- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

The world turns

Was I hallucinating or is the New York Times now advertising on, yes, Matt Drudge's blog?

Matt Drudge, constantly belittled and scorned in the Times' news pages, derided as an Internet "gossip" whom real journalists are "reduced" to reading when all else fails, is now helping sell the New York Times.

Congrats to both parties.

Anti-Semitism watch

In France, the major publisher, Flammarion, has just published a children's book called "Dreaming of Palestine."

According to the paper, Proche-Orient, the book is, in effect, "under the guise of fiction based on real events, a lethal provocation to hatred, violence and jihad against Israelis and Jews. A book, that in the French social-political context, can only encourage anti-Semitic acts."

This kind of thing is not new to Flammarion. That publishing house also brought out Edouard Drumont's "La France Juive," back in 1886. According to Johns Hopkins professor David Bell, "La France Juive" was "the most influential anti-Semitic work in French history, and probably the most influential in 19th-century Europe.

It went through 200 editions, becoming one of the great bestsellers of the period, and helped create the atmosphere in which the Dreyfus Affair took place." Plus ça change …

Times watch

Maybe you saw the piece that ran earlier this month in the New York Times on one of the writers for "The Practice." It was about the show's coverage of the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. The headline ran: "A Catholic Writer Brings His Anger to 'The Practice.'" The accompanying photograph had as a caption: "David J. Kelley, writer of "The Practice," was raised as a Catholic in the Boston Diocese." The entire story was about a Catholic writer's grappling with his own church and it was an effective one. The only trouble with this story is that it isn't true.

The Times ran a correction last Tuesday: "An article in The Arts on Nov. 7 about "The Practice," the ABC television series that has been been addressing the scandal over sexual abuse by priests, misstated the religious background of the writer David E. Kelley. He was brought up Protestant, not Roman Catholic." This correction essentially destroys the entire story. The writer's Catholicism was the rationale for the piece, after all. Either this is more evidence of Rainesian decline, or it's an attempt to hype a writer or a show under false pretenses. All said, it's a huge embarrassment. And it took them from Nov. 7 to Nov. 25 to make the correction!

Anti-Muslim hate crimes

You saw the headline figure: a 1,600 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims. But some context. The FBI figures are notoriously flimsy. They rely on reporting of such crimes and can vary depending on the number of agencies reporting and their diligence. That 1,600 percent increase is from a tiny figure of 28 in 2001. The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes is now close to 500 with nearly 300 not involving physical violence. Now compare that to anti-Jewish attacks in the same year: a total of more than 1,000. Or compare it to homosexuals, who were the victims of more than 1,000 attacks. Every hate crime is vile, of course. But the real story here is how successful we've been in reining random anti-Muslim sentiment in. And while we are in the middle of a war with an Islamist enemy, Jews and gays still get clobbered more often than Muslims.

Blaming the victim

After Muslim rioters murdered hundreds in Nigeria in protest of an allegedly blasphemous newspaper column about the Miss World contest, the organizers moved the cheesy bikini contest to London. After the horror of Nigeria, you'd think allowing a free beauty pageant to take place in a free city would be a no-brainer. But the loony-left's favorite London Mayor Ken Livingstone pronounced Miss World unwelcome. He said the notion of holding the contest now was "obscene." "After the violence and terrible loss of life in Nigeria, the staging of a Miss World event in this city is not welcome. It defies belief that after Miss World has brought tragedy and strife to Africa its organizers should think it appropriate to carry on with the razzamataz as if nothing had happened."

This is exactly the wrong way round. Miss World did nothing to provoke such violence. Nor did the newspaper columnist who is now living under a Salman Rushdie-like fatwa. The people responsible are Islamic extremists who view freedom of speech and association anathema to their religious convictions. Mr. Livingstone should be proud to offer them refuge. Or does he believe that journalists deserve to be killed for their opinions and innocents murdered in their hundreds merely because of their religious faith?

Sontag award nominee

"As far as I'm concerned, it's equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burkas in order to survive." Jill Nelson, MSNBC.

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