By Dennis King
Editorial in Manhattan Today, Nov. 2, 2001
Scarcely had the dust settled at the World Trade Center site--the tomb of thousands of slaughtered souls--than the voices of certain leftists in our city and nationwide were raised in support of demented policies that can only help the Al Qaeda terrorists to evade justice.
Prominent among these leftists was the Village Voice crowd, which claimed to be horrified by the September 11 attack, but then focused all its journalistic energies on undermining the nation's will to fight back. This included opposing every common sense step that might help us foil future onslaughts. For instance, in a stream of articles with headlines like "The War on the Bill of Rights," the Voice flailed out against proposed investigative tools, such as roving wiretaps, that law enforcement desperately needs to track an elusive enemy. Many responsible Americans have raised questions about one or more aspects of the new anti-terrorism laws, but the Voice clearly went over the edge, presenting the entire package as just a government plot to rob us of our civil liberties.
As a smokescreen for its unwillingness to defend America, the Voice incessantly invoked the plight of Arabs and other Muslims living in New York. Article after article preached against anti-Arab racism (as if Voice readers were Klansmen in need of sensitivity classes) and against law enforcement investigation of Arab extremists in our midst (as if the U.S. was Nazi Germany). Of course no decent New Yorker wants to see innocent Muslims screamed at in supermarkets, but the Voice has focused on this issue almost to the exclusion of any sympathy for the WTC victims and their families. The one serious effort at writing about the victims, Tom Robbins' "Working Class Heroes" (Oct. 2), which focused on trade unionists killed in the attack, was rendered grotesque by Robbins' implicit distinction between "working class" and middle-class victims--as if bond brokers are a lower order of humanity.
Among the most contemptible of Voice writers, in her response to September 11, was the paper's resident self-hater Alisa Solomon who, the week after the attack, published a brief, emotional piece entitled "The Bastards!" but soon returned to her primary mission--bashing Israel as an evil dictatorship and praising the Palestinians in spite of their nonstop murderous assaults on her fellow Jews. Then there was Peter Noel, a frequent Voice contributor who serves as unofficial press flack for Louis Farrakhan. His true sympathies were revealed in "Homeland Terrorism: How Arabs and Muslims Should Combat It--Despite What the Jewish Defense Organization Says" (Oct. 2).
According to Noel, the militant JDO's telephone hotline had criticized a pro-Al Qaeda lawyer who had been visiting New York mosques to advise them on how to avoid being questioned by the FBI. The JDO had, among other rhetorical expressions, called this lawyer "garbage." Noel depicted this remark as a threat of the highest order. To Noel's twisted mind, the prospect of a Jew verbally expressing righteous anger (without violence) is apparently more horrifying than that of Arab thugs killing thousands of Americans in an orgy of almost unimaginable fury. The Voice has long been rife with anti-Semitism, but never has its double standard against Jews been displayed so starkly as in this article.
It should come as no surprise that the Voice is also actively promoting the new antiwar movement. Although supported by only a tiny percentage of Americans nationwide, this movement is burgeoning at our college campuses with the strong backing of Arab student groups (most of which openly support terror against Israel and many of which privately support bin Laden and the Taliban). The leaflet and web pages of the antiwar movement promote the message that any counterattack against terrorism is "racist" and that the only proper response to September 11 is to accede to bin Laden's blackmail (i.e., stop supporting Israel). The October 2 Voice carried an article, "Peace Equals Patriotism: A User's Guide to Antiwar Activism," which profiled eleven antiwar groups that the Voice suggested its readers could sign up with. The profiles were entirely uncritical; for instance, the description of the International Action Center (the single most important antiwar group) failed to inform readers that it is controlled by a Marxist-Leninist cult with close ties to North Korea and a long history of cozying up to Arab terrorists.
This article was followed on October 9 by "Make Noise, Not War," a puff piece which urged Voice readers to show up for an antiwar rally in Union Square. "Empathy and a call for nonviolent justice undergird initial antiwar organizing," the article said. How this approach will prevent bin Laden from creating thousands of new victims was not explained. Nor did this or any other Voice article spell out what the Voice's own threshold for war is. If five thousand dead is not enough, would fifty thousand do the trick? Or even five hundred thousand?
The war against terrorism is not like the war in Vietnam. The American people recognize the war on terror as a just war. New Yorkers should demand that the owners of the Voice conduct a thorough housecleaning to end its one-sided hate-America/hate-Israel slant. If the Voice's owners fail to act, a boycott should be launched aimed at both readers and advertisers. We are sure that the families of many of the victims of the WTC terror attack, as well as the police and firefighters' unions, would be more than happy to support such a boycott.
[Note: The above editorial was written in the heat of the moment only days after 9/11. Before putting it on this site four years later, I went back and reviewed the Voice clippings from the weeks after the terror attacks--had my language perhaps been too harsh? My conclusion (somewhat to my surprise) was that I had, if anything, understated the case. Be that as it may, the Voice today is a far more sane and balanced paper than it was then (among other reasons, the worst offenders from 2001 have moved on). In addition, my criticism of the Voice's opposition at the time to crushing Al Qaeda and the Taliban militarily should not be taken as implying an equal degree of criticism of the Voice's opposition to the subsequent Iraq war. Although I do not agree with everything the Voice's writers say about the Iraq conflict, the critique they present is a rational one backed by strong evidence and arguments, and is shared by a large percentage of the American people. It by no means has the hysterical "hate America" quality found in the paper's commentary in the weeks after 9/11.--DK]