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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can Intellectualizing Alone Keep Us from the Gas Chambers?

Can you possibly imagine a New York Times "moderator" 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 "moderator" would instantly lose his position and 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 a New York Times "moderator" 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 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. As you all know by now, 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), and The Times is not alone.

So how alarmed should we be by these racist rumblings? Allow me to pose the question differently: Are we so removed from the Holocaust that we can rest assured that a similar set of atrocities will never happen again? Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, answered this question by observing, "If [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide," and meanwhile no one has prevented Hezbollah from accumulating 40,000 rockets and missiles in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Concurrently, Nasrallah's overlord, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose quest for nuclear weapons goes unimpeded, declared, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

And in the face of these threats of annihilation, how did The New York Times respond? It began by commending President Obama, who "set a constructive new tone for trying to engage Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/opinion/09mon1.html) and facilitated Roger Cohen's six-month harangue alleging that Iran is "not totalitarian", throughout which Cohen never missed an opportunity to fling darts at Israel. In addition, The Times played host to a several guest op-eds written by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett calling for "rapprochement" with Iran as it is presently constituted. The Leveretts contended, "On its present course, the White House's approach will not stop Tehran's development of a nuclear fuel program" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/opinion/24leverett.html).

A conspiracy between The Times and the Islamic Republic of Iran? I don't think so. Rather, additional evidence of an unholy alliance between a naïve anti-Semitic Left and radical Islam, but no less dangerous for that.

What to do?

I am in awe, for example, of Elliott Abrams and Alan Dershowitz. I can never hope to approach their written and verbal finesse, and they are a moral compass for me. Commentary Magazine and Professor Richard Landes's "Augean Stables" (http://www.theaugeanstables.com/) are also invaluable resources to me and a source of inspiration. However, I also believe that words, both written and verbal, also have their limitations. Sometimes there is a need for something more. Sometimes, indeed, there is a need to yell, as in that famous line from "Network", "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

And sometimes even yelling is not enough. Sometimes you need to find other ways to show The New York Times and its ilk that you are not going to be victimized.

I have written now to more than 20 online New York Times advertisers and explained that their advertisements appear above and beside the aforesaid anti-Semitic comment, which was never removed. Although I have not yet heard back from even one of them (What do you expect?), there will be follow-up letters, and ultimately someone will be forced to respond and react, which will cause others to do the same.

I should add that I sought to enlist the assistance of a certain organization, which shall go unnamed, in disseminating my message to their mailing list in order to seek support from persons of like mind. Their response:

1. This was a unique incident, given that this was a comment in response to a Times news article, as opposed to an editorial or op-ed, and I need more information before embarking on this campaign.

2. They would want more evidence that anti-Semitic comments are being posted because of the moderators' bias and malice as opposed to their inability to review adequately all comments.

I, of course, was enraged, notwithstanding my respect for the written materials appearing on their website.

Enough said. I am nauseous from the outpouring of hatred on the Web and might well need a Bathurst-Norman Bag for Internet sickness.

9 comments:

  1. Hi, Jeffrey

    I have objections against one word in this post: "naïve anti-Semitic Left ". Nobody can be naive after the Holocaust. Look at the Helen Thomas' tape. She is giggling while sending Jews back to Germany & Poland (= Auschwitz), because she expects full approval from the White House crowd. They know what they are talking about. Besides, Left never fail to support totalitarian regimes against democracy (Stalin, Vietcong, Mao, Castro, Arafat and so on)

    The answer form Jewish organizations give us a hint, what needs to be done. We need to create two databases
    1. Database of anti-Semitic comments in NY Times spreading several months.
    2. Database of your letters to editors and their responses, if any.
    These two databases should be spread as wide as possible.

    Would you want my help in creation of the first database?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marina, thank you so very much for your kind offer!

    The organization whose response I cited in my blog entry, as I understand it, maintains these databases. The New York Times, however, apparently could not care less.

    On the other hand, if the advertisers take notice, and it starts to pain The Times in its pocket . . .

    I have received one response from an advertiser, which I plan to address in my next blog entry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Creation of such databases requires will and considerable efforts, plenty of dirty work. The subject is relatively new for them. I doubt they put efforts into this already. Besides, only you can gather all the exchange you had with the editors. As they say, one example does not make a basis for an action. The situation may change considerably if we will send the databases to the Jewish organizations and to the advertisers. They will no be able to disregard it so easily.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe it is time to distinguish between "moderated" comments and actual news and editorial bias?

    "Questions for ‘The New York Times’"
    By ANDREA LEVIN [The writer is executive director and president of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.]
    07/26/2010 22:32

    "Can their reports on Israel be trusted?"

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=182698


    K2K

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jews may seem complacent in the face of these sneers and attacks because Israel exists. Jews have confidence that Israel will speak and fight for them should antisemitism/antizionism surge to levels that endanger a Jew on his "home" turf, wherever in galus that may be.
    In the event of potential catastrophe, Jews know that Israel has nukes, a splendid air forces second only to that of the US, and G-d's help. Just as they defend Israel with financial and political support, so they expect Israel will be their defense should it come to that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was commenting regularly on the infamous Walt's blog at Foreign Policy until I understood that my stupidity provides them with traffic. We should create and publish a list of "no-go" sites for pro-Israel Web users and invite them to sign with their IP address a kind of "pledge" not to go there. If we succeed and millions of Israel's supporters online get together, THEN you'll see a real pressure from advertisers to get this antisemitic swamp under control.

    ReplyDelete
  7. From Holland America Lines:

    "First and foremost, we would like you to know that Holland America Line does not discriminate against the race, religion, nationality, age, physical limitations, or sexual orientation of any guest. Each traveler has the right to avail themselves of all facilities and services our ships have to offer. We make every effort to provide the same high standard of service to each of our guests, and we agree that the types of comments you have described are offensive and unfair. We will certainly keep your feedback in mind."

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ahm... Databases would not help with this company, probably. To get their attention, it would take international boycott, demonstrations and so on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My response to Holland America Line:

    "I would only note that the Holland America advertisement yesterday continued to appear above the relevant web page of The New York Times, which I noted in my prior correspondence.

    If Holland America decides to continue to advertise with The New York Times on this page or any page where anti-Semitic readers' comments are allowed by The New York Times's "moderators", I can assure you that I will never vacation on a Holland America cruise ship, nor will many other persons of like mind."

    ReplyDelete