|Move along. There is nothing to see here. Identified on web as a photo of a Jewish father and son injured in the 1991 Crown Heights Riot / Pogrom.|
On August 9, 2011, The Jewish Week published an article by Ari L. Goldman alleging that the New York Times, American's newspaper of record, systematically altered news coverage, not just opinion, but facts as well, in order to erase the anti-Semitic nature of what is alternately called the "Crown Heights Riot" or the "Crown Heights Pogrom."
The Crown Heights Riot / Pogrom: During three days of violence in 1991, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Lemrick Nelson, leading a crowd of African Americans yelling, "Kill the Jew," stabbed Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum died.
Lemrick Nelson's lawyer acknowledged that his client stabbed Rosenbaum; Nelson himself confessed. Before he died, Rosenbaum identified Nelson as his killer. Nelson was acquitted, released, and taken out to a celebratory dinner by jurors, only two of whom were white; none were Jews.
The Crown Heights Riot is covered in "Bieganski."
Ari L. Goldman was a reporter for the New York Times. He knew the neighborhood intimately. He was an eyewitness to the riot. He reported events, in real time, while they were happening, to the New York Times. In his article, he alleges that the New York Times systematically altered material in order to downplay the anti-Semitic nature of the riot.
Goldman alleges that the New York Times, distorting his reports, published as fact material that was "simply untrue."
Goldman did not protest. From his article:
"In all my reporting during the riots I never saw — or heard of — any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions. To show Jewish culpability in the riots, the paper even ran a picture — laughable even at the time — of a chasidic man brandishing an open umbrella before a police officer in riot gear. The caption read: 'A police officer scuffling with a Hasidic man yesterday on President Street.'
I was outraged but I held my tongue. I was a loyal Times employee and deferred to my editors. I figured that other reporters on the streets were witnessing parts of the story I was not seeing."
Goldman reached a breaking point:
"But then I reached my breaking point. On Aug. 21, as I stood in a group of chasidic men in front of the Lubavitch headquarters, a group of demonstrators were coming down Eastern Parkway. 'Heil Hitler,' they chanted. 'Death to the Jews.'
Police in riot gear stood nearby but did nothing.
Suddenly rocks and bottles started to fly toward us and a chasidic man just a few feet away from me was hit in the throat and fell to the ground. Some ran to help the injured man but most of us ran for cover. I ran for a payphone and, my hands shaking with rage, dialed my editor. I spoke in a way that I never had before or since when talking to a boss.
'You don’t know what’s happening here!' I yelled. 'I am on the streets getting attacked. Someone next to me just got hit. I am writing memos and what comes out in the paper? ‘Hasidim and blacks clashed’? That’s not what is happening here. Jews are being attacked! You’ve got this story all wrong. All wrong.'"
Why this matters to Polish-Jewish relations; why "Bieganski" covered the Crown Heights Riot / Pogrom.
"Bieganski" demonstrates, irrefutably, in minute detail, that the American press, when covering allegations of anti-Semitism against Poles, and allegations of anti-Semitism amongst other groups, especially African Americans, uses two completely different rhetorical strategies. The differences are so great it is as if two utterly distinct languages are used.
"Bieganski" further demonstrates that these two distinct rhetorical styles are employed not just in the mainstream press, but in scholarly discourse, as well. "Bieganski" demonstrates that this style strongly influenced public discourse about the break-up of Yugoslavia, the American-led bombing of Serbia and the genocide in Rwanda.
What are Polonian institutions doing about this? Right now, nothing of significance. They continue to insist that telling stories of heroes like Kosciuszko and suffering, as in the book "Bloodlands," is the answer.
The full text of Ari L. Goldman's article is here.
The Jerusalem Post's response to Ari L. Goldman's article is here.