New York Times Ad controversy
An advertisement in the New York Times has come under criticism for violating all norms of journalistic ethics when it stated that it was looking for an Uncle Tom of Indian descent to write for the newspaper by attacking India, Indians, Prime Minister, Hindus and their culture to perpetuate the political power and privilege of white Americans around the world. Those were not the exact words but this was the underlying sentiment in the message when it mentioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the views of the Hindu majority in India in a negative light, and sought a journalist to write articles that fit this prefabricated narrative.
‘Uncle Tom’ is an American term based on a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s slavery-era novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and is disparagingly used by blacks to describe other blacks who have become subservient to whites and accept an inferior social and political status for the black community while ensuring that whites rule over them. Malcolm X, the civil rights activist, often used this term along with another term “house negro” to describe black leaders who preached against retaliation even in the face of violence and who, for this reason, were propped up as black leaders by the white establishment. In a famous speech describing such behavior, Malcolm X provided examples of “Uncle Toms” and also explained that the “house negro” as opposed to the “field negro” lived in the house of the slave owner and identified with his master (speech given below the paragraph). In the speech, Malcolm X accused several black activists who had been recognized as civil rights leaders by the white establishment of being house negroes and Uncle Toms. In more recent times, Cornel West, a Harvard University Professor has been called an Uncle Tom by other blacks.
While the advertisement by the New York Times is repugnant for what it seeks, it also underscores a very important point about the media outlet’s functioning and actually calls into question the reputation of every journalist who has been hired by the newspaper. Every journalist who is not white must have been hired with the explicit purpose of putting down her or his respective culture and its leaders to place the two major strands of white culture – conservatism and liberalism which beneath the surface are really Protestantism and Catholicism (with Jewish groups being forced to play along and support one or the other) – on a pedestal and ensure their grip on politics.
Among the New York Times journalists who deserve the most scrutiny is Marc Lacey, its news editor. Lacey is a black man and was chosen as a moderator by the Democratic Party for an election debate in which Joe Biden was a participant. Not only was the Democratic Party the party of slavery, but Joe Biden too has a history of making racist statements and has even made the shocking claim that former President Barack Obama was the first-ever clean and articulate black. As a young Senator, Biden had also supported segregation policies that kept blacks out of the mainstream. Instead of asking tough questions around this background, Lacey behaved as though he was awe-struck and grateful for being given the chance to throw a few softball questions that Biden could use to make himself look good while the topic of racism was completely swept under the carpet.
Under Lacey, as in the case of his white predecessors, strong voices of independent blacks seldom find mention in the pages of the New York Times, and even if they do, they are usually portrayed in a negative light and used as a foil to prop up some other black who is endorsed by the government. Blacks are not the only group disfavored by the New York Times. Needless to say, India and Hindus have been the targets for attacks during the past few decades which have led to charges of racism being levelled against the newspaper’s correspondents. Over several years, the hostile anti-Hindu and anti-India rhetoric in the coverage by New York Times correspondents such as Celia Dugger, Barry Bearak, Barbara Crossette, Somini Sengupta, Jim Yardley and Ellen Barry have bordered on racism, and their writings suddenly make sense as they neatly fit the requirements in the recently placed advertisement calling for applications from people who are staunchly anti-Hindu and against India’s democratically elected leader. Today, the main reporter in the New Delhi bureau of the New York Times is an Indian, but the chief of the bureau is a white who will keep the Indian in check and ensure that he does not stray from the approved narrative. A piece in the New York Times gushes how an Indian who was “a devout Catholic” was the manager of its New Delhi office for more than fifty years, and how this manager was so subservient that he addressed the white chiefs of the bureau as “doctor” even though they did not have the qualifications to be addressed as such, and how he even “volunteered” his time after retirement which is another way of saying he worked for free for his American masters.
History has many examples of white imperialists using people of other cultures to attack their own people. Aborigines in Australia were kidnapped and indoctrinated, some Native Americans were made to turn against their own people and one of them – Pocahontas – was even trotted out as an example of a “civilized savage,” Malcolm X provides examples of “Chinese Uncle Toms” and the “house negro” in his speech, and the advertisement, of course, seeks an Indian Uncle Tom.
By looking for people of Indian descent to attack India and Hindus, the New York Times simply continues a long tradition that is a staple of the white imperialist machine. Any journalist who is hired to fill the position must be branded an Uncle Tom. It would be apt if the office room of the journalist who is hired to fill the job as well as the office room of every journalist who is not white and works for the New York Times is thrown open for public viewing with a sign at the entry of the room reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 Steve Harvey: Cornel West, Tavis Smiley are ‘Uncle Toms’ – Aug 10, 2011, The Grio
 Who Is Marc Lacey? Meet the Times Editor Moderating the Democratic Debate – Oct 14, 2019, NYT
- Wanted: An Indian Uncle Tom to work for New York Times - July 9, 2021
- Anti-Hindu USCIRF: Sex, Crime, Bigotry In The Name Of Religious Freedom - January 2, 2020
- Mudaliar, Mookerjee, not Nehru, built India’s scientific institutions - May 3, 2019