Thursday, November 01, 2007

When Denial Trumps The Obvious
The Elephant On the Cutting Room Floor

"We can imagine no better way to give hope to opponents of Iran’s repressive state than by showcasing America’s democracy and commitment to free speech."

NY Times editorial defending Columbia's decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak.

11/01 - Today, the New York papers are all reporting that a 66-year old Jewish Professor at Columbia University, Dr. Elizabeth Midlarsky, some of whose work has concentrated on the acts of kindness of Gentiles toward the Jews back during the Nazi period, has just had a swastika spray painted on her office door up at the university. It was the latest of several anti-Semitic incidents, including hate mail, that were specifically aimed at this teacher in the past few weeks. Two of the city's newspapers, the New York Post and the Daily News displayed photos of the brown painted symbol scrawled on the door of Professor Dr. Midlarsky's office. She and her family live in New Jersey.

There was also a report of another bias-related incident back on October 10th of a noose being hung on the office door of Professor Madonna G. Constantine, a black professor at the college.

Regarding this latest incident, the New York Post reported that Dr. Midlarsky, a clinical psychologist and teacher at the college, had received three pieces of hate mail in her mailbox in the past few weeks, all occurring since the University's event hosting a visit by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, to visit Columbia and speak there at the end of September.

The professor had quite vehemently and openly opposed the invitation extended to Ahmadinejad by the school.

Midlarsky, who had family members killed in the Holocaust, strongly opposed the Sept. 24 visit to Columbia by Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust, and wore a pin showing the Iranian president's legs twisted into a swastika.

"I was appalled he was asked to speak at Columbia. I was very outspoken about it at the time. Perhaps this game [sic – "gave"] this person the idea for this swastika." Midlarsky told The Post.

The psychology prof said she might also have been targeted because "I am openly Jewish and openly and proudly study Holocaust issues."

"I feel safe enough to come out about my concerns. I am known for it. But this could make me a target of someone who expresses hatred. Anti-semitism is there. It's real. It still exists today," she said.

Midlarsky said anti-Semitic hate mail had been left in her Teacher's College mail box three times starting on Oct. 17.

As reported in the Daily News, her husband also squarely attributed it to fallout from the Ahmadinejad episode.
Last month, Columbia University invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus. Midlarsky's husband blamed the spurt of hate crimes squarely on the infamous hatemonger and Holocaust-denier.

"It's all fallout from Ahmadinejad," said Manus Midlarsky from the family's home in New Jersey. "The next step is physical violence, and that's what I'm worried about."

In two separate stories, the New York Times reported the incident as well, but failed in both to even include any mention of the hosting of Ahmadinejad at the school. One story, in the Education Section of the paper, entitled Swastika Painted on Columbia Professor’s Door, completely ignored whatsoever any possible relation of the incident to the late September visit to Columbia by the Iranian President.

The only quote that story included from her was as follows:
"I see this as an attack of extreme hate and extreme cowardice by someone trying to make a point," Dr. Midlarsky said yesterday.

One would think that would at least prompt a follow-up . . . say, "And what point would that be, Professor?" And, judging from her comments in the other two dailies, there is little chance she would have been shy about heading the reporter in the right direction on that one! Perhaps they did ask her and didn't like the answer, because it didn't fit their narrative.

The Times instead focused their short report exclusively in the context of other bias incidents, including the noose-hanging bias incident reportedly aimed at Professor Madonna G. Constantine at Columbia back on October 10th, and then went on to mention another reported noose-hanging allegedly targeting a Brooklyn high school principal in recent weeks, the latter quite obviously a completely unrelated incident. From the story:
On Oct. 10, a noose was found on the office door of Madonna G. Constantine, a black professor at the college. A string of similar acts in the region have occurred in recent weeks, including one in which a Brooklyn principal received a noose along with a racially charged letter in the mail.
The Times also printed the AP story about the incident that went into much greater detail about several reported noose-hanging incidents from around the country in recent years. But that story too, as well as the original New York Times story, did not mention a single word about the obvious relation of this incident to the September visit of Ahmadinejad to the University.

In their account, the AP claimed they were unable to reach Professor Midlarsky. Every other paper could. And the time stamp on the AP story indicates that it was filed after all of the other stories. But the AP managed to reach school officials at Columbia Teacher's College, meanwhile, who sought to blame it all on their focus on multicultural teachings, and blithly ignored the openly expressed views of victim of the incident, Professor Midlarsky.
School leaders said they felt the college was being targeted because of its "deep, multicultural work."

"We are committed to maintaining that tradition by operating as an open, tolerant community," Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman and Provost Tom James said in a statement. "We will not be intimidated by these incidents."

Except that everyone knows that Columbia University got so "open and tolerant" that they invited the world’s leading anti-Semitic hate-monger and Holocaust denier to drop by for a chat, graciously providing him with an open forum from which to spew his views.

True to form, of course, he played them for all the propaganda value he could squeeze from the incident, as this wrapup from FrontPage noted it would at the time.

But now the school officials want to pretend that this latest series of anti-Semitic incidents aimed at one of their own, and a vocal opponent of that visit, had nothing at all to do with their bad judgment!

They and their compatriots in denial at the New York Times, who, at the time, were busy pretending that the Ahmadinejad "visit" was really a glorious free speech rally, have played right along with this latest refusal to recognize the obvious. Shame on them all.

Denial has apparently now found a most powerful voice in a marriage of convenience between the New York Times, and the "leaders" at Columbia University. And they'll even carry that denial to the extreme of refusing to acknowledge the expressed views of one of their own, an elderly professor against whom these latest hate incidents were directly aimed.

Meanwhile, the New York Times would prefer to lecture the President of the United States, telling him he should cease what they call his "trash-talking" over Iran -- but without offering anything even remotely resembling a way to proceed on preventing Ahmadinejad's Iranian regime from getting their hands on atomic weapons!

So, the Times says, let the little dictator come here and rant, thus enhancing and enabling his position at home and abroad. But President Bush, they say, should just zip it!

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