The New York Times is under fire for publishing an interview with author Alice Walker in which she recommends a book by a notorious conspiracy-mongering anti-Semite.
The Times’ By the Book column Sunday printed a Q&A with Walker, and its first question to the Pulitzer winner was what books she keeps on her nightstand.
That’s when she cited David Icke’s And the Truth Shall Set You Free, which discusses at length The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous document accusing Jews of launching a scheme for global domination.
However, Walker described the book favorably, neglecting to mention any contextualizing information and appearing to offer her stamp of approval for the British author.
“In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about,” she said. “A curious person’s dream come true.”
The Times also failed to provide any editor’s note explaining Icke’s background and the book’s contents, thereby allowing his name to be promoted unchecked.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told HuffPost the Times made the wrong move. Expressing his criticism in a statement, he emphasized Icke’s history of peddling hate.
We’re deeply disappointed that The New York Times Book Review would print author Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious British anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke. His book “And the Truth Shall Set you Free,” calls Judaism an “incredibly racist” religion which preaches “racial superiority,” claims that a “Jewish clique” fomented World War I and World War II as well as the Russian Revolution, and draws heavily on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” for inspiration. He even casts doubt on the Holocaust and condemns the Nuremberg Trials. He has a long history of scapegoating Jews, and Times readers should be aware of this before considering his work.
Despite Greenblatt’s remarks, a Times spokesperson told HuffPost it stands by its decision to publish the interview as is, without any information on Icke other than Walker’s flattering commentary.
By the Book is an interview and portrait of a public person through the lens of books; it is not a list of recommendations from our editors. The subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgments. As with any interview, the subject’s answers do not imply an endorsement by Times editors.
The spokesperson added that it is not standard practice for context to be added to a column and that editors sometimes disapprove of their interviewee’s book suggestions.
Moreover, our editors do not offer background or weigh in on the books named in the By the Book column, whether the subject issues a positive or negative judgment on those books. Many people recommend books Times editors dislike, disdain or even abhor in the column.
Walker’s reference to Icke was first called out by Tablet Magazine, pointing out his book’s numerous anti-Semitic statements. Among those are claims that Jews are “programmed to see themselves as God’s ’chosen people’” and that they are to blame for the prejudice and oppression they have faced. He calls the Talmud “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet.” Despite the evidence, he maintains he is not an anti-Semite.
Making a name for himself on his conspiracy preaching, Icke is a major proponent of the belief that lizard people control the world, a myth that began entering the news roughly 10 years ago. In 2015, Vox called his 1998 book, The Biggest Secret, “an important tome in lizard people theory.” In 2012, Icke spouted his theories in an extensive interview with Vice in which it was noted he’s convinced the moon is actually a hollow sphere used as a space station that manipulates the minds of the public.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a respected hate watch group, once wrote about Icke, describing his dangerous ideologies.
More than anyone else, the British conspiracist David Icke has popularized the Alien version of New World Order conspiracy. The former sportscaster’s elaborate theory is the Sgt. Peppers album-cover of the genre, featuring the Masons, the Vatican, the Illuminati, the House of Windsor — everyone is there. At the center of the theory is an alien race of lizard people from the fifth-dimension. Though Icke has always denied trafficking in anti-Semitism, he has endorsed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the famous forgery and foundational text of modern anti-Semitism — choosing to call it “The Illuminati Protocols.”
This is Barkun’s “refraction,” in action, and Icke’s shadow is long indeed, visible across the far right media spectrum.
While Walker’s name-dropping scored Icke a bit of attention, he remains far out of the mainstream, known only for his outlandish ideas and prejudiced thinking.
Still, this isn’t the first time Walker has drawn allegations of anti-Semitism. In 2013, the ADL denounced The Cushion in the Road, a book Walker released that same year, which the organization said devoted “80 pages to a screed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict replete with fervently anti-Jewish ideas and peppered with explicit comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.”
That, the ADL added, was a sign that the author had “taken her extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level.”
It’s also not the first time she’s endorsed Icke. In 2013 and 2015, she expressed appreciation for the writer on her website.