It was an offhand remark, in 1971, by a Penn State professor to his political science students, that prompted me to become a devoted reader, then decades-long subscriber, to the New York Times: "If you don't read the New York Times, you can't begin to know what's occurring in the U.S. and the world." Over the years, I found overwhelming evidence — much of it amusing and delightful — to support his claim, even as I suppressed my suspicions that the "Old Grey Lady" was pimping for a muscular U.S. presence around the world. For years I lived with the conceit that sophisticated people spent much of their weekend mornings reading Sunday's Times
But, my-oh-my, how "Times" have changed! First, copy-cat journalism by Times' "wannabes" undermined the paper's claim to be the "paper of record." Subsequently, that reputation was further eroded - as was the general appeal of newspapers - by the emergence and widespread appeal of "24/7" cable and internet news. Finally, the Times suffered severe self-inflicted wounds - by such dishonest reporters as Jayson Blair and Judith Miller - from which it has yet to recover.
The final straw for me, however, was the December 30, 2007 decision by the Times to hire William Kristol (editor of the Weekly Standard) as a columnist. Although the Times calls Kristol a conservative, he is, in fact, a notorious neoconservative - a member of a political cult that many traditional conservatives disavow. Readers who noticed this Orwellian elision by the Times might also recall that in January 1998, Kristol (and Robert Kagan) wrote an Op Ed titled, "Bombing Iraq isn't Enough," which the Times was reckless enough to publish.
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Reckless? Yes, because, as Robert Parry has observed: "Under principles of international law applied from Nuremberg to Rwanda, propagandists who contribute to war crimes or encourage crimes against humanity can be put in the dock alongside the actual killers." [Consortium News, Posted August 21, 2006] Simply recall that, under international law, the unprovoked invasion of another sovereign state is considered the most egregious of war crimes.
The decision by the Times to hire this effete, cowardly warmonger smacks of rank hypocrisy, especially when one considers that in May 2004, the Times issued an "apology" to its readers for "problematic articles" that "depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on 'regime change' in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under in creasing public debate in recent weeks." Yet, who has made more bogus warmongering assertions about Iraq than William Kristol? Who has less credibility today than William Kristol?
As I've written elsewhere, "According to Scott McConnell, in the very first issue published after 9/11, the Weekly Standard 'laid down a line from which the magazine would not waver over the next 18 months.' Their line was 'to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in virtually every paragraph, to join them at the hip in the minds of readers, and then lay out a strategy that actually gave attacking Saddam priority over eliminating al Qaeda.' [McConnell, "The Weekly Standard's War," The American Conservative, September 21, 2005]"
With this immorality, hypocrisy and criminality in mind, I called the New York Times this morning to cancel my subscription. One might pity that poor customer representative who handled my call. As I spewed invective against her employer, all she could do was apologize, ask me to spell the name of the columnist I found so offensive (K-R-I-S-T-O-L) and urge me to "have a nice day. Thank you for calling the New York Times."
Having cancelled my subscription, I then sent the following email to the Times' Executive Editor and the VP for Circulation:
"I canceled my subscription to the New York Times — with prejudice — a few minutes ago. I've terminated my decades-long subscription because somebody at the Times made the immoral decision to hire William Kristol — as close to a war criminal as a so-called "journalist" can become. You see, I can have nothing further to do with such a morally tainted newspaper. It's a matter of principle.
You might use this moment to reflect on how the reporting by Judith Miller (AKA stenography for Perle and Chalabi) and your editorial decision to delay reporting on Bush's illegal wiretaps contributed to America's poor moral standing around the world. Now, with the hiring of effete coward and warmonger Kristol, who (possessing any morals at all) can consider the Times to be anything but a whore?
I will use my website to inform my thousands of readers about your immoral decision and I will exhort them to cancel their subscriptions as well.
Walter C. Uhler
After all, simply consider that, ten years after the end of World War II, the editor of Das Schwarze Korps, Nazi SS leader Gunter d'Alquen, was fined 60,000 Deutsch Marks, "deprived of all civic rights for three years and debarred from drawing an allowance or pension from public funds. He was found guilty of having played an important role in the Third Reich, of war propaganda, inciting against the churches, the Jews and foreign countries, and incitement to murder." [Wikipedia, see also Saul Friedlander, Nazi German and the Jews, Volume I, pp. 311-313]
Think about it: If you do something similarly egregious in Bush's Amerika, you get your own column at the New York Times.
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).
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