The New York Times is attempting to “diversify” its pages by hiring Bret Stephens, a writer who has used slurs to denigrate Arabs and Africans in his previous writing. He has also argued in favor of colonialism, despite the negative effect it has had in the past on the communities he attacks.
While having no problem describing President Donald Trump as racist numerous times over the past two years, the New York Times has decided to hire a writer who makes Trump look like a stalwart of political correctness, all in the name of “diversity.”
When the hiring of Bret Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, was announced, his past work was praised by James Bennet, the editorial page editor of the Times, who lauded Stephens’ “profound intellectual depth, honesty, and bravery.”
However, what Bennet neglected to mention was that Stephens has made a name for himself in recent years by penning several vitriolic articles that make undeniably racist claims against Arabs and Africans, asserting that their “diseased” minds and “depravity” are proof of why certain Arab and African communities, such as Palestinians and Haitians, find themselves in troubling situations.
For instance, in his 2011 piece “Haiti, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire: Who Cares?,” Stephens makes the case that these nations, chiefly inhabited by Africans or those of African descent, were essentially better off under colonialism than under their current systems of government. Stephens states the following:
“Colonialism, for which the West has spent the past five decades in nonstop atonement, was far from the worst thing to befall much of the colonized world…some new version of colonialism may be the best thing that could happen to at least some countries in the postcolonial world.”
Stephens concludes the piece by making an apologist claim for the rampant racism of the colonial era.
“The colonialists of yore may often have been bigots, but they were also, just as often, doers. Their colonies were better places than the shipwrecked countries we have today.”
But Stephens reserves his harshest criticisms for Arabs, particularly Palestinians and other Arabs who are critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. In an article regarding Egyptian martial artist Islam El Shehaby’s refusal to shake the hand of his Israeli counterpart after losing at the Rio 2016 Olympics, as well as the Lebanese team’s refusal to share a bus with Israeli athletes at the same event, Stephens asserts that these actions are not political, but born out of an anti-Semitism he argued was endemic to all Arabs, calling it a “problem of the Arab mind.”
Stephens’ assertions are easily debunked by listening to the athletes’ explanations for their snubs.
El Shehaby, for instance, explained that his actions were not anti-Semitic, but explicitly political, stating “I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this state, especially in front of the whole world.”
Stephens did not believe this claim and used his article to make generalized racist statements about the entire Arab world. “Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious indigenous scientific base, a stunted literary culture,” Stephens wrote in his analysis of the “Arab mind.”
He concludes, “So long as an Arab athlete can’t pay his Israeli opposite the courtesy of a handshake, the disease of the Arab mind and the misfortunes of its world will continue.” This suggests that Israel’s actions or mistreatment of the Palestinians has had no role in shaping Middle Eastern geopolitics and that thinking otherwise is a “disease” endemic to all Arabs.
Stephens has written extensively on the Palestinians. In 2015, he wrote “Palestine: the Psychotic Stage,” where he seeks to find the root cause of what he described as the “Palestinian blood fetish” during the Third Intifada. Stephens, while busy blaming the uprising on Palestinian “bloodlust,” ignored the clear roots of the uprising – restrictions that were placed on Palestinians who wished to visit the Haram al-Sharif and other holy sites in Jerusalem. He also ignored the fact that the death toll suffered by the Palestinians was much, much higher than that experienced by the Israelis – despite Stephens’ assertion that the Palestinians have a monopoly on “bloodlust.”
Despite the fact that Stephens’ claims are undeniably racist in nature, the Times argues that he is a valuable addition to the paper who will bust up “the liberal echo chamber.”
New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd, who once lamented the paper’s “whiteness” and lack of racial diversity, has now become a Stephens apologist – calling him a mere “provocateur” and asking readers unhappy with his hire: “Do you actually want a diversity of views on the Opinion pages, and if so, what’s the matter with Bret Stephens?”
Feature photo | Editorial writer Bret Stephens is known for his anti-climate science, pro-colonialist, xenophobic stances, and most recently for his new home at the New York Times. Veni | Flickr CC