‘Overt’ Antisemitism Is ‘Complicated,’ New York Times Claims

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By Ira Stoll

Read The New York Times enough, and certain problematic patterns emerge. One of them is the excess adjective or adverb — an extra word that makes an article worse by being there. An editor might have improved an article that suffers from this affliction simply by deleting the offending word.

Two recent New York Times articles on Jewish topics suffer from this problem.

One, in the arts section, is about an announcement by Netflix that it had acquired the rights to produce animated programs based on the works of the British author Roald Dahl, of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame. The Times reports, “While Dahl’s stories have proved durable, his legacy is complicated, marred by his overt anti-Semitism.”

Actually, it’s not “complicated.” Antisemitism is bad regardless of whether it is “overt” or hidden. At least the overt antisemites aren’t deceptive or in denial about it. The Timesmight have simply written, “While Dahl’s stories have proven durable, his legacy is marred by his anti-Semitism.”

Another Times article, a book review of children’s books about Hanukkah, refers to “the inescapable dominance of X-tmas.” This one would have been better if some editor had simply deleted the word “inescapable.” It certainly is possible to escape the dominance of Christmas by, say, moving to Kiryas Joel or Bnei Brak.

Times readers can protect themselves by paying extra attention to the possibility of bias whenever a modifying word such as an adjective or adverb appears. It would be nice if Times editors did this work for us before the articles are published. If the editors did so well enough, it might become harder to draw the inescapable and not even particularly complicated conclusions about the newspaper’s biases, both overt and covert.

(c) The Algemeiner Journal



  1. The title is misleading. I’m not denying the rank bias at the Times, but these examples are over the top. We have enough problems without resorting to extreme oversensitivity. No need to see nonexistent bogeymen under the bed. And yes, unless you live in KJ, which most of the country does not, Xmas is inescapable. I remember my seminary principal in Israel telling us that one of the many wonderful things about Israel is that December 25 will come and go and you won’t be aware of it. Not so here. America is a Christian country and we are in golus. NYT usually distorts reality but this is accurate.

  2. It’s an interesting point. Some believe that art and literature communicates subliminally, and that the attitudes of the artist or writer are transmitted to the unknowing reader. Perhaps it would be kedai to work up a list of famous musicians, artists, and authors that were serious anti semites (not merely parroting their society’s unquestioned beliefs) – obviously, Wagner. But Roal Dahl, Modest Mussorgsky, T.S. Eliot, Edith Wharton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Degas, Albrecht Durer, and so forth.

  3. Go to good towns and jews are found normal.

    Go to places with only chilonei and the religious jew feels uncomfortable. Hashem has a universe where our behavior determines out success.

    The rate of decree is high. Love the world of judaism.


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