Alan Dershowitz continues to claim that his defense of President Donald Trump has gotten him “canceled” on the Island, and he’s threatening to sue the Chilmark Free Library, saying because a library is taxpayer-funded, the library can’t deny him holding a book talk.
Dershowitz has made those claims in a New Yorker interview published on Tuesday, during a recent podcast with Steve Bannon, and in an interview on the right-leaning Newsmax television network.
Ebba Hierta, director of the Chilmark Free Library, told The Times she received hate mail from a Proud Boy after attorney Alan Dershowitz appeared on Bannon’s podcast.
On Wednesday, Dershowitz was the focus of a New Yorker interview where he claimed his defense of former President Donald Trump has been confused with support for Trump’s politics, and has led to him being “shunned” and “canceled” on the Island. These are claims he’s made repeatedly since 2018.
“It’s not me. It’s the library and the institutions. The library has refused to allow me to speak, and other institutions. People want to hear me speak. This is a McCarthyite black ball. If it was someone who was a liberal Democrat, there would be a lot more concern and opposition to it,” Dershowitz said in an interview with The Times Wednesday. Dershowitz says he always votes and contributes to Democrats, but will defend conservative Republicans when their constitutional rights are being violated, as he says was the case with President Trump.
After his appearance on Bannon’s podcast, Hierta says she received a hate email from someone identifying himself as a Proud Boy. She felt so threatened she installed “burglar bars” on her bedroom window. “I was frightened. I was identified in the national media by a right-wing hate group,” she said.
Hierta declined to release the email, saying Dershowitz has threatened to sue her and the library. The trustees had called a meeting for Thursday, July 21, at 11 am, but postponed it. The main agenda item: “Discussion of threat by Alan Dershowitz to sue the library if he is not guaranteed a speaking engagement.” It has not yet been rescheduled.
Dershowitz said he was unaware of the hate mail to Hierta, but says it’s something he deals with on a daily basis. “That doesn’t have anything to do with me. Let her call the authorities,” he said of the mail Hierta said she received. “She should get a different job if she can’t take the heat.”
He said if Hierta produced the hate mail, he would condemn it.
As for the threat of lawsuit, Dershowitz said he plans to follow through. He’ll make a decision after Thursday’s meeting of the library board of trustees, which he said he intends to attend. “There’s interest by other organizations if I’m not allowed to speak. The library is a public institution,” Dershowitz said. “They can’t ban me because I defended President Trump.”
Asked if he may also be persona non grata because of his association with Jeffrey Epstein, Dershowitz said allegations made against him were unfounded. “Nobody on the Vineyard believes any of that. They know I’m a family man.”
Hierta has been clear. She once welcomed Dershowitz to speak at the library, beginning in 2008. She enjoyed his talks, even if she didn’t always agree with him. “He’s a genius. I admire his talent. He is a master of manipulation. He is the best arguer. He can make an argument better than anyone I’ve ever met,” Hierta said.
But the crowds were out of control. The meeting room holds 40 people, and he was pulling in 250 people. “It became a public safety hazard. The building was overpacked. Staff were being abused, and unable to deal with patron requests.”
After a discussion with the library trustees, the library changed its policy. Hierta stopped inviting him long before anyone knew Donald Trump as anything but a reality TV host, she said. Something Dershowitz rejected. “If anybody believes that, I have an ocean in South Beach to sell them,” he said.
Hierta said that policy would apply even if another political celebrity, former President Barack Obama, called. “I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. How could I host Barack Obama at the library? I have a meeting room where the capacity is 40. Where would I put them?”
Dershowitz rejected the notion that Chilmark would reject Obama. “I don’t believe that for a minute. They would restrict the crowds,” he said.
In 2018, when Dershowitz asked to speak about his book, Hierta put out a plea to her fellow librarians, and Vineyard Haven stepped up and sponsored Dershowitz at the roomier Katharine Cornell Theater in Tisbury, even as he claimed he was being shunned.
Dershowitz, with a new book released last week, “The Price of Principle: Why Integrity is Worth the Consequences,” asked to give a talk at Chilmark library again this year. Hierta, who had heard complaints about the large crowds in the past, again said no, citing the library’s policy.
“Now we have an entitled bully threatening us,” Hierta said.
Hierta said it’s become a rite of summer. Dershowitz publishes another book and comes knocking. When she says no, he tries to bully her and the library.
“He has threatened me. He has threatened me repeatedly. He’s threatened to destroy the library and my personal directorship. He’s threatened me with a lawsuit,” Hierta said. “This once great man is reduced to bullying a librarian to sell a book.”
Dershowitz claims he only ever sells about 10 books, and donates those funds to the library. It’s not about selling books, he said, it’s about protecting “free speech.”
In the New Yorker piece, Dershowitz claims his fans are being deprived of hearing him speak. He made the same claim to The Times, but asked to produce just one person in Chilmark who is upset about him not being allowed time at the library, he said they wouldn’t want to speak publicly. They don’t want to be “perceived as an enemy of the library,” he said.
The reality, according to Hierta, is that she hasn’t had a single person, other than Dershowitz, contact her to complain that he’s not being allowed to speak. She gave an extended interview to the New Yorker writer, but that’s the only thing he quoted her about. She was disappointed. “He printed about 1/100th of what I had to say.”
Hierta believes that the New Yorker interview will fuel the fire. Like President Trump inciting the rioters on Jan. 6, Dershowitz is inciting some of Trump’s supporters against her and others on the Vineyard, she said.
“My message to Mr. Dershowitz would be: You’re retired, enjoy it,” she said. “I was Facetiming with my brother, and he said, It’s kind of a badge of honor to get hate mail from a Proud Boy… But here I am with burglar bars on my bedroom windows as a result of Alan Dershowitz trying to sell books by attacking a library. There are consequences to what he does. I was fearful.”
In his interviews, including the one with The Times, Dershowitz said giving up is not an option. As he has in other interviews, Dershowitz points out that Chilmark residents have a history of being victims of McCarthyism, and that’s what he believes he is experiencing. “I’m gonna fight. It’s losing me friends, and my wife, who doesn’t agree with what I’ve done and said, is losing friends.”