Yesterday the NY Times ran a Bret Stephens column comparing a joking “bedbug” insult to him personally with the slaughter of millions of Jewish folk in Nazi Germany.
I don’t subscribe to the times so I’ll use the following tweet by David Klion, the Editor of Jewish Currents, to convey the gist of the piece:
My jaw is on the floor pic.twitter.com/repnmcL2Ud
— David Klion🔥 (@DavidKlion) August 30, 2019
Now, even Stephens isn’t stupid enough to think that he can compare a personal slight to himself to the holocaust without doing some legwork to establish a link, so he does some research and finds an instance in which that particular reference is relevant…
Bret has a problem with this, though because, unlike his editors at the Times, Twitter is checking his sources:
If you’re going to use a google books link, it’s generally a good idea to remember to clear the search.
(And maybe be a little wary if your only hit is an repurposed dissertation no one has bothered to review and that only equivocally supports your hypothesis.) pic.twitter.com/QC4hJ0KJfo
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 30, 2019
So, not only was the pejorative not applied to Jews in his example, the speaker was not an “anti-Semite”.
It appears Stephens just made that up:
How did @nytopinion decide it was appropriate to refer to the speaker of the specific quotation Stephens used as “a Polish anti-Semite”? In the source, he is only referred to as “one man.” pic.twitter.com/7d2TJy9ec1
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 31, 2019
Stephens also knows that in order to smear Prof. Karpf (the author of the original insult) sufficiently, he has to hintthat Karpf meant to apply the insult to a sub-group of humans.
Karpf discusses this in a Guardian piece:
“David Karpf, the author of the tweet that started the saga, told the Guardian he was “surprised and disappointed” that Stephens escalated what should have been “a silly argument”. “Bret Stephens does not appear to have the humility to admit that he was having a bad night, overreacted and was wrong,” Karpf said.
In his column, Stephens decries the “rhetoric of infestation” , arguing that it’s back today. He points at Donald Trump using it to describe Latin American immigrants and Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, saying that migrants carried “all sorts of parasites and protozoa”.
“Stephens states in his op-ed that eliminationist rhetoric is particularly prominent from the left. That isn’t the least bit true, and the Times ought to hire a factchecker to challenge him on these assertions,” Karpf continued. “He also says that the most reviled people in American politics are the moderate Republicans … again, this is embarrassingly self-centered and obviously untrue.”
Stephens then, misrepresents what his primary reference intended to say, who is primary reference was, what the intent of the insult was and who it targeted.
Then he has the Times put a giant photo of Goebbels on top.
Both he and the Times should be deeply ashamed.