06.22.10

Michael Wolff Is the Child

In an open letter to Michael Wolff, Tony Judt’s son demonstrates that 15-year-olds can, in fact, be thoughtful, poised intellectuals.

In an open letter to Michael Wolff, Tony Judt’s son demonstrates that 15 year olds can, in fact, be thoughtful, poised intellectuals.

After renowned intellectual Tony Judt and his teenage son, Daniel, carried on a philosophical dialogue in the op-ed pages of the New York Times this past Father’s Day, media critic Michael Wolff took to the Web to question whether Daniel’s contributions—and intellect—were authentic. Below is Daniel Judt’s response.

There's nothing I can say that will factually authenticate my portion of Sunday's op-ed. Sure, I could pull up countless email exchanges with my dad laying out our respective parts of the piece or open documents on my computer that have only my own prose on them, but both would surely be condemned as extravagant hoaxes. In short, Mr. Wolff, I can't get around one blockade that will prevent me from proving that I wrote my half of the article: your habit of parading your own opinions as fact, caused by your willingness to make up anything in order to get a few reads, comments, and tweets. Quite frankly, your generalization (one of many) that no 15-year-old is capable of writing as I did is false. I know many others my age who can write just as well, if not better; and while I am flattered that you think the text and the thoughts behind it exceed my age, they simply do not.

While I am flattered that you think the text and the thoughts behind the writing exceed my age, they simply do not. Just because I am 15 does not make it inconceivable that I can think for myself.

The other option you give in your article is that I have been cloned, implying that I have directly adopted my father's ideas and am expressing them through his precise words and style. It is true that my father, as well as my family as a whole, has a profound influence on the way I think and on my interests. But that's no secret; if my parents didn't influence me, I would either be a very isolated child or a very vain one. What "un-clones" me is that I choose whether to agree with my parents, and I decide how to express my thoughts. Just because I am 15 does not make it inconceivable that I can think for myself.

Finally, you missed the point of the piece completely. It was not about me or my dad (or you). The piece was about the lack of urgency surrounding environmental legislation and political change. Drawing attention away from that with petty, unfounded assertions is, with all due respect, childish and destructive. But then again, it's much harder to come up with a sound critique when you're working with real facts and ideas. It seems clear who's making things up here.

Daniel Judt was born in September, 1994, and is in the ninth grade at the Dalton School.