How the NYT crumbled my heart into a pile of dust and ash

I am sad.

No, not because it’s Valentine’s Day and I have no one to share it with. Actually, I’m sickly happy about that. I’m sad because my childhood perception of my country is slowly but surely being shattered.

Whether it’s this Islamophobia of the ignorant punditry surrounding Egypt’s revolution or the broad realization that so many Americans will put their personal interests before the greater good, my world is not what it once seemed.

When I was a child (so like, five minutes ago), The New York Times was, in my mind, the newspaper. “All the news that’s fit to print,” and like so many, I took that to mean not all what it literally means but also to mean something like “truth.” In my upper-middle class educated white girl world, The New York Times told it like it was and like it should be. Then I strayed from conventional paths, renegade that I am, and tumbled out of my box.

That was when, about a year ago, the government of Kyrgyzstan collapsed and the New York Times failed to cover it for over 24 hours.

HOW COULD THEY? The New York Times was my bastion of all things right and good in this world. Of East Coast liberalism and intellectualism and Democrats and progress and the Ivy League and shit-tons of elitism. And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. I became jaded and aware, and simultaneously the Times became stilted, conservative, unimaginative, written for women in fur coats who eat breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is the imaginary love child of social progress and corrupt capitalism, something that in the real world can never be, and it failed me.

After months and months of let-down, I was hurt still further – but unsurprised – when I saw this cover on yesterday’s Magazine section.

NYT Sunday Feb 13 Cover
Pipe dreams; NYT Editorial Staff still towing this line?

ISRAEL.

(TWO STATES.)

PEACE PLAN.

(MEN IN SUITS.)

This just in: OLD. NEWS.

Where are the people, the women, the invisible Palestine? Where is the acknowledgement of truth? What of logic or reason, why only rhetoric? Why is diplomacy a game for old guys? Why is diplomacy the game at all?

Anyone who knows me knows the NYT’s editorial decisions and writing regarding the Arab World have frustrated me for a long time. Isabel Kershner’s “articles” (creative non-fiction, anyone?) about Israel would be laughably one-sided and ignorant if so many people didn’t take the Times as gospel. Ethan Bronner’s piece on Jordan neglected the critical (I CANNOT UNDERSTATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS) fact that it is a criminally punishable offense to criticize the King in Jordan. Seriously. You make fun of his hair, the mukhabarat are at your door and next thing you know you’re in jail. Forever.

The American-centric (American in the dirty version of the word) perspective the New York Times takes to address the Middle East – and so much of the rest of the world – is painfully Orientalist made worse by its sporadic injections of anti-republicanism and fair-weather tenets of righteousness. Hell, the New York Times bleeds White Man’s Burden.

But what I really want to know is, in the wake of the Palestine Papers, why the New York Times, or anyone for that matter, is still trying to make a two-state solution a viable possibility?

Maybe I’m overstating or overestimating the importance of that leak, but I do recall a rash of “maybe two-states won’t work” Eureka!ing from journalists and thinkers who would not have said so (publicly) beforehand. But the Papers caused Sa’eb Erakat to quit. We found out Fatah was selling out Palestinians in the oPT and in Israel right and left. We found out Israel would stop at nothing to get more land and more control. Well, this we already knew.

Palestine Papers aside, to lay it out, two-states wasn’t working. “Talks” were stalled. Abbas and Fatah have no legitimate popular democratic support. Netanyahu and more importantly Lieberman repress any and all opposition. Israel already controls most of the West Bank, leaving any “Palestinian State” with a total acreage roughly equal to that of the Vatican, and less contiguous (I might be exaggerating).

So why is The New York Times, miraculously still the icon in my mind of all things East Coast Liberal (=good), touting so garishly this antiquated formula on the front page of the magazine section? They’re smart guys and gals, they should be able to figure this one out. Alas.

In my forever, the Times has given me a reason to get up in the morning. It’s given me joy, excitement, thrills, secret windows into worlds only imagined. But as it’s opened my eyes, I’ve begun to see it in a new light. My beer goggles are off (actually they’re on) and I recognize this once bosom companion for what it truly is; another piece in the puzzle of corruption, of intrigue, of coercion. It is not impartial; it is a player in this game of politics, and it has taken my heart along for the ride. It is high time I get it back.

I’ll finally have to close this chapter in my own history, forget about how I thought the world works, and discard the first four sections of the Times every day until I get to the Style Section. We all know Vows is the only thing worth reading, anyway.

Full Disclosure: I didn’t read the article. Couldn’t bring myself to.

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