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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Anti-Semitism Is Racism, Not Politics

See below correspondence with New York Times advertiser Borders, which speaks for itself. Their initial response:

Please note that although some websites may have our ads posted, they are in no way affiliated with our company. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have created for you.

My reply:

Can you possibly imagine the New York Times posting a reader's comment saying, "Pakistanis are the most stupid people on the face of the earth"? No way would this ever happen: this is absurd, racist and abusive in the extreme. If it were posted, the editors of The Times would react in a heartbeat to remove the offending comment and apologize for the error in judgment.

Why, then, when the New York Times actually posts a comment saying that Jews are the "most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/07/anti-semitism-still-awaiting-response.html) is the comment not removed, the "moderator" not fired, and The Times's staff of editors indifferent? My belief is that "risqué" expressions of anti-Semitism, which titillate both the extreme Left and Right, increase Web hits and enhance advertising revenues.

How dangerous can this be, if we are only talking about readers' comments ("Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me . . ."). Answer: The Times tells us that comments are reviewed by its "moderators" and "generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive," i.e. a leading national U.S. news organization has concluded that anti-Semitism is "not abusive", or equally offensive, has determined that labeling Jews as the "most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth" is not anti-Semitic.

Furthermore, we're not talking about an isolated incident. Over the past year the posting of vulgar anti-Semitic readers' comments has occurred regularly at The Times (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/search/label/anti-Semitism).

I kindly request that Borders cease advertising with The New York Times until such time as they remedy this outrage.

Their response:

While we appreciate your feedback, as stated previously, this is not one of our affiliates. As a Borders ad may have been posted on this site, this does not indicate that we neither agree nor disagree with the current subject. We do not take any political stance and instead strive to remain a neutral place where customers can gather information about any topic and any opinion. I've forwarded your comments on to the Borders Mail Editorial team for their consideration.

My reply:

This matter does not involve a political stance. Rather, we are talking about Borders paying a news organization to place advertising on a web page where the news organization has agreed to post vulgar anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

Would you agree to advertise on a page where the news organization agreed to post, following that organization's so-called "moderation", a reader's comment stating "Catholics are the most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth"? Obviously you would not.

Would you agree to advertise on a page where the news organization agreed to post, following that organization's so-called "moderation", a reader's comment stating "Blacks are the most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth"? Obviously you would not.

So why agree to advertise on a page where the news organization agreed to post, following that organization's so-called "moderation", a reader's comment stating "Jews are the most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth"?

Moreover, this was not a one-time occurrence at The New York Times; it has happened repeatedly over the past year, as can be easily seen (see for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/06/open-letter-no-2-to-clark-hoyt-public.html). In addition, although the Public Editor and the Publisher of The New York Times were informed of this offensive comment, they have not removed it.

Again, I kindly request that Borders cease advertising with The New York Times until such time as they remedy this outrage.

Their response:

Feedback from valued customers like you is essential to us as it allows us to keep in touch with areas where we can improve our services. Your comments regarding the appearance of our online ads in the comments sections of various New York Times articles will be included in our regular reporting to our various departments and in information presented to the executives at Borders. While I cannot guarantee that a change will be made, we appreciate your sending us your thoughts.

7 comments:

  1. I wish you had asked why the Borders bookstore in Scarsdale, New York does not carry Michael Oren's "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: The United States in the Middle East, 1776 to 2006." New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0393330304, not even the new paperback edition.

    Whoever decides what books to carry in-store at Borders obviously has an anti-Israel bias.
    I was there on July 14, also looking for Paul Berman's "Flight of the Intellectuals". The in-store computer said Berman was in stock, but refused to mention where to look. There was a gap on the shelf in Political Science where Berman might be, but I found it curious that it was not on the end aisle display instead of reprints of old David McCullough books such as "Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870—1914" from 1977.

    Scarsdale may have a large liberal Jewish population, but there is no excuse to exclude Oren's contribution to American history in a store of that size, or to have so many books on Palestinian history on the Israel/ME history shelf, where, as one example, Kai Bird's "Crossing Mandelbaum Gate" had full front display.

    By contrast, the much smaller independent Womrath's in Bronxville, which once upon a time excluded Jews from home ownership, had Oren's book in stock, and displayed Berman with new non-fiction. Looked like it was selling well.

    K2K

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  2. Thanks, K2K.

    New messages sent today to Intel, BioClean and Sallie Mae.

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  3. badabing-badaboom.

    Don't you love the way these mainstream enterprises sideswipe you with these courtesy-type replies which are always a euphemism for "get lost"?

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  4. These enterprises need to be told, as I informed Holland America Line (see comment 9 to the prior blog entry), that if they continue to subsidize this hatred, their customers will indeed "get lost".

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  5. "Mainstreaming Hate: How media companies are using the Internet to make anti-Semitism respectable"
    By Lee Smith | Jul 21, 2010 7:00 AM
    http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/40064/mainstreaming-hate/

    "Playing With Fire: When the comments field turns ugly, who should be held accountable? Plus: A Jew-baiter’s lexicon."
    By Lee Smith | Jul 29, 2010 7:00 AM
    "Last week this column argued that major media organizations were mainstreaming the opinions of anti-Semitic commenters in the hopes of boosting traffic on their websites. ..." http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/40762/playing-with-fire/

    K2K

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  6. Thanks again, K2K. I added to Smith's article a comment, which has yet to elicit a single response.

    New message today to Parexel.

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  7. JG: Good luck with your campaign.

    Today, I was at a Barnes & Noble in the Valley of the Literate (nickname for the Five-college area of Western Massachusetts). Not a single copy of Paul Berman's "Flight of the Intellectual", or Oren. (I confess to changing the full front display of Kai Bird on the Asia to Middle East history shelf to display a book on Afghanistan instead).

    This is a troubling problem - censorship by the big booksellers. Amazon sales rank is 14,705, B&N.com rank is 42,125, higher than Kai Bird at 47,448 and 45,294 respectively. (Both books were published about same time)

    I cite Berman because his book has been widely reviewed since May, and I would expect it to still be on the shelves where I browse for books.

    Must be another JournOList plot :)

    K2K

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