I was talking to someone the other day who was just thrilled that Ira Glass, a Progressive Jew who hosts the well received show This American Life (“TAL”), a staple of public radio, and his Jewish producers and staff, bravely devoted an entire show to a group of Hasidic Jews who have taken over the school board in a New York town, even though the town also has lots of black and Hispanic residents. Having taken over the school board, the Hasids, who resented paying property taxes funding public schools their students couldn’t attend, slashed funding for the public schools so that the Hasids would keep more of their money to spend on their Yeshivas.
Not only did TAL bravely report on these Jews, they admitted that the report could be perceived as antisemitic and inflammatory. Frankly, I doubt they were worried that any of their Progressive audience members would care, since most Progressives, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, loath the conservative Hasids. In addition, it’s a reasonable bet that none of the Hasids described in the report will storm the TAL studio any time soon to decapitate someone.
I was unimpressed. First, this is an old story, one I’ve heard and read about before. Second, the more I know about public schools the less I like them. The outraged black and Hispanic families would do well to seek alternatives to public schools as the Hasids did. And third, when it comes to “bravery,” as I noted above, there’s nothing brave about lambasting Hasidic Jews on a show that gets all its airplay among Progressives.
How many stories, I asked, has TAL done about Islamic radicalism amongst Somali immigrants or about honor killings in American Muslim populations or about the increasing radicalism of Michigan’s huge
Jewish Muslim population. The Progressive friend to whom I spoke, the one who boasted about TAL’s brave stand, said I was talking about apples and oranges. He could not understand that there’s nothing brave about being antisemitic on public radio or attacking a group that won’t talk back.
I discovered that his defensiveness might also have arisen because, as best I can tell, TAL has never done anything at all critical of radicalism within America’s Muslim population — and this is true despite 9/11, the Fort Hood Killer, the Boston Marathon bombing, and all sorts of other “unexpected” acts of workplace violence by the Allahu Akbar crowd.
Go ahead and see for yourself. Go to the TAL homepage, and key in “honor killings.” Nothing. Key in “Somalian.” Nothing. Key in “Somalia.” Nothing about Islamic Minnesotans. Key in “Somali.” Nothing about Islamic Minnesotans.
Here’s what I did find when I started searching for Muslims or Islam or Hamas or Palestinians:
1. Israeli soldiers take pictures of Palestinian children by going to the family homes in the middle of the night and waking teen and tween boys to take their pictures. You could call it “Israeli soldiers behaving creepily,” kind of like the Stasi. It is a piece of extremely pro-Palestinian propaganda that holds up badly in light of what we learned during this summer’s war.
2. Israel’s false history, which hid the fact that, instead of all 700,000 Palestinians leaving of their own accord (so that surrounding armies could complete their massacre without fellow Arabs getting in the way), Israelis actually drove out some Palestinians and wouldn’t let them back in. Not a lot of Jewish love in this story.
3. In 2002, a whole program dedicated to (a) the boredom and imprisonment of life in the West bank; (b) the evil conservativism that peculiarly affected Jews after the Second Intifadah, and (c) the wonders of a new, moderate potential Palestinian leader, Mustafa Barghouti. Here’s an update: Barghouti plays the moderate, but is among other things a staunch backer of the BDS movement, which aims to destroy Israel. Some moderate.
4. An October 5, 2001 story about a Muslim teenager giving the American Muslim viewpoint of the 9/11 attacks (although I’ll give TAL credit for acknowledging that this is an alternative view, shaped by a family that watches only TV from the Arab Muslim world).
5. A story about a Palestinian family facing prejudice in America.
6. A story about the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, and how they’re the way for goods to get into Gaza.
The only exception to the pro-Palestinian tilt in all these reports was a story about a Palestinian man who translates Israeli newscasts into Arabic, breaking the Palestinian government’s stranglehold on information.
None of the above stories are lies. All are supported by first person narratives. And all have a very specific point of view, and one that’s not a friendly one about Jews nor an honest one about Muslims or, more accurately, about the growing subsection of violent, jihadist Muslims in America and abroad.
What my Progressive friend doesn’t understand is that a half-truth is, in its own way, just another lie. So in my mind, I always think of this show by and for Progressives, some of whom happen to be Jewish, as This American Lie.