No Irish blood in this Gray Lady

The New York Times would more easily get people to trust its terrific (truly) reporting if it didn’t insult them so often with its cultural assumptions. Take the “Irish blood” story today..

Though a previous post of mine may have given the impression that I love the New York Times and all its works without qualification, not so. I still love its reporting prowess and, yes, its accuracy—better than all available alternatives, as opposed to utopian ones. But those who accuse it of cultural condescension are, well, often right.

Take this story (no “please”: the substance is very interesting). In case the link is Select or expired, here’s the money quote:

Listen more kindly to the New York Irishmen who assure you that the blood of early Irish kings flows in their veins. At least 2 percent of the time, they are telling the truth, according to a new genetic survey.

Now it’s not technically an ethnic prejudice to assume that “New York Irishmen” is a group whom New York Times readers talk to rather than being New York Times readers. (“I’m sure there are lots of fine people in this country who don’t read the New York Times—where’s the insult?”) But boy, if I were an Irish-American reading that, I’d sure find it annoying. Unless I were used to it—which no doubt I would be.

UPDATE: OK, could it possibly be that the above is, on reflection, oversensitive and in general a bit silly? And perhaps not the most important issue before the public? As I practice this blogger role more I’ll try to strengthen, and slow down, the neural pathways between eyes and fingers. For now, sorry.

Author: Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.