Last Thursday, The New York Times published an interview with author Alice Walker, in which Walker recommended a blatantly anti-Semitic book. TabletMag’s Yair Rosenberg accused the Times of effectively endorsing the screed by refusing to add an editorial comment denouncing the book in question. A Times spokeswoman responded to this allegation in remarks to PJ Media.
“By the Book is an interview and portrait of a public person through the lens of books; it is not a list of recommendations from our editors,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications, told PJ Media in a statement on Monday. “The subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgments. As with any interview, the subject’s answers do not imply an endorsement by Times editors.”
If author Alice Walker recommended a book that Times editors do not endorse, is it then incumbent on the editors to state their distaste for that book? Rhoades Ha argued that it is not.
“Moreover, our editors do not offer background or weigh in on the books named in the By the Book column, whether the subject issues a positive or negative judgment on those books,” she explained. “Many people recommend books Times editors dislike, disdain or even abhor in the column.”
In the interview in question, the unnamed New York Times interviewer asked Walker “What books are on your nightstand?” Walker, who became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her 1983 fiction book “The Color Purple,” listed the anti-Semitic screed second.
“‘And the Truth Shall Set You Free,’ by David Icke,” Walker said. “In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.”
Rosenberg laid out the horrors of David Icke’s book and his increased international profile. “A former soccer player turned professional hate peddler, Icke is one of the most influential conspiracy theorists in Europe,” the TabletMag author wrote. “Like many conspiracy theorists, Icke claims that a secret conspiracy controls the world. And like many conspiracy theorists, Icke claims that this secret conspiracy happens to be Jewish.”
“And the Truth Shall Set You Free” is so obviously anti-Semitic that David Icke’s publisher refused to publish it. Among other things, the book describes the Talmud as “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet,” endorses Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic canard that B’nai Brith was behind the trans-Atlantic slave trade and supports the Ku Klux Klan, repeated the conspiracy theory that the Jewish Rothschild clique helped finance Adolf Hitler, and calls for Holocaust denial to be taught in schools.
Rosenberg’s article has a great deal more on just how disgusting “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” is.
Interestingly, Rosenberg suggested “it was good that the Times published Walker’s Icke recommendation because it lets us know who she is.” He dismissed that idea, however, because “we have already known who she is for many years.” He faulted the Times and “other cultural elites” for choosing to “ignore this inconvenient fact.”
Therefore, Rosenberg charged that by “uncritically disseminating Walker’s bigoted book bon mots,” the paper was “ensuring that the racism is disseminated to more people.”
Walker has supported the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement and even forbade the translation of her book “The Color Purple” into Hebrew. “Because Walker — like Icke — is a strident critic of Israel, her defenders — like Icke’s — have dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism by claiming they are merely an attempt to quash her criticism of the Jewish state,” Rosenberg declared.
He called on The New York Times to stop “publishing anti-Semitic book recommendations unchallenged.”
It could be argued that the Times should never have interviewed Alice Walker in the first place. However, having decided to interview her, the Times claims to have upheld its policy of not inserting editors’ judgment into the “By the Book” column.
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