About a month ago, the international edition of The New York Times launched a shitstorm when they published an editorial cartoon depicting Donald Trump as Benji Netanyahu’s blind toady. In response, the Gray Lady was loudly condemned by the rabid right for anti-Semitism.
In response to these foolish attacks, the New York Times took a courageous stand. They decided to drop their editorial cartoons across the board. All of them, in both their international edition and their regular American daily. This disappearing act, unless repealed, goes into effect July 1st.
This does not surprise me. The New York Times is a newspaper that is as good as it is tedious. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both provide better coverage without boring their readers half to death; the Times relishes their ancient reputation as the newspaper of record as if their newspaper is published atop Mount Olympus and not in the Disneyland-East of Times Square. That’s fine: after all, the first name of my company is “Arrogant,” although, obviously, I’m upfront about it and I own it.
As I state in this space repeatedly, “anti-Semitism” is completely different from “anti-Jewish.” Voicing concerns about the behavior and policies of the leader of the nation of Israel is not anti-Jewish. If so, a whole lot of Israeli Jews – and about half of American Jews – are anti-Jewish. Those of us who are opposed to Netanyahu’s hob-nailed boots politics often are referred to as “self-hating Jews.” As I’ve also stated in this space, I believe in freedom of religion is a Commandment. I am opposed to castigating all Muslims as evil, just as I am opposed to those who get sexually aroused by thoughts of Kristallnacht.
But this isn’t about that. It’s about the New York Times caving in so quickly to such moronic criticism. The editorial cartoon expressed a point of view that was in opposition to Netanyahu and to Trump, but not in opposition to Jews in any way. There’s a difference between Judaism and Hydra: the latter states “If a head is cut off, two more shall take its place,” while the former deeply encourages multitude of thought. The Jews who scream “anti-Semitic” at those who think poorly of Benji have little understanding of their own traditions.
The NYT says they were considering dropping their editorial cartoons for more than a year. Well, then, the timing of their decision certainly was an astonishing coincidence, wasn’t it? Oh, and if it was a coincidence, then why did the New York Times fire those who approved the publication of this cartoon?
Granted, the Times has never employed a staff cartoonist with the chops of a Bill Mauldin, John Fischetti or Herb Block, and no NYT staff cartoonist has won a Pulitzer Prize. But that does not invalidate the concept or the format: there are brilliant editorial cartoonists being published today (Darrin Bell, Mike Luckovich, Tom Toles) who add their valuable points of view to the headlines. They continue to serve a great function, even though there are fewer such cartoonists due to the plummeting circulations of our daily newspapers.
In fact, the tradition of the editorial cartoon is as important as is the tradition of the daily newspaper. It is commentary, not news, and not at all unlike the commentary of writers such as Paul Krugman, George Will and Clarence Page.
To cover its ass and to duck criticism by those who cannot tolerate opposing points of view, the New York Times has abandoned its obligation to provide criticism and analysis. They need more editorial cartoonists in order to fully represent the diversity of thought and comment.
Instead, in order to avoid the heat, the New York Times got out of the kitchen. I’m not certain when they decided it was no longer their responsibility to endure such heat, although I strongly suspect it was when the Washington Post started eating its lunch.
I thought “gray lady” referred to the look of their front page. Perhaps at one time this was true. Now, it appears the lady is gray due to her loss of blood.