Abraham Foxman and Rupert Murdoch

by Jonathan Chait | October 21, 2010

Abraham Foxman, speaking to the annual meeting of the Anti-Defamation League in Boston:

One of my favorite axioms is the law of unintended consequences. I've been thinking a lot about this in recent months as we watch our society devolve into one more and more characterized by polarization, rage, stridency and partisanship.

I recall in the early days of the new media and new technology the hopes surrounding these breakthroughs, not merely hopes about extraordinary access to information which have largely been realized, but hopes as well that the public, now having access to more diverse viewpoints than ever, will become more open, more tolerant, more willing to engage in civil discourse.

That old law of unintended consequences rose up, however, and dealt these aspirations a mighty blow. Instead of people taking advantage of the new ability to be exposed to diverse thinking, so many went the other way. They now only went to the cable TV news station that confirmed and reinforced their own particular ideology, whether on the left or on the right.

They only went to websites and blogs that reinforced their views and shared e-mails from those who were 100% in their camp. And I emphasize the term 100%, because any deviation, any disagreement no matter the motivation, put you in the enemy camp. Stalin himself couldn't have demanded a stricter adherence to such a narrow creed. [...]
Now, as a result of the debate surrounding the mosque near Ground Zero, we are witnessing a surge in anti-Muslim bigotry.

One week later, the ADL presented its "ADL International Leadership Award" to... Rupert Murdoch?

From the ADL's press release:

Mr. Murdoch was presented with the ADL International Leadership Award last night at a dinner in New York City, where he was feted by film producer Harvey Weinstein, Fox News President Roger Ailes, ADL National Chair Robert G. Sugarman and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, among other dignitaries. [...]
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Murdoch touched on what he described as the danger signs that anti-Semitism is on the rise, and provided examples of how some anti-Semitism from the left comes under the guise of legitimate criticism of Israel.

How Murdoch's media empire fit in with Foxman's call to oppose "polarization, rage, stridency and partisanship" went unexplained. Here's just a small sample of anti-Muslim bigotry from Fox News anchors and major contributors:

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Media Matters has several thorough round-ups of Fox News's continual anti-Muslim bigotry, as well summaries of Fox personalities engaging in race-baiting and promoting anti-Semitic guests and websites.

If you're interested in the general principle of tolerance and equality, then awarding Rupert Murdoch is preposterous. But if you define your values in a purely sectarian way, then a figure who advances an illiberal agenda that defines Jews as one of the "good" nationalities is right up your alley. Looks increasingly clear that Foxman has made his choice, and is defining the ADL's agenda not as the universalistic vision of the ADL's founders but as a moderate Jewish Defense League.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/78557/abraham-foxman-and-rupert-murdoch