Anti-Semitism is not just a point of view. The NY Times should know better.

Alice Walker stands in front of a picture of herself from 1974 as she tours her archives at Emory University, in Atlanta, in 2009. (photo: John Amis / AP)
What’s lacking from the Times is appropriate shock at Alice Walker’s bigotry and its own refusal to admit a mistake.

By Richard Cohen | The Washington Post | Dec 24, 2018

[NY Times Book Review Editor Pamela Paul] 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

Over the centuries, anti-Semitism has been many things — a religious conviction, an ideology, a national ethic, an unadorned expression of hate and, in more recent times, evidence of sturdy insanity. Now thanks to a New York Times interview with Alice Walker, it’s been reduced to merely a point of view. To cite the Times’s own motto, this interview was definitely not “news that’s fit to print.”

Walker, of course, is a highly praised novelist best known for “The Color Purple,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Her renown is great, and it was no doubt on this basis that the Times interviewed her for its “By the Book” feature that runs in the Sunday Book Review. The trouble started with the first question.

“What books are on your nightstand?” the Times asked. The second book Walker named was “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” by the British conspiracy theorist David Icke. The book is so repellently anti-Semitic that Icke’s usual publisher wouldn’t touch it. Among other things, it endorses that hoary anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which blames evil Jews for much of the world’s ills. The book also suggests that schools ought to balance lessons on the Holocaust with some questioning whether it ever even happened, and it reveals that the world is run by a cabal of giant, shape-shifting lizards, many of whom just happen to be Jewish.

Over the centuries, anti-Semitism has been many things — a religious conviction, an ideology, a national ethic, an unadorned expression of hate and, in more recent times, evidence of sturdy insanity. Now thanks to a New York Times interview with Alice Walker, it’s been reduced to merely a point of view. To cite the Times’s own motto, this interview was definitely not “news that’s fit to print.” . . .

“What books are on your nightstand?” the Times asked. The second book Walker named was “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” by the British conspiracy theorist David Icke. The book is so repellently anti-Semitic that Icke’s usual publisher wouldn’t touch it. Among other things, it endorses that hoary anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which blames evil Jews for much of the world’s ills. The book also suggests that schools ought to balance lessons on the Holocaust with some questioning whether it ever even happened, and it reveals that the world is run by a cabal of giant, shape-shifting lizards, many of whom just happen to be Jewish.

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