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Letter From Ed Koch
Protesting an Offensive Racial Cartoon at Rutgers University-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor The message includes two
letters said to have been written by former New York mayor Ed Koch
in response to a controversial cartoon that was published in a
student publication at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The cartoon depicted a man suspended in a "carnival-style"
contraption over a burning oven.
The caption says "Knock a Jew in the oven!"
The cartoon did appear in a campus
humor publication titled the Medium. It calls itself “the
entertainment weekly of giving birth to a retarded child.”
It's logo is a monkey at a typewriter.
Rutgers President Richard McCormick called for an apology from the
editors of the paper, which they did later issue.
Former New York mayor Ed Koch, who is outspoken against
anti-Semitism, wrote letters to both McCormick and the governor of
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Anti-Semitism at Rutgers Edward I. Koch
Saturday, May 1, 2004
I am certain that you will be interested in the following
April 23, 2004
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Old Queen’s College Avenue Campus
83 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08902
Dear Mr. McCormick:
I read an article in today’s New York Sun entitled “Astonishment,
Anti-Semitism Rakes Rutgers. Knock a Jew in the Oven!” I am
copy for your ready reference.
It reported that “The illustration featured on the cover of a
University student newspaper shows a frightened Jewish man
suspended on a
carnival-style contraption. Below him is a burning oven. ‘Knock
a Jew in
the oven!’ reads the caption underneath the cartoon. ‘Three
throws for one
dollar!’ A contestant is throwing a ball at a target. The
‘Holocaust Remembrance Week: Springfest 2004.’”
In response, you are reported as saying that “though the
desecrates the memory of 6 million innocent Jewish people, the
is protected by the First Amendment.”
The article reports that the university would not consider
funding the paper receives from student activity fees. I assume
fees include payments by Jewish and non-Jewish students who are
by the cartoon simply because they do not support bigotry
Jews or any other ethnic or racial group. If you believe the
newspaper is not subject to penalty because of this article and
Amendment, tell me please, is there any situation that would
cause you to
take punitive action? If the article showed a black man hanging
tree and an exhortation to lynch more blacks, would it warrant
imposition of a penalty by you? You have embarrassed by your
the university and the State of New Jersey.
Editors of the school paper defend themselves by saying that the
“the entertainment weekly of giving birth to a retarded child.”
paper apparently printed in the past an anonymous personal ad
“This personal is dedicated to all the darkies and sons of
there on Livingston campus…Don’t you have women to rape, or
mug.” Can you tell me what your response was to that
ad? If you published a response, may I have the actual text?
don’t understand your point of view that student fees must be
these circumstances to finance bigotry.
May I also remind you that free speech does not include the right
"Fire!" in a crowded theater. It was less than 60 years
ago that millions
of Jews were being "knocked" into real ovens. The
cartoon and the attitude
that led to its creation do not simply dishonor the memories of
were murdered. By trivializing genocide, at a time when
private backers are reviving "The Protocols of the Elders of
other hate propaganda that made the Holocaust possible, the
threatens Jews who are alive today.
I am writing to Governor McGreevey to ask if this situation isn’t
comparable to that involving Amiri Baraka, poet laureate of New
who used his position to publish an anti-Semitic poem. The New
State Legislature took action against him at the Governor’s
ending the position. Perhaps it will take appropriate action
state’s ties with the university.
For a university to support with funding bigotry directed at
women, gays, Jews and other traditionally victimized groups is
unacceptable in my book.
Serendipitously, it happens that this weekend I will be leaving
conference in Berlin sponsored by the Organization for Security
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The organization, made up of 55
will be addressing the issue of rising anti-Semitism in Europe
reaching heights not seen since the 30s. Apparently, it is also
Rutgers University as well.
All the best.
Edward I. Koch
April 23, 2004
The Honorable James McGreevey
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
I read an article in today’s New York Sun which you may not
concerning Rutgers University. I won’t repeat the text of the
other than to say that an anti-Semitic article attacking Jews and
the Holocaust appeared in the college newspaper, Medium. Rutgers’
president, Richard McCormick, has declined to take action that
include cutting off student fees used to finance the paper. My
President McCormick in which I object to his failure of
enclosed, along with the New York Sun article.
I was particularly horrified by the reported incident because I
am on my
way to Berlin to chair a conference on anti-Semitism. Secretary
Colin Powell will be attending, as will representatives from 55
around the world who are members of the Organization for Security
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is comprised of the member
NATO, the former Warsaw Pact and the European Union. When I
attendees in Berlin, and should I be asked about the Rutgers’
and some might with a smirk -- I will say that I am deeply
ashamed of what
occurred at Rutgers and the inaction of its president, and I have
the incident to the attention of the Governor of New Jersey
hoping he can
initiate remedial action.
Free speech does not include the right to cry "Fire!"
in a crowded
theater. It was less than 60 years ago that millions of Jews were
"knocked" into real ovens. The cartoon and the attitude
that led to its
creation do not simply dishonor the memories of those who were
By trivializing genocide, at a time when governments and private
are reviving "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and
propaganda that made the Holocaust possible, the cartoon
who are alive today.
I hope that you will have someone examine the incident and
President McCormick and determine what appropriate action should
by you and the state legislature.
I hope that all is well.
All the best.
Edward I. Koch
2 For 1
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