December 16, 2000
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In an editorial, today's New York Times writes, "The idea of using public money for vouchers in religious schools is on shaky ground, not only in the court of public opinion but also in the courts of law."
The editorial fails to take into account the views of Brent Staples, a member of the Times' own editorial board, who wrote recently that "the courts are beginning to smile on the concept of public funding for religious institutions," and that "The argument that millions of children must have their lives snuffed out by failing schools and incompetent teachers just to keep impregnable the wall between church and state has worn thin in millions of homes, including my own."
Where did Mr. Staples write this? Well, in the New York Times. Not in an editorial, though, but buried about two thirds of the way down in a book review in the November 26, 2000 New York Times. While the argument against school vouchers may have "worn thin" in the home of Mr. Staples and in "millions of homes," the New York Times is still clinging to it, as the editorial today demonstrates. We guess the Times -- not Mr. Staples, but the Times as an institution -- must just be in favor of making sure that millions of children "have their lives snuffed out by failing schools and incompetent teachers just to keep impregnable the wall between church and state."
Shameful Chapter: An article in the national section of today's New York Times reports on the release of a Palestinian Arab who had been held in Florida under the provisions of the 1996 anti-terrorism law.
The article reports that the released man, 43, "was born in Israeli-occupied Gaza." This is either false or a distortion; while Israel occupied Gaza briefly in 1956, it quickly retreated and didn't take Gaza again until 1967.
The Times reports that the released man was involved with "the Islamic Concern Project, whose activities included sending money to orphans in occupied Palestine." Never mind the use of the politically charged phrase "occupied Palestine," to refer to Israel or to the West Bank and Gaza, which is a violation of Times style. The Times doesn't bother to mention to its readers that the "orphans" helped by these Islamic relief groups are often orphans by virtue of the fact that their fathers blew themselves up in suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilian targets. This doesn't necessarily make the "orphans" less worthy of assistance or mean that the released man belongs in jail, but it does seem like it would bear mentioning in an article that refers so sympathetically to "sending money to orphans in occupied Palestine."
Finally, the article neglects to mention what the Times itself reported on November 13, 1995 under the headline "Professor Talked of Understanding But Now Reveals Ties to Terrorists" -- that Ramadan Abdullah Shallah went from being a part-time professor at the University of South Florida to being the head of Islamic Jihad, a blood-drenched terrorist group. Again, this doesn't prove anything about the activities of the man whose release is the subject of the Times article and who was a former adjunct professor at the same university as Mr. Shallah. But omitting any mention of the genuine Islamic Jihad connections at the University of South Florida just skews the Times article in the direction of Rep. David Bonior, who called the detention of the Palestinian Arab "a shameful chapter in our nation's history."
Selective Quotation: An article in the national section of today's New York Times quotes the speaker of the House as saying "I support across the board tax relief because I believe it is one of the fairest ways to cut taxes." The article conveniently omits the introductory phrase in the speaker's statement, which went, "Despite inaccurate news accounts in the New York Times and the Washington Post, I support across-the-board tax relief because I believe it is one of fairest ways to cut taxes."
Freedom's Toll: A front-page dispatch in today's New York Times about the plight of Russia's doctors runs with the label "Freedom's Toll." But, as the article itself makes clear, the series would be more accurately slugged "Communism's Toll" or "Socialism's Toll." The article quotes one private doctor as saying, "When everything else took the capitalist road of development, and medicine was left on the socialist road, we got an imbalance that is killing medicine."
Lost in Massachusetts: An obituary in today's New York Times of Moses Abramovitz says that he is survived by his son Joel of "Newtown, Mass." It's likely the Times means to refer to the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass. (only one "w"); there is no incorporated town known as Newtown, Mass., though there is an area of Barnstable, Mass., that goes by that name. Internet phone directories list a Joel Abramovitz in Newton.
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