The Nation calls for a reformation of the New York Times

May 15, 2022 • 11:45 am

When reader Linda sent me this link from the respected magazine The Nation (free read; click on screenshot below), I was delighted, thinking that writer Dan Froomkin was going to call out the NYT for its one-sided ultraprogressive Leftism that has begun seeping into its news coverage as well as having led to the newsroom’s dominance by social-media loudmouths.

I was out of luck. If anything, Froomkin is chastising the magazine and its previous editor, Dean Baquet, for being too easy on the Right! Click screenshot to read:

Froomkin thinks that the papers’ “both-side-ism” and its failure to call out Republican lies as the lies they are is going to hurt the Democrats during the midterm. His summary:

Under Baquet, the Times has treated the upcoming midterms like any other. Reporters have glibly asserted that Republicans are in great shape to sweep, and win back a majority in one or both houses of Congress. They have unquestioningly adopted the conventional political wisdom that midterms are a referendum on the president, and since Biden is underwater, it doesn’t matter what the Republicans stand for.

But that’s not what these midterms will actually be about. They won’t be about Joe Biden, or putting a “check” on his agenda. They won’t be a “protest vote”.

It’s not just that the GOP has become an insurrectionist party that traffics in hate-filled conspiracy theories and lies. Now the Supreme Court has evidently decided to repeal Roe v. Wade, and Republicans are planning to force pregnant women to term against their will.

For decades, the history of America has been of expanding human and constitutional rights. At this moment, however, we appear to be headed the other way—unless a supermajority says no at the ballot box. Starting in November.

That’s the real story of the midterms.

The goal of a responsible news organization is not to get people to vote a specific way. But it is to make sure that everyone understands what’s at stake.

[JAC: what Froomkin means is “that everyone agrees with me’]

This potential tipping point is what New York Times journalists should be reporting the hell out of. Even more importantly, they need to be putting every daily political story squarely in that context.

Maybe I’ve missed something, but it seems to me that the NYT journalists have been doing that. They would regularly enumerate and point out Trump’s lies, and except for their few token conservative columnists, most oop-eds were precisely about the dangers of the Republican Party and platform.

Apparently not. Froomkin wants every political story to be slanted towards the perfidy of the Right. But is that objective journalism?  Here’s a list of how Froomkin says the Times has failed in its reporting (his quotes) and what the new editor, Joe Kahn, must fix lest our Republic dissolve in acrimony:

  • False equivalence or both-sidesing (“lawmakers from the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts”)
  • Focusing on what works instead of whether it’s true or false (“Republicans are using fears of critical race theory to drive school board recalls and energize conservatives”)
  • Attributing the most obviously true characterizations to “critics” or Democrats (“Rufo…has become, to some on the left, an agitator of intolerance”)
  • Spectacular understatement (“in a move that has raised eyebrows among diplomats, investors and ethics watchdogs, Mr. Kushner is trying to raise money from the Persian Gulf states”)
  • Pox on both your houses (“Democrats, without much to brag about, accuse Republicans of being afraid of competitive elections”)
  • Giving both parties credit for solving problems entirely created by Republicans (“Senate Democrats and Republicans neared agreement…to temporarily pull the nation from the brink of a debt default”)
  • Denial and gaslighting (Republicans “have been intent on rehabilitating themselves in the eyes of voters after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol last year”)

And more of his solution:

It doesn’t mean more “fact-checks” (which are insufficient, euphemistic, and skewed). It means rigorous lie-outing in the main news stories, and more stories about the motives behind the lies.

. . . The Times also needs to report aggressively and plainly on the racism, misogyny, and Christian nationalism that fuels the right, rather than covering it up with euphemisms.

Real independence manifests itself in exposing racial injustice and the civilian toll of US air strikes. It manifests itself in holding accountable institutions like the Supreme Court, the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers of Disease Control, major corporations, and, yes, both political parties—without fear or favor.

What he means by “both political parties” is apparently “one political party”—Republicans. God knows they ar the major danger to our democracy, but the solution to a Democratic victory cannot lie in slanting a paper whose news reporting is biased to the progressive Left towards the even farther left. Or in calling those who vote for Republicns racists, misogynists, or Christian nationalists. For THAT is disinformation!

For one thing, most Americans who vote for Republicans don’t read the New York Times. It would seem a far better for the Democrats to beef up their message to the people on immigration, the economy, and other issues that people care about than for one guy to hector the new editor of the NYT. Face it—we’re near the usual midterm downswing anyway, and it doesn’t help that the Democrats are fractured and Biden often appears senescent, with an all-time low approval rating.

But Froomkin’s solution to the wokeness of the New York Times appears to be for it to become more woke.

Harvard faculty repudiate the student newspaper’s endorsement of BDS

May 11, 2022 • 9:00 am

As I reported the other day, the Harvard Crimson, the school’s well known student newspaper, published an editorial supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, a movement that’s anti-Semitic in that it explicitly favors the elimination of Israel as a state. To me this highlighted the growing problem of anti-Semitism not just at universities (especially “elite” ones), but in the Progressive Left.

Now, however, over 100 Harvard faculty members (and counting) are signing a statement repudiating the Crimson‘s stand. You can find the statement by clicking on the screenshot:

Here are the first four paragraphs, with which I heartily agree.

As members of the faculty of Harvard University, we are dismayed by The Crimson Editorial Board’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. While we may not agree with every point in this statement, and there are many diverse perspectives among us on issues of Israeli policy, the boundaries of academic freedom, and the role of universities as political actors, we are united in our opposition to BDS and The Crimson stance.

We are deeply concerned about the long-term impact of this recent staff editorial on the morale and well-being of Jewish and Zionist students at Harvard, some of whom have already reported that they have become alienated from the newspaper on account of the inhospitable culture that prevails there.

We extend our full support to these students who may now be feeling marginalized and demoralized. We also express our steadfast commitment to Harvard’s ties with Israel, a country that is home to some of the world’s best universities. Our research and teaching missions benefit from these educational exchanges, and we encourage Harvard to grow them further.

While acknowledging the right of those within our campus community to endorse and advocate for BDS, we stand firmly opposed to this movement. In addition to calling for a wholesale boycott of Israeli academia, BDS compromises educational goals by turning the complex and intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a caricature that singles out only one side for blame with a false binary of oppressor versus oppressed.

And that last paragraph is the most trenchant. In fact, Palestine is much more to blame than Israel for the fact that it doesn’t have its own country. They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The demonization of Israel and the valorization of Palestine, a true apartheid state, is one of the biggest missteps the American Left has made, for it contravenes its own values of democracy and equality in favor of a false “oppressor/oppressed” narrative.

One more quote (you can read the full statement at the link above):

We are saddened and disheartened that both the Crimson and the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), to which the Editorial Board gave full-throated support in its editorial, are creating spaces on campus where Jewish and Zionist students are targeted and made to feel unwelcome. In its “Wall of Resistance” art installation at Harvard Yard, callously displayed over the Passover holiday, the PSC equated Zionism with “racism” and “white supremacy.” Such language is shameful and has no place at Harvard. We call out this rhetoric for what it is: anti-Jewish hate speech that is antithetical to the values of any academic institution.

Zionism— the right of the Jewish people to a homeland and self-determination—is a millennia-old tradition, with deep roots in Jewish history and religious practice. It is also a more recent political response to the utter failure to produce freedom and safety for Jews living in most places in the world. To treat Zionism as an illegitimate and oppressive movement, as BDS does, is to ignore history and to deny empathy, respect, and dignity to Jews.

I was pleased to see a friend’s name among the four people whom I take to be those who started the petition.

Initial signatories serve on the Advisory Board of the Academic Engagement Network:  

Gabriella Blum, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Harvard Law School
Jesse Fried, Dane Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology
Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus

Doubtless someone will point out that there are many Jewish names among the signers. Well what did you expect? Don’t you think that a petition calling for moving all African-Americans back to Africa would have a disproportionate number of black signers?

If you want a good overview of this pushback, don’t go looking for it in the New York Times or Washington Post.  The Times of Israel has a bit more information:

The statement was organized by the Academic Engagement Network, a pro-Israel non-profit group. The petition will remain open through the end of the week, and will be presented to The Crimson, Harvard’s president, and other university officials.

One current editor of The Crimson and several prominent alumni of the paper also blasted the BDS endorsement.

Natalie L. Kahn, a Crimson editor and the head of Harvard’s Hillel, in a response published by the Crimson on Wednesday, said the endorsement was one-sided and anti-Jewish.

“This editorial is part of a larger trend of singling out Jews, conveniently neglecting our half of the story — and by extension our right to self-determination — while claiming to ‘oppose antisemitism,’” she wrote.

“This editorial does not even affirm support for Jewish self-determination. Does the Editorial Board believe Israel even has a right to exist? Because, if so, that line is coincidentally missing,” she said.

“Dialogue is not the goal of BDS or student anti-Israel groups, who have refused conversation and rely instead on substanceless platitudes,” she said. “Their goal is demonizing Israel and delegitimizing its right to exist.”

If you doubt the last sentence, do a bit of digging about BDS and its history, though it’s mantra (“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”) says it all.

 

h/t: Norm

Harvard Crimson supports the BDS initiative

May 8, 2022 • 10:15 am

The Harvard Crimson—the University’s student newspaper—came out on April 29 with an editorial supporting the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and for a “free Palestine.” The screenshot of their article is below, and it’s the usual gemisch of historical ignorance and wokeist victimism.  More important, it completely ignores the perfidy practiced by Palestine, the fact that Palestine and not Israel is an apartheid state, the increasingly violent attacks by Palestinians against Israeli citizens (those are war crimes, by the way), the hatred of Jews and Israel taught to Palestinian citizens and children, and the Palestinians’ odious “pay for slay” program that rewards terrorists and their families for killing Jews.

It also skirts the palpable fact that BDS is anti-Semitic. Why? Because the BDS movement explicitly favors the elimination of Israel. Their mantra is “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” You have to be blind not to see that that is a call for the elimination of Israel and its Jews. If you want a longer list of reasons why BDS is anti-Semitic, go here. (Some of the reasons involve the singling out of the Middle East’s only democratic—and Jewish—state as the only target of BDS.)

Every time I claim that the Left is getting more anti-Semitic in America—and I don’t deny that the Right is, too—I get tons of email pushback from those who can’t stomach the thought that the Left is increasingly permeated with hatred of Israel and Jews. (In fact, I got a veiled threat about that this week, daring me to repeat that the Left is growing anti-Semitic.)

But, as in Britain, this happens to be the truth. Increasingly, the American Left is being taken over by the Progressive Left—or at least the Progressive Left that is the vocal face of Leftism; and the Progressive Left adheres to the Victim and Oppression narrative. In this case, Jews are seen as oppressors, and even if not white they are “white adjacent.” As the Crimson editorial states, “It is our categorical imperative to side with and empower the vulnerable and oppressed.”  (But only involving Israel and Palestine.)

The problem is that the Palestinians had many chances NOT to be vulnerable and oppressed (see below) and have rejected them all. Nothing will satisfy them except the total elimination of Israel. And that is anti-Semitic, though its proponents often make it into a euphemism by saying “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”

Palestinians, on the other hand, are seen as people of color, and despite their repeated refusals to accept a “two state” solution first offered by Britain and then several times by Israel (there have been at least seven such offers, all refused by the Palestinians because they want not a state of their own, but the total destruction of Israel). As Abba Eban said after the failed peace talks of 1973, the Palestinians “”never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

The first thing you’ll notice about the editorial is how poorly written it is. Can’t editors of the Crimson, who are Harvard students, write better than this?. But let’s have a look at a few of its assertions. (Be aware that I’m quite ill so my writing may be a bit wonky).  I’ve given some quotes (indented) below the screenshot.

We first and foremost wish to extend our sincere support to those who have been and continue to be subject to violence in occupied Palestine, as well as to any and all civilians affected by the region’s bellicosity. We are not sure how these words will reach you, or whether they’ll do so at all. But our stance isn’t rooted in proximity or convenience, but rather in foundational principles we must uphold — even if (or perhaps especially when) it proves difficult.

. . . This editorial board is broadly and proudly supportive of PSC’s mission and activism, including its recent art display. The admittedly controversial panels dare the viewer to contend with well-established, if rarely stated, facts. They direct our eyes towards the property and land confiscations, citizenship denials, movement restrictions, and unlawful killings that victimize Palestinians day in and day out. Art is a potent form of resistance, and we are humbled by our peers’ passion and skill.

No killings are more unlawful that the wanton slaughter of Israelis civilians by Palestinian terrorists. For some reason the Crimson’s editors have forgotten this! And don’t forget the rockets that Palestine fires willy-nilly into Israel, not targeting military objectives but to terrorize civilians. Of course, the slaughter of Israelis citizens has been rationalized as “justifiable response to occupation.”

In the wake of accusations suggesting otherwise, we feel the need to assert that support for Palestinian liberation is not antisemitic. We unambiguously oppose and condemn antisemitism in every and all forms, including those times when it shows up on the fringes of otherwise worthwhile movements. Jewish people — like every people, including Palestinians — deserve nothing but life, peace, and security.

Except in Israel!

It goes on and on, a one-sided editorial whose message, in the end, is “we favor getting rid of the state of Israel.” If the Crimson wanted a two-state solution, they might have mentioned the number of times that the Palestinians turned one down.

Now nobody denies that the Crimson is a voice of the Left, nor that its editors often go on to obtain powerful positions in journalism. We are doomed to a future in which the Leftist media favor the elimination of the state of Israel. It’s only the center-leftists or centrists who keep our side from going completely down the drain by supporting a patriarchal, homophobic, oppressive, genocidal, and pro-apartheid Arab state.  I am not opposed to criticism of Israel, but I am opposed to BDS, to those who claim BDS is not anti-Semitic, to those who valorize Palestinians as the “victims” of Israeli oppression, to the relentless hatred of Jews perpetuated by Palestinian mainstream and social media, and especially to those on the Left, like these ignorant Crimson editors, who have bought into the Palestinian narrative. (In a week in which three Israeli civilians were axed to death by Palestinian terrorists—before this editorial—do have a look at the Palestinian approbation for the slaughter here.)

************************

UPDATE: I deliberately avoided reading Dara Horn’s piece on the Crimson editorial (it’s at Bari Weiss’s site) until I wrote my own take above. Horn’s deals largely with the propaganda posters erected in Harvard Yard by Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee—posters that, she says, are “[propaganda murals] that would have been at home in any Middle Eastern authoritarian state, where it would have been painted by government lackeys to illustrate classic regime talking points that openly genocidal groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsors in Iran have been pushing to local and Western audiences for years.”

Click screenshot to read:

And a couple of Horn’s quotes on BDS and campus Jew hatred:

The BDS movement, as it’s known, is old news on college campuses and elsewhere; it’s been around long enough that it no longer bothers to hide its goal of eliminating the world’s only Jewish state. But I had to hand it to The Crimson for timing, given that the editorial followed several weeks of terror attacks in Israel during which 15 people were stabbed, shot and car-rammed to death while engaging in such provocative behaviors as drinking at a bar or walking down the street. One victim was an Arab Israeli police officer rushing to the crime scene. Even Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, not known for his Zionism, condemned these attacks. Two of the attackers were apparently connected with Islamic State, a medieval-cosplay sex-slavery outfit whose genocidal goals are entirely unrelated to Palestinian national aspirations. Why after these events, one might ask, would these Harvard students change their position now?

It was apparently the propaganda exhibit in Harvard Yard. Horn gives several photos of the exhibit; here’s one:

And a few more campus episodes:

Last month on Yom Hashoah, the Jewish community’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, the brothers of the Jewish fraternity AEPi were engaged in their annual tradition of reading the names of Holocaust victims when their reading was interrupted by the thumps of eggs hitting their house. Throwing eggs at the fraternity during this commemoration is also now an annual tradition, since it also happened on Yom Hashoah last year. Credit to the egg-throwers: When it comes to Holocaust Remembrance Day, they never forget.

Spitting at Jews is a newer Rutgers tradition, inaugurated just last week, when people leaving a rally at Rutgers advertised as “Defend Al-Aksa, Defend Palestine” made a detour in their car to stop by AEPi in order to shout and spit at the brothers, calling them “baby killers.” This phrase, also known as the blood libel, is “admittedly controversial,” to borrow the Crimson’s wording about the mural. But what bold idea isn’t?

There are more, but I’ll stop here. Those who deny that American elite campuses are pervaded by anti-Semitism are either blind and deaf, or ignorant.

Yes, Virginia, the New York Times is woke

April 17, 2022 • 9:45 am

Here’s an exchange I had with a reader in the comments section of my recent post, “Curmudgeon sees John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ as a harmful song.” I was surprised that there were nearly 100 comments on what I thought was a pretty uncontroversial post. But one never knows what can get readers worked up:

I stand by my reply: any paper aspiring to credibility has to give more than one political viewpoint in its op-eds (granted, the Wall Street Journal is close to just one), and a few conservative columnists in the NYT does not make for an objective, much less an un-Woke, newspaper. What makes me accuse the NYT of wokeism is the way it slants its news reporting, letting a “progressive” liberal ideology seep into the news itself. Its coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict, with a clear bias towards Palestine, is one example. What happened to Bennet and McNeil are two others.

And yet another (or rather, several) is mentioned by Andrew Sullivan in the second part of Friday’s Substack column: “The NYT’s deliberate disinformation“. This refers to the tendency of the NYT to downplay race when a criminal proves to be black, but to emphasize race when the criminal is white and the victim black or a “person of color”—especially if the paper can find a “racist” or “white supremacy” angle. This is so clear in the NYT that I need hardly point it out. The reason, of course, is to indict whites for racism but avoid indicting blacks for racism—a clear double standard, but one reflected in the Woke definition of racism as “prejudice plus power.”

Sullivan’s main example is the recent subway shooting, with ten victims, by a black man who was apparently motivated by hatred of white people. (He also appears to be mentally ill.)  The NYT didn’t mention that the suspect was black until it had written twenty-one news items about the killing, and even tried to twist the suspect’s words to make it seem that he was a white supremacist.

Sullivan:

A mass shooting earlier this week was the worst incident on the New York City subway system in 40 years. The man who committed the attack has an extraordinary voluminous record online of his views, which add critical context to his motivations. And if you wanted to know what those views were, the one place you would be unable to find it was the New York Times. In fact, you found out far more about this NYC terror attack in the pages of London newspapers.

Why? The answer, it seems to me, is simple. Frank James is black. And the NYT treats crime very, very differently depending on the race of the suspect. If a white man had perpetrated this act of terror, and had online rantings about how much he hated blacks, we would be in Day Four of analysis of how white supremacist hatred fuels violence. Imagine if a white man had been yelling the following racial expletives in the streets before shooting up a subway station: “Fuck you and your black ass too, you black racist motherfucker” “Slant-eyed fucking piece of shit.” “You’re a crime against fucking nature, you Spanish speaking motherfucker.” But James said exactly that — if you replace the word “black” with “white” in the first quote.

James is obviously mentally unwell. But what’s notable about him is that this derangement is fused with black nationalism and separatism, and hatred of whites. His vicious insults against black people are because they refuse to see the genocidal motives of white people. . . [JAC: Sullivan goes on to give examples of James’s racism.]

But wait! There’s more:

But here’s the kicker: the NYT kept all of this from you. They excised the black nationalist background, and made it seem as if his railing against his fellow blacks proved he was not driven by 1619 ideology, and was just an equal opportunity hater. In the body of their reporting, it took two full days — after at least 21 news items comprising more than 14,000 words — to note in writing that the dude is African-American at all. Here’s the line they finally coughed up to summarize all this context:

The videos he posted frequently devolved into outbursts of homophobia, misogyny and offensive comments about Black people, Hispanic people and white people. Mr. James, who is Black, directed much of his hatred toward Black people, whom he often blamed for the way they were treated in the United States.

Notice how they manage to invert his actual ideology. They make him seem like a white nationalist! They first highlight his homophobia and misogyny (they are minor themes in the record), and never call him a racist. (Even CNNNBC News, and MSNBC called the rhetoric “racist.”)

Finally:

Now remember how the NYT covered the Atlanta shootings. There they invented a narrative of white supremacist anti-Asian hatred out of thin air — when there was nothing anywhere in the record to suggest it — and posted nine separate stories framed around that hate-crime narrative. This week, they bury reams of readily available evidence that the shooter was largely motivated by anti-white hatred, and had absorbed the prevailing CRT narrative. And still not a single op-ed or editorial on the terror attack, despite multiple opinion pieces in each of the NYC dailies. NYT: All the news that comports with CRT! Everything else buried deep.

Are these kinds of crime rare, as Nikole Hannah-Jones insisted this week? Of the 218 arrests for hate crimes in New York City last year, 103 were of African-Americans — 47 percent, compared with 24 percent of New York’s population. I wonder if James will be prosecuted as such. Or if “hate” only counts for some races and not others.

As far as I know, nobody (including the police) has yet turned up any evidence that the Atlanta “spa shootings,” in which Robert Long killed eight people, six of them Asian women, was a hate crime targeting Asians or motivated by Long’s hatred of Asians. The motivation seems to be Long’s cognitive dissonance between his Christianity and his “sex addiction” to frequenting massage parlors, in which customers would be sexually serviced by Asian women. He was not charged with a “hate crime” when he was given life without parole.  And yet despite the existence of no anti-Asian bias, people brought it up anyway, so eager are they to find evidence of race hatred. Even Wikipedia says this after dispelling a racist motive for the killings:

Some noted the ethnicity of six of the victims, who were Asian women, amidst an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, or characterized the shooting as a hate crime. Some experts have said that race cannot be ruled out as a motive because of the fetishization of Asian women in the U.S. Long said that his actions were not racially motivated.

“Some noted” indeed! People “note” all kinds of unsubstantiated things.  And of course we can’t completely “rule out” the existence of the Loch Ness monster, despite concerted and fruitless attempts to find it.

What we see here is the desperation of some to paint a racist victim narrative. Now it may be true that Long’s act sparked other anti-Asian attacks that were motivated by racism, but that’s not the issue. The issue is what motivated Long himself, and the NYT did all it could to paint this as a hate crime. Indeed, one could conclude that the NYT itself was responsible for a wave of anti-Asian hate crime by painting Long’s attack as one example. The existence of “copycat crimes” is well known.

Why did the NYT slant the news in both cases? Because it’s woke. It has bought into the victim narrative inherent in Wokeism combined with the view that minorities can’t really be racist or commit racist hate crimes because “racism equals prejudice plus power.” Under that mantra, members of racial minorities simply can’t be racist.

No rational person would buy that claim. Anybody who hates people simply because of their ethnicity is a racist. The “power” bit is an add-on to excuse minorities from being racist. The NYT’s valorization of minorities is also seen in the fact that its news section capitalizes “Black” but not “white” when referring to race, and the paperhas offered the lamest of excuses (see also here and here) for this disparity. (The Washington Post capitalizes both.)

If a paper is objective, it does not paint a racial narrative when there is no evidence for one, as in the Asian spa murders. And it does not downplay a racial narrative when there is one, as in the NYT subway killings. If you engage in this kind of doublethink, you are simply causing more racial division—as well as misleading readers by obscuring the truth.

This kind of narrative goes against any vision of treating members of different groups the same way. An objective newspaper wouldn’t do what the Times did. And it does this over and over again (as do other media). There is no credible explanation beside Wokeness.

And I hate myself for doling out $4 a month to subscribe to this paper. But the fact is that it remains the best liberal paper in the U.S., and I’m a liberal. But the Wokeness repeatedly irritates me, as you can see from reading this website.

Strange reporting of a terrorist attack that killed three Israelis

April 10, 2022 • 10:00 am

Both the New York Times and ABC News report a terrorist attack that killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

Three other victims were in serious condition. As ABC News Reports:

Israeli security forces tracked down and killed the alleged assailant in a shootout early Friday near a mosque in Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv, according to statements from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet. The suspect was identified by Shin Bet as a 29-year-old Palestinian man from Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.

This is the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks on civilians, with 14 killed in the last 18 days. Malgorzata sent me a list, as we often don’t hear about these in the U.S.:

22 March, Beersheba, 4 killed, 2 wounded
27 March 2022, Hadera, 2 killed, 12 injured
29 March, Bnei Brak, 5 killed,
31 March, Gush Etzion, one seriously wounded (attacker shot dead)
7 April, Tel Aviv, 3 killed, 12 injured

In this case, both sources lead with the fact that it was a terrorist attack and was committed by a Palestinian.  Other sources haven’t been so clear! (See below.)

The dead included two friends since childhood, 27 and 28 years old, one engaged, killed while enjoying a post-work libation. The other victim was an Olympic kayaker. They were all civilians.

Here’s the former kayaker, a father of three:

The curiosity is how the attack was reported, with many media and nonmedia people being clearly averse to using the words “terrorism” or “terrorist” (this was a clear case of both) and especially to identifying the killer as “Palestinian”. It’s almost as if the word was taboo.

Further, the way the scenario was presented, which was appropriate in the NYT and ABC, was clearly hedged to make the act seem less heinous. Here are some tweets (reported by Elder of Ziyon) showing the media coverage. You can say this is Jewish propaganda dealing with normal reporting, but there’s no denying the commonality of many headlines, leading with the Israeli killing:

Notice that in both cases the killer is identified as Palestinian, but who perpetrated the “attack” or “shooting” is unclear.

In contrast, both the NYT and ABC are clear, though ABC (second headline) is  bit ambiguous. The NYT headline is especially  succinct and accurate.

NYT:

ABC:

But other media used euphemisms, inverted headlines, or omission of “terrorism” or “Palestinian”:

And another. “Inverting the story”—i.e., putting the killing of terrorists by of Israeli soldiers/police as the first bit of the story—has become almost customary in the media. This leaves the impression that Israel “started it”:

But Reuters, which has a long history of distorting the news in favor of Palestine, was the worst, inverting the headline and omitting “terrorism”:

CNN:

And here’s a thread of people who deliberately avoid using the “P word”. I wonder why?

Now this is an interesting tweet.

Yes, the NYT did originally give a positive take on Refaat Alareer, a professor at Islamic University in Gaza City.  But the information depicting Aalareer’s classroom was based on a single visit by a reporter, and Alareer knew the reporter was there. He clearly toned down his critique of Israel at that visit, as an earlier video without reporters present gave a much less flattering picture. In fact, a few months ago the Times‘s editors added this update to the article:

Editors’ Note, Dec. 13, 2021:

After publication of this article, Times editors reviewed additional information that is at odds with the article’s portrayal of Refaat Alareer, a literature professor at Islamic University in Gaza, who was described as presenting Israeli poems in a positive light to his Palestinian students.

In the class witnessed by a Times reporter, Mr. Alareer taught a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, which he called “beautiful,” saying it underscored the “shared humanity” of Israelis and Palestinians. He said he admired how it showed that Jerusalem is a place “where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith.”

However, in a video of a class from 2019, he called the same poem “horrible” and “dangerous,” saying that although it was aesthetically beautiful, it “brainwashes” readers by presenting the Israelis “as innocent.” He also discussed a second Israeli poem, by Tuvya Ruebner, which he called “dangerous,” adding “this kind of poetry is in part to blame for the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine.”

When The Times asked Mr. Alareer about the discrepancy, he denied that there was a “substantial change” in his teaching and said that showing parallels between Palestinians and Jews was his “ultimate goal.” But he said that Israel used literature as “a tool of colonialism and oppression” and that this raised “legitimate questions” about Mr. Amichai’s poem.

In light of this additional information, editors have concluded that the article did not accurately reflect Mr. Alareer’s views on Israeli poetry or how he teaches it. Had The Times done more extensive reporting on Mr. Alareer, the article would have presented a more complete picture.

Good for them!

Now you can say that the other forms of reporting are simply coincidental, but I beg to differ. There is a history of Anglophone media downplaying terrorism and the Palestinian responsibility for it; this is just one of many, many examples. I’m surprised, in fact, that the New York Times is the best of the lot! But kudos for an accurate headline.

The other side, of course, is the obligatory celebration of Palestinians at seeing more Israelis slain by “martyrs”. Their joy is unspeakably horrid, and one wonders, when you see it break out after civilians are killed, what kind of Americans are valorizing Palestinian terrorists and those who call for the elimination of Israel.

What these terrorists are doing resembles what Russia is doing to the Ukraine: killing civilians with the ultimate aim of absorbing another country. Imagine how much stronger our revulsion at Russia would be if we knew that man Russians jumped for joy and handed out sweets every time a Ukrainian civilian was killed!

The obligatory celebration:

The killer’s father celebrates his son’s death.

You get the idea. Just one more sight of the celebrations in Gaza. There’s much more documentation at this site:

There’s no doubt that anti-Semitism is on the rise in America, particularly among “progressive” liberals, who increasingly sympathize with Palestinians because they are seen as “people of color”.  U.S. legislators like Congresswomen Rashida Taleeb, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar regularly laud Palestine and demonize Israel—also supporting the anti-Semitic BDS movement. And much of the U.S. media, increasingly populated by young journalists with “progressive” sentiments, echo this hatred. Is this the way liberals should behave: lauding those who kill civilians and then celebrating it?

Chicago Maroon op-ed editors abase themselves, apologize for posting a letter criticizing anti-Semitism

April 8, 2022 • 12:00 pm

In this week’s Chicago Maroon (our student newspaper), there’s the longest op-ed I’ve ever seen there: a full-two page spread by two op-ed editors. Their goal was to apologize for having published a short op-ed letter by two students that criticized a pro-Palestinian campus group.

But let’s back up.  A while ago, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a notoriously anti-Semitic organization that calls for the elimination of Israel, demonstrated on campus against classes taught by Israeli Jews. On their Instagram page, SJP called for a boycott of classes about Israel or taught by “Israeli fellows,” as people who take those classes show “complicity in the continuation of Israel’s occupation of Palestine” (they consider Palestine to be “from the river to the sea”, i.e. all of Israel, not just the West bank). Their post is below, and of course SJP has the right to post such a thing as well as to demonstrate on campus in favor of it. Yes, they’re misguided, yes, they’re hateful, and yes, I see them as anti-Semitic.  And of course this kind of behavior divides people, but so it goes.

Here’s the SJP post with their addendum

In response, two students wrote a protest (click on screenshot below) whose contents I’ve put below the fold at the bottom of this post. The authors, Melody Dias and Benjamin ZeBrack, characterize SJP’s Instagram post as anti-Semitic, divisive, deliberately ill-timed (they argued that it overlapped with Holocaust Remembrance Day) and, by coercing students not to take classes about Israel or those taught by Israelis, a violation the University’s free speech policy. Although I would have written a different letter (the “timing” issue isn’t that relevant, and we don’t know if SJP did that deliberately), I see the Instagram post as pretty odious and anti-Semitic (or “anti-Zionist” as SJP would say).

You can also see student’s letter objecting to the call for boycott by clicking on the screensho below. It takes you to the letter on the Maroon‘s website. That’s very odd, for the pro-SJP op-ed editors who published it said that they removed the letter on the grounds of factual inaccuracy.  (See below.) They apparently didn’t! (This is why I reprint that letter below the fold.)

After this letter appeared, SJP was furious (see Cravatt’s article below) and demanded that the Maroon take down Dias’s and ZeBrack’s letter be taken down–and other things as well. This is described in Cravatt’s description of the affair from the Jewish News Syndicate (click on screenshot below)

Cravatts reports this:

SJP then demanded of the Maroon’s editors, “in response to these offenses,” the “immediate deletion of the article,” a “public apology issued by the Maroon to SJP UChicago and to Palestinian students for the dissemination of misinformation and the disregard of journalistic integrity and factual reporting,” and, most ominously, “a public recommitment to ensuring that all columns and articles abide by expected standards of accuracy and truth, particularly those written by Zionist authors or on behalf of Zionist organizations.”

Astoundingly, in response to SJP’s absurd demands, two feckless editors—Kelly Hui and Elizabeth Winkler—not only deleted the offending op-ed but published a craven, apologetic editorial of their own. In it, they dissected the op-ed for its perceived factual inaccuracies and justified their decision by claiming that it was the op-ed written by the pro-Israel supporters that could be the source of campus enmity, not the original action of SJP in calling for a boycott of courses about Israel.

Cravatts is not exaggerating here. The craven, apologetic editorial from the op-ed editors is at the screenshot below (click on it). The two editors say they actually removed the letter by Dias and ZeBrack, but it’s still online, so I’m puzzled. But they did cave to all of SJP’s demands:

Let me give a few quotes from this ridiculous “apology”, a disgusting piece of self-abasement (and denigration of Israel) fully worthy of China’s Cultural Revolution:

As Viewpoints editors and members of the UChicago community, we stand against hate and strive to create a productive platform for opinions. On February 17, 2022, we failed in this mission. We made the choice to publish an op-ed that contained factual inaccuracies. These factual inaccuracies, contrary to Viewpoints’s goals, flattened dialogue and perpetuated hate toward UChicago’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UChicago), Palestinian students, and those on campus who support the Palestinian liberation struggle. We failed as Viewpoints editors and as members of the UChicago community when we published this article, which was not fact-checked as thoroughly as it should have been. We deeply regret this oversight and the harm that our decision inflicted. We apologize to every member in SJP UChicago and all others who were affected by this decision, and we vow to take concrete steps, which we enumerate in this letter, to prevent this from happening again.

After further reflection on what we believe the role of opinion journalism should be, we have taken this op-ed down. We do not take this action to hide our mistakes but rather to take responsibility for the damage the op-ed has done and to prevent further harm. Below this apology, we include corrections to the factual inaccuracies in the op-ed and the text of the op-ed itself as context for those corrections and as documentation of our errors and our commitment to redress them.

The “factual inaccuracies” are risible (including the “timing issue”, which is irrelevant), and at any rate factual inaccuracies have never before stopped the Maroon from publishing letters before. What Hui and Winkler are doing are truckling to the SJP, denigrating Israel, promoting Palestine as a victim of Israeli aggression, and getting rid of contrary opinions by (suposedly) deleting the offending letter. Of course the factual inaccuracies promulgated by the SJP (e.g., the “apartheid state” myth) are ignored.

What’s really funny is that Hui and Winkler actually say they’re supporting the U of C’s free-speech policy by taking down the letter:

Viewpoints is a space that intends to facilitate free speech on campus and in the surrounding communities, and a large part of that facilitation is diligent fact-checking. It is our editorial responsibility to ensure that our writers’ words are grounded in facts, and by choosing to publish this op-ed, we did not fulfill this responsibility. As a result of this failure, the factual inaccuracies in this op-ed were used to delegitimize and undermine SJP UChicago’s campaign and the larger movement on campus and beyond for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.

That’s about as disingenuoous as you can get.

But bit of rhetoric really baffles me as they purport to support free speech (my bolding):

As Viewpoints editors, we seek to break the pattern of anti-Palestinian rhetoric in The Maroon.  As student journalists, we are learning from our mistakes and committed to growing into more thoughtful and ethical writers and editors. In working toward this goal, we acknowledge the same damaging pattern within many journalistic institutions, particularly in mainstream news outlets, and we seek to combat this within our own newspaper. We must include conversations about power and safety in our decisions about how we should platform the voices in our community, and we must reexamine the idea of journalistic objectivity. As Viewpoints editors, we believe that our commitments to journalistic integrity and The Maroon’s mission require us to take political and cultural contexts into account in our coverage. We are committed to free speech and to considering opinions submitted from all sides of a story—free speech cannot be opposed to critical thought and nuance. We must acknowledge the potential for our coverage to perpetuate imbalances of power and to threaten the safety of members of our community. We want Viewpoints to be a space in which students and community members can express their opinions freely, without creating an environment in which other students are no longer safe to share their opinions and realities.

Yet they’ve just violated their pledge, presumably because the innocuous objections of Dias and ZeBrack, who stand AGAINST hate, are considered as promoting hate.  This next paragraph is bizarre:

In working to achieve this goal of inclusion and productive discourse in Viewpoints, we must acknowledge that our decision to remove the op-ed may affect Jewish students on campus. The factual inaccuracies in the op-ed were used to support Zionist and racist sentiments that relied on oversimplified narratives, setting Jewish people and Palestinian people at odds and presenting both communities as generalized monoliths without any acknowledgement of the multifaceted identities we know to exist in these communities. Given this narrative, we understand that removing the op-ed from the website could be seen as stifling Jewish voices, but that would go against our values of inclusion and free speech and contribute to the antisemitism that is already all too present in the lives of our Jewish peers. We want to emphasize that we are committed to providing a welcoming platform for dialogue that is founded on facts. We have removed the op-ed in accordance with the values we described above and because of the factual inaccuracies we detail below.

Short take: “we favor free speech unless we find any inaccuracies in it. And we deplore hate (see below), except when that hate is directed by SJP against Israel and classes about Israel. If there are violations, we simply censor the offending speech and grovel for harming the feelings of SJP members.”

Yes, free speech is fine so long as it doesn’t cause harm, as Hui and Winkler note below:

Additionally, we recognize that The Maroon as an institution has a history of publishing and contributing to anti-Palestinian sentiments on campus and beyond, and SJP UChicago has compiled and protested articles they see as fitting this pattern. Within this history, Viewpoints has particularly failed in seeking out and representing the voices of Palestinian students. Although we cannot undo these harms, especially the role of Viewpoints in contributing to said dangerous rhetoric, we are committed to doing better through a larger and ongoing reevaluation of our editing processes for opinion pieces.

. . . We stand against hate in all forms. We condemn the pitting of Jewish and Palestinian students against one another, and we deeply regret the extent to which the op-ed’s factual inaccuracies—which we should not have published—perpetuated such a harmful dynamic. We support both Palestinian and Jewish communities and condemn anti-Palestinian and antisemitic rhetoric on campus and beyond.

Did it even cross their minds that the SJP’s post was really the vehicle of hatred, harm, and rhetoric, implicitly anti-Semitic and explicitly divisive? Nope, they forgot about that in their desire to bend their knees to SJP. And they don’t stand against “hate in all forms”; that is an arrant lie. For they don’t say a word about the hatred and inaccuracies promulgated by Students for Justice in Palestine.

I don’t know what world Hui and Winkler live in, but it’s a world in which only beleaguered Jews can create “hate” by objecting to anti-Semitism. The hatred of pro-Palestinians for Israel is ignored, and the anti-Semitism itself, characteristic of SJP, is perfectly fine. It’s clear that these op-ed editors are deeply biased—so biased that it’s wrecked their usefulness as editors. Indeed, the main editor of the newspaper has sanctioned them, adding this to the beginning of their apology:

Note from Gage Gramlick (editor-in-chief) and Yiwen Lu (managing editor): Viewpoints maintains partial editorial independence from The Maroon. This means that the following apology does not constitute an institutional perspective and represents only the views of the current Viewpoints Head Editors. TheMaroon is committed to serving our community in its entirety: We condemn hate of all kinds, and we are committed as individuals and as an institution to engaging meaningfully and completely with the subjects of our coverage and all community voices. We hope that this apology generates further conversation, and we strongly encourage readers to respond. Additionally, as per Viewpoints policy, the writers of this apology will be barred from editing any submissions pertaining to the removal of the op-ed, the apology itself, or Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago.

Of course Gramlick had to give the obligatory “we condemn hate” statement, but the operant result is that Hui and Winkler can no longer deal with articles about the SJP or with any further letters about the group’s behavior.

The upshot: everybody had a right to say what they said; it’s free speech, Jake! But Hui and Winkler behaved unprofessionally in their duties as editors, and I think their punishment was both justified and fair. There are no new letters to the editor so far, but there are eight comments after the “we were bad editors” apology, and all eight are critical.

I should add this: over the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve see anti-Semitism growing at the University of Chicago, just as it’s growing in many colleges and, indeed, widely in America. I don’t ask the University of Chicago to condemn it, for that is taking a political/ideological stand that may violate our Kalven principles. And I have to add that it may be that the anti-Semites and Israel haters have simply become more vocal. But what I do know is that I haven’t seen Jewish students attack Palestine or give demonstrations against it, while the reverse is not the case. The hatred goes largely one way, and Hui and Winkler have got the direction wrong.

Click “read more” to see Dias’s and ZeBrack’s letter:

Continue reading “Chicago Maroon op-ed editors abase themselves, apologize for posting a letter criticizing anti-Semitism”

Anti-semitism in mainstream Western media: The AP and the BBC

January 10, 2022 • 11:15 am

When an institution or media outlet goes after Israel itself every chance it gets rather than criticizing specific Israeli policies, or drags in policies (“occupation” is the main one) every chance it gets, whether or not they’re relevant, then you know that that organization is verging on anti-Semitism or is indeed anti-Semitic. Just the frequency of resolutions passed by the UN, overwhelmingly against Israel rather than countries far more invidious, shows you the degree of Israel hatred of that body.

When I saw the Associated Press article about the lorry/car crash in the West Bank that killed eight (below), I was taken back at the gratuitous criticism at the end, and then I remembered that the AP had been criticized for anti-Israel bias before (see below), and I had posted about it several years ago.

I reproduced the text of this article in this morning’s Hili news, but there was only one comment about it, and it deserves a bit more scrutiny:

Here’s the whole AP article and headline; click either to go to the site, though I’ve reproduced the whole thing.

 

Now half of this article is devoted to criticism of Israel and the disparity between the wages of Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank. Do be aware that this disparity is not between the two groups when working for individual Israeli companies, for wage discrimination against “guest workers” is illegal under Israeli law.

I am not arguing about the settlements here, but about a). the nature of wage disparities, b). the cause of wage disparities, and c). why on Earth the AP would devote half its article to a completely irrelevant indictment of Israel when simply reporting on a vehicular accident involving Palestinians.

The anti-Israel sentiment is not only misguided but totally gratuitous, and that’s all I’ll say about that. As for the relative poverty of Palestinians, it’s not due to wage discrimination by Israelis, but by the nature of Palestine itself. First, if the PA and Hamas didn’t spend so much money on rockets and terrorist attacks, often enlisting young children to help dig tunnels under the Israeli border, they’d have a LOT more money to improve their country. This is a choice made by the government and many Palestinians. Second, when nearly every Palestinian child (and yes, I mean almost every one) is taught from the beginning of school that the most laudable ambition they could have is to die a martyr fighting against Jews, how do you expect kids to grow up with ambition to better themselves or the Palestinian territories?

Why the AP threw in a superfluous and erroneous slur like this is best left to them, but I don’t think that even the New York Times would tolerate this kind of biased and shoddy journalism (its biases are more subtle). Note too the mention of Israelis trying to save Palestinian lives, something that is done regularly by Israel—even trying to save the lives of Hamas leaders—but completely ignored by the West. Is this the action of an apartheid state? Even South Africa under apartheid wouldn’t go to such lengths to help the oppressed.

Israeli hospitals also train Palestinian doctors who go back to their territory and save the lives of potential terrorists who could kill Israelis (in the case of Hamas leaders, that’s their precise aim). When I asked Malgorzata why Israeli hospitals help the enemy this way, she responded, “That’s just what Israelis do.”

To see more about the AP’s bias, read this longish piece from The Atlantic by Matti Friedman, who worked for the AP (click on screenshot; another Friedman article from Tablet is here). Both pieces are from 2014, but, as far as I can see, things vis-à-vis the biases of Western “liberal” media have only gotten worse:

On to the annual awards of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for the top ten countries or institutions that are anti-Semitic. Most of them (Iran, Hamas, CAIR, JVP, and so on) are familiar to me, but one of them struck me. It’s #3 on the list below; click the screenshot to see the pdf:

And. weighing in at #3, right after Iran and Hamas, is this (remember, this is just a list for last year, not the all-time top ten):

 

I’ll let the Brits or the journalism mavens argue this out, but if you’re defending the BBC, you must defend the facts adduced above.

Reverend Warren’s weekly bromide and sermon in the New York Times

December 12, 2021 • 2:00 pm

Why, oh why, does the New York Times continue to print an Anglican priest’s useless lucubrations week after week after tedious week? For the Reverend Tish Harrison Warren, on deadline, always decides to write a column with the theme, “How can we improve our lives by pondering Jesus?”  There’s a slight variation this week, for she’s pondering Mary as well as Jesus. Click on the screenshot if you love Jesus:

The email bringing me Rev. Warren’s words (ceiling cat help me, I subscribe) was headed: “What Mary can teach us about the joy and pain of life.” Well, what can the fictitious virgin teach us about those things? Simply this: life is a mixture of joy and pain.  We know this because Mary was told by an angel that she will have a great son, but at the same time she is greatly troubled, for she senses her son will come to no good end nailed to the cross. She had joy and heartbreak.

And so we learn that we have joy and heartbreak, too, and you can’t have one without the other. (Not true: many people have a ton of heartbreak and no joy.) The Reverend Warren:

Mary was called by God, and her life reminds me that the vocations that God calls us to inevitably involve both joy and pain. “Love and loss are a double helix this side of heaven,” I write in my book “Prayer in the Night,” “You can’t have one without the other. God’s calling on our lives will inevitably require us to risk both. We know this dappled reality in the most meaningful parts of our life: in struggling through marriage or singleness and celibacy, in loving and raising children, in our work, in serving the church,” and in our closest friendships.

(I think she stole the odd adjective “dappled” from another religious source, Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Pied Beauty.”)

How many times have you heard something like this, but without the goddy part? It’s simply the old bromide that life has both pain and joy.

And then comes the sermon: we can’t fill the hole in our lives without God and Baby Jesus, for the hole is God-shaped:

When I feel loneliness, loss and the emptiness present in even my very good life, I rush to fill it up. Winds of emptiness echo in a hollow moment of my day, and I run to distraction. I stuff my waking moments with busyness, social media, argument, work and consumption. These can be cheap attempts at joy, or at least at numbing any sense of grief.

But Mary’s story recalls that joy can’t be gotten cheaply. The pain of the world cannot be papered over in a sentimental display of tamed little angels and a cute, chubby baby Jesus. The emptiness in the world and in our own lives can’t be filled with enough hurry or buying power or likes or retweets. We wait for the birth of Jesus, who was called Emmanuel, God with us. We wait with Mary for our hunger to be filled.

This seems nothing more like an attempt to converting readers to Christianity. It’s surely more than Warren’s own personal story, for she tells it to “us”, and also informs “us” what we should do to fill our void. Or is she sayng something else? What is the sweating Reverend trying to say?

But now it’s time to head home, where I have Pinker’s new book waiting for me, a t-bone steak marinating in the fridge, and a good bottle of red wine to accompany it.  For me, at least, joy can be gotten pretty cheaply: the price of a steak, a book, and some Rhone wine. As far as I’m concerned, Baby Jesus can wait.

Oh, and joy is absolutely free at Botany Pond, where Draco and Molly are the sole residents this sunny but chilly afternoon. Honey and her swain are long gone.

Scientific American again posting nonscientific political editorials

November 11, 2021 • 9:15 am

I have no idea why Scientific American is publishing editorials that have absolutely nothing to do with science. Yes, they have gone woke, and yes, they’re circling the drain, and while they of course have the right to publish what they want, they’ve abandoned their mission to shill for the progressive Democrats.

The latest shrill editorial is a critique of CRT implying that those who oppose its teaching in schools in whatever form, and are in favor of anti-CRT bills, are white supremacists. If you don’t believe me, read the article below. First, a screenshot from Jesse Singal, who rightly mocks the editorial staff of Scientific American:

I myself am against anti-CRT bills because how CRT is interpreted differs widely among people.  As the authors note correctly, these bills are sometimes construed as meaning that schools can’t teach anything about racial inequality or the genocide of Native Americans. I think school should teach that, but also that they should not set race against race, which, as we know, some schools are doing.

So, contra this editorial, I think there is something to be concerned about: woke teachers, of which there are plenty, propagandizing their students and spreading divisiveness. I’m not going to give all the examples that I’ve posted on this website, including the new curricula at NYC’s private schools that have angered (liberal) parents, California’s original draft of its ethnic studies curriculum that was pretty much anti-Semitic (that’s okay, it’s fine to diss the Jews), and the class where students had to paint their skin colors, or another where they compared their skin color to a chart that was, in effect, a way to measure how oppressed you are. If you think there’s not a problem, look what happened in Virginia. You can’t have your woke ideology and Democratic governance too—not with the sentiments of most Americans being what they are.

So yes, I’m in favor of teaching the very unsavory bits of American history, and are opposed to state laws that, designed largely by Republicans, are meant to prevent such instruction. But what you cannot do is say that CRT is never taught in classrooms, nor that all parents who oppose what’s going on in schools are racists and white supremacists. As Andrew Sullivan wrote last week:

And when the Democrats and the mainstream media insist that CRT is not being taught in high schools, they’re being way too cute. Of course K-12 kids in Virginia’s public schools are not explicitly reading the collected works of Derrick Bell or Richard Delgado — no more than Catholic school kids in third grade are studying critiques of Aquinas. But they are being taught in a school system now thoroughly committed to the ideology and worldview of CRT, by teachers who have been marinated in it, and whose unions have championed it.

And in Virginia, this is very much the case. The state’s Department of Education embraced CRT in 2015, arguing for the need to “re-engineer attitudes and belief systems” in education. In 2019, the department sent out a memo that explicitly endorsed critical race and queer theory as essential tools for teaching high school. Check out the VA DOE’s “Road Map to Equity,” where it argues that “courageous conversation” on “social justice, systemic inequity, disparate student outcomes and racism in our school communities is our responsibility and professional obligation. Now is the time to double down on equity strategies.” (My itals.) Check out the Youtube site for Virginia’s virtual 2020 summit on equity in education, where Governor Northam endorsed “antiracist school communities,” using Kendi’s language.

A main reason Youngkin won in Virginia is that parents didn’t like this kind of instruction—a curriculum over which they had no say. Maintaining, as the article below does, that Democrats should just “keep it up” is a recipe for disaster down the line. This piece could have been written (and indeed perhaps was written) by “progressive” Democrats. And it doesn’t belong in a magazine about science, any more than an article about the nuances of string theory belongs in The National Review or New York Magazine.

Again, click to read:

Some quote from the Sci Am piece (indented):

The recent election of Glenn Youngkin as the next governor of Virginia based on his anti–critical race theory platform is the latest episode in a longstanding conservative disinformation campaign of falsehoods, half-truths and exaggerations designed to create, mobilize and exploit anxiety around white status to secure political power. The problem is, these lies work, and what it shows is that Democrats have a lot of work to do if they want to come up with a successful countermessage.

Conservatives have spent close to a century galvanizing white voters around the “dangerous” idea of racial equality. When such disingenuous rhetoric turns into reality, the end result is criminalizing educational programs that promote racial equality. [JAC: Criminalizing?] Youngkin, who pledged to “ban critical race theory on Day One,” frequently repeated this promise at his “Parents Matter” rallies across the state in the final months of the campaign.

But in his campaigning, he and others misrepresented what critical race theory (CRT) actually is: a specialized intellectual field established in the 1980s by legal scholars Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda and Stephanie Phillips that emphasizes the unique historical role that legal systems play in upholding and producing racial inequalities in the United States.

The authors need to grasp what Sullivan says above. These authors are promoting a false view of what’s happening: that no aspects of CRT is seeping into public schools.

And here the authors claim that the anti-CRT movement (even the kind of watered-down CRT mentioned above) is motivated solely by white supremacy and racism:

Conservative anti-CRT rhetoric and the accompanying bills introduced and enacted by Republican state legislatures across the country comprise a disinformation campaign designed to manufacture white grievance in the service of white power. These policies reveal the need for researchers and scholars concerned with the quality of democratic debate to treat white supremacy as a disinformation campaign and to incorporate an honest accounting of America’s racial history and legacy of present-day inequality into all levels of education.

. . .Elections never depend on a single factor, and it’s not unusual for the party that captures the presidency to lose ground. That said, the perceived success of conservatives’ anti-CRT campaign will likely further legitimate explicit appeals to whites like those famously used by former President Trump. This will likely have long-lasting consequences. It further organizes U.S. politics around hardened racial and ethnic coalitions: a majority-white Republican Party and a multiethnic, multiracial Democratic Party. The Republican Party promises to maintain white people’s status at the top of the social hierarchy, while anti-CRT rhetoric conveys that this is justifiable.

I am a Democrat and am wary of the racial polarization of schools as it’s happening in many places, as well as ideological propaganda fed to kids. Not everybody who voted for Youngkin was a white supremacist, for crying out loud! Read Sullivan’s article, “The Woke meet their match: parents.” But wait! There’s more!:

Unfortunately, we know from history that white racial mobilization is a potent force, both at the ballot box and in attempts to subvert it.

This disinformation campaign must be directly confronted. Rather than dismissing manufactured concerns over critical race theory as fake, Democrats should embrace the robust teaching of America’s racial history in our public schools and make an affirmative case for why it matters for American values of fairness, equality and justice. Democrats should then focus on articulating how attacks on critical race theory are meant to divide people of all races who otherwise share interests. Rather than dismissing these attacks on CRT as isolated incidents, Democrats should mount their own sustained and coherent campaign to argue affirmatively for diversity, equity and inclusion programs and complementary efforts such as the 1619 Project.

Conservatives are unified around anti-CRT rhetoric. Now it is time for Democrats to form the same united front, to own that racism is real and to call out conservative legislative efforts designed to outlaw the teaching of racial inequality for what they are: a fitting example of how legal systems uphold racial inequality in the United States. This, of course, is exactly what CRT is trying to point out.

The last sentence, about legal systems upholding racial inequality, is absolutely debatable and should not be taught without careful parsing about what you mean by “legal systems.” The problem here is that this kind of facile and dubious assertion is already causing divisions among Americans and playing straight into the hands of Republicans. In the editorial above, the authors are staying “stay the course, full steam ahead”, while every other sensible Democrat is saying, “Wait! What happened? What can we do about it?”

The authors don’t seem to get out much, and really should pay attention to what Sullivan says here:

And if the culture war is fought explicitly on the terms laid out by the Kendi left and the Youngkin right, and the culture war is what determines political outcomes, then the GOP will always win. Most Americans, black and white, simply don’t share the critique of America as essentially a force for oppression, or want its constitution and laws and free enterprise “dismantled” in order to enforced racial “equity.” They understand the evil of racism, they know how shameful the past has been, but they’re still down with Youngkin’s Obama-‘08 impression over McAuliffe’s condescending denials and the left’s increasingly hysterical race extremism.

Instead, the authors take the stance of the Kendi-an left.

But why is Scientific American publishing this kind of debatable (and misleading) progressive propaganda? Why don’t they stick with science?  As a (former) scientist, I resent the intrusion of politics of any sort into scientific journals and magazines. If I want to read stuff like the above, well, there’s Vox and Teen Vogue, and HuffPost and numerous other venues.

I wonder how long Scientific American will last. . . . .

More anodyne cures for the world’s ills by Reverend Tish Harrison Warren

October 24, 2021 • 11:15 am

Yes, Tish Harrison Warren, the Anglican priest who writes a weekly column to fill up empty space in the New York Times, has once again proffered a cure for the nation’s ills. It’s trivial and far from new, but at least it doesn’t involve God.  The email I got with the column (Ceiling Cat help me, I subscribe) was headed, “Why chatting with your barista could help save America.”  In the paper (click on screenshot below), it has a different title:

The entire thesis can be summarized with one of her paragraphs:

To learn how to love our neighbors we need cultural habits that allow us to share in our common humanity. We need quiet, daily practices that rebuild social trust. And we need seemingly pointless conversation with those around us.

By “pointless,” she means “avoiding hot-button issues like politics”. Her notion, which many others have suggested before, is that you can heal divisions between people by getting the “sides” to know each other. If you like or at least are friendly with a political opponent, you’ll find a way to eventually agree on politics.

This simple message, however, is unlikely to heal any divisions—after all, are citizens supposed to wait until they discuss these issues?—or are they supposed to become pals with their barista before bringing them up? Warren dilates at length about her hale-fellow-well-met Texas dad whom everybody loved and nobody hated, for he just cracked jokes and made pleasantries. He didn’t talk politics.

It goes on and on and on, without telling us how, after we’re pals with Trumpies, we can then begin to discuss abortion, the border, the unstolen election and so on.

And so we have the Paper of Record giving us stuff like this:

I see moments of this in my own life. I moved states recently and feel the loss of seemingly unimportant local relationships I’d built where we lived before. I have no idea if my favorite former barista and I shared any political or ideological beliefs. We likely disagree on important issues. But I don’t care. I know he adores his infant niece and I regularly asked how she was doing. He is working to get through grad school, and I found myself genuinely rooting for this person I barely knew.

Each of us is more than the sum of our political and religious beliefs. We each have complex relationships with the people we love. We each have bodies that get sick, that enjoy good tacos or the turning of fall. We like certain movies or music. We laugh at how babies sound when they sneeze. We hurt when we skin a knee. The way we form humanizing, nonthreatening interactions around these things taps into something real about us. We are three-dimensional people who are textured, interesting, ordinary and lovely. . . .

. . . Of course, to heal the deep divisions in our society we need profound political and systemic change. But though we need more than just small talk, we certainly do not need less than that. As a culture, our conversations can run so quickly to what divides us, and this is all the more true online. We cannot build a culture of peace and justice if we can’t talk with our neighbors. It’s in these many small conversations where we begin to recognize the familiar humanity in one another. These are the baby steps of learning to live together across differences.

Yes, and maybe if the Taliban got to know more Afghan women they would eventually allow them to go to school. Maybe if more Texas lawmakers had cake and coffee with pregnant women they would rescind their draconian anti-choice law. When Lyndon Johnson rammed the Civil Rights Bills through the Senate, he didn’t make small talk with the Senators. He used his leverage and power to bring around the Southern opponents.

Yes, we have to be able to discuss things civilly, for then, so they say, consensus will come. That’s what Biden ran his campaign on, and look where it’s gotten him.

How much longer will the NYT torture us this way?