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More On Anti-Semitism at Columbia
April 6, 2005 1:49 PM   Subscribe

More On Anti-Semitism at Columbia My interest in this story is primarily about how the New York Times, considered one of the great newspapers world-wide, in fact sucks!---"A week ago, Deacon and the Trunk posted on the release of a report by Columbia University on its investigation of students' charges of anti-semitic conduct by several of the university's professors. The report mostly exonerated the professors, while, at the same time, recording behavior by them which was appalling. One of the points we noted was the craven behavior of the New York Times, which said that it agreed not to report the viewpoint of the complaining students in exchange for early access to Columbia's report. The Trunk wrote: But what about the New York Times? Is it conceivable that the Times would enter into an agreement not to talk to the subjects of a report in exchange for being given access to the report a few hours before it is made available to the public? [The Times admits it!]
posted by Postroad (50 comments total)

 
My interest in this story is primarily about how the New York Times, considered one of the great newspapers world-wide, in fact sucks!

oh god.
posted by underer at 1:59 PM on April 6, 2005


From the Times:
Under The Times's policy on unidentified sources, writers are not permitted to forgo follow-up reporting in exchange for information. In this case, editors and the writer did not recall the policy and agreed to delay additional reporting until the document had become public.
So in other words, the writer violated official NYT policy in his dealing with the school. And somehow right-wing blogsphere (somehow the most thin-skinned people in the world. Seriously, how people can find their constant whining entertaining is beyond me) has turned this into yet another rant about how the NYT is the most awful news organization in the world. I mean it's just tailor made... and gives them a chance to complain about all their favorite targets at once: the "MSM", and Liberal Academics who love Palestinians.

Facinating.
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on April 6, 2005


My interest in this story is primarily about how the New York Times, considered one of the great newspapers world-wide, in fact sucks

I don't have anything to say on this incident in particular, but I agree with the sense of Postroad's assessment in that recent events have really shaken my trust in the Times. Wen Ho Lee, Judith Miller's Chalabi-sourced WMD reports, and (less important politically, but just as disturbing journalistically) Jayson Blair. One would be hard-pressed to find another major paper that has published so many poorly sourced, poorly investigated, and personally and politically damaging stories in recent years. I prefer the LA Times now.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:00 PM on April 6, 2005


And of course by "facinating" I mean "the most polar opposite of facinating".
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2005


Just in case you want more than one so-called link in your post...

Brian Lehrer's (WNYC) interview with Columbia's President, Lee Bollinger.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:04 PM on April 6, 2005


editors and the writer did not recall the policy

Sure, that little policy just slipped their minds, each one of them.
posted by caddis at 2:05 PM on April 6, 2005


"anti-semite" is a word that gets tossed around way to much. i don't know what "anti-semitism" is based on. i wish someone (Semite or anti) would tell me why, when, and where "anti-semitism" happens ect.

i know that i see the word used in conjunction with headlines like . . ."More On Anti-Semitism at Columbia" and then the bulk of the story is . . . . . .one professor "exceeded commonly accepted bounds" of behavior when he became angry at a student who he believed was defending Israel's conduct toward Palestinians.

oh my god no! not the "commonly accepted bounds of behavior!" admittedly the post points out and is about the time's sloppy reporting, but can some one help me , i'm not trying to be a prick. but it seems like some are really touchy about this whole idea of "anti-semitism" as though its just under the surface of every day life . . . am i wrong here ? for real?
posted by nola at 2:19 PM on April 6, 2005


As a PR guy, I'm quite fascinated by the conversation that must have taken place. "You can have the story now, before anyone else, but only if you don't report the other side and make us look good."

Good thinking. Or, as we used to say (and still do apparently) smooth move, ex-lax.
posted by fenriq at 2:26 PM on April 6, 2005



posted by iamck at 2:36 PM on April 6, 2005


In the right-wing blogsphere, "anti-Semitism" means that you disagree with the Lukid of Israeli politics.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 PM on April 6, 2005


oh my god no! not the "commonly accepted bounds of behavior!"

Those were the words used by Columbia in the report. The students on the receiving end of this allege that it was more than merely exceeding the commonly accepted bounds of behavior. Is there anti-Semitism on campus? Columbia says no, but of course they have their reputation to protect. Anti-Semitism runs rampant in the Arab world and it is not a long stretch to believe that some Arab professors in American universities are anti-Semitic.
posted by caddis at 2:41 PM on April 6, 2005


The Times sucks! but not because of Judith Miller and it's terrible reporting on the march to war but because of this much smaller story about a couple of professors at a local college
posted by destro at 2:45 PM on April 6, 2005


You know what's intresting? Instapundit would constantly bash on the Times, for Jayson Blair and onward, at every opportunity.

Yet, when the NYT ran their massive ("oops, there were no WMD") retraction, not so much as a peep.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on April 6, 2005


Delmoi - you're either deliberately misreading or I don't know what...

When you say "So in other words, the writer violated official NYT policy in his dealing with the school" you entirely disregard the very next sentence in the paragraph you quote - "In this case, editors and the writer did not recall the policy and agreed to delay additional reporting until the document had become public."

It wasn't just the writer with the ethical lapse. It was the editors as well. Remember the editors? Those people who were supposed to hold Journalists to a higher standard than bloggers?

Now, the issue is that the New York Times, which claims in its masthead to be the "paper of record," ran a story through its editorial process which entirely ignored one side of the story at the demand of those who held the opposite view.

As damning of the Times as Eason Jordan's April 2003 admission that they'd deliberately deep sixed articles in the face of the Iraqi government's complaints. Actually, there's a parallel - when an Institution says to a media organization "ignore what anyone else says and we'll give you access" - be it Columbia or Iraq - these organizations said "oooh! a scoop" instead of "it would be unethical to just act as your spin machine." Worthy of O'Reilly.

Is that what passes for journalism? I was under the impression (and I'm clearly naive here) that journalists were supposed to go report on the story, not -create- the story, or bury the half that doesn't say what you want it to say.

And they wonder why their readership is down?
posted by swerdloff at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2005


Oh, this is like the people who are opposed to the Iraq war "think that people of a certain color are incapable of democracy."
posted by Ironmouth at 3:13 PM on April 6, 2005


Anti-Semitism runs rampant in the Arab world

If so, however one defines "anti-Semitism", it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the conduct of any part of any Israeli government at any time or that of any of its supporters in Israel or the U.S. No, saying that would be (as Christopher Hitchens and Rush Limbaugh say) mollycoddling multiculturalists, and besides the Israeli and U.S. governments and their friends say it ain't so. So of course it's always the evil Arabs' fault, it's just some kind of totally inexplicable prejudice they picked up from someplace -- maybe it's a germ they caught from Commie space aliens. And oh, if any Jew either in Israel or outside it ever criticizes the Israeli government or its friends that simply proves that they're anti-Semitic Semites unfortunately afflicted with inexplicable bigotry against themselves, who maybe through unsafe something caught the Commie ETs' anti-Jew disease too.

Furthermore, especially since "9/11", I bet that more American professors (and TAs and undergrads and school janitors et al.) are anti-Arab, anti-Muslim[*] and/or pro-Israel than ever before, though since this is proper policy it's been going on since time immemorial. Of course support for Israel and/or scorn for her enemies is perfectly commendable, so anybody who thinks there may be something wrong with it is an unpatriotic anti-Semite Islamo-fascist who's just like Hitler and Bin Laden and Saddam!

(And on preview, I think I'm with Ironmouth there.)

[*] By "anti-Muslim" I mean hating Muslim people, as opposed to "anti-Islam" which is distate for the religion of Islam.)
posted by davy at 3:16 PM on April 6, 2005


Posty, I know that your own personal blog is too full of stolen porn to be able to contain this gem of a post, but still, wtf are we supposed to care about your opinion on how the New York Times conducts its business?
posted by matteo at 3:16 PM on April 6, 2005


Yes matteo... I often wonder just what DO porn obsessed bloggers think about the NYT's credibility and integrity?
posted by R. Mutt at 3:30 PM on April 6, 2005


that the NYT just doesn't print enough pictures of naked women?
posted by matteo at 3:34 PM on April 6, 2005


My interest in this story is primarily about how the New York Times, considered one of the great newspapers world-wide, in fact sucks

Then should you have posted it to Metafilter? Hmm? What do you have to say for yourself?
posted by Hildago at 3:51 PM on April 6, 2005


the NYT would benefit from the "Page 3", is that what you're saying?

...anyway this whole "controversey" is completely ginned up by a Pro-Israel group that is angry that Columbia has professors who present the Palestinian side with gusto. After interviewing 62 students and faculty, and getting written comments from 60 more, they found one incident which was outside the bounds of normal academic debate (when a student was allegedly asked to leave the room during a debate for defending the IDF).

Columbia is a great university, they shouldn't have to defend themselves from outside pressure groups, who are now trying to deflect the issue again (now to the NYT) since the University's report was not favorable to them. And in the first place they're trying to deflect the immoral actions of Israel by blaming the whole thing on University professors! Ha!
posted by chaz at 3:52 PM on April 6, 2005


Crap post.

But while I'm here, I CANNOT STAND the apparent confusion with which many neocons are currently afflicted, namely that being appalled by Sharon and being anti-semitic are one and the same. On the other hand, people on the other side of the spectrum (or is the same side? I'm not all that sure anymore) who use Israel's policies as an exuse for hating Jews are despicable in their own right. It's not totally clear which one is going on here.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 4:14 PM on April 6, 2005


This is clearly not a "crap post," although it should probably have had a link to the original campusj.com entry that first raised the issue of the Times possibly accepting this deal by doing some original reporting and finding out that the Columbia Spectator turned down the same offer. This is much worse than the Rick Bragg stringer scandal. How could a reporter and editor at the Times not be aware that you're not supposed to listen to a source on how report a story, let alone in exchange for special treatment?
posted by transona5 at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2005


it should probably have had a link to the original campusj.com... or how about a link to the original NYT stories? Or even the NYTs correction?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2005


MetaTalk
posted by NortonDC at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2005


delmoi, you have been a barrel o' laffs.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2005


How could a reporter and editor at the Times not be aware that you're not supposed to listen to a source on how report a story, let alone in exchange for special treatment?

They were aware. Any claim to the contrary is ridiculous. Either that or these people do not know enough about journalism to be employed by the Times.
posted by caddis at 4:52 PM on April 6, 2005


the New York Times, considered one of the great newspapers world-wide, in fact sucks!

That is the first time that statement has been made, ever. Congratulations.
posted by fungible at 5:45 PM on April 6, 2005


namely that being appalled by Sharon and being anti-semitic are one and the same

Being appalled by Sharon and being a "neocon" are not mutally exlcusive.
posted by loquax at 5:55 PM on April 6, 2005


Sure, anti-Semitism never masks itself as "anti-Zionism" or "legitimate criticism of Israel." Not ever. Just a bunch of crazy ol' neocon lies.

By the way, davy's frothy rantings inadvertently contain some truth - it is former Soviet leadership you should thank for perfecting this filthy little art.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:02 PM on April 6, 2005


Bottom line: The Times screwed up, again, and worse failed to come fully clean. Their claim that the editors (plural) and reporter "forgot" (did not recall, whatever) a policy, and basic tenet of journalism fools only the fools. I love the NYT, but they have really disappointed in so many ways as of late. The WaPo and WSJ have eclipsed them lately. Will the trend continue or can the Times find its center and get back to being the news of record.
posted by caddis at 6:36 PM on April 6, 2005


Sure, anti-Semitism never masks itself as "anti-Zionism" or "legitimate criticism of Israel."

Err... did anyone say that anti-semitism never masks itself as something else? Or is that a complete straw man?

Anti-semitism may very well mask itself as anti-Zionism, criticism of Israel or lots of other things: that does not alter the fact that it is not the same as those things and should never, ever be confused - especially wilfully - with those things. Anti-semitism is anti-Jewish racism; anti-Zionism and legitimate criticism of Israel are NOT.

The tactic of bleating "anti-semitism" in response to thoroughly justified criticism of Zionism, and of Israel and its government's actions has become tiresome and pathetic. It is the sort of response we often see from people who behave badly yet are too gutless to face justified criticism for their bad behaviour; preferring instead to unfairly ascribe ulterior motives or prejudice to their critics.

The irony is that this tactic actually bolsters those who are truly anti-semitic - "See how those Jews are? See how they lie and misrepresent people? See how devious they are?"

It's sad, and I wish people would stop and think before jerking their hypersensitive knees.
posted by Decani at 6:40 PM on April 6, 2005


Dear Matteo: point or two of clarification. 1. my porn site, as you call it, is seldom the hard stuff that is found on true porn sites and, in fact, I have a number of women readers who write to tell me they enjoy my site. As for "stolen"--when pictures are taken from site C, they are taken by C from B and B takes from and so on and on..when there are original pictures, ie, photographer, I link to that original site. By so skipping about this way, I manage to post a great deal of material every day.

2. The NY Times. I dare say I was reading that paper before you were born and continue to this day to subscribe to it. Note that they have recently put an ombudsman in place for exactly the reason that I suggested in my post: the paper was not doing a good job of journalism at this point.

3. on the issue itself. The complaints registered before the presentation clearing the alleged inssults etc were that the board set up to examine the issue was hardly an unbiased or objective group. I leave that and the entire issue to others to decide. My point was in indicating a bad lapse in journalistic integrity from a paper that has long been credited as the touchstone of good journalism.
posted by Postroad at 6:46 PM on April 6, 2005


The tactic of bleating "anti-semitism" in response to thoroughly justified criticism of Zionism, and of Israel and its government's actions has become tiresome and pathetic.

The reverse tactic is catching up quickly, wouldn't you say?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:48 PM on April 6, 2005


The reverse tactic is sure catching on. A lot of people really don't like Jews and Israel's current policies just make it easier for them to practice their hatred. Sad really. Most racism just compensates for the racist's own deficiencies.
posted by caddis at 7:05 PM on April 6, 2005


Christ, talk about heat without light. Nobody's yet linked to anything giving any sort of details about what may actually have happened at Columbia. Here's a video transcript from jewish students who thought they were being intimidated; here's one of the accused professors on the situation (scroll down).
posted by Tlogmer at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2005



I am going to check out Postroad's porn site because of this thread. This better be good...
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:12 PM on April 6, 2005


Anti-Semitism runs rampant in the Arab world and it is not a long stretch to believe that some Arab professors in American universities are anti-Semitic.

While we're here I'd like to point out that Arabs ARE semites, so they probably aren't anti-semitic. Probably only anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2005


For the record, I think this article from Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi crosses the line separating criticism and prejudice:
What they call "Israel" is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their "soul." What the Israelis are doing to Palestinians has a mirror reflection on their own soul -- sullied, vacated, exiled, now occupied by a military machinery no longer plugged to any electrical outlet. It is not just the Palestinian land that they have occupied; their own soul is an occupied territory, occupied by a mechanical force geared on self-destruction. They are on automatic piloting. This is they. No one is controlling anything. Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world. There is an endemic prevarication to this machinery, a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture. No people can perpetrate what these people and their parents and grandparents have perpetrated on Palestinians and remain immune to the cruelty of their own deeds.
I'm only jewish by ethnicity, and deeply sympathetic to the palestinian cause, but that passage scares the shit out of me.
posted by Tlogmer at 7:45 PM on April 6, 2005


While we're here I'd like to point out that Arabs ARE semites, so they probably aren't anti-semitic. Probably only anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli.
You'll want some reading.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:40 PM on April 6, 2005


Nobody's yet linked to anything giving any sort of details about what may actually have happened at Columbia.

Facts are optional nowadays, Tlogmer.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:43 PM on April 6, 2005


Nobody's yet linked to anything giving any sort of details about what may actually have happened at Columbia.

Facts are optional nowadays, Tlogmer.


The issue is the Times reporting, not whether the students were right or not. The Times agreed to print only one side of the story in exchange for an exclusive and that is just plain bad journalism regardless of the underlying facts in the story.
posted by caddis at 9:07 PM on April 6, 2005


Verbally bitch slapping someone because they support Isreal's occupation of the Palestinian territories does not even sort of kind of resemble anti-semitism. It's a political disagreement. Throwing the student out of the classroom is probably a violation of his/her right to free speech.

Anti-semitism is indeed very popular in Arab countries. Likewise, racism directed at Arabs is extremely common in Isreal, the United States, and Europe. (Possibly in Asia too; I wouldn't know).

Tlogmer: I don't understand. The author of the piece you quoted argues that the brutality of the Isrealis towards the Palestinians has had a negative spiritual effect on the Isrealis. Why does this constitute prejudice? In an interview she did with Bill Moyers, Toni Morrison argued that the guilt seen in the writings of people like Nathaniel Hawthorne was a reflection of America's guilt over slavery. While someone might disagree with her, it's hard to imagine them calling her prejudiced for making this argument.
posted by Clay201 at 11:27 PM on April 6, 2005


This goes beyond drawing links between individual guilt and societal wrongdoing -- look at what Dabashi cites:

Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world.

He's observing cultural marks that he seems to be claiming most Israelis share -- extremely general things like "the way they handle objects" -- and treating them as emblematic of "systematic maining and murdering".

A mode of greeting as a sign of depravity -- this is collective pushinment, the other way around. It should be anathema to someone invested in palestine. Why tar an entire nationality for the actions of a government many of them disagree with?

Because, in this specific instance, the tarring isn't based on a train of logic -- it's not animosity based on personal disagreement. It's cultural and ethnic habits being treated as deeply symbolic in exactly the same way that a hooked nose was once treated as symbolic of dishonesty, or effeminacy as symbolic of decadence, or an afro-american accent as symbolic of stupidity.

I'd be afraid to take this person's course because he might decide that, despite my abhorence of some of Israel's policies, the way I handle objects is just too fucking jewish for me to be a decent person.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:46 AM on April 7, 2005


Tlogmer: I'm sorry. I'm trying, but I still can't find the racism in the text.

I can't make this leap from regarding "habits" as "symbolic" to regarding physical/racial characteristics as indicative of negative qualities. To me, those are just two different things. I just don't see how we can arrive at "too fucking jewish." Too fucking guilty, perhaps, as guilt seems to be the subject of the text.

I can think of countless examples of similar opinions about America's involvement in the Viet Nam war. Just to choose the most obvious here: Everyone and his brother has argued - or, more often, just assumed - that the music of the era (The Doors, Hendrix, Dylan, whatever) reflected some sort of vast, almost biblical struggle within the conscience of the nation. We won't even discuss the movies that were made about Viet Nam some ten and twenty years after the fact.

As for opposition to the government's policies absolving you (or anyone) of responsibility.... again, I don't see it that way. I'm an American and I don't consider myself to be any less responsible for the crimes my government is currently committing in the middle east simply because I'm opposed to them. If anything, I'm more responsible, since I knew they were going to happen and failed to prevent them.
posted by Clay201 at 6:29 AM on April 7, 2005


From one of the articles linked to by Tlogmer above:
Basically, I raised my hand, I said, “Hello. My name is TS, I’m Israeli. And I would like to ask you some questions.” And before I could continue he stopped me and said, “You’re Israeli, you served in the IDF?” I said yes. So his next question was, “How many Palestinians have you killed?” I was shocked because I didn’t come there with any antagonism or any bias towards him. I asked him, “What? What? How come it’s relevant to this discussion?” And he said, “No, it’s relevant to this discussion and I demand an answer. How many Palestinians have you killed?” And I said, “I’m not going to answer, but I’m going to ask you a question. How many members of your family celebrated on September 11, if we’re starting with stereotypes.” And then he blew up and he started yelling, and the entire room just like, everybody yelled at everybody and basically the discussion was over at that point.

Oh boy, that must have been some fun class. (I am not asserting that this proves anti-Semitism, merely illustrating some very assholish behavior.)
posted by caddis at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2005


The reverse tactic is sure catching on.

How is an understandably frustrated response of "just call me an anti-semite and get it over with" equivalent to the reverse of "I'm going to call you an anti-semite with no justification whatsoever because everyone hates anti-semites and I'd sure like them to be able to dismiss you on that bogus count rather than dealing with the points you actually raised; because those points make me unhappy, uncomfortable and angry."

Sorry, I don't see that as the "reverse tactic" at all.
posted by Decani at 6:59 AM on April 7, 2005


What strikes me as odd in this thread is how few people seem to be concerned about the NYT's actions. Giving the other side of an issue an opportunity to comment is a basic tenet of journalism, in addition to being the rule at the NYT. Asserting that multiple editors and the reporter did not recall the policy defies belief. My guess is that if FOX News had pulled such a stunt there would be quite the pile on here. However, as the NYT is the liberal paper of record very few want to criticize it. The inability to criticize your own dooms you to repeat the failures of the past.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on April 7, 2005


Sorry, I don't see that as the "reverse tactic" at all.

Then you're either an idiot or a troll. It's been a pleasure chatting, let's not do it again.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:48 PM on April 8, 2005


Exposed!
posted by redneck_zionist at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2005


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