Over at Connecting the Dots, Gabriel Schoenfeld notes the peculiar journalistic standards of the New York Times‘s ombudsman, Clark Hoyt, who gets the vapors at the thought of Bill Kristol being an NYT columnist, but had no problem with–and even defended as an example of high journalistic integrity–the publication of an op-ed last summer by a Hamas spokesman.
Hoyt believes that it is a matter of pride for the Times to run op-eds by terrorists, because “Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself.” Let’s look at that op-ed, and attempt to discern the “controversial ideas” that the Times helped bring into the public debate. Under the title, “What Hamas Wants,” Ahmed Yousef wrote:
We want to get children back to school, get basic services functioning again, and provide long-term economic gains for our people.
Our stated aim when we won the election was to effect reform, end corruption and bring economic prosperity to our people. Our sole focus is Palestinian rights and good governance. We now hope to create a climate of peace and tranquillity within our community that will pave the way for an end to internal strife…
It goes without saying that these words were lies, articulated in perfect pitch to a western ear that desperately wishes to believe that Palestinian terrorism might actually be intended to accomplish noble ends.
What the Times accomplished was nothing so great as the airing of “controversial” views–it would have done that if it had published an honest defense of Islamic imperialism and terrorism from a Hamas spokesman. Instead it advertised to the world its own astonishing gullibility in believing that a piece of obvious propaganda from Hamas was actually a forthright attempt by its spokesman at explaining the group to the world. It’s not so much that people like Hoyt are hypocrites: being a hypocrite requires a level of shrewdness that I’m not sure was ever on display in this case. Instead I apply Occam’s Razor: Hoyt objects to Kristol but celebrates Yousef because he fervently wishes to believe that behind all of its savagery, Hamas’ goals are perfectly understandable–they want “Palestinian rights and good governance.” Who could have a problem with that? In this case, I think, naivety and gullibility are a lot worse than a little hypocrisy.