Yesterday afternoon I wrote about President Trump’s plan to issue an executive order aimed at anti-Semitism. The NY Times was the first to report on the executive order and reported that, in order to allow the government to withhold funds from groups deemed anti-Semitic, Trump’s EO would redefine Judaism as a nationality. Here’s a bit of the NY Times’ story:
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will declare that Judaism may be considered a national origin.
The Times also highlighted this claim in a tweet yesterday:
President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, thus bolstering the Education Department's efforts to stamp out "Boycott Israel" movements on college campuses https://t.co/0avw7eseMc
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) December 10, 2019
This quickly caused a major freak-out on the left among journalists and politicos who suggest this was anti-Semitic and possibly part of a larger fascist plan to redefine American Jews as something other than American citizens.
My nationality is American, and this feels like it’s gonna ultimately be bad for the Jews. https://t.co/uUQyMtuYEP
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) December 10, 2019
It began with the notion that Jews were a separate nationality….
Nazi Germany expelled Jews, contrary to Jeff Sessions claim https://t.co/KjZMT74AKl
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 11, 2019
I am a fourth-generation American. That is my nationality. I am also a Jew. That is my religion. I am not here for this Fascist attempt to call my #Judaism a nationality. This is how the Holocaust started. I am not being hyperbolic. Study the history. Quickly. #NeverAgainIsNow
— Caroline Rothstein (@cerothstein) December 11, 2019
Being a Jew in the Soviet Union meant having “Jewish” stamped in your passport as a nationality.
Pushing Judaism as a nationality is as antisemetic as it gets—it assumes your home is elsewhere, and you will never belong https://t.co/8TsS029tw0
— Michael Zelenko (@mvzelenks) December 10, 2019
So…then Jews are of another nationality and thus…foreigners and can be removed, is that also the idea? Are we having racial laws to decide who is a Jewish “national”? Curious. https://t.co/YbO7baSLhl
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) December 11, 2019
Anyway, Hitler kicked off the Holocaust with the Nuremberg Laws that, among other things, declared German Jews weren't of German nationality. So Trump signing an executive order declaring Judaism it's own nationality is….well not great for us descendants of Holocaust survivors.
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) December 11, 2019
I’m going to stop now but I could go on like this for a long time. And notice that many of these tweets received thousands of likes and retweets. The NY Times story set off a partisan panic. Today Jewish Insider got a copy of the executive order and, surprise, there’s nothing in it about redefining Jews as a nationality:
Initial reporting indicated that the order would include language defining Judaism as a “national origin,” setting off a frenzy among major Jewish organizations, activists and lawmakers. The draft text of the order obtained by JI makes no such reference.
Time for a clean up on aisle six.
The freakout over this was bad not just because it was based on poor reporting. It was bad because it will have scared real people. Anyone who did a viral tweet about Trump redefining Jews as a nationality has an obligation to correct, so those people won't be. https://t.co/IKY1KQQVqu
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) December 11, 2019
To their credit, many on the left have begun correcting this today:
I have read that so-called "Jews are a nationality" executive order, which you can read here.https://t.co/rstKoXTVs0
The New York Times completely blew this story. It does not say anything like what they claimed.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) December 11, 2019
This is why I am so annoying about the need for the press to be scrupulously accurate and _careful._ If the EO does not in fact redefine Jews as a nationality, the initial reports fanned an unnecessary freakout. https://t.co/rPwNpfCqK9
— Dara Lind (@DLind) December 11, 2019
Just read the executive order over. It does *not* redefine Judaism as a national origin. The Times fucked this one up. https://t.co/nJtyco5dHB
— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) December 11, 2019
The New York Times’ reporting provoked anger among many Jews, who feared that an order to “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality” would stoke anti-Semitism. But the order does no such thing. It restates the federal government’s long-standing interpretation of Title VI to encompass some anti-Jewish bias.
As for the NY Times, it hasn’t issued a correction on the story that caused the freak-out but it has edited the piece:
Original @peterbakernyt article vs. now with NO correction noted. Original would mean #Jews are recognized as a nationality, obviously. The latter is the same thing the Supreme Court has said since 1987 (see Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, 481 US 615): pic.twitter.com/wgmvu49jRF
— Or-el Vaknin (@osvaknin) December 11, 2019
This is one of those journalistic errors that would not have been made if not for the left-leaning media’s pre-existing hostility to Trump. If the Times had been told a similar story about an EO to be issued by President Obama (and this appears to be based on Obama-era policy) the paper would have carefully checked the “nationality” claim before printing it. But because Trump is presumed to have bad intent at all times, they ran with an explosive claim that wasn’t true. Great work, guys! I wonder why so many Americans don’t trust the media?