Why Did the New York Times Run Alice Walker’s Unfiltered Antisemitism?

buttonOn December 13, 2018, the New York Times Book Review, in its weekly column “By the Book,” published a Q&A with Alice Walker. The author and activist best known for her novel “The Color Purple” told the Times that she keeps on her night table a copy of And the Truth Shall Set You Free by one David Icke. His book, Walker said, is “a curious person’s dream come true.” While Walker’s reference may not have meant anything to most Book Review readers, Twitter users began to buzz about her unusual choice. Tablet magazine’s Yair Rosenberg wrote a long, damning story: Icke, we were reminded, is a British conspiracy theorist who believes that the world is controlled by alien reptilian creatures and—you guessed it—Jews. To back up his age-old canard, Icke quotes from—yes, really–The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The story immediately blazed through social media. Other news outlets began picking up the story, and Times readers bombarded the paper with angry comments.

6 comments on “Why Did the New York Times Run Alice Walker’s Unfiltered Antisemitism?

  1. Barbara D Holtzman on

    I’ve never much liked Alice Walker. Not sure why. So I don’t much pay attention to anything she says or does.

    The “interview” was conducted via email, edited for name spelling errors only, and published verbatim in the online version, edited for space in the hard copy. I’m thinking no one paid much attention whatsoever to what she wrote.

    Even if thay had, unless someone bothered to look up all of the books they’d likely not have known what one of them entailed. I asked around to college-educated folks of myriad backgrounds what they thought a book called “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” might be about, and absolutely not a single one (out of 9) knew the book, and they all said it sounded like a book about free speech or how news isn’t fake or similar. None of them knew who Ickes was. We need to be careful of giving some people more recognition than they deserve. Some people deserve to be ignored, forgotten, and erased.

    I disagree with the opinion that the reponse of “Readers have certainly learned something about the author and her tastes and opinions” is meaningless. If you did not already know that Alice Walker was a bitter, angry, bigoted person, you should now.

  2. Abigail Hirsch on

    The NY Times has repeatedly bent over backwards to side with the other side against Jews starting with WWll when they posted news of atrocities re Jews on their back pages. They have a lot of tshuva to do which is why I do not subscribe to their paper and I do not subscribe to Haaretz which is also owned by them I believe.

  3. Clare Kinberg on

    I agree with the conclusion of this, NYTimes, explain and apologize. And I appreciate the links to some good writing on Alice Walker and anti-semitism. But, reducing “the Palestinian cause” to “that manipulative pretext for Jew-hating so beloved by anti-Semites” is below anything the Lilith blog should publish. How did that get by the editors?

  4. Rachel Esserman on

    It sounds as if the Times didn’t do its job of vetting the article before it was published. I also wonder if a book were racists or homophobic whether they would have apologized or not published the article. Not all news is fit to print,

  5. Miriam Kalman Friedman on

    So what does Walker have to say in her own defense? How has she responded the various articles?

  6. Carol Anshien on

    Well said, Clare, thank you. I can only wonder whether the NYTimes thought a little controversy was “OK”?

Comments are closed.