A recent event at New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute is a prime example of politicized, dumbed down, parodic “education” geared to desensitizing students to the seeking of truth based on evidence and historical facts.
More exactly, this occasion – an opportunity for forty or so students to meet and speak with the radical cartoon journalist Joe Sacco after a discussion of his work with NYU’s Middle East professor Zachary Lockman – degenerated into a crude and perverse forum for smashing the very ideal of journalistic objectivity.
According to Alan Jacobs, a student of Middle Eastern Studies the interchange dealt chiefly with Sacco’s new graphic novel, Footnotes in Gaza, which uses comic strips to expose alleged Israeli abuses in Gaza in 1956.
Both cartoonist and historian, reports Jacobs, frequently repudiated objectivity, and their radical bias resulted directly in the reviling of Israel.
Sacco, among other examples, pooh-poohed the goal of journalistic impartiality as “ludicrous.” For him the preconceived notion that Palestinians are “victims” requires no proof. It is self-evident: “There are many historical episodes that don’t have a smoking gun or some equivalent, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.”
In writing Footnotes in Gaza, the cartoonist insouciantly acknowledged that his aim was to present the Palestinian side while excluding that of Israel. To this end, Jacobs states, “Sacco interviewed ‘people who remember’ from the Palestinian side, since the accounts of Israelis are to be dismissed out of hand, while any Palestinian in Gaza claiming to be an eyewitness deserves an audience.” Likewise, in his comics the cartoonist portrays Israeli soldiers as “faceless monsters, dehumanized and gun-toting figures, ” all the better to bury any semblance of an Israeli argument for self-defense.
Lockman – a tenured historian, no less – glibly parroted this meme, instructing students similarly that “the old ‘just the facts’ history is no longer with us, thankfully” and that one does not “always need documentary evidence to draw conclusions.” Although cognizant of Sacco’s dismissive view of documentation and eyewitnesses, he cited Footnotes in Gaza as a credible primary-historical source.
Sacco once gave a lecture called “Who the Hell Cares about Objectivity?”
Helluva good question.
Answer? Surely not propagandists like Sacco himself, nor historians such as Lockman who have abandoned even the slightest pretense of upholding impartial, evidence-based scholarly standards.