FRA ANGELICO: NOT A BASEBALL
New York City
In the rush to get my review of Fra Angelico out before the show closed, an embarrassing error crept in [“Soul Eyes,” Feb. 6]. During the editing process, the expression “autograph work” was replaced with “autographed work.” In the vocabulary of connoisseurship, an autograph work is one from the artist’s hand–an original. All the works in the show were auto graph, presumably. No one would speak of a signed work as “autographed,” as if it were a baseball. In any case, Fra Angelico did not sign his work, though there is a signature on the bridle of a horse in the early Christ of the Cross that may be his. If you find a Renaissance panel signed “Fra Angelico,” it has to be a fake. He did not acquire that name until after his death, as a way of putting him on the same level as his fellow Dominican Thomas Aquinas, “The Angelic Doctor.”
ARTHUR C. DANTO
We believe the editors of The Nation are quite justified in publishing an explanation as to why they run our (FLAME’s) messages in their publication [“In Fact…,” Jan. 23]. But we don’t believe it is correct to describe us as an anti-Palestinian group. We are not that. We are “Israel advocatory” and are distressed that despite the many attempts made over the dec ades it has been so far impossible for Israel to come to peace terms with the Palestinians. The only agreement they seem to be willing to enter would be one that would involve the disappearance of the state of Israel. Also, we must reject being classified as “mendacious.” And, of course, we deplore that our views are “repugnant” to Nation editors.
What is a source of never-ending puzzlement to us is why “liberals,” such as the readers of The Nation, seem to feel so hostile toward the state of Israel, the only democratic state, mirroring American values, in the Middle East and a steadfast friend of our country. The Muslims/Arabs, including the Palestinians, on the other hand, seem to violate personally and in their governance everything that we hold dear. Conservatives, prominently including evangelical Christians, are staunch supporters of the Jewish state. It’s really difficult to understand.
We publish our hasbarah (educating and clarifying) messages monthly in more than a dozen major magazines, in about the same number of metropolitan newspapers and in small newspapers all across the country. The response we get is overwhelmingly supportive and positive. We are glad to be able to publish our messages in The Nation and hope that we shall, in time, be able to persuade at least some readers of the righteousness of Israel’s cause.
As president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest grassroots civil rights organization for Arab Americans, I thank you for your candid editorial, which openly denounces the misleading and factually incorrect FLAME advertisement. However, crucially omitted from the editorial is the clear discrepancy between your advertising policy and the FLAME ad.
While ADC strongly respects the advertiser’s First Amendment rights (ADC is, after all, a civil rights organization), The Nation also has a responsibility to its readers not to print advertisements that are bigoted and may contribute to the problem of prejudice toward any ethnic group or minority, including Palestinians.
Especially troubling is that The Nation published the FLAME ad despite its policy to bar “false, lurid or patently fraudulent, illegal or libelous” advertisements. FLAME claims that “Palestinians are a fundamental myth,” and that “Palestinian Arabs were in Berlin hatching plans with Adolf Hitler for world conquest and how to kill all the Jews,” which is not only false but a blatant lie. Ads and rhetoric like this condition people to resent and be frightened of Palestinians and to believe that there can be no peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
ADC also understands the need for a magazine to generate income. But this so-called “advertisement” is not only prejudiced and intolerant; it also does a great disservice to all people working to bring about a just and lasting peace.
HON. MARY ROSE OAKAR
Thetford Center, Vt.
Though I am a supporter of the ADC and have followed its suggestions for actions in the past, I disagree with their current “action alert” with regard to the FLAME ad that ran in The Nation. I support The Nation‘s free-speech advertising policy. My support for your policy continues despite my diametric opposition to the politics espoused by FLAME and its ilk.
I commend you for publishing that FLAME ad. I’m sure you were well aware of the negative letters you would receive. There are petitions on the Internet to hold The Nation “to account,” but despite these attempts to curb free speech you refused to pull the ad. That took courage. It’s good to know that there are still democratic leftists in the United States who will not waver in the face of totalitarianism.
EVAN M. DANIEL
I am Muslim by religion and Indian by citizenship. I want to convey my strong displeasure at that utterly racist “advertisement” about Palestinians. My heart trembled when they were called “a myth.” It seems that the people involved in financing and printing this have lost their conscience. I never expected this from you.
MOHAMMED ASHFAQUE, MD
The Nation has always been one of the few progressive voices in the United States, a magazine that I looked forward to reading for a breath of fresh air and a glimpse of the truth. Alas, you have been corrupted by running a terrible ad from FLAME, an organization that denies the existence of Palestinians.
Believe me, my Palestinian-American children are pretty surprised that they don’t exist. Their father, a 1948 refugee who fled the Israeli war machine and certain death had he stayed, is also quite shocked to realize your magazine would take money from FLAME.
So, does your weak response that you run even ads that are repugnant mean we can run an ad that denies the Holocaust? How about running a white supremacist ad? You seem to have forgotten what your mission is, or perhaps you’ve simply sold out.
Volunteer, International Solidarity Movement
New York City
We were considering placing a large ad in The Nation dealing with myths about Jews, i.e., their Arabophobia. To insure that our message about Jewish bigotry has the desired associations, the copy will begin with a quote from Goebbels like this:
“Jewish Fables: How the Jews soften up world opinion with fanciful myths. Josef Goeb bels, the infamous propaganda minister of the Nazis, had it right. Just tell people big lies often enough and they will believe them. The Jews have learned that lesson well. They have swayed world opinion by endlessly repeating myths and lies that have no basis in fact. What are some of these myths? The ‘Israelis’–that is the fundamental myth. In reality the concept of ‘Israelis’ is one that did not exist until 1948, when the UN, influenced by Jewish global capital, allowed the Jewish colonists…”
You get the drift. We are sure your respect for freedom of speech will not interfere with this ad, even if you disagree with the content.
MIRIAM M. REIK
I was surprised that the FLAME ad passed review at The Nation. The ad uses techniques common among those committing hate speech, like linking a few individuals with an entire people, so that a few Arabs in Berlin aligned with Britain’s enemies become the Arab residents of Palestine plotting to eliminate the Jews.
The ad may reflect your commitment to free speech, but I hope you would not have allowed, during the 1960s, an ad using a photo of a prominent American antiwar activist sitting on an antiaircraft gun to link the antiwar movement with the North Vietnamese Communist Party; or, now, an ad by a Rove-fronted 503(c) that connects opposition to the Iraq occupation with support for Al Qaeda. I still remain a devoted Nation reader.
BRUCE KINOSIAN, MD
Your editorial claims that you bar “false” ads, and admits that the FLAME ad you published “is, we believe, historically inaccurate.” As the poet J.V. Cunningham wrote, “This Humanist whom no beliefs constrained /Grew so broad-minded he was scatter-brained.”
We have received much commentary on our policy of accepting ads from organizations with which we are in political disagreement (see our policy at www.thenation.com/mediakit/policy). Since we consider ad submissions case by case and reserve the right to turn down ads we feel go over the line, we understand that not all readers will agree with our decisions. This is clearly the case with the FLAME ad, as these letters attest. We will revisit this issue on the Letters page and editorially in the months ahead. –The Editors
Katha Pollitt refers to Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article as revealing “the shocking role of doctors and psychologists” in torture at the US prison at Guantánamo [“Subject to Debate,” Jan. 9/16]. Earlier reports on this subject by M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan H. Marks appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
In Pollitt’s January 30 column, the author of Watership Down should have been given as Richard (not Robert) Adams.
Because of an editing error in Sam Graham-Felsen’s “The New Face of the Campus Left” in last week’s issue, Matt Singer’s blog, Left in the West, was misidentified as right-wing. As its name implies, it is quite the opposite.