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Alan Dershowitz Says Martha’s Vineyard Is ‘Shunning’ Him Over Trump

It was not the sort of complaint likely to draw public sympathy, and it did not.

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Niraj Chokshi
, New York Times

It was not the sort of complaint likely to draw public sympathy, and it did not.

Alan Dershowitz, the lawyer and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, argued in an op-ed last week for The Hill that Americans have grown increasingly intolerant of opposing political views, focusing on a call by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to harass Trump administration officials wherever they go.

But it was a personal note in the column that soon grabbed attention.

“I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have,” he wrote, of the elite island enclave off Cape Cod where he is a fixture.

Dershowitz, a self-professed “liberal Democrat,” said that friends on the Vineyard had snubbed him for publicly arguing against impeaching President Donald Trump on television talk shows and in a forthcoming book.

“For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump,” said the lawyer, known for his fierce advocacy for civil liberties and his defense of famous clients like O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow. “So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Martha’s Vineyard.”

This claim only seemed to draw a wave of mockery online that crested just as many of the nation’s media and political elites headed to the Cape for the Fourth of July.

“It is outrageous that people are now shunning Alan Dershowitz in their social lives,” one Twitter user wrote. “Really, what the heck took so long?”

Many rejected the comparison to McCarthyism, with its blacklists and smears that ruined careers. Countless people offered Dershowitz their thoughts and prayers. One enterprising troll even set up a crowdfunding campaign with a $5 million goal to “buy Alan some new friends.”

His name and the name of the resort were both trending on social media. There were jokes about fine “Vineyard whine.”

In an attempt to clarify matters, Dershowitz gave an interview to The Martha’s Vineyard Times, published Tuesday, in which he said that his column had been misunderstood.

“If we’re going to start having Republican parties and Democratic parties, that’s not what the Island has been about,” he told the paper. “It’s a tragedy that it’s come to the Island. This is supposed to be a place where you leave your politics at the door.”

And he also responded to his critics on Twitter, saying he was “reveling, not whining” and “I’m proud of taking an unpopular, principled position that gets me shunned by partisan zealots. It’s not about me. I couldn’t care less about being shunned by such people.”

While Dershowitz, a frequent guest on Sean Hannity’s prime-time Fox News show, has defended and dined with Trump, he has also publicly opposed some of the president’s policies. He voted for Hillary Clinton and said in the op-ed that he is “not a Trump supporter.”

Perhaps it is no coincidence that his book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump,” will be released this month. He wrote that it “could just as easily have been the case against impeaching Hillary Clinton. Indeed, I wrote such a book about Bill Clinton.”

Dershowitz is a longtime presence on the Vineyard, where he has been spotted in the past on Menemsha beach enjoying the sunset.

The summer enclave, associated with the Kennedys and other famous Massachusetts families, has been for decades a favorite haunt of media executives, artists, writers, entertainers, politicians and Bostonians escaping the sweltering summer in their hometown. John Kerry and Valerie Jarrett spend weeks here during the summer. So has Barack Obama, who continued the presidential tradition of snarling traffic as people sought to catch a glimpse of him and his wife.

Dershowitz owns a house in Chilmark, a town perhaps known for Chilmark Chocolates, a candy shop where locals and visitors line up outside a swinging wood door to buy beetlebung bars, chocolate mixed with toffee and crushed almonds, a local favorite.

Years ago, he gave “New York” magazine a glimpse into his life as a dinner party host on the Vineyard, with guests that included authors and other luminaries.

“One time, we had Yo-Yo Ma and seated him next to this federal judge,” Dershowitz told the magazine. “Who would have thought it, but Yo-Yo and this judge have become really good friends.”

He was forthright about who would not make the cut: “I rarely invite my academic colleagues,” Dershowitz said. “Most of them don’t make good dinner guests.”

For at least one peer, the feeling is mutual. According to Dershowitz’s op-ed in The Hill, an unnamed “academic at a distinguished university” has refused to attend any dinner or party where he is present. That appears to be his main example of McCarthyism.

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