The NPR Scandal, Anti-Semitism, and the Silence of the Left

The NPR Scandal, Anti-Semitism, and the Silence of the Left

Alan Johnson: The NPR Scandal, Anti-Semitism, and the Silence of the Left

The following was originally published on March 16, 2011. Read the new responses at the bottom of the page.

The American Left has been silent about the smelly anti-Semitism of the NPR scandal.

To recap, NPR executive Ron Schiller, along with some of his colleagues, was secretly filmed at a luncheon with men posing as members of the fictitious Muslim Action Education Center, a Muslim Brotherhood group. (You can watch the video here.) The actors told the NPR executives that they were interested in donating $5 million to NPR, partly to lessen the ?Jew influence? and ?Jew money? going to NPR. One said, ?The Jews do kind of control the media.? The NPR people didn?t miss a beat. Eating, nodding, and smiling, Ron Schiller replied: ?I don’t actually find it at NPR; the Zionist or pro-Israel even among funders. No. I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers, obviously.? Schiller has since resigned.

About all this, the Left was silent. Jonathan Chait at the New Republic was silent. The Huffington Post was silent. Jon Stewart was silent (though he was loud in his defense of Schiller). Jay Rosen? Silent. Keach Hagey at Politico? Silent. (?Video boosts bid to defund NPR.?) David Weigel at Slate? Silent. The Columbia Journalism Review? Silent. (?It?s not as if he came out in favor of infanticide.?) How about Bill Moyers and Michael Winship at Common Dreams? Silent too (?…we will not be intimidated by the elaborate undercover hackwork of vindictive political point-scorers?). And the left-wing blogs? AlterNet? Silent (?his sentiments are not out of the ordinary for any average liberal?). Crooks and Liars? Silent (?It?s hard to see exactly what it is we?re supposed to be outraged about.?)

All these writers had access to the video of the meeting, and the transcript of what had been said. Several of them quoted from it at length. But about the anti-Semitism they had nothing to say. (Unlike the Right, it has to be said, which was willing to speak about the anti-Semitism and to condemn it.)

Those on the left who did broach the dirty anti-Semitism of the exchange could not get too excited. For Eric Alterman, ?their sins here were venial rather than cardinal ones.? Jack Shafer at Slate, in a piece titled ?In Defense of Ron Schiller,? was cynical. ?Pardon me if I?m not outraged that a pair of NPR officials?display temporary deafness when deep-pocketed potential funders say ugly and demented things.?

The Left had plenty to say, but it was about Fox News, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the threat to NPR?s funding.

Here?s a thought from across the pond. Why don?t you shut up about Fox News, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party for five minutes, find some moral courage, and speak out against the anti-Semitism? It would do you some good.