I am writing in response to the article "Panel, Demonstrations Strike Nerve" in last Friday's edition of the Maroon (2/13/04). By presenting the article almost exclusively on the basis of the controversy fomented by a small group of zealots, the Maroon ignores the issues under discussion at the event. Simultaneously, the extremists are permitted to frame the story in a way both favorable and beneficial to them.
The author obviously attended the event, yet there is nothing save a few perfunctory paragraphs and a two-word quote from one of the four panelists to prove this. There is also no substantive description of the theater performance. The reader is left wondering what could evoke the accusations that there was "an incitement to violence" and that the opinions expressed constituted "hate speech."
This article is part of an ongoing pattern whereby the Maroon permits a handful of zealots to present their baseless slander in any coverage of an event concerning Israel. Past articles on a conference presented by The Center for Comparative Constitutionalism (January 23 and 27) as well as the previous article on the panel are evidence of this. Readers find little information with which to shape their opinions before the blather of the fanatic is given its undue space.
Even when the zealots have their day, as with the "Why I am a Zionist" panel in November, the Maroon (November 18, 2003) neglects discussion of the event itself. Instead, it allows the extremists to cry "racism" and "anti-Semitism," based exclusively on a satirical flyer and the removal of some of their own flyers. Remarkably, these hapless victims of bigotry and oppression seem consistently able to get their malicious accusations on the front page.
It is worth mentioning that a member of the Maroon's editorial staff serves as vice president of the "pro-Israel" group on campus. It is also noteworthy that this group serves as a conduit through which national "pro-Israel" organizations can achieve their goals on campuses. According to their web site, the group has board positions devoted exclusively to serving as liaison to the Israeli lobby and the largest pro-Israel charity.
This confluence of the local and the national is evidenced in by the inclusion of the Maroon article on Campuswatch.org the day it was published. Campus Watch, known to many readers, began as a blacklist of academics who allegedly spoke ill of Israel. It is widely cited as a resource by the organizations mentioned above. Local "activists" can expect trips to conferences, internships, and other benefits by providing examples of their "vigilance" through articles such as those published in the Maroon. By allowing them undue influence, the Maroon is thus complicit in assisting the fanatical supporters of a foreign government in accomplishing their goals.
The Maroon is doing a grave disservice to the University community by allowing the needs of a few extremists to taint their coverage of conferences, panels, and lectures. The University community, and especially those who work to continue to enrich the discussion of international events on campus, deserve better.