Monday, April 26, 2021

Tablet Mag Needs To Learn How To Link to a Source

Tablet Magazine has another article up about ethnic studies, titled "Getting Rich in the Diversity Market." The title, I assume, is tongue-in-cheek, since given the number of articles they pump out on the subject I can't imagine there's anyone this side of Bari Weiss making more money on "the diversity market" than Tablet Magazine.

Last time we checked in on Tablet's reporting on this beat, they published an article that nakedly fabricated evidence in order to portray the latest draft of the California Model Ethnic Studies curriculum on as antisemitic. An interesting fact about that article was that it didn't actually link to the curriculum documents it was nominally criticizing, forcing readers to go on a winding solo journey to actually pull up the material in question and discover for ourselves just how blatantly the article misled us.

Alas, all that's old is new again in the latest article. One of the article's targets is a "Racial Literacy Curriculum" by an organization called Pollyanna, which they seek to argue is antisemitic. Here's what Tablet says about the curriculum:

This curriculum includes a unique view of nearly every educational discipline, such as in sixth grade history where children discover that the essence of Nazism was not the destruction of European Jewry but the rise of “whiteness.” Pollyanna’s main coverage of the Jewish experience is reduced to an odd and passing reference to the “Eastern European Hebrew” race.

They provide no link, but the relevant document appears to be this. So, what's the context? Here's the actual quote:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, as large groups, or a “wave,” of low-income immigrants entered the U.S. from other parts of Europe, new racial classifications emerged, such as the “Northern Italian” race, the “Southern Italian” race, and the “Eastern European Hebrew” race. Through pseudoscientific assessments, including the measurements of people’s cranial features and “intelligence” tests, these groups were erroneously deemed inferior, as the Celts had been. 

Wow! The curriculum is talking about racist immigration restrictions that targeted Jews (among others), and, in not-so-odd fashion, these restrictions used pretty blatant racist language! What, exactly, is objectionable here (maybe Tablet wants a trigger warning first)?

Can anyone say that, reading the Tablet article, the impression they'd have gotten regarding the "odd and passing reference to the 'Eastern European Hebrew' race" would be within 500 miles of what the curriculum actually said? No, of course not. Earlier in the article the author states that the curriculum he's citing (but not linking to) was "reviewed by Tablet", which suggests that an editor signed off on this blatant misrepresentation. Disgraceful.

The curriculum also does not appear to really say anything about "the essence of Nazism", because the curriculum is self-consciously focused on the American development of race and racism, not European -- hence why the only passing mention of Nazism relates to shifts in speaking of a "Saxon" race to a "Nordic" race. But there's no claim I can see that suggests that this is the most important thing to learn about Nazism -- it's just that the curriculum focuses on the American context, which is entirely appropriate. Again, the Tablet article's presentation is just wildly out of sync with the content.

At this point, one has to wonder if the failure to link to primary source documents in circumstances where it's obvious that doing so would undermine the author's ideological ax is intentional. It happened in the California ESMC article, and it's happening again here. 

It is bad enough to read an article and not feel confident that the author's summary of another source is accurate; it's absolutely infuriating to have to set off on a lonely trek to find the source for oneself because Tablet can't hold itself to basic standards of internet professionalism.

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