…. By which UD means that almost every actual, non-fictional human being presents with nuance, a sense of unreachable depth, ambiguity, contradiction. Norman Maclean gets at this when thinking about his tragic younger brother: “[I]t is those we live with and should know who elude us.”
Even those to whom we’re closest, that is, ultimately present as mysteries, exhibit the human traits of unreachable depth and contradiction. Everyone, really – or almost everyone – is recognizably human by virtue of their possession of a complex, enigmatic, and vulnerable private self.
And then there’s Alan Dershowitz. For as long as he’s been in the public eye, Harvard’s finest seems nothing — nothing — but a strutting monomaniac, a staggeringly unidimensional embodiment of the medieval humor “choleric.” Tip him forward in time and find him, post-medieval, on Moliere’s stage, firing up the floor boards with rage, hypocrisy, sense of entitlement, and faux moral indignation. A person who regards himself as a supremely righteous exemplar in a world of villains, his speech consists of rifle-blasts of accusations against his enemies: LIAR LIAR NAZI WHORE LIAR WHORE NAZI.
Moliere’s Dershowitz has gotten rich defending, in courts of law, female genital mutilators, murderers, and many other bad people, but this, he roars, proves his ethical superiority: GIVE ME YOUR TIRED YOUR POOR NO ONE ELSE WILL DEFEND THESE HUDDLED MASSES. And despite evidence of his using that wealth to lead a rather decadent personal life among rather decadent friends (sometimes they are the same people he is defending in courts of law, or in the newspapers, or, reportedly, to President Trump, in search of a pardon for them), he boasts that he belongs to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR synagogues. So there!
Like all flat characters, Dershowitz is as hilarious as he is heinous; it’s always funny in a startling way to find puppetry rather than profundity – Ubu rather than Macbeth – and as he gets close to death and we realize the long-expected moment of self-recognition or shame or at the very least reflection, the moment he becomes a recognizable human being instead of a machine, will never come, our laughter at him becomes more unsettling. It is guilty laughter, laughter at a person trapped in a failure to become a person.
His latest rifle-blast, in the pages of scummy Newsmax, begins with a boyish, wide-eyed, gentle, baffled photograph of his friend Prince Andrew. In this picture, Andrew asks Why is this happening to me? And in the fevered defense that follows, Dershowitz explains that it’s all because of greedy whore Virginia Giuffre, who also plucked Dershowitz himself out of thin air to sue for millions of dollars. It’s a travesty. A TRAVESTY.