April 26, 2019 | 62° F

Writers, do not defame your paper

‘Simplee’ Put

I am a columnist for The Daily Targum, and you probably realize that by now after seeing my pieces in here every other Monday. However, recently, I have gotten to thinking about what this means to me. It means a number of things. On the surface, it’s a nice résumé booster and something to do. It’s a good place for me to rant about things that annoy or interest me or that just simply stick in my mind. Really though, being given a column for the Targum has given me a very rare opportunity: having a voice which can reach across an 18,000-person demographic and for that I am extremely grateful.

You would think that anybody given the opportunity to voice their opinion on a campus-wide forum would be thankful, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately though, that is obviously not the case. As is clear to any regular column readers, there have been a number of columnists within the past year that have used their column as a forum to bash the Targum. The reasons for this typically center on the Targum publishing columns with opinions contrary to their own.

The most memorable of these of course was a column written by one former columnist, which talked about how it was wrong that the Targum posted pro-Israel material. He even went beyond that and insulted the talent and integrity of the editors of the Targum. Said columnist was removed from his position, although he did issue an apology afterward and rightfully so.

However, it is not just anti-Israel groups that slander the column in their name. This same exact tactic was utilized in the Oct. 11 column, “Consider rebuttals to accusations,” and ironically, this time in attack on anti-Israel forces. In his column, he discussed a number of issues. Most notably, these were the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and lastly, Israel. This writer attacked a fellow columnist for describing Israeli action against Palestinians as “genocide.” He concluded the article with this line: “You know what’s not funny? When a school newspaper publishes a wholly unsubstantiated column that accuses Jews of committing genocide.”

I would like to make very clear that although I do have opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I am choosing to leave them out of this column. There is already more than enough written about Israel by columnists, on either side of spectrum. The last thing this section needs is someone else engaged in a bitter back-and-forth regarding this topic.

Moreover, I am not here to talk about Israel. Instead, I am here to talk about class and evenhandedness. At the bottom of the opinions page, there is a disclaimer. It may be small, but the idea it expresses is very important. It reminds everyone who is reading that “The editorials written above represent the majority opinion of The Daily Targum editorial board. All other opinions expressed on the opinions page, and those held by advertisers, columnists and cartoonists, are not necessarily those of the Daily Targum.”

So what does this note really mean? It means that the Targum has no bias whatsoever so that as far as publishing the columns goes, the Targum has no opinion on it, with no exceptions. The Targum is so steadfast in this stance that they will publish a column on one extreme one day, and on the other extreme the other day — although some columnists may deny this. The Targum is so open that it will actually publish columnists who defame the newspaper itself.

So to all columnists, I say that no matter how extreme your views may be, no matter how little I support what you have to say, I will stand up for your right to write. Moreover, I am very thankful that the editor of this section allows for the publication of all possible viewpoints.

However, while I enjoy reading all opinions, I don’t enjoy it when anybody throws in baseless and unnecessary criticisms of this newspaper. In one sense, the Targum expresses the whole spectrum of opinions in a way that you rarely see in the media, and they should be commended for that. To accuse the opinions section of having any bias is incredibly farfetched and unsubstantiated. If you choose to attack anyone, just go after the writer. At the same time, each column writer has been given a gift from the Targum and that gift is a voice. If you choose to use this gift to attack the very people that gave it to you, then shame on you. In the future, if anybody feels like using the Targum as a forum to criticize the Targum like the aforementioned columnists did, I challenge you to make a real statement by leaving the Targum.

Lee Seltzer is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in history and economics.

By Lee Seltzer

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