New York Times Op-Ed Glorifies Farrakhan March, as Bari Weiss Says Jew Hate Is Times Blind Spot
A former editor and writer for the New York Times editorial page, Bari Weiss, is faulting the Times for publishing an op-ed piece glorifying Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March and failing to provide context about Farrakhan’s antisemitism.
“Today the New York Times ran an oped about the Million Man March and Louis Farrakhan. If you read the oped and knew nothing about Farrakhan, you would think he was a gentleman,” Weiss tweeted. “When The Times ran the infamous anti-Semitic cartoon, the issue was not that editors were hardened anti-Semites. It’s that they didn’t even *notice* it. This shouldn’t surprise. It’s part of a worldview in which Jew hate does not count.” Her reference was to an April 2019 cartoon that the Times eventually said it was “deeply sorry” for and acknowledged was antisemitic.
The op-ed piece appears in the New York Times under the headline “Behind the Million Woman March.” It is subheadlined, “Behind every great feat in the public record lies an untold story of the unsung foot soldiers.” It is written by Natalie Hopkinson, an associate professor in Howard University’s Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies.
The op-ed, timed to the 25th anniversary of the event, tells the story of the behind-the-scenes role played in the march by Cora Masters Barry, the wife of Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry. “The Million Man March is a case study in how even in the most patriarchal spaces, women have powered history,” Hopkinson writes.
The October 16, 1995 march drew what authorities said were approximately 400,000 people. It featured a two-and-a-half-hour address by Farrakhan, a notorious antisemite. I covered the event for the Forward and reported, “In the rows of concession stands leased by march organizers, one vendor is selling ‘Chosen People From the Caucasus: Jewish Origins, Delusional Deceptions and Historical Role in the Slave Trade, Genocide and Cultural Colonization,’ by Michael Bradley. Nearby, between tables hawking ‘O.J.’s Free’ T-shirts, salesmen display copies of ‘The Jews and Their Lies,’ by Martin Luther. Young men in red bow ties sell ‘The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.’”
Weiss is correct to point out that Jew-hatred is a Times blind spot. The previous Times editorial page editor, James Bennet, was ousted after publishing an op-ed from Senator Tom Cotton calling on President Trump to “Send in the Troops” to quell rioting and looting. In that case, a Times editors’ note confessed, “we failed to offer appropriate additional context — either in the text or the presentation — that could have helped readers place Senator Cotton’s views within a larger framework of debate.” Where is the “additional context” about the Million Man March or its leader? It’s absent, other than in the tweets of former Times editorial page employee Weiss.
In addition, the editor who replaced Bennet, at least on an interim basis, Kathleen Kingsbury, told staffers when she took over: “Anyone who sees any piece of opinion journalism, headlines, social posts, photos — you name it — that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.” That policy, as it’s been implemented, gives even the most junior staffers the power to halt the publication of an opinion piece by marking it with a “red flag” in the paper’s editorial system. Did the article headlining Farrakhan’s “great feat” and ignoring his antisemitism not trigger even “the slightest pause” at the Times editorial page? As Weiss puts it, “they didn’t even *notice* it.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper retweeted Weiss and noted, “The late great John Lewis didn’t participate in the Million Man March because Farrakhan had made comments that were ‘divisive and bigoted.’”
Elsewhere in the Times opinion section over this past weekend was an editorial denouncing President Trump for “toxic rhetoric” and “vile language” and “crude insults.” Said the editorial, “Mr. Trump doesn’t just mock his enemies. He demonizes and dehumanizes them.” The same could be said of Farrakhan, but when he does it, the Times headline writers cheer him on for his “great feat.”
If the Times wants to add context to the latest article, there’s no shortage of material from the newspaper’s own archives.
There is “Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars,” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1992).
There is “White Supremacists Voice Support of Farrakhan,” from the paper’s news columns (1985).
There is A.M. Rosenthal’s post-march column from 1995, which said, “The demagogues and dictators always reveal themselves. They must, to attract the core of the vicious, around whom they build their power. The Nation of Islam’s program states its goal: the creation of a separate black nation within America. Somehow the apologists and rationalizers of the demonstration never mentioned that. The danger is not simply what the Nation of Islam is able to achieve about separation. It is the damage it does meanwhile to the American dream of racial unity and to American life, day by day. All its propaganda and racial spewings are devised to divide, separate, resegregate.”
Or, my personal favorite, A.M. Rosenthal’s pre-march column from 1995, headlined, “The Swamp of Hatred”:
Like every demagogue, Mr. Farrakhan presents a list of shiny “purposes” as among his objectives — self-help, respect, training, jobs, bringing a “community” together and making it powerful. That was part of Hitler’s message.
Sorry, Adolf, it happens I won’t be in Munich for your march, but I support the purpose?… To march with Louis Farrakhan in Washington is to strengthen a man who leads a crusade against whites and for resegregation, to march with his goon squads, to march with anti-Semites.
What has happened to the Times over the intervening 25 years? Rosenthal would be rolling in his grave.
Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.