For background on this page, see Eric Alterman's Altercation Weblog entry here .
Having read the entirety of the correspondence on Cathy Young’s slander of Eric Alterman in the Boston Globe, I was surprised by the following:
That the Globe would publish such a hack bit of low-level “attack opinionating” in the first place;
That being called on it by a very level-headed and articulate Mr. Alterman, you would elect to bowdlerize his carefully-composed letter to truncate editorial missteps and clear axe-grinding by Ms. Young;
That the paper would deal so ungraciously with someone whose reputation has been smeared by refusing to publish actual informed commentary in the form of the letters offered on behalf of Mr. Alterman regarding the topic of Ms. Young’s alleged opinion piece;
That the paper would default to the rote and cavalier “we edit letters as we wish” defense when the professional reputation of a highly engaged writer hangs in the balance especially given the gravity of the slur.
Loud warning bells should ring when a “critics of Israeli policy are self-hating Jews” opinion piece lands on an editor’s desk. Aside from the tired premise, there frequently lurk agenda issues, poor sourcing, and outright misrepresentations. The Globe here landed on all three. I hope you take this opportunity to correct this problem fully and seek to prevent it from happening again.
Lance A. Harke, P.A.
Harke & Clasby LLP
Read your column about Eric Alterman. Can't really say I'm a fan of the guy.
But you've got me confused.
Here's the third and top half of the fourth graphs of your column below. In graph three, you quote Alterman. In graph four, you take over.
On his blog at MSNBC.com, Alterman sneered at critics of the boycott. "I'm a Jew, but I don't expect Arabs to pay tribute to my people's suffering while Jews, in the form of Israel and its supporters—and in this I include myself—are causing much of theirs," he wrote, suggesting that one might as well expect gays to honor "the suffering of gay bashing bigots." Alterman noted that "the Palestinians have also suffered because of the Holocaust. They lost their homeland as the world—in the form of the United Nations—reacted to European crimes by awarding half of Palestine to the Zionists... To ask Arabs to participate in a ceremony that does not recognize their own suffering but implicitly endorses the view that caused their catastrophe is morally idiotic."
One hardly knows where to begin. There is, for instance, the way Alterman not-so-deftly conflates Muslims with Arabs and Arabs with dispossessed Palestinians, and then declares Jews responsible for "much" of the suffering of Muslims everywhere.
Thats where you lose me, top of graph four. You say Alterman "conflates Muslims with Arabs" and then continue onward.
Ma'am, the word Muslims does NOT appear in the quote you yanked from Mr. Alterman's column and used in your piece. In other words, Muslims ain't there.
Mr. Alterman used the word Arabs twice. He tossed in one Palestinians and one Palestine.
This is not some liberal conspiracy. These are the words of Mr. Alterman that you used in YOUR column.
Were you misquoted?
Did someone at the Globe make a mistake?
Is Nicky at the Globe out to get you?
Is this a conspiracy?
Is there a plot against you?
Am I a Nazi? An anti-Semite? A Yankees fan?
Find me the word Muslim in the quote you grabbed from Mr. Alterman's column and used in yours and I'll back you up.
Otherwise you're of no use to me and the rest of the world. You'll do find in the Land of Make Believe, though. Enjoy yourself.
And remember a little Tommy Huxley: "Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools (and desperate Ann Coulter-wannabes) and the beacons of wise men (and women, too)."
Albany, New York
At a minimum, your cutting of the Mr. Alterman's response letter was inexcusable. This was no mere cutting for length; it ill-served the meaning of the letter, and was self-serving to the Globe.
Not your finest hour, you owe it to the public dialog to publish the whole letter. For starters.
Dear Boston Globe People--
I am a long time reader of Eric Alterman, and very familiar with his views and positions.
I feel he was seriously misrepresented by Cathy Young. I understand the purpose of publishing her piece was to be provocative--well done. What would be fair at this point would be to let Dr. Alterman respond, at the same length, and with his evidence intact.
Failing to do that would be another example of the current status quo: endless talking heads in a he said, she said style shouting match, with no evidence presented, and republicans out numbering progressives 3-1. Perhaps that's how you like it.
It used to be that the press in this country reported facts--and stood by them. It also used to be that public figures could not get away (at least not always, not in America) with the big lie.
Perhaps those days are gone. Ratings and controversy are everything, news as entertainment. I'm glad to see you leading the race to the bottom.
Best Regards from barely blue California,
Spring Valley, CA
Dear Mr. King,
I would like to add my voice to what I am sure is already a chorus disapproving of Cathy Young's column "When Jews Wax Anri-Semitic". If the Globe is to maintain its credibility, I think it must deem Young's column outside the bounds of civil public discourse.
The label of anti-semitism is a serious and incendiary charge. Applying it to figures with public reputations, academic, political or otherwise, is a heavy business and should rightfully lead to serious damage to a public figure's credibility and standing. So the notion that Eric Alterman, a
leading public intellectual, a prominent Jewish writer and speaker, a major voice in debates over U.S. policy in the Middle East and towards Israel, should have the label of anti-semitism attached to him is, frankly, perverse.
Anyone is welcome to disagree with Alterman's views about Israel, about the peace process, or about his refusal to condemn the incident with the Muslim group and the Auschwitz memorial. But Young is not arguing with Alterman. She doesn't like his views about foreign policy so she levels an accusation meant to discredit and humiliate him in the hope that it does the job instead. This is character assassination by insinuation, and if our media institutions are to mean anything, it should be kept in the tabloids and on the Internet where it belongs.
Publishing that column cheapened your newspaper's standards, cheapened the seriousness of bigotry towards Jews, and cheapened the public discourse. I do hope you can find a way to remedy the situation.
New York, NY
Thanks for your message today and for sharing the irritating responses you've been getting from the Globe. I sat back on this one and seeing their half-assed responses inspired me to get on the ball and send something off. The same message went to Mr. Chinlund and the letters to the editor section.
Keep up the good work, as frustrating as it must be sometimes...
Dear Mr. King:
As a public relations professional and life-long Globe reader, I felt compelled to weigh in on the Globe's decision to participate in the drive-by slandering of Eric Alterman by publishing Cathy Young's op-ed "When Jews Wax Anti-Semitic" (2/7/05) and your subsequent refusal to recognize that this ill-conceived bit of hatchet work should never have appeared in your paper.
When I first read Ms. Young's piece, I found it a mean-spirited and distasteful bit of business. I'm a regular reader of Mr. Alterman's blogsite so I was able to instantly recognize Ms. Young's pathetic misstatement's and mischaracterizations of his work. I didn't bother to write in at the time because I figured Eric would do a fine job defending himself as would other readers who understood the danger of wielding the cudgel of anti-Semitism in such a ham-fisted and politically motivated manner.
However, reading the series of exchanges between Mr. Alterman and you and some of your colleagues, I had to express my disappointment at the Globe's failure to take responsibility for its actions and set the record straight.
Am I to assume that you consider the balance sheet square because after giving Ms. Young 764 words to trash Mr. Alterman as an anti-Semite, while deliberately mischaracterizing his position, you were kind enough to give Mr. Alterman a 165 word rebuttal (knocking out 506 of his other words which included supporting arguments and the notable fact that this is the second time the Globe has been conned by Ms. Young into slandering him); print a similarly cannibalized rebuttal letter from a supporter of Mr. Alterman; and publish a letter which started out with the promising statement that Mr. Alterman was "right", only to degenerate into some gibberish which seemed to suggest we should all wash our hands of the matter?
To my well trained eye, that seems to be the position you're taking over at Morrissey Boulevard.
Is that your story and are you sticking to it? Do you really think your readers are that stupid? Do you really feel your newspaper's integrity is that cheap a commodity? And have you truly lowered the bar on your own professional standards to the degree where you expect someone with a pulse to consider that acceptable?
I understand that screwing up is hard enough and that when you do it in front of the world, it only bolsters the tendency to dismiss errors. But you let someone publish garbage on the pages of your paper and you didn't bother to check the facts. Then, when an attempt was made to correct the record, you did a hatchet job of your own to disguise and minimize the
scope of your original mistake. (Psst...that only makes things worse.) I find those actions, coupled with your unwillingness to take the necessary and now overdue corrective action, to be unprofessional and unworthy of a great newspaper. My guess is I'm not alone in this assessment.
Don't expect me to keep coming back to your paper for more of this foolishness. I can get that from publications I don't respect, such as the Wall Street Journal and any number of crackpot right-wing blogsites. I don't need it from a paper I used to turn to expecting something better.
Ma’am: For the record, I am not Jewish and I have never heard of Cathy Young until today. I have read Eric Alterman’s online column for quite awhile. Unlike what was reprinted in that column as quoted from your publication, Alterman is thought provoking without being slanderous. I think The Boston Globe’s response to him has been persnickety at best. What is the point of printing an Op-Ed piece that your Editor said he viewed as “provocative” and then shutting down the ensuing debate? What did Ms. Young and Mr. King want to provoke?
Either it was truly meant to be provocative, in which case it was very poorly done, or an editorial error was made. The third option is not so benign: that the Editor (Mr. King, I believe) agreed with the content of the Young piece and is a party to the offense.
I believe The Boston Globe owes the public a reasonable response to the allegations. The response so far appears to be misstep following mistake. I truly hope that, in the spirit of good journalism, you will see to it that a very public investigation into the issue takes place. Furthermore, I believe Ms. Young, Mr. King, and The Boston Globe owe Mr. Alterman an apology.
Freedom of speech does not nullify accountability for what is said.
Thank you for your time,
To the ombudsman,
I just sent email to Mr. King about Cathy Young's 2/7 column and Eric Alterman:
You allowed Cathy Young several column-inches to slander Eric Alterman ("When Jews Wax Anti-Semitic", 2/7/2005).
When Mr. Alterman's letter appeared a couple of days later, I thought that was his entire response.
Now I find out that Mr. Alterman's response was severely edited.
When someone is slandered in your space, it is only decent to give him some semblance of equal time. Allowing Mr. Alterman only a couple of paragraphs in a letter in response to half a column by Young is indecent and disgusting behavior on your part.
As Mr. Alterman has illustrated today here , Mr King seems loathe to allow Mr Alterman any more space than he has gotten (two short paragraphs in a letter as a response).
This is totally inadequate and totally unsatisfactory.
It is only fair, only decent, to allow Mr Alterman a full right of response to the slander you have printed in your newspaper. I have been a Globe subscriber for over 20 years and I have never felt it necessary to cancel my subscription. But this situation crosses the line, and if Mr Alterman is not afforded his right of response, I will cancel at the end of the month.
Stephen Z Stein
By the time you read my letter, I imagine you will have received at least a few others on the topic of Eric Alterman and the recent dispute over Cathy Young's faulty column. I hope that you will not ignore these and degrade them as more "craziness from the blogosphere" the way much of the mainstream media has seemed inclined to do since the Dan Rather, Jeff Gannon, and Eason Jordan debacles.
I hold Eric Alterman in high esteem. Generally speaking, I do not read many blogs. Altercation is the only one which I never miss, and this is a credit to Mr. Alterman's insightful commentary, his keen eye for articles and essays worthy of my time, and his clever and erudite regular contributors, including The Globe's own Charles Pierce.
Therefore, it is painful and sad for me to read, as I did today, of his difficulties in receiving from The Globe a retraction of, or even some sort of apology for, Ms. Young's piece. Whether or not she was misguided, this woman calls his "the kind of rhetoric that, coming from a non-Jew, would be clearly seen as anti-Semitic." Although it came from a practicing Jew, her inference is clear: Eric Alterman is an anti-Semite.
What a strange conclusion for her to arrive at. As various letter-writers have pointed out to you already, there is nothing anti-Semitic about recognizing the suffering of the Palestinians, just as there is nothing anti-American about recognizing the suffering of Iraqis in the current war. The immense tragedy of the Holocaust must never be diminished, but its victims are no better served by misguided "thought police" like Ms. Young than they are by deniers.
Those six million deaths were the result of virulent anti-Semitism. Ms. Young has now ranked Mr. Alterman with those who ordered the "final solution." I can hardly imagine the pain this characterization has caused him.
Furthermore, this whole issue begs a larger question: if nuance cannot find a home in the nation's major newspapers, where can it? The abdication of any responsibility for what runs on their "opinion pages" is an increasingly disconcerting phenomenon among the top dailies. Witness, for example, the outright falsehoods peddled as truth by William Safire in his late column for your parent paper. They may not have run on the "news" pages, but his assertions were given prominent placement in our national "newspaper of record," and therefore a great deal of weight.
My family has been a Globe family since before I was born. I hope that you can see the issues this unhappy incident has pointed out, and that the paper can be somehow bettered by them; meantime, I believe the paper still owes Mr. Alterman an apology.
I just wanted to forward you a copy of the short response I sent to Mr. King at the Boston Globe. I find what the paper did unacceptable, a straight up slander. While I don't always agree with you about everything, I find your work informative, well researched, and compelling. I also find your commitment to your faith respectable, admirable, and quite frankly, honest. That the Globe would print such trash really disturbs me.
From: Kuzak, Christopher
I find it deeply disconcerting that you would not give Eric Alterman the chance to respond in full to Cathy Young's charges. While I disagree with Mr. Alterman about a great many issues, I've read two of his books and have seen him speak and find him to be a knowledgeable, thoughtful, and intellectual person--hardly an anti-Semite. More to the point, his advocacy for peace in the Middle East cannot be denied and his simple admittance that Isrealis have played a role in Palestinian suffering is certainly warranted by the evidence. He is an advocate for peace in the Middle East and I believe the Globe should give him a fair and equal opportunity to advance his vision of it.
Please add my voice to the chorus of complaints about the Globe's op-ed piece by Cathy Young. Her ugly mischaracterizations deserve a full response and I was disappointed that the Globe failed to give Mr. Alterman a full op-ed piece to respond. The truncation by the Globe of his response fails minimal journatlstic standards of professionalism and ethics.
(a proud Jew, whom Cathy Young might also call Anti-Semitic)
I have just read Cathy Young's recent GLOBE op-ed "When Jews Wax Anti-Semitic," and the printed and original replies of the column's target, Eric Alterman. Your edit of his response (which, granted, ran a bit long--but if anyone had ever slurred my Catholicism in that way I'd have ventilated for PAGES!) doesn't convey Alterman's crucial point--that he is innocent of the slur Young wrote against him, which he proves by running the full passage he wrote that she misread.
In other words, you seem to feel (judging by how you ran Alterman's reply) that this is merely a pundit spat. it is not. Ms. Young got it wrong--and the tone and tenor of her writing suggests she did so either wilfully or through all-too-common partisan blindness--and her errors cannot simply be ascribed to the vagaries of "opinion." (If I had an "opinion" that William Manchester, in DEATH OF A PRESIDENT, wrote that Jackie Kennedy was the real target that day in Dallas, would you have treated the flood of corrections to come in as mere insider gripes?) She didn't write an essay on an issue and an author: she threw a bomb at both. The GLOBE should run a correction, and a lighter edit of Alterman's response. Or it should assign its ombudsman to write about this, and (if his conclusions match mine) make the best of an awkward situation.
I'm embarrassed that my first letter to GLOBE is an indignant one. I have deeply admired your coverage of The Catholic Mess. I have written about this for other papers--the L.A. TIMES and VILLAGE VOICE--so I know intimately the miserable terrain your reporters and editors have traversed more thoroughly than anyone else anywhere. This crucial disaster of our times would not have become the public issue it now is without the GLOBE's courage in taking it and the powers behind it on. I live in New York, where unfortunately our major papers have not followed your example, allowing the local Archdiocese to successfully spread the myth that sexual abuse "is not a problem here."
Thanks for reading this,
Dear Letters to the Editor editor and Ombudsman Chris Chinlund,
I have read on Eric Alterman's blog all the correspondence with the Globe that you did not print and the point I wish to make about Cathy Young's article that is not in any of those responses.
At the center of Cathy Young's February 7th slander against Eric Alterman is this reasoning:
"(While he counts himself among Israel's supporters, he seems to regard the creation of Israel itself--not just the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza--as an Arab "catastrophe.")"
I am not a historian. I will not characterize or assign blame for the complex events that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel except to say that the results were clearly a catastrophe for the Palestinian people.
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):
In 1948 the Palestinians lost their homeland, 75 to 80% of the their population became refugees and thousands of them lost their lives. [In the following paragraph I compare only the results of the 9/11 attacks on America and the 1948 War in the Middle East, not the distinctly different nature of the two events.]
If you do a Google search that includes only entries with both the word: "9/11" and "catastrophe" you get 331,000 hits in 0.22 seconds. On September 11th, 2001 our vastly larger country and population lost two buildings, suffered major damage to a third and around 3,000 of our people lost their lives. Nonetheless, America is still reeling from the repercussions of the catastrophic events of 9/11. How thoughtless is the American who refuses to allow the Palestinians to use the word "catastrophe" to refer to what happened to them in 1948?
The Boston Globe will receive many letters condemning Cathy Young's slander of Eric Alterman. I expect that they will have the decency to at last print Eric Alterman's original response in its entirety, without cutting out his factual response to Cathy Young's article or that they will print a response by someone like myself that condemns the way Cathy Young's attack on Eric Alterman distorts both the history of the Middle East and the English language.
Dear Mr. King:
I am deeply troubled by your willingness to allow Cathy Young to libel Eric Alterman and your resistance to allow your readers to judge for themselves whether his comments qualify as "anti-Semitic." Doesn't your Op-Ed page adhere to basic tenets of evidence and standards of truth? The accusation was absurd and hateful. The Globe should succinctly and publicly apologize to Mr. Alterman as soon as possible. Such behavior is beneath a news organization of the stature of The Globe.
Department of Culture and Communication
New York University
Author of Copyrights and Copywrongs (New York University Press, 2001) and The Anarchist in the Library (Basic Books, 2004)
Name: Tom Crawford
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
The text of my email to Chris Chinlund:
Let me say, first, how disappointed I am in the actions taken by the Boston Globe regarding the recent editorial attack on Eric Alterman. I have read and admired the Globe for many years -- I thought you were a much better publication than that. In my opinion -- I'm writing here as a journalist -- you have done a great disservice to Mr. Alterman by printing a full-length editorial attack by Cathy Young on him (which included a vile accusation of anti-semitism) and then not allowing Mr. Alterman the fairness of printing his response in full. To call someone an anti-semite, especially someone who is Jewish, is one of the most serious accusations you can make against a person. It is only fair and right that the Globe allow Mr. Alterman at least as much space to defend himself from this charge as you gave to Cathy Young to make the original attack.
As I said, I'm a journalist myself and I do not subscribe to the general criticism of the mainstream media that is so often heard in political circles these days. But I do think you have handled this situation badly. If someone is attacked and maligned so maliciously on your editorial page, you should at least have the basic decency to give that person equal space to reply and defend themselves. It is the unfairness of actions like yours that does, unfortunately, justify much of the criticism you hear of the media today. The Globe should be better than this.
Name: Dr. V
Here's what I sent on to the Globe:
Dear Mr. Chinlund:
I've followed this controversy (yes, at the Altercation site run by Mr. Alterman) and am concerned that the Globe seems mired in that hellish "he said-she said" world of modern journalism. Ms. Young says Alterman is an anti-semite, he denies it, you report both sides and wash your hands of the whole thing. Perhaps I missed the apology from the paper of Ms. Young. Provocative is, or ought to be, an intellectual approach bringing new ideas into the marketplace. Name calling is not provocative, it's just name calling.
Most unfortunate on the Globe's part.
Jim Van Norman, MD
Name: Jim Randell
Hometown: San Francisco
(this was cc'd to Nick King, Chris Chinlund, and Letters to the editor)
I have my whole life been proud of my Jewish heritage and culture. But it seems today that when a Jewish person says anything acknowledging the suffering of Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims, they are quickly labeled anti-Semitic by non Jews who know nothing of Jewish culture. it may be difficult for a non Jew to understand Jewish intellectualism. we question our religion as much as we love it, we look for truth when we are told the truth is before us, and we understand our adversaries, so one day we may become friends.
it is a sad day when an active and respected member of our own Jewish community, like Eric Alterman, can be accused of bigotry and hatred of that same community, by someone like Cathy Young, who is not Jewish, and has little to know understanding of what it means to be a Jew.
I admit it would be over reaching to suggest that non Jews, not be given a voice about Jewish matters, but is it too much to suggest that a person should know of what they write about?
Hometown: Jamaica Plain, MA
My letter to the Globe:
Dear Ms. Chinlund,
I have long counted on the Globe for thoughtful treatment of serious issues in an era when we are increasingly subjected to sensationalism and name-calling as a substitute for professional journalism.
I was, therfore, distressed and disappointed to see The Globe provide Ms. Cathy Young a forum to launch an offensive, bigoted attack on Mr. Eric Alterman, a respected journalist and professor who also happens to be Jewish.
Massachusetts residents have heard plenty of voices push their bigotry and small-mindedness
in recent years --whether it's Howie Carr grumbling about "towelheads," Dapper O'Neill lamenting that Dorchester looks like Saigon, or radio DJ's comparing an escaped gorilla to METCO kids.
Enough already --we're sick of it!
I sent this to the Globe prior to your request yesterday in Altercation.
To the Editor:
I was saddened to read Cathy Young's praise of that "new media" and warning to the "old media", outlined in "Sliming American Troops" (February 14, 2005). In that piece, Young outlines the allegations and few of the facts connected to former CNN executive Eason Jordan's recent resignation. She states that Jordan "allegedly suggested that American forces in Iraq had deliberately killed journalists." Young goes on to praise Internet blogs that pushed the story, despite their "ideological agenda", because "they did some solid reporting."
Young then goes on a mission. She refers to Jordan as a "poster boy for left-wing anti-American bias in the media." Young states as "fact" that Jordan's" behavior fed into the worst suspicions held by many conservative and moderate Americans about media bias -- specifically, that the mainstream media are always ready, as columnist Michelle Malkin put it, to 'slime' America's armed forces." In Young's view, the left are not just anti-American; they are also responsible for conservative mistrust of the mainstream media. This is neither fact nor opinion; it is a tactic to intimidate.
Only a very uninformed individual could believe that the mainstream media is always ready to "slime America's armed forces." Maybe Young needs to disclose her right-wing bias, though it should be evident to most readers. Speaking of "slime", I believe that word aptly describes her recent diatribe against journalist and historian Eric Alterman (When Jews wax anti-Semitic, February 7, 2005) who she refers to as a "self-hating" Jew. Alterman is the author of "What Liberal Media?", the scholarly work of a historian supported with numerous footnotes, which contradicts the premise underlying Young's threat to the" old media".
If there is a lesson the "old media" needs to learn its not the one Young threatens. Why give valuable op-ed space to a columnist that champions the canard that the left is unpatriotic and invites a witch-hunt into the careers of journalists that do not follow right-wing political correctness?
I have reviewed the correspondence presented on Eric Alterman's web site documenting his attempts to respond in your forum to accusations of anti-Semitism put forward by one of your op-ed contributors, Cathy Young. Based on what appears to be the record, your printing an op-ed so strangely at odds with reality could conceivably, I suppose, be defended if it were designed to provoke a discussion of anti-Semitism and how the meaning of this term can become the subject of furious dispute, or even appropriated by those whose interests are much narrower than those of the Jewish people generally. Since you do not
appear to be interested in hosting that kind of discussion, there is no defense imaginable.
It appears that, wittingly or otherwise, you allowed Ms. Young to use your pages to hurl serious charges irresponsibly, and that when this problem was called to your attention, you did not treat it seriously, but shucked, jived, and weaseled.
Feel free to point out to me any part of the story you think I am failing to take into account. If I do not hear from you, I will infer that you are unable to respond credibly.
Los Angeles, CA
I am writing in support of Mr. Alterman.
Not being Jewish I nonetheless remember Ms. Young's column, because anti-Semitism is a serious accusation, barely short of a Hitler comparison. At the time I thought Ms. Young had a hyperbolic response to a maybe overstated argument on Alteman's side.
Having read Mr. Alterman's defense of himself, which includes the passage in toto, which served as Ms. Young's springboard I now know that Mr. Alterman expressed himself clearly, though unequivocally and that Ms. Young grossly misrepresented his meaning in her column. It is utterly irresponsible to use the accusation in the way Ms. Young - and many other rightwingers - used it on this occasion.
His demand for an apology from the Globe is adquate. Your persistent refusal to apologize appears to be a face saving exercise more than an assertion of journalistic freedom or whatever other principle you may see involved. It is never wrong to take responsibility for errors.
I would however ask you to get Ms. Young to apologize as well - in her column. If she won't, dump her. She ain't that good anyway. And her column proves that she either can not read properly or is rather meanspirited. And since you are at it: any chance you may replace Jeff Jacoby with someone who has a little more gravitas and intellectual honesty (Mr. Alterman comes to mind...)?
I am not a traitor if I criticize American government policies and I am not an anti-Semite if I criticize the Israeli government. The same goes for Eric Alterman.
The Globe has really stepped in it with Cathy Young's attack on Alterman as an anti-Semite. When you have stepped in it, the best thing to do is step back out, clean yourself up, and go about your business.
In this case, it is the Globe's business to print a fair and complete story about this, giving Alterman a chance to have his say (and Young too, if she has anything to say for herself).
I am surprised at Cathy Young. Like most people from Reason Magazine, however wrongheaded, she usually shows integrity, wit, and intelligence, but all I see here is someone cranking out a column.
West Newton, MA
To The Globe:
Your conduct re Young’s Nazi attack on Eric Alterman is infinitely worse than the Jayson Blair or Judith Miller and the missing WMDs scandals reported/retracted in The New York Times.
I would suggest that Alterman be provided a full and complete forum on your op-ed page – equal to Young’s jihadist screed.
To do otherwise would be a ghastly mistake because the public record clearly shows the Globe’s behavior in this case is far outside of the standard written in Times v. Sullivan and other decisions.
Were he – they – to sue, it would be the first time in Human History that I would support a libel suit against a newspaper just as, for the first time in history, I am in favor of jailing reporters who are conspirators in the Valerie Plame scandal.
If that is what it takes to restore authentic standards to journalism, then that’s what it will have to happen to permanently remove these repeated Soviet Pravda/Izvestia denunciations from the mass media in the first place. In the second place, were you to insist on continuing to run these defecations in your newspaper, it will be time also to permanently require an equal forum to the person or organization attacked by pond scum like Young in the mass media. (Equal time to the attacked is routinely provided in scholarly journals and professional public magazines as well as at conferences. Even in journalism and mass communication.)
Indeed, continued activity of this type by the Globe may even persuade us that a set of standards for mass media -- such as those in Germany and France which prevents hate speech from besmirching their mass media -- is fast becoming a constitutional revision – or a Supreme Court revision of Times v. Sullivan -- which I would fully support.
Your base is leaving you.
Name: Hilda B. Silverman
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
To the Editor
FAX # (617) 929-2098
In a Feb. 13 letter, Geoffrey Lewis powerfully defends Eric Alterman against Cathy Young’s allegations of anti-Semitism; but Young’s op-ed (“When Jews Wax Anti-Semitic,” Feb. 7) was problematic beyond its attack on an individual writer, as shown, e.g., in her parenthetical statement, “While he [Alterman] counts himself among Israel’s supporters, he seems to regard the creation of Israel itself” not just the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza” as an Arab “~catastrophe.’”
In fact, although the birth of Israel was regarded as a triumph for Jews worldwide, for Palestinian Arabs it was a catastrophe. Fully 60% of the Palestinian population at the time "some 700,000 people” fled or were driven from their homes and were never allowed to return. Their property was “legally” expropriated by Israel and transferred to Jewish ownership.
Well-documented reports of forced marches include horrific descriptions of the plight of thousand of Palestinians on their way to becoming refugees, their villages largely destroyed or depopulated and repopulated with Jews, many of whom were, ironically, also desperate refugees.
That the world had stood silently by while two thirds of European Jewry was annihilated within the previous decade does not diminish the pain of the 1948 Palestinian “catastrophe/Nakba."
Name: Robert Green
To the Editor
I’m surprised that you would print Cathy Young’s utterly inaccurate and slanderous column regarding Eric Alterman. This sort of hate speech masquerading as…well, I’m not sure it’s masquerading as anything in particular…accusing a fellow Jew of being a “self-hating” “anti-Semite” is loathsome. Of course, so is completely misrepresenting Mr. Alterman’s views, his words, his inferences, his connotation and so on.
I happen to be a Jew who lives here in Los Angeles, but one who has read Mr. Alterman’s books, columns, and other work for 15 years at least. He is at times a polemicist, at times a historian, at times a journalist (and now a blogger), and he is always a serious intellectual and thinker, the kind with whom one needs to reckon. What you did was not reckoning, it was spreading manure across a field. Either you are ignorant of Mr. Alterman’s positions and place, in which case shame on you for running a piece such as Young’s without doing your homework, or you are partisan hacks, the kind of people that I loathe.
Whichever it is, short of an apology and/or an offer to run Mr. Alterman’s full response in the Journal, I will endeavor to get as many of my fellow readers in this town to unsubscribe, both
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