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Alice Walker, New York Times Take Flak on Book Comments

Author mentions reading a book deemed anti-Semitic, and no context is provided by Times
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2018 9:05 AM CST
Alice Walker tours her archives at Emory University in Atlanta on April 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/John Amis)

(Newser) – The New York Times is standing by its Q&A with Pulitzer-winning author Alice Walker despite complaints about her comments on a book by an accused anti-Semite. The 74-year-old author of The Color Purple told the newspaper's By the Book column that was she was currently reading David Icke's And the Truth Shall Set You Free and called it "a curious person's dream come true." At Tablet, Yair Rosenberg writes that the book referencing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a text accusing Jewish people of a plot for global domination, "is an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain's most notorious anti-Semites." The Washington Post highlights this quote: "I strongly believe that a small Jewish clique which has contempt for the mass of Jewish people worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War."

A Times rep says the column is a "portrait of a public person through the lens of books; it is not a list of recommendations from our editors," who might "dislike, disdain or even abhor" the books mentioned, per the Guardian. But Amy Russo at HuffPo notes the paper failed to provide context in an editor's note, "thereby allowing [Icke's] name to be promoted unchecked." Rosenberg argues the column only ensures "racism is disseminated to more people." Walker also said this of the book: "In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about." Her comments are "especially corrosive because the anti-Jewish conspiracies she uplifted and adopted are part of the same white supremacist power structure she so deftly fought through her written work in the past," adds Jewish filmmaker Rebecca Pierce. (Walker once blocked an Israeli publisher from printing her book.)

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