Kevin Myers Is Innocent OK - Give Him His Job Back!
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Kevin Myers was dismissed from his position as a columnist on the Sunday Times for supposed antisemitism. But what he wrote was NOT antisemitic. It was surprising, idiosyncratic, left-field, eye-catching .... and more ...but NOT antisemitic.
Myers wrote: "I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — are Jewish. Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity. I wonder, who are their agents? If they’re the same ones that negotiated the pay for the women on the lower scales, then maybe the latter have found their true value in the marketplace."
Myers effectively said that Jewish people tend not to undersell themselves. It was a compliment! ("Good for them"). He followed up by saying that if other lesser-paid female BBC presenters used the same agents as these two, then those ladies have no cause for complaint since it can be assumed that those agents got them the best possible deal. It's a convoluted, idiosyncratic argument - but it's not antisemitic. In particular Myers DIDN'T say (as has been widely alleged, including by Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5) that Ms Feltz and Ms Winkleman earn high salaries because they are Jewish!
As a Jew (I never thought I would write those words) and a seasoned campaigner against antisemitism, I also have a responsibility to challenge false accusations of antisemitism. The Israel bashers delight in repeating the hackneyed falsehood (the 'Livingstone Formulation') that Israel's supporters use the charge of anti-Semitism falsely, to stifle criticism of Israel. Well - here is one genuinely false charge of anti-Semitism.
There is a particular responsibility to call out this case as false, since (1) no-one who is not Jewish is going to openly challenge it (for obvious reasons); (2) because the false charge has cost Myers his livelihood and (3) because Myers is pro-Israel which no doubt added to the condemnation of the column.
In particular the Chairman of the Press Council of Ireland was absolutely wrong to pre-judge complaints by declaring that the column violated the Council's Code of Conduct. He must now recuse himself from the Council's investigation.
The rush to unthinkingly condemn Myers has been very disappointing. Why can we not accept a compliment in the spirit in which it was given? Why do we have to find innuendoes where none are intended? Why do we have to condemn someone not for what they say - but for how an antisemite might twist it?
Kevin Myers Is Innocent - OK!
He has suffered an injustice and it must quickly be put right.....
You can find out more by reading my blog here.
Highly recommended is this impassioned interview on Irish radio of Seth Barrett Tillman, a Jewish law academic in Ireland (Maynooth University - speaking - as he says - in a personal capacity). You can listen to it by clicking on this link:
And here is David Quinn:
David is a social and religious commentator who contributes weekly columns to The Irish Catholic and Irish Independent. He is the director of the Iona Institute.
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