The strange case of Alice Walker: the dilemma of black anti-Semitism and its promotion by the New York Times

December 26, 2018 • 10:15 am

Here we have one more example of “intersectionalism” that, instead of dealing with combined oppressions, pits one marginalized group against another. This, of course, has fractured the Left in the last few years. There are two notable examples of how liberal values have collided. The first involves the collision between Muslims on the one hand, and feminists, Jews, and gays on the other. Since many Muslims and virtually all Muslim-majority countries oppress women and gays and often call for the killing of Jews, this pits sympathy for Muslims, seen as a “people of color”, against sympathy for women, Jews, and gays, also seen as marginalized groups.

The other is the collision between blacks and Jews, seen most prominently in the Women’s March fracas. Jews have long been oppressed (they’re the biggest victims of per capita hate crimes in the U.S.), while blacks of course are marginalized and have experienced a long history of segregation.  But Jews are now seen as pawns of the hated state of Israel, and so have been demonized by the Women’s March organizers and by Black Lives Matter. I see this as a great shame, as African-Americans and Jews have often been allies, most notably in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

These conflicts have been resolved by a simple rule: favor the most pigmented groups—Muslims in the first case and blacks in the latter. In other words, it’s become largely okay on the Left to ignore the oppression of minority groups by Muslims, with that oppression justified by the Qur’an and its interpretations.

It’s also okay, at least for the Women’s March and their sympathizers, to ignore the fact that Women’s March leaders are great admirers of a homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic bigot, Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam. I hasten to add that there are plenty of people who have called out the “bigotry of low expectations”, but there’s no denying that the Collision of Oppressions has not only enervated the Left (the Women’s March is no longer seen as a completely progressive movement, and other women’s marches are splintering off), but also made our side look fractious and sometimes ridiculous to centrists and those on the Right.

Now we have another collision—again between blacks and Jews. This involves Alice Walker, a beloved black writer who deservedly won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for her book The Color Purple. She’s now been accused, justifiably, of not only promoting anti-Semitism but of being an anti-Semite herself.

This all started with this “By the Book” interview in the New York Times, in which Walker was asked to name and discuss the books she’s reading now. One of them caught people’s eye (click on screenshot):


Here’s the bit that ignited the controversy (my emphasis).

What books are on your nightstand?

“The Road of Lost Innocence,” by Somaly Mam, about child-selling, enslavement and sadistic “sex” trafficking in Cambodia. Bombed-out, psychologically traumatized Cambodia has become a place where even children are seen as commodities and treated worse than never terrorized or subjugated humans can imagine. Mam, a modern heroine who was once a captive herself, rises to protect and save those few young girls that she can. I couldn’t sleep after reading this book. I felt a duty to read it, however, and others like it, to know without forgetting, that for countries devastated by war, often wars “we” cause, or extend by carpet bombing or laying of land mines, the suffering, usually for the most vulnerable, never ends.

And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” by David Icke. In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.

David Icke (pronounced “Ike”), as pointed out in lots of places, including the Tablet article below, as well as the Guardian and even HuffPo, is an antisemitic loon who also thinks that many world leaders are lizard aliens in disguise! (See his videos on the Secret Lizard Illuminati here and here.) As HuffPo noted:

Walker’s reference to Icke was first called out by Tablet Magazine, pointing out his book’s numerous anti-Semitic statements. Among those are claims that Jews are “programmed to see themselves as God’s ’chosen people’” and that they are to blame for the prejudice and oppression they have faced. He calls the Talmud “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet.” Despite the evidence, he maintains he is not an anti-Semite.

Making a name for himself on his conspiracy preaching, Icke is a major proponent of the belief that lizard people control the world, a myth that began entering the news roughly 10 years ago. In 2015, Vox called his 1998 book, The Biggest Secret, “an important tome in lizard people theory.” In 2012, Icke spouted his theories in an extensive interview with Vice in which it was noted he’s convinced the moon is actually a hollow sphere used as a space station that manipulates the minds of the public.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a respected hate watch group, once wrote about Icke, describing his dangerous ideologies.

More than anyone else, the British conspiracist David Icke has popularized the Alien version of New World Order conspiracy. The former sportscaster’s elaborate theory is the Sgt. Peppers album-cover of the genre, featuring the Masons, the Vatican, the Illuminati, the House of Windsor — everyone is there. At the center of the theory is an alien race of lizard people from the fifth-dimension. Though Icke has always denied trafficking in anti-Semitism, he has endorsed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the famous forgery and foundational text of modern anti-Semitism — choosing to call it “The Illuminati Protocols.”

This is Barkun’s “refraction,” in action, and Icke’s shadow is long indeed, visible across the far right media spectrum.

Vox lays out more of Icke’s theories, and oy, are they meshugga! To wit:

All those lizard-people are remarkably active for being ectotherms!

Icke is a loon, but the Times didn’t inquire further about Walker’s recommendation. It doesn’t usually go into the nature of author’s book recommendations, but this may be an exception. As we see below, both Vice and writer Roger Cohen certainly think so. Tablet writer Yaer Rosenberg characterizes And the Truth Shall Set you Free as “an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Semites. It also endorses that old anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Tablet lays out more of Icke’s anti-Semitic writings. What’s funny is that, as Vox notes, “Icke maintains that he is not an anti-Semite, and that he is criticizing not real Jews, but 12-foot-tall alien lizard people, many of whom seem to be posing as Jews.” I can’t stop laughing when I read that sentence.

Read these two articles, the first from Tablet and the second from Vox (a Lefty site), to see the history of the Walker issue. It turns out that it’s not just the statement by Walker in NYT interview that got people’s hackles up, but, in something that was known to a few but now to many, Walker has not only endorsed Icke and his view for years, but published a palpably anti-Semitic poem about the Talmud, one that came from Walker perusing neo-Nazi websites.

From Vox (click on screenshot):

But what about Walker? Jewish media have been noting her anti-Semitism for years, but of course nobody listened. She’s been a long-time critic of Israel and supporter of Palestine, but of course one can argue that she’s got nothing against Jews, just against Israel. But then there’s her repeated endorsement of Icke on her own blog and her crazy poem, “It is our (frightful) duty to study the Talmud“, which she put on her website (the Talmud is a compilation of Jewish law.) That poem is long, and I won’t post it here, but Vox singles out some of the worst bits:

In 2017, Walker published a poem on her blog called “To Study the Talmud.” The Talmud is an extremely old book of Jewish law, very long and confusing and contradictory, and anti-Semites frequently quote it out of context in order to “prove” that Jews condone pedophilia and the murder of Christians. (For the record: They do not!) Walker’s poem follows in the same tradition.

In Walker’s poem, she describes turning to the Talmud to understand Israel, which she describes as “demonic / To the core,” and finding the very worst:

Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only
That, but to enjoy it?
Are three year old (and a day) girls eligible for marriage and intercourse?
Are young boys fair game for rape?
Must even the best of the Goyim (us, again) be killed?
Pause a moment and think what this could mean
Or already has meant
In our own lifetime.

Walker also advises her readers to supplement their reading of the Talmud with their own research. She means a specific kind of research, though: If her readers just look at Google, most of what they find will be “slanted, unfortunately.” Instead, she writes:

For a more in depth study
I recommend starting with YouTube. Simply follow the trail of “The
Talmud” as its poison belatedly winds its way
Into our collective consciousness.

We can’t know for sure what is going on in Walker’s mind, but it sure sounds like she is describing the process of her own radicalization here.

Have a look for yourself. After a while, the NYT couldn’t ignore the controversy any longer, and interviewed Pamela Paul, its own book-review editor, about why she didn’t dig further into Walker’s recommendation of Icke’s book:

One bit of the interview with Paul:

Do you ever ask follow-up questions?

Back when I was editing By the Book, the only time I went back for more questions was if the person didn’t answer enough to fill the page. The column is a Q. and A. about the subjects and their reading life, not simply a list of recommendations; it’s not a regular phone or in-person interview where you would follow up with questions about their answers.

We never question people on their choices by asking, “Why would you choose this book?” or “Why didn’t you like this book?” The people’s answers are a reflection of their opinions, tastes and judgment. As with any interview, their words tell us something about them.

The intention for By the Book is to be a portrait of someone through his or her reading life. What people choose to read or not read and what books they find to be influential or meaningful say a lot about who they are.

Did you consider going back to Ms. Walker to ask about Mr. Icke’s book?

No. When we interview anyone, whether it’s a public official or a foreign leader or an artist, The Times isn’t saying that we approve of the person’s views and actions. We’re saying we think the subject is worthy of interviewing; that’s our approach with By the Book.

One thing that I think makes By the Book distinctive is that we are not guiding people to answer questions in a way that reflects our views as editors. We’ve also faced criticism when a writer only named white authors, or male authors. My response to that is the same as in this case: Does that answer tell you something about the subject? I think it does, and now readers know it because we’ve informed you.

Just as a reporter wouldn’t direct a senator to answer a question differently, we don’t direct interviewees’ answers in By the Book.

Well, I see that a bit defensive and unsatisfactory, as did Vox writer Constance Grady, who said this:

. . . One of the most beloved writers and activists in the American letters recommended a writer of bigoted conspiracy theories to the public at large, after hiding her beliefs in plain sight for years, and she did so in the paper of record without any pushback.

As a result, Alice Walker’s acceptance of anti-Semitic beliefs has been exposed to a lot of people who previously had no idea she felt this way — which, as Paul pointed out, “is news.”

But she has also amplified David Icke’s message, and because the New York Times Book Review printed her recommendation uncritically in accordance with the policy of its By the Book column, the Times is complicit in that amplification as well. There’s every possibility that people who aren’t aware of Walker’s history or the nature of Icke’s work might seek out his book on the strength of Walker’s New York Times recommendation, and that they might potentially get drawn into Icke’s way of seeing the world.

I don’t share her worry, though perhaps it’s true that those who admire Walker might be exposed to Icke’s crazy theories and anti-Semitism from the recommendation. But hey, that’s freedom of speech. Still, the Times should have been a bit less defensive, and one senses that they’re protecting a beloved American writer, and protecting her not just because she’s beloved but because she’s black—the cognitive dissonance of the NYT.

Richard Cohen, an op-ed writer for the Washington Post, was more explicit in his condemnation of both Walker and the NYT’s exculpatory coverage. Click on the screenshot to read his bluntly-titled column:

Cohen doesn’t pull any punches:

Times readers howled. The paper should have flagged the book as an anti-Semitic tome, they insisted. The Times disagreed. It doesn’t do that sort of thing in its “By the Book” feature. In the Times’s response, the paper conceded that Icke “has been accused of anti-Semitism,” a bit like conceding that David Duke has been accused of racism. Walker, who last year posted the poem “It Is Our (Frightful) Duty To Study The Talmud” on her blog, is beyond mere accusation. She’s the genuine anti-Semitic article.

. . . In its response, the book review editor, Pamela Paul, submitted to some questions, one of which was why the Times did not ask Walker to account for her odd literary taste. “We never question people on their choices,” Paul said. A sentence later, she added, “The people’s answers are a reflection of their opinions, tastes and judgment.” In other words, anti-Semitism is just another opinion, taste or judgment.

Paul went on in that vein, saying that the Review has been down this road before. “We’ve also faced criticism when a writer only named white authors, or male authors. My response to that is the same as in this case: Does that answer tell you something about the subject? I think it does.” But it doesn’t. For some reason, my book group — wearily stuck on Jon Meacham, Michael Beschloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin — never got around to the Icke book. So, not having heard of Icke, I didn’t know that I was being informed that Walker cuddled up nightly with the rantings of a Jew hater.

. . .In interviewing itself, the Times neglected to ask the Times (Paul) if it even knew that Walker was an anti-Semite. It might also have wondered if that might have caused the Times to feature someone else. After all, anti-Semitism has become something of a common leftist tic, especially among Israel haters, and has even polluted the leadership of the Women’s March. Walker is in that category. She will not even allow “The Color Purple” to be published in Hebrew.

The tone of Paul’s response is appalling. She surely does not mean to, but she manages to treat anti-Semitism as just another point of view — not a hatred with a unique and appalling pedigree that has led to unending slaughter, including the murder of 6 million, pogroms in Kielce in Poland (1946), York in England (1190) and the lynching of Leo Frank in Georgia (1915). What’s lacking from the Times is appropriate shock at Alice Walker’s bigotry and its own refusal to admit a mistake. An apology would be fit to print.

Cohen’s piece is remarkable in that it represents a respected and liberal columnist of one of the U.S.’s two greatest papers criticizing the editorial policy of the other paper.

To be fair to Walker, she’s spoken up in her own defense, also published in the New York Times:

An excerpt:

In a statement addressing the widespread outrage over her praise for a book with anti-Jewish overtones, the novelist Alice Walker called its author “brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask” and denied that he was anti-Semitic.

The remarks, published on her website, came several days after a New York Times interview in which she called “And the Truth Will Set You Free,” by David Icke, “a curious person’s dream come true.” Jewish groups and many others condemned Ms. Walker for supporting the book and The Times for publishing the interview.

Ms. Walker, author of the acclaimed novel “The Color Purple,” did not back down in her statement, saying that the book was not anti-Semitic.

“I do believe he is brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask, and to speak his own understanding of the truth wherever it might lead,” she wrote.

. . . In the book, Mr. Icke draws on ideas from the anti-Semitic pamphlet “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” argues that Holocaust denial should be taught in schools and that Jews are responsible for organizing anti-Semitic attacks, and calls the Talmud a racist document. In other writings, he has posited that a cabal of a child-sacrificing, bloodthirsty lizard people, many of whom are Jewish, are secretly running the world.

. . . Mr. Rosenberg [author of the Tablet article] and others have noted that Ms. Walker has espoused such ideas before, praising Mr. Icke’s books on her blog, in a BBC interview, and posting a video of one of his lectures on her website.

Critics also cited blatantly anti-Semitic language in her poetry, particularly one titled, “It Is Our (Frightful) Duty to Study the Talmud,” which includes the lines, “Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only/ That, but to enjoy it?”

So what’s the upshot? Is this a tempest in a teapot? I don’t think so: it’s emblematic of what happens when the American Left, which seeks to regain political power in two years, turns on itself because it can’t decide who is more oppressed.  It’s also typical of the hypocrisy of much of the modern Left. If, for example, some right-wing American writer was asked what books she was reading, and the list included Mein Kampf or some modern anti-Semitic text, the  Times would be all over her like ugly on a frog. But this is Alice Walker, a much admired black writer, and so the Times doesn’t bother to criticize her, and only writes about the controversy when its hand is forced. This is just what the paper did when the leaders of the Women’s March were accused—by Tablet again—of being anti-Semitic. By the way, don’t expect to see any discussion of this in the New Yorker!

The Women’s March leaders have defended their association with Louis Farrakhan because, they say, the Nation of Islam helps wean black kids off drugs and engages in prison counseling. And that’s true, but the Nation of Islam has also instilled anti-Semitism into many of its followers. Are Leftists going to pull the same ploy, ignoring Alice Walker’s anti-Semitism because she wrote some good books? True, they remain good books, and we shouldn’t denigrate them as works of art simply because their author hates Jews. But you can’t demonize white people for racism on even flimsier grounds while turning your head away from Walker’s anti-Semitism.

117 thoughts on “The strange case of Alice Walker: the dilemma of black anti-Semitism and its promotion by the New York Times

  1. I would only buy a book by David Icke if it a) was printed on soft paper with no wet strength, and b) was either perforated at the spine or possibly supplied loose leaf with a handy hole punched in the corner for easy hanging.

    1. It needs to have some wet strength, otherwise your fingers go through it. There’s more technology in the “Art of the Arse Wipe (*)” than some people give it credit.

      * TAoTAW is, I believe, to be the next title from Trump’s ghost writers, unless more of them lose their stomach for the game)

      1. True, I should have said low wet strength. I stand by the perforations, though I have to admit that I would be willing to tear quite hard (anything but read it).

  2. I agree with Pamela Paul’s decision to list an interviewee’s books without editorial comment. And the outcome of this sorry controversy, which has exposed Walker’s blatant anti-semitism and cast light on Icke’s unhinged screed, proves that she is right. Had she questioned Walker about her book choices or editorialized on them, Walker might have backed off to some safe choice. And I am not worried about bringing attention to Icke’s book. I’d rather it did not fester in some conspiracy-mongering twilight zone. Finally, if By the Book is going to editorialize, where does it stop? Should an interviewee be forced to explain why he or she plans to read an unpopular book? Let the process of free inquiry take its course, as happened here.

    1. What could be wrong with asking anyone who recommends a book or author – Why do you suggest that? You are not editorializing at all. You are simply asking the person’s opinion who just gave you one. If I asked you what auto do you like and you said Ford, would I be out of bounds to ask why?

      1. Because you learn more from unfiltered information, as we saw here. Also, the question is “What books are on your night-stand?”, not “What books do you recommend?”

          1. I wouldn’t have known who Icke was if the brouhaha hadn’t arisen.

            Pity you couldn’t remain in blissful ignorance.

            He was and is a second-rater, notoriety is all he is good for.

          2. Icke has been famous as a “swivel-eyed loon” on this side of the pond since sometime back in the 1980s. I recall him being considered a figure of fun, derision and slight pity in the years around my graduation. To abuse a Quentin Crisp line, “he is one of England’s stately wackos.”

        1. I thought “By the Book” was because the person they are featuring wrote a book. Maybe wrong but anyway. If you are asking a person what books they have on the wall or in their library and they tell you, the obvious next question is simply “a why”. Out of 500 people who might read the column, how many are going to run out and read it or find out what it is about. You would not know Alice from a ham sandwich without some effort by somebody. Lucky for us, PCC provided the ham sandwich and then some.

            1. You either miss my point or just ignore it and drive on. Sure she explained after the fact – and that is when we learned something.

          1. …it is because it contains “the whole of existence”, whatever that means. What you want is for the interviewer to interrogate her or editorialize on her choices. I am saying that if the interviewer does that, Walker’s choice of Icke’s book may not have seen the light of day.

            I’ve said my piece. I am done with this.

            1. But what you are saying is that you are not listening. I want the interviewer to interrogate her by say – Oh, and why this book? If we skip the interview altogether we would learn as much and then there is no risk of editorializing.

          2. The “By The Book” weekly column is where “authors and other notable people discuss their lives as readers.” Alice Walker was chosen that week because there was a poetry theme in the NYT & not because she had a new book to push.

            The way it works is Walker gets an email with anything up to 28 questions to choose from, some of which are standard & the rest are based on knowledge of her. She answers as many as she wishes & the paper prints everything unedited & with no back & forth follow up. They aim for 800 to 1500 words, but will go much longer if the reply is long.

            I suppose the person in charge of By The Book was unaware of Walker’s antisemetism.

            It would be interesting to see the email – to find out what questions were asked, but not answered.

      2. I think asking someone why they recommend something to be a rather f*cking obvious and natural thing to do. I mean, if someone recommends a new restaurant for example, I wanna why. Duh! Am I just supposed to accept the book recommendation because this author is rich and famous? Hell no. I expect to know why, not just what.

    2. WHat drives me mad is that they’d never interview (AKA give PR/promotional material to) a famous author if they were, for example, a white supremacist. It’s only because Alice Walker is a respected black POC antisemite that they’re perfectly OK with promoting her.

  3. I don’t think most of us outside the US would have heard of Walker if The Colour Purple hadn’t been made into a successful movie by notorious Lizard-Person Steven Spielberg.

    Icke’s a fucking nutter. Being British I can remember him as a sports presenter and I remember his appearance on Terry Wogan’s chat show and thinking ‘What the fuck? Is this some kind of prank?’ Terry’s expression was priceless.

    1. I saw a programme years back that featured a clip of one of his public events and it had all the hallmarks of a charlatan. My thoughts then was money making exercise, but I think he actually believes the things he spouts. He has certainly kept it going, and the internet provides him with quite a medium to exploit.

    2. Spielberg’s movie certainly brought the story greater popularity, but the novel itself won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Fiction. Might not be the Man Booker as far as you Brits are concerned, but they’re the best we muddle along with here in the colonies. 🙂

  4. The sincere belief that lizard people are among us, controlling things while in disguise is simply mind-boggling! There must be an episode of Dr. Who that runs along those lines.
    Excuse me while I run out to the store for some more meal worms.

    1. Dr Who featured Silurians but they never disguised themselves. V had disguised lizards, I can’t remember its ludicrous premise… this is a relief, I thought I would never forget it.

      1. they never disguised themselves.

        I should add to this: unless you count wearing Victorian dress, including a big hat and an opaque veil 😀

        1. I love V (see my comment below regarding watching it while hopped up on pain meds). The best part? The fact that it was a pseudo-western. Also the hair and makeup.

          1. Each to their own, I am certainly not going criticize on the basis of my own predjudices 😀

            I seem to recall that the thing that really ticked me off was the resistance: well fed, well armed and well dressed. It was probably an eighties thing.

    2. My brother believes this to be true

      It pains me greatly that he is so deluded and full of hate, we have had no contact in years because of his crazy ideas that he *must* go on and on about at any opportunity, which is basically whenever someone is nearby.

      I am baffled as to how this happened, he has always been very intelligent and far from a follower of anything, but yet he sincerely believes this nonsense and belittles any of us who try to question it.

      I just don’t get it

    3. There was the Douglas Adams scripted City of Death in which an alien splintered through time disguised himself as human to manipulate history to the point he could build a time machine and prevent the accident that splintered him, saving his race while he was at it. Unfortunately the accident that destroyed his spaceship was the spark that created life on this planet so the Doctor had to stop it. It’s a classic.

  5. Walker will avoid any serious blow back on this as she has both melanin and chromosomal privilege. Her hatred of Jews will be actively ignored or swept under the rug; she’s a WOC, the purest of the lot.

      1. Her extreme antisemitism has been known for years. She has written poems, blog posts full of conspiracy theories against Jews, made remarks…

        People have known. She gets a pass anyway.

        1. I hope you’re wrong BJ. I had no idea she was an anti-semitic loon until this controversy. (Not that I follow her career—I’ve never read TCP nor seen the movie since the subject matter doesn’t interest me.) Today I perused Walker’s “Official Website.” It is full of antisemitic garbage posturing as Palestinian solidarity.

          I saw a recent report that Spielberg and Oprah are planning on teaming up with Walker for a “new take” on TCP. If this goes through after this expose, I will concede that you are right.

          1. Indeed, her anti-Semitism and her looniness aren’t new. The anti-Semitism surfaced around 2013, when she first extolled Ike and publicized her adherence to his monstrous ideology, documentation for which is found in her entries. Around that same time, she and published “Cushion on the Road,” a book of essays that contained a section excoriating Israel and sentimentally extolling Palestinians. In 2012 she refused to allow The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew. However, her anti-Semitism didn’t arise de novo; her general looniness goes back for decades.

  6. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, let me repeat Paul Berman’s observation that the Left always seems to carry with it a despicable, self-destructive undertow, or what I call the pop-Left. Two generations ago, it was apologetics (and even mindless adoration) for Stalin’s gulag state. One generation ago it was a pose of Maoism, “revolutionary” play-acting, and the Weather Underground’s infatuation with violence. Readers of Truthout will have noticed current attempts to elevate the latter idiocies to sainthood, showing that the undertow is in full flow today. As other current examples, we have the publicity hounds of the Women’s March, one case after another of blatant antisemitism, and the weekly roster of campus follies.

    1. I think that the national Women’s March is in deep trouble and may be unraveling. The Chicago march has been cancelled, ostensibly for financial reasons, but it may also be in reaction to the anti-Semitism of the national organization. The Chicago Tribune reports:

      “Women’s March Chicago organizers say they are a grassroots group not directly affiliated with Women’s March Inc., though past local marches have been held in sync with the national group and other similar marches across the country. While the decision to forgo a January march wasn’t based on recent controversy, Kurensky [a member of the Chicago board] said the opportunity to further distance the Chicago organization from national Women’s March leaders was a ‘side benefit.’”

      Movements that try to advocate for a panoply of causes tend to get themselves in trouble. The Women’s March would have been better off simply fighting for gender equality. The more issues added to the core one will result in potential supporters being turned off. Going back 50 years, and my memory may be faulty on this, but I think one reason the anti-Vietnam War protest was sustained for so many years is that it didn’t bring in extraneous issues or at least they weren’t emphasized. Others may have different memories.

      1. “Movements that try to advocate for a panoply of causes tend to get themselves in trouble. The Women’s March would have been better off simply fighting for gender equality.”

        I said exactly this when I was on a radio show with some Women’s March organizers and advocates. And they stomped all over me for saying it.

        Turns out I was right, but I get no joy out of it.

  7. But, if they had edited out the book, or censored it from her list of books, we would have never known about her anti-semitism

    I don’t think the Times promoted her reading list by publishing it, more that they exposed her for what she is by not protecting her from criticism.

    o let her live and die by her words

    1. Agreed. Antisemitism can, and should, be criticized. But excluding it from free speech by censorship is even worse than it.

  8. Watching V while recovering from wisdom tooth removal was all the lizard people fix I need. What an unfortunate thing to learn about an author I had much respect for.

  9. SMH. Hard to believe that there are actually people who believe in lizard-people. And that they get books published. And that people read the books. And that they get recommended in the NYT. There is only one explanation for it: crab people.

    1. I was at a social gathering not long ago when one of the guests described his fascination with conspiracy theories. He took us through his favorite (the lizard people under the vatican).

      Some weeks later, I was at a clients, working, when they asked me if I knew about the lizard people. Feeling cheeky, I responded with, “The ones under the vatican?”. He was thrilled that I ‘knew’ what he was talking about and went on at length regarding his beliefs. I tried my best to keep a straight face and just keep working, but it was, shall we say, a challenge.

  10. The important issue here is not that a African American can be a really bigoted person. Just like white folks, they can be a dime a dozen. The more disgusting part is that much of society gives them a pass and that is very dangerous.

    1. It seems Alice Walker is quite — ahem — privileged in her ability to be both a famous and constantly celebrated and promoted author, and also a rabid antisemite.

  11. Intersectionality, IMO, is hatred or hostility towards groups of people perceived as successful or powerful (Whites, Jews, some Asians).

  12. It is discouraging to read about all that hate. But it is better to know that it is there and be aware of it. Don’t know when it will all end. Believe it eventually will, but not soon. Better Angels of Our Nature are taking a long time to get the upper hand. Pinkler still has faith. I saw him on a talk show Sunday debating the issue. Fareed Zakari’s show I believe.

  13. As the Vox article makes clear, By the Book frequently generates controversy. “Nearly every week, this column makes people mad.” The editors knew well that their readers would make hay of this book mention, and the readers did not disappoint.

    I hope they continue the column in its present unchallenged format, as it clearly brings to light things we might otherwise never discover. Walker might well have been more reticent if she thought they would get in her face about her book list.

    I take exception to the argument that “There’s every possibility that people who aren’t aware of Walker’s history or the nature of Icke’s work might seek out his book on the strength of Walker’s New York Times recommendation.” This is the “little people” argument, and it most surely does not apply to regular readers of the By the Book column in the NYT.

    Mr. Icky is obviously crazy. I hope the Streisand effect isn’t too strong this time. Ms. Walker is revealed to be a flawed human being, no longer a perfect angel in our midst, despite a Pulitzer Prize. It’s not the first time that has happened. Perhaps someone will write a book about her.

  14. Jerry, if they censored Walker’s replies to the interview questions they would simply be covering up for her — when the point of the interview is to show her for what she is.

  15. About twenty years ago I heard Alice Walker give a commencement address at a liberal women’s college. I did not think much of her, her speech of her ideas she expressed in her speech. Pretty inappropriate.

  16. Talk about bigotry of low expectations! Apparently the NYT does not expect a woman “of color” to have enough sanity and cognitive ability not to believe a lizard-human conspiracy theory, or enough integrity to reject anti-Semitism. (About the latter, I suspect that the NYT editorial board may no longer consider anti-Semitism a bad thing.)

    Incidentally, this story reminded me how I made a fool of myself the first year when I taught vertebrate evolution in English. I used “reptilian” as a noun without checking, because it sounded so nicely in its place and I definitely (though vaguely) remembered seeing it used this way… My consolation is that some native English speakers have made far greater fools of themselves using this same noun.

  17. I read this article today:

    It reminds me a bit of Sam Harris’ take on what’s wrong with viewing faith as having any sort of virtue. Saying that faith is virtuous gives cover and legitimacy to extremist and fundamentalists religions since they can sneak in their vile ideologies under the cover of “faith”.

    Similarly, a lot of anti-white rhetoric on the left is used as a way to sneak in anti-Semitism. Since a lot of POC view Jews as being “hyper-white” people therefore they deserve more hate than they would give to “normal” white people. It’s not much of a stretch in going from “white people control Hollywood/the media/the banks” to “Jewish people control Hollywood/the media/the banks”.

    1. Antisemitic conspiracy theories have a long history in the black power movements.

      I just did a quick Google search and found this study on the history of the black power movement making the conspiracy theories against Jews a key part of their philosophy. Just read the abstract on the second page. They’ve regularly (like the Women’s March leaders) promoted the ideas that the Jews created and ran the slave trade, promoted the forgery of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, etc.

      If you walk into most radical left/Marxist/black power-affiliated bookstores today, you will still find copies of such tomes, like Protocols and others like Henry Fords The International Jew. This is no accident, and has been going on for decades. It’s not that they view them as “hyper-white”; it’s not an extension of hatred toward white people. It is pure antisemitism.

  18. I don’t think that those commenting on this post understand the deep connection between Icke’s reptilians and anti-Semitism. Icke’s reptilians are the spawn of (Rothschild = Ashkenazi) Jews and their Goyim compatriots, don’t want measly meal-worms, as Mark Sturdevant jested; according to Icke they are ravenous for the blood of (blond) Aryans, especially children and menstruating women, and engage in murderous blood-orgies.

    Here’s a documentary that Jon Ronson made about Icke and his followers About 48 min. It’s worth watching. And this is a link to a photo of Walker and Icke taken when she attended a lecture he gave in San Francisco and wanted to meet her savior face-to-face

    I contend that Icke’s reptilian-Rothschild Jew conspiracy constitutes a new kind of Blood Libel, postmodern, secularized, on steroids, influenced by modern science fiction and the ravings of certifiable crackpots (including Icke himself); and it’s a lynchpin in Icke’s monstrous, paranoid, sexually depraved cosmology. Alice Walker absolutely and literally believes and laps up this ordure; the incontrovertible evidence is on her website. She’s even done Icke one better and propounded her own reptilian conspiracy theory of Trayvon Martin’s murder: since George Zimmerman is half-Jewish, he was a murderous reptilian.

    It is the shifting and false distinction between “Jews” and “Rothschild/Ashkenazi Jews that lets Icke claim that he isn’t an anti-Semite, since he drags in that old discussion about whether Ashkenazi Jews are Semites or not, he says not. Alice Walker follows this line of ‘reasoning’. I’m sure that since Icke questions the factual reality of Holocaust, she does, too.

    Furthermore, none of this is new. A huge outcry arose back in 2013, when she first professed her belief in Icke’s doctrines, which occurred around the same time that her book of musings, “The Cushion on the Road,” was published, which contained anti-Semitic statements, and when she went after Alicia Keys for agreeing to perform in Israel. In fact, Some in academia wanted her deplatformed from speaking at various universities, including the University of Michigan. At first the university acquiesced; then the Alice Walker militant and very vocal and defenders went into high gear and high dudgeon and the university caved. Emory U. has always defended her and, I suspect, always will since they’ve developed an Alice Walker industry. Numerous Jewish groups and media outlets excoriated her at that time both for her declaring fealty to Icke and to her anti-Semitic activism. However, I suppose that since the NYT was mum (and the NYT had to have known about all this), none of the outrage at that time counted; so most everyone is now shocked.

    BTW, she’s also praised Alex Jones and even appeared on his show once; however that interview went south pretty quickly because she wanted to talk about evil reptilians, while he was intent on trashing Gloria Steinem and feminism, apparently assuming that since she espoused crackpot theories that he also endorsed, she’d repudiated feminism. Not.

    1. Now Walker tries to deflect the criticism of her espousal of these demented metaphysics as really being about her affiliation with BDS and an attempt to punish her for that. It’s all of a piece. And she’s no martyr except to her own stupidity.

    2. I had seen that Ronson video before. He is how I first learned about Icke’s special brand of crazy. Too many footballs to the head perhaps, but I would find him scary if the lizard stuff wasn’t so bonkers. But then, lots of the far right Alex Jones types believe just as crazy, far out nonsense, so there must be something else that makes him seem more the harmless nutter than dangerous bigot.

    3. Of course, about 80% of Jews are Ashkenazi, so this “I’m not against Jews, just the lizard people” accounts for nearly all the Jews in the world.

  19. Cohen’s piece is remarkable in that it represents a respected and liberal columnist of one of the U.S.’s two greatest papers …

    I’m not so sure Richard Cohen qualifies any longer on either the “liberal” or the “respected” score. Cohen was a neocon cheerleader for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and an apologist for Scooter Libby’s perjury before a federal grand jury.

    Worse, he suggested that Trayvon Martin somehow had the attack by George Zimmerman coming because he was a black kid wearing a hoodie. Worse still, Cohen actually wrote that “[p]eople with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York,” Bill de Blasio, because de Blasio is married to a black woman and a pair of biracial kids, thereby doing exactly what he rightfully condemns the NYT’s Pamela Paul for doing — treating an ugly bigotry as though it were nothing but a mainstream difference of opinion.

    To top it off, Cohen’s got a nasty personal history of sexual harassment in the WaPo workplace. And he’s written that the state of Israel is itself a “mistake.”

    I recall his early days of syndication at The Post when Cohen could pass for a liberal and deserved some respect. Those days are long gone, you ask me.

    1. Well, you might be right, but of course these issues have little bearing on his column about the NYT. Maybe I got the “liberal” part wrong, but it’s not that relevant to this issue. I’ll read the article that, you say, says that because de Blasio had a black wife, it should induce gagging. That’s unbelievable if true.

    2. “Worse, he suggested that Trayvon Martin somehow had the attack by George Zimmerman coming because he was a black kid wearing a hoodie.”

      I’m not saying you’re wrong about this, but could you provide a link?

      1. You can go ahead and say he is wrong, because he is. Zimmerman never attacked Martin. Martin attacked Zimmerman and Zimmermann shot him in self defense.

        1. I just want to see where Cohen “suggested that Martin…had the…attack coming because he was a black kid wearing a hoodie.”

          I don’t think anyone really knows what happened that day, and I’m always suspicious of people who claim to know exactly what unfolded.

            1. “But I can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize.”
              “…understandably suspected because he was black…”
              The “understandably” sounds like classic racism, but the article as a whole is probably intended to be more thoughtful.

            2. Yeah, reading the whole thing, it seems like Ken was being extremely misleading, especially in making it such a declaratory statement.

  20. The survival of antisemitism into the 21st century still amazes me. But then, I used to be amazed by the survival of religion and the two are unfortunately closely connected.

  21. I think the notion that one is defined by what they read or study is utter rubbish straight up. And if not, what then can be made of Jerry’s interest/obsession in Christian theology and the Bible?

    We ALL have interest in things outside our own specific understanding and beliefs, and be it a quest for new or hidden knowledge, a test or intellectual challenge, or just pure entertainment, it entirely rational to consider how others see things differently than ourselves always.

    So the criticism against Ms Walker was just plain silly right off, and to go from that to asserting something about those who may defend her, is building a house of cards with no foundation whatsoever to my own mind. I mean face it folks are here lead nowhere other than to descend into the madness of David Icke…

    Whom I personally think EVERYONE should read as the perfect study for what’s up with too many in our society to begin with.

    You want to know why people ignore science and follow religion, or think global warming is just a man made conspiracy?

    I say look to the likes of Icke as he surely knows the way to delude the masses perfectly.

    Call it a study in human ignorance to be sure.

    1. Umm. . . dd you READ the post and the sources? Walker wasn’t just reading crazy stuff because she was interested; she ABSORBED AND PROMULGATED THAT STUFF. She became an alien-lizard lover and an anti-Semite.

      What’s the matter with you? Can’t you read?

    2. The post most certainly did not judge Alice Walker by virtue of the books on her night stand. Your attempt to hijack and co-opt the argument by recasting it as you’ve done, is a cheap ploy and analogous to the way Alice Walker deceitfully attempts to recast the essence and focus of the criticisms laid at her doorstep by claiming that and the real reason she’s being being persecuted is because she supports Palestinian liberation and is a member of BDS and she’s being silenced and accused of being an anti-Semite because of that and now she’s being made a martyr to the cause. But the essence of the objections is not about that at all; her own words directly link her to the looniest and most sickening kind of anti-Semitism imaginable (not that I think one can really grade such things, but Icke’s cosmology presents a demented “unified field theory” encompassing all other iterations from ‘country club’ anti-Semitism to the Nazis to Holocaust deniers, the Rothschild world domination plots, etc.; an anti-Semitism in which the Jewish reptilian hybrids play a pivotal and unifying role from beginning to end). This anti-Semitism is something far beyond the politics of the day, one state/two state debates, even the violence.

      Alice Walker has publicly declared her admiration for David Icke and her blind allegiance to his doctrines; she is proud of her slavish allegiance and she has proselytized his gospel, not just in the NYT piece, but in her blog and elsewhere.

      The rest of what you have to say is complete blather; but rereading your comment makes me wonder if you might be a believer in the gospel of Reverend Icke yourself, come to this site to raise sand, as they say.

      I find it amusing that what you falsely accuse Jerry Coyne of doing, is precisely something that Pamela Paul espouses: On a recent Forum radio program with Michael Krasny, speaking about something else entirely, she declares that “you can tell a lot about someone depending on whom they read” (about 10:10).Walker also praises a book by Somali Mam that was long ago exposed as a fraud in a Newsweek cover story. In Walker’s case, it does behove one to interrogate the reasons for such discredited books. If Pamela Paul is truly ignorant of the books Walker notes and not only notes but makes favorable comments about, she’s careless, to say the least. In my estimation, Paul could simply have inserted brief footnotes calling attention to the fact that they are questionable texts.

  22. Can you imagine the NYT even giving an interview (AKA promotional material/PR) to a famous author who was, say, a white supremacist? Or an avowed misogynist? No, they only accept and antisemitic black author.

      1. On the one hand, that’s a fair response. On the other, you’ll note that the tone of that article is very, very different from the one done with Walker. Yiannopoulos’ interviewer is challenging him and bringing up every controversy of his, while the tone of Walker’s interview is one of respectful treatment that says to the reader, “this is someone important, wonderful, and you should respect and listen to them.” And, I might add, I find this particularly interesting because Walker has said things at least as hateful as Milo, and believes in things even more hateful. But Walker was treated like a guest of honor.

        So, that link kind of both refutes and supports my point. The world is weird.

        1. Remember that, as Michael Fisher has pointed out above, this weekly feature of the NYT book review is not exactly an interview–it’s a set of questions sent to the person chosen for this feature, from which said subject chooses which questions to answer. I suppose it’s even possible that the staffer who proofread and perhaps edited Walker’s responses was unaware of Icke’s agenda.

          At any rate, IMO it’s the NYT’s wagon-circling response to the objections to the published article that deserves the criticism here, not the revelation of Walker’s true nature. I’m glad this controversy came to light because this is a side of Walker I was not aware of, but Paul’s “we never interfere” defense was more of a disappointing dissembling.

          1. Yeah, I am glad this is coming to light. Apparently, a lot of people aren’t aware of her severe antisemitism and the horrifying things she’s said and written about Jews in the past. Although, we here in the comments section are plugged into these issues. I wonder how many people are really finding out about it and, more importantly, how many of them actually care. Among the circle in which she’s celebrated, this hasn’t managed to make a dent in her reputation, speaking engagements, respect, and so on in the last few years, and I truly doubt it will now. The academic set and intersectionalists will just accept it, quite a few will even agree, and the vast majority of the remaining will have the brief thought of, “well, I wish she didn’t do those things, but it’s not all that important” and forget about it.

            Here’s an interesting paper I found while doing a quick Google search about the black power movement that started in the 50’s and its institutional antisemitism. I guess it might provide quite a lot of the reaoning behind dismissing/tolerating/agreeing with her antisemitism.

          2. If you’re interested, look up the name of that paper’s author. I had never heard of her before my Google search yesterday, but she’s also written some material on the institutionalization of antisemitism on college campuses and in academia.

  23. Icke was just a boring provincial sports presenter when he suddenly started spouting this nonsense. Everyone in Britain assumed he had suffered some kind of mental cataclysm, and pitied him.

    It now seems there is no story so bizarre that someone won’t think: hey, that guy has put his finger on the truth! Tells us something about the human condition.

  24. I’ve got vague memories of his appearance on Wogan and of course turquoise shell suits! But whatever your position on the bigger controversy, the Wikipedia article on David Icke is well worth a read.

    1. This should be post of the year! Jerry should have a round-up on December 30th, and this should be at the top. I say you should send it to his email to make sure he sees it. I’m sure he’ll get quite the kick out of it!

    1. When I heard her speak I thought she was angry at everybody, especially anyone who had anything to do with or took part in business or capitalism in any way

  25. I wasn’t surprised to see this praise for Walker from David Duke It’s not really worth listening to the audio. He drones on for most of an hour, kills a lot of time, and doesn’t have anything new or novel to say about Walker; he uses her as a jumping point for going on about how evil Judaism is. The only novel aspect to this is that he endorses her.

    The title says it all; the rabid right considers her “A Woke Womanist.” She’s praised Alex Jones and even appeared on his TV show. Maybe David Duke can interview her, especially since he considers her “woke” and even uses the very term she coined, “womanism.”

  26. This is by no means meant to exculpate Alice Walker for falling under David Icke’s spell. This is to to elucidate in part why she’s been duped by him. Walker has no real scientific education, which she blames on racism. “I have felt sorely regretful that my science foundation is so…nil,”

    However spotty her early education was in a segregated school, she’s been to college (Spelman and Sarah Lawrence). Plenty of introductory science courses in college. If she’s so regretful, she could have taken some classes. She could have read some science books, heck, she could have hired a tutor. But no. Thus she falls for Icke’s ridiculous assertion that the moon is hollow, a way station for the reptilians from Draco, and the existence of the reptilians. Thus she falls hook, line, and sinker for every crazy pseudoscientific thing Icke says, and gushes over it.

    What she does think she needs to study is pseudoscience, which she mistakes for science. In an early post on Icke, she hubristically states that “more study will be required to feel I truly understand “holographic universe,” and the importance of photon activity in the speeding up of our consciousness. Interdimensionality, shapeshifting, and the “frequency range of visible light” are huge areas for thought; there is as well a need to ponder the relevance of changes in the sun’s behavior to Earth’s quite calamitous climate changes.” What a crock of hooey.

    1. I don’t know. I don’t Walker’s antisemitism comes from Icke; I think she likes Icke’s work because it fits her antisemitism. As we’ve both noted, antisemitism is part of the movement to which she belongs. Moreover, she’s said far worse things about Jews for many years, and many things that aren’t in Icke’s silly book.

      No amount of scientific education can dissuade her that Jews are evil people (or sometimes lizards in people form) conspiring over the centuries to oppress black people and control the world. Antisemitism, like any bigotry, does not require stupidity, and Alice Walker certainly isn’t stupid. And I can’t see how any education in “science” would convince her that she’s wrong in her views.

      There are plenty of highly educated antisemites out there. David Irving is the first that always comes to my mind. I’m certain that Irving has done more to promote the idea that the Holocaust is a fabrication by Jews to gain sympathy (and thus power) than any other person in this world. Often, when I see people (at least those smart enough to say more than “durr Holocaust is a hoax”) argue that the Holocaust is a hoax, they use Irving’s work to back it up. His work has become widespread across the internet and, when presented by intelligent people, it often seems convincing. If somebody isn’t smart enough to do their own research or simply realize how stupid the idea of the Holocaust being a hoax is, I could see how they might be convinced.

      Furthermore, I’ve seen very intelligent people who are convinced the Holocaust didn’t happen, and/or that Jews secretly run the world, and/or believe in myriad other conspiracy theories against Jews. It’s easy to be fooled, especially when antisemitism has become entrenched in a certain part of academia and social justice activism. If one looks at social justice like a religion, antisemitism has become one of its doctrines among a good portion of its various factions.

      Aside: There’s actually a pretty good movie that was released in 2016 called Denial, about the defamation case Irving brought against an Atlanta professor because the professor called him out on being a Holocaust denier in lectures and a book. It stars Rachel Weisz as the professor, Timothy Spall as Irving, and Tom Wilkinson as the lead lawyer for the professor’s defense. I’d give it a watch if you’re interested.

      1. But I didn’t assert that her anti-Semitism came out of reading Icke and that’s “the” reason she’s an anti-Semite. My point was that (IMO) her ignorance of science contributed to her credulity regarding Icke’s claims; and his claims fed into her already stewing anti-Semitism. I don’t think that she was always an anti-Semite; in fact, among other positive expressions re Jews, she’s spoken about black and Jewish women forging a special bond because of their shared oppression. But that was long ago. Most of us carry all manner of conflicting feelings about all kinds of things; who knows what makes one person hate and another try to achieve reconciliation, or turn from love to hate. She says that she’s full of love; but she sure buys into monumental hate.

        I’m sure there are a number of reasons why she’s fallen into this terrible trick bag, and they’re all tangled up. Icke’s only one part. However, as I’ve stated in other comments in this thread, Icke provides a “unified field theory”; and if one buys into it, it can encompass any and all kinds of Anti-Semitism. Alice W is a person who yearns for meaning with a capital “M” and she’s gaga for the Spiritual and mythology. She said that Icke’s writings are like myths, only they’re real.

        I don’t disagree with what you say that highly educated people can be anti-Semites — I’ve met more than one, unfortunately, though most are stupid despite their education. I’ve read a good bit about anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, the blood libel, etc.

        I presume that she got a good basic liberal arts education at the colleges she went to, and maybe she did take some required science courses — if so, they didn’t take. I do think that in her case, her ignorance of even the basics of science is not inconsequential, beginning with the fact that she consciously ties it in with race in a way calculated to play to the emotions instead of the facts, and to elicit visceral sympathy — bad white people depriving a poor little black girl of a chance to look through a microscope, so now she’s ignorant of science, something like that. Spare me, Alice. As I said, she went to college and those colleges have science classes, and there are many other places to learn just the basics if her regret was/is genuine. Instead, she moans about her ignorance of science, blames it on racism, then starts talking about studying what is science fiction. There are plenty of dirt poor black people from the country (and the city) who didn’t get a good basic education, but who’ve overcome that obstacle (and more) and have gone on to be highly regarded in the sciences. She’s long been living in a cloud cuckoo land of New Age/Old time spiritual and mystical gobbledygook, and I would aver that she doesn’t really give a damn about science, but she can feel superior to the rest of us because she claims that she’s a ‘wise woman’ and has a kind of 6th sense about animals and trees (she’s a literal tree-hugger), so she “studies” whatever Icke tells her about this esoteric crapola and thinks she knows something profound and esoteric, and it simply reinforces her own unquenchable need to be special (superior). But now I’m straying into armchair analyst territory.

        I think that there are a number of reasons she ended up in this existential place; I’ve just raised one to the fore.

        1. I’ve read Deborah Lipstadt’s first book, “Denying the Holocaust,” and I take it that the film you mention is based on the book she wrote by the same name, and perhaps also “History on Trial,” neither of which I’ve read yet. She’s a searing writer.

        2. I understand your position better now, though I still don’t see how more education in the sciences would have precluded her insanity. Agree to disagree there.

          Yes, that movie is about Lipstadt and her trial. I was glad to find out that Even if you know the story, it’s still a pretty entertaining watch. Weisz did a great job playing her role as a fiercely devoted a powerful woman.

          Interestingly, I just looked up Deborah Lipstadt. I wanted to see her in a video, and the first that came up was a Ted Talk she gave about Holocaust denial. It is the only Ted video I’ve ever seen that needed to have likes/dislikes and comments disabled 🙁

          1. I do think that more education in the sciences and the scientific method, and some classes in logic — not “would have” but might have helped insulate her from the kooky ideas she’s bought into. However, reading about Kary Mullis in today’s Hili Dialogue is a poof that scientific education doesn’t necessarily (and I stress that word) protect anybody from being a nut case, even a Nobel Prize winner, and I found a list of Nobel kooks. Nonetheless, I think scientific education is necessary. I hate to think what I might believe if I’d had none. I do think that her “insanity” as you call it, and I might call it that as well, especially now, isn’t due to her ignorance, rather her ignorance is fallow ground for crackpot beliefs. Other contributing factors could be her profound egocentricity, which, to me, borders on solipsism; and her need to engage in spiritual exhibitionism and see herself as possessing esoteric knowledge that makes her special and she wants to be fount of wisdom for others to drink from. But if there’s no free will…well, she just can’t help it.

            For some unaccountable reason, I have a morbid interest in certain people who’ve jumped off the Spiritual diving board. First it was Shirley MacLaine, who was a hoot and a half (but also dangerous because people followed her); then decades ago, Alice Walker came on my radar and I’ve been keeping tabs on her sporadically ever since. I’m interested because I’ve known people whom I’ve considered perfectly normal, then one day, they reveal some absolutely nutty belief, and I’m gobsmacked and and wonder how I could have missed the signals. For instance, I’d known a guy for quite a few years, knew he was a bit quirky (quirky not kooky), just a bit, and no hint of anti=Semitism; then one day out of the blue, he informed me, as if he was imparting wonderful new information that I’d be eager to know, that the Holocaust was a lie. That’s when I began seriously reading about Holocaust denial. Walker’s beliefs are so bizarre that I had to learn more about them and couldn’t help speculating on how and why the heck she could come to such beliefs. I’m also astounded that she has been virtually deified; one can’t criticize her at all, either her person or her writing; one must only praise and pay obeisance to the goddess. I don’t know of any other writer who has been essentially deified like this, and that, in itself, piques my curiosity.

            I will definitely watch the film “Denial.” Thanks for the recommendation. I see that I can get it from Amazon Prime. Here’s an interview with her about the movie

  27. An “explanation” of Walker’s anti-Semitism is provided by Nyah Burton, who identifies herself as a black Jewish woman, in her December 28, 2018 New York article. It is the fault of the Jews.

    Burton, writes that the Jewish “focus on black anti-Semitism is hypocritical and distracting” because Walker’s anti-Semitism is “a monster of [the white Jewish community’s] own making.” The “monster” quote is from another woman. Burton writes: “I believe this … .”

    Burton’s article is at:

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