By Larry Gordon
On one day last week, two questions were posed about content in the previous issue of the 5TJT, inspiring the thought process that led to this column.
I was parked in a lot and getting ready to pull out when I noticed in my periphery a young man approaching my window. I rolled down the window to hear what he had to say. After saying hello, he asked: “Would you ever publish an anti-vaccine article in the paper?”
The right answer to that query is that we have indeed done so in the past and would do it again, so long as the source of the information is qualified and takes responsibility for whatever material is being offered. The problem with much of the vaccine information we receive is that the catalyst for many of the claims is anger or even rage.
A few weeks ago I was invited to a meeting at which one of the main presenters was a well-known personality who is critical of the vaccine and the fashion in which it is being dispensed. At first I was not allowed to enter the room where the meeting was being held. The reason, I was told, was because this publication promotes the vaccine, or at least is not critical of some of the problems it has created for some recipients.
A few minutes later I was allowed to enter and listen to the speakers, on the condition that I do not write about the subject matter or identify the location of the meeting. I agreed but thought it was odd. On the one hand, I was not allowed in because I was perceived as being too pro-vaccine by the organizers of the event. And then I was allowed in if I promised not to write about what took place there.
There is a great deal of misinformation being bandied about by both sides of the vaccine issue. Vaccine promoters submit that vaccination is needed in order stop or at least diminish the spread of the coronavirus. But even the epidemiologists will tell you that the vaccine in its current state does not necessarily prevent the spread; rather, and perhaps more importantly, once you contract the virus, the possibility of serious illness connected to the virus is greatly reduced if you are vaccinated.
But the point of this essay is that it should be possible to feature a fair and responsible presentation both for and against the vaccine; presently, on the political level, that discussion is severely shunned. It is not the job of editorialists to pontificate about what they believe medical policy should be, but the matter should be able to be discussed in a balanced way without people being accused of sanctioning illness or, even worse, being told that they have blood on their hands.
The question repeatedly asked by medical experts, like Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University Hospital, is why people who have resolved the virus and now have natural immunity—an immunity, according to the doctor, that is more effective than the vaccine-injected antibodies—are still being urged to get vaccinated and are losing their jobs if they refuse.
The problem is that the very conversation is being suppressed and entities are being threatened with boycott and social ostracism. Doctors who, in some instances, believe that some patients should not be vaccinated are fearful of saying so openly and are afraid that doing so will harm their medical practice. There is something wrong with that.
Last week, in our very diverse 124-page issue of the paper, we also featured an ad that some people communicated they did not appreciate. That is certainly fine and good, and it is important that people call and write to us and allow us to print their letters of protest and disagreement, which we gladly publish.
Just to reiterate, this is what a responsible media forum is about—the exchange of ideas. If you agree with something presented here, that’s good. If you disagree, that is good, too.
The ad in question was a political ad from the Bruce Blakeman campaign for Nassau County executive. The ad was suggesting that Democratic incumbent Laura Curran, who is respected and well-liked in the community, is in some fashion associated politically with the likes of the disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo and the competency-compromised New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The ad also suggested that Ms. Curran was somehow identified with the unsavory personalities who refer to themselves as The Squad. Yes, it is a rough suggestion and no serious up-for-reelection candidate would want to be seen with or identified with these characters. One of the people who called to object said that it was not right and that Ms. Curran is doing a great job.
I explained that while it is true that Democrats are facilitating the downward spiral of this country on so many levels, it certainly does not mean that all Democrats are like that or doing that. Look at Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, for example. They are Democrats who are trying to bring some sanity to the extreme and dangerous policies of the Biden administration.
But an election campaign is an entirely different matter, apparently. During last year’s race for the Democratic nomination for president, Kamala Harris openly suggested that Joe Biden has in the past advocated policies that were racist and that he might still be racist.
The end of that story, as you know, is that Mr. Biden selected Ms. Harris to be his vice president. When later asked how she can serve a president who she suggested might be racist, her response was that they were words uttered during a debate and that in a political debate everything goes and is allowed. Ohhhhhh.
If that is the way it is, then the Blakeman ad should not really trouble anyone. Ms. Curran and her supporters certainly understand that this was an ad in an election campaign. By the way, if you reside in Nassau County, you may have noticed those oversized cards you receive in the mail almost every day saying that this or that political candidate is the most dangerous person in the world and that electing him or her will be the worst thing you can possibly do.
The point is that the fact that we sell ad space to clients does not mean that we necessarily agree with or endorse everything that is stated in that ad space. Of course, in a newspaper like this it is not a matter of printing everything without exercising some editorial prerogatives. But we didn’t create the wild policies that are featured in so many campaigns for elected office.
For example, Curtis Sliwa, who is the Republican candidate for New York City mayor, says that his opponent, Eric Adams, is a racist; in turn, Adams says that Sliwa is a racist. And on it goes. After a rather contentious exchange at the debate between the two last week, Sliwa tried to shake his opponent’s hand at the end of the event, but Adams wouldn’t have it and turned away. Not good politics.
Also last week some people were unhappy with a full-page ad that urged people to declare the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l, as King Mashiach. There is a fringe group in Chabad that subscribes to this way of thinking. I was brought up in a Chabad family, as you know, but I do not subscribe to this way of thinking. However, the people who do genuinely believe it want to publicize it, and they have a right to do so. Sure, I am responsible for deciding to accept the ad, but that does not mean that I agree with it.
As I told one of the critics who wrote to us, no one was hurt by this declaration (though some disagree), and just because it is stated as so by this group does not mean that you have to buy into this way of thinking. You are, of course, free to turn the page and move on.
The 5TJT is not a propaganda organ; it never was and never will be. We are a forum for the exchange of ideas. You may agree or disagree with many things presented here on a weekly basis. That is part of an intelligent, thought-provoking discourse—and who would disagree with that?
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.