "Playboy" magazine and godfather of the sexual revolution. His formula was as straightforward as the advertisements in "Playboy" for sexually stimulating paraphernalia: make a lot of money by pandering to the sexual appetite, elevating it to primacy - then spend part of that money co-seducing critics or potential critics.

It was years ago that Harvard theologian Harvey Cox wrote an essay on "Playboy," denominating it the single most brazen assault on the female as a person in general circulation.

What seemed like moments later, the same scholar found himself writing earnest essays for "Playboy"; and before long he forgot all about his mission to identify "Playboy" for what it essentially is: an organ that seeks to justify the superordination of sex over all other considerations - loyalty to family, any principle of self-discipline, any respect for privacy, or for chastity or modesty.

Sex omnia vincit, Hugh Hefner's magazine told us, issue after issue.

Really, I wonder if anyone in the future can ever again take seriously the Anti-Defamation League. Here is an organization "dedicated to the combating prejudice and discrimination against Jews and other minorities, and to the protection and extension of our democratic system for the benefit of all Americans." "The League" the brochure continues, "works with the various institutions of our society, public and private, religious and secular, to achieve these ends." And it is celebrating later this month its First Amendment Freedoms Awards by giving a dinner-dance in honor of - Hugh M. Hefner.


 About the honoree the ADL says, with an apparently straight face, that he "began with little more than a unique idea for a magazine" (nude women, jokes about copulation, and advice on how to seduce young girls) "and a philosophy of social change." (The "philosophy," quite simply, that the gratification of the male sexual impulse is to be achieved without any second thought to the possible effect on

  • a) the girl
  • b) her family
  • c) your family
  • d) any code of self-restraint.)

"The empire he founded has had a far-reaching impact, not only on the publishing industry, but on the mores of American society as well." That is correct. Any serious disciple of Hugh Hefner would not hesitate to purr anti-Semitic lovelies into the ears of his bunny, if that was what was required to effect seduction.

The Anti-Defamation League has, in the past, surrendered to temptations alien to its splendidly commendable purpose, namely to focus attention on, and bring obloquy to, acts of racial discrimination.

It meddled actively in the presidential campaign of 1964, endeavoring to scare its clientele into believing that Senator Goldwater was an ogre of sorts, backed by fanatics and cravists. Its current director, Mr. Nathan Perlmutter, is a man of high sensibility, gentle, firm, discriminating, a scholarly man long associated with Brandeis University. One notes that he is charging $250 a plate to guests who seek the privilege of joining with him to honor Hugh Hefner.

The tawdriness of the symbolism is driven home. Even as Hugh Hefner sells pictures of parted pudenda in order to make a dollar, a nickel of which he donates to institutions devoted to the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, and of fellow pornographers to hawk their wares, the ADL raises money to combat discrimination by honoring the principal agent of the kind of selflessness that deprives racial toleration of the ultimate sanction.

This sanction rests on a profound belief in the sanctity of the individual, yes, even that of the nubile girl. Take away from the struggle for racial toleration the profound spiritual commitment to the idea of a higher law, and the code against anti-Semitism becomes a mere matter of social convenience, the kind of upward mobile patter one is taught in the pages of "Playboy" to imitate, on the order of wearing Dior handkerchiefs or Gucci loafers.

Racial toleration draws its principal strength from the proposition that we are all brothers, created equal by God. The Playboy philosophy measures human worth by bustline and genital energy. The affair will be celebrated, appropriately enough, in Hollywood, at the Century Plaza Hotel. The invitation specifies "black tie." Well, if the guests arrive wearing only a black tie, that will be more than some of the guests wear at Hef's other parties.  

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