To the Editor:
In his excellent article, “The Crown Heights Riot & Its Aftermath” [January], Philip Gourevitch accurately describes a city gone astray. What actually helped achieve this sad state of affairs was the “affirmative-action” approach employed by the press. In the New York Times of September 1, 1991, A.M. Rosenthal excoriated members of his own profession for reporting these incidents as if they were a “culture clash.” What happened in Crown Heights was, in Rosenthal’s words, a “pogrom,” a word which few writers other than Mr. Gourevitch have understood. Rosenthal expressed further outrage that the reportage provided the troublemakers with an excuse to continue the violence. Excellent examples of what offended Rosenthal appeared in the writings of his own colleagues at the Times. . . .
On the very day that Rosenthal’s column was printed, a Reporter’s Notebook piece also appeared in the Times. The author, Andrew Yarrow, in discussing the forthcoming West Indian-Labor Day parade, said that residents and politicians were “hoping that this typically joyous annual celebration would not cause more violence between blacks and Jews.” Yarrow trotted out the suffocating banner of even-handedness to avoid assigning any blame for the violence in Crown Heights. Such even-handedness is almost beyond belief when one looks at the statistics: 158 injured policemen, 8 of whom were shot; Korean stores looted; and 15 police radio-car torchings—all as a consequence of black activities. “Many Blacks, No Jews Arrested in Crown Heights,” read a headline in the Amsterdam News, a black-owned newspaper, on August 24.
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