In the course of two weeks, The Crimson published one editorial, four letters to the editor and two follow-up articles, and the conservative publication Peninsula lost nearly a third of its already minute staff. For those of you who have been keeping up with The Crimson over the past couple of weeks, you may know what I am talking about. It all began with an article by Christopher Griffith '97 in the September issue of Peninsula titled "Know Your Enemy."
Joshua A. Kaufman '98 responded to that article with a vicious rebuke in the form of a Crimson column ("Naming Names: Peninsula's Fascists," October 15, 1996). In his editorial, Kaufman objected to what he perceived as the "Gestapoesque" tactics used in the Peninsula article. As evidence, Kaufman cited the self-proclaimed purpose of Griffith's piece that was "in keeping with the time honored practice of making a list and checking it twice in order to ensure that when the coup comes around the firing squad knows who's been naughty or nice." Griffith followed that statement with a list of campus organizations and individuals that he apparently wanted shot.
Kaufman, in his editorial, adopted the Peninsula's tactics, listing the names of those on the magazine's masthead and flinging barbs at its staffers, calling them "freakish fascists" and "fools." Kaufman urged his readers to "acknowledge their contribution to the campus press and let them know just how their drivel makes you feel."
Then the flood began. The Crimson reported that two of those listed on the masthead had requested that their names be blacked out as a result of the Griffith piece, and that two others spoke to The Crimson revealing that they should not have been on the masthead in the first place, since they hadn't been involved with Peninsula in recent memory. Two of these students demanded an apology from The Crimson for running their names. A third student, John Applebaum '97, also listed in the Kaufman article, wrote expressing his distaste for Kaufman's piece and his objection to being called a "fool" and "fascist" while at the same time defending the Griffith piece.
In addition, an article ran reporting that someone had placed a swastika on the door of a Peninsula staffer seemingly in response to Kaufman's editorial. This student, Jose M. Padilla '97, threatened a lawsuit against The Crimson, explaining that he had had no part in the article and should not have been held accountable for it. A final letter to the editor by Robin S. Goldstein '98 commended Kaufman for his attack on Peninsula.
Of primary importance for me was the culpability of the entire Peninsula staff for the article written by one of its members, despite a Peninsula disclaimer on its table of contents page stating that signed pieces are the opinions of the authors alone. Despite this, I agree with Kaufman's premise that all on the masthead bear some responsibility for being associated with a publication that would allow a writer to speak for all of them by using the first person plural.
In addition, given knowledge that the article was well-discussed by the Peninsula staff, and that such discussion led to massive staff fall-out, it was not unfair of Kaufman to list the names of all those on the masthead. For those who should not have been on the masthead, ask Peninsula for an apology--not Joshua Kaufman, and certainly not The Crimson Staff, who do not necessarily endorse the views of their columnists.
For those Peninsula staffers who objected to the name-calling in Kaufman's piece, maybe you should read Griffith's article. He too used quite a bit of name-calling. Self-proclaimed "God-fearing conservatives" should know about "an eye for an eye."
Of course, it was unfortunate that someone seemingly interpreted Kaufman's piece (unjustifiably in my opinion) as a pretext for placing a swastika on the door of a Peninsula staffer, but let's just be thankful that no one has gone out and shot those on Peninsula's hit list. Talk about double standards. I hope The Crimson stands by Kaufman. I'd like to see a staff editorial in his defense. But then again, maybe Peninsula's staff does not even merit any response at all.
Shawn C. Zeller '97 is The Crimson's reader representative, or ombudsperson. He may be reached on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at home at 493-2490. He is not a Crimson editor, and his opinions are his alone.
Naming Names: Peninsula's FascistsA fter reading the most recent edition of that most vile publication known as Peninsula, I find myself, as an
Swastika Found on Eliot Suite DoorIn what several suitemates called an attack on one roommate's conservative politics, seven Eliot House seniors discovered a swastika taped
Kaufman Column Falsely Labeled Peninsula Member a "Fool" and "Fascist"Joshua Kaufman's column ("Naming Names: Peninsula's Fascists," Opinion, October 15, 1996) defamed my character and my name, calling me a
Peninsula's Rant: Staff Culpable, Swastika HarmfulT wo weeks ago a swastika, drawn on a piece on looseleaf paper, was taped to the door of an
Kaufman's Column FrivolousAs a one-time member of a political journal at Harvard, it didn't come as much of a surprise to me
Statements on Peninsula Were BoldI applaud Josh Kaufman's bold and courageous column on the magazine Peninsula. It's about time students were held personally responsible