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April 24, 2001
The Pulitzer Prize For Mendacity

By Ahmed Amr.
Editor

 
 

The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week to the usual suspects. The New York Times got a Prize for national reporting for a series titled "How race is lived in America". These awards are "administered" by Columbia University, an establishment that believes Al Gore and Rupert "the bigot" Murdoch are qualified to lecture on journalism. In any case, one of the articles that impressed the Prize administrators was "The Hurt Between The Lines" (NYT, June 29, 2000). It covered a story about how reporters from The Beacon Journal had themselves won a Pulitzer for tackling the issue of race in their community and in their own newsroom.

Want a sample of what gets a Pulitzer Prize these days? Here are a few lines from the Times article: : "But not only did the newspaper look at race in its own backyard; it also examined itself. For the final article, Mr. Dyer wrote about race relations among his co-workers and their perceptions of how race affected the crime coverage. The article revealed that the journalists who had written Akron's racial report card were as confused and divided by race as the people whose words and images they had filtered into print. "I think we all get along, but there are racists in the newsroom," a white journalist was quoted as saying. "I'm talking about people at parties who have a little too much to drink and suddenly start talking about 'niggers.' "

Bob Herbert, who passes for a sensitive guy at the New York Times recently wrote about the riots in Cincinnati (Riots, Then and Now, by Bob Herbert, NYT, April 19,2001): "As in Newark, the rioting in Cincinnati was an explosive expression of the rage among blacks that had built up from years of hateful treatment at the hands of the police, public officials and other influential figures throughout society, most of them white. You'll find that kind of maddening, simmering rage everywhere you find black people in the United States. It is the rage that comes from living in a society where every day there are humiliating reminders of one's debased status.

Racism and police brutality should never be tolerated. But after so many tragic eruptions over so many decades, it's time for everyone to recognize the need for a smarter, more effective response to these evils than a riot."

I happen to believe that being a racist and a bigot is a qualification for writing in the New York Times, a very warped ethnic paper that always has the knives sharpened for Arabs, especially Palestinians. Indeed, after a seven-month uprising, they have failed to connect Palestinian rage to "hateful treatment at the hands of the Israeli Army". In seven months of covering this uprising, they have not wavered from giving unequivocal support to the Israeli occupation army, which has killed not one, but 400 Palestinians. They never seem to understand the "maddening, simmering rage" of Palestinians who have endured 34 years of military rule. It never occurs to them that a majority of the young Palestinians who have been shot to death by Israeli snipers were born under the thumb of the IDF and were murdered by the finger of an Israeli sniper. They lived and died without once breathing the air of freedom.

This ethnic New York paper, has a long standing alliance with racist Israeli governments. They back every Israeli act designed to humiliate the native people of Palestine. Not once, will a Times reporter use a critical eye to uncover the blatant Jewish supremacy that is enshrined in Israel's legal code. In Sulzberger's publishing house, media campaigns are carefully coordinated with Israeli officials, who have an open invitation to the editorial pages. It is just uncanny how Israeli policy is so deftly marketed by the boys on 43rd street. Sanitizing a war criminal like Sharon, is not a job for amateurs. You need journalistic goons like Safire and Sontag for that kind of dirty work.

A lot of what the New York Times covers and doesn't cover stems from a deep fealty to a racist dogma that makes no apologies for the repression of the Palestinians. Ethnic bias in journalism is not just a problem in Akron, Ohio. Count the Big Apple as a city full of racists in the newsroom, the editorial page and the boardroom.

William Safire is a clever little man, with a sturdy bully platform that he uses to advocate mass murderers like Sharon. Four hundred dead Palestinians will not satiate Safire's appetite for tormenting a nation that has endured thirty-four years of repressive and humiliating military occupation. Like his partner in crime, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, this pundit insists that Sharon be allowed a free hand in squashing the Palestinian independence uprising.

Here is Safire, the master of mendacity, writing in defense of Israel's recent assaults in Gaza : "The punitive raid was not "reoccupation" of Gaza land that Israel wants no part of." (Of Human Wrongs, William Safire, NYT, 4/23//2001). What Safire fails to mention is Sharon's clear declarations on the Jewish settlements, a huge chunk of Gaza that Israel not only wants, but has illegally confiscated for the benefit of 7,000 zealots. For these seven thousand settlers, Israel has confiscated a third of tiny Gaza, home to over a million Palestinians. Many Gazans are refugees living in some of the most densely populated tenements in the world. So, if you read Safire carefully, you note that he deftly avoids the subject of "Gaza land that Sharon wants to keep for his settlers". Just an old Safire trick, to get away with not telling the truth.

For the sake of Israel, Safire has no problems with deliberately misleading the reader about the outcome of a United Nations "Commission on Human Rights" resolution in Geneva that called for international protection for the Palestinians. Safire does not want anyone protecting the Palestinians from Sharon and his goon squads. He notes that only the United States and Guatemala voted against what he called "human-rights hypocrites", the other fifty countries on the commission. Safire is ecstatic with the Guatemalan vote "Who is the Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala? Make that man foreign minister." Who needs an Israeli Ambassador in Washington, when you have a Safire in New York appointing Israeli foreign ministers?

Why did France and the other Western European countries vote to protect the Palestinians? Well, according to Safire, because "Jacques Chirac is fearful of speaking out" against Syria's occupation of Lebanon. This is the same Chirac and the same Europeans who Safire acknowledges supported the United States on censuring China for its human rights record. So, we are to conclude that the Europeans defer to Syria out of 'fear' and are fearless in dealing with China. Then there is Vicente Fox and Mexico who also voted in favor of protecting the Palestinians. Safire tells his readers that Mexico's vote was because "Vicente Fox thinks of business first". He was hard put to come up with a reason for Canada's vote. Of course, it would not occur to Safire that Guatemala's vote was the one that was coerced. Safire and the New York Times have been too busy coercing a pro-Israeli vote from Colombia, whose president Safire insults for "constantly having his hand out for U.S. aid". Any country that speaks out against Israeli war crimes, including the United States, is in for a bashing on the pages of the New York Times. As for aid to Israel, that is a sacred entitlement program that is never ever a subject of debate. The way Safire sees the world, slice the foreign aid budget any way you want, just make sure Israel's share keeps up with the cost of repressing Palestinians.

Safire approves of Sharon's declared strategy of violently forcing the Palestinians to accept a few more decades of racist laws, land seizures, collective punishment and what ever else Sharon dishes out. At the New York Times publishing company, Sabra and Shatila and Qibya are safely buried in some obscure archive. His only concern is that his favorite war criminal got "a black eye in the media", but Safire is reassured that Powell still calls Sharon "Arik" and Bush is as sweet as pie with this certified war-monger.

The glaring ethnic bias of "journalists" like Safire and his soul mate Krauthammer deserve recognition. Take this to the bank. There are racists in the newsroom and not just in Akron, Ohio. Safire's mendacity and appalling disregard for Palestinian human rights should certainly get the attention of the Pulitzer prize administrators at Columbia University. Perhaps, a Pulitzer Prize for mendacity is in order. It would be best to award the prize to the New York Times as a single entity, in recognition of group effort. Krauthammer and the Washington Post will just need to wait for next year's awards.