Religious background certainly does not dictate News’ coverage

To the Editor:

As last year’s editor in chief of the Yale Daily News — and a Catholic, incidentally — I write to correct Sahm Adrangi’s mistaken claim that the News is biased in favor of any religious group (“Not just another conspiracy theory: manipulating anger,” 2/26). Our editorial board comprised Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, atheists and editors who never discussed their faith. But our diverse religious backgrounds had no effect on the paper we wrote, edited and printed every day.

As I used to tell every staff member of the News, our only mission as student editors is to report the news as fairly, accurately and objectively as possible. When we quoted someone with a strong opinion on an issue — religious or otherwise — we always strove to present the opposing view in the same story. That logic applied to the editorial page as well. If a controversial column ever appeared without a nearly immediate rebuttal, it was only because no such rebuttal had been offered. As the editorials editor on our board, Sahm ought to know that.

This principle of balance is one that the Afro-American Cultural Center might consider applying to the controversy surrounding its invitation of Amiri Baraka. I agree with Sahm and with Pamela George, the Yale College dean assigned to the cultural center, in their claim that radically dissident viewpoints are both admissible by principles of free speech and valuable in their ability to generate campus dialogue. The center might now think about promoting that dialogue by inviting a poet with an interest in uniting racial groups rather than dividing them, especially considering that the center’s leaders have gone to such lengths to deny their sympathy for Baraka’s views.

If they decide to let Baraka’s rhetoric stand, I think we’ll have to put their decision in the category of trying to stir the pot — that’s disappointing, but not nearly as scary as really believing that Israel was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks, as Baraka apparently does. As for Sahm and his equally unconvincing conspiracy theory, I certainly hope that his true views place him only in the pot-stirring crowd.

Chris Michel ’03

February 26, 2003

The writer was editor in chief of the Yale Daily News Board of 2003.

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