On Immigration, We’re Letting You Down
By Keith J. Winstein
The majority writes glibly in the above “Institute Wisdom Watch” about the delays in the issuing of student visas that have come with the nation’s tightening of immigration policy in the wake of Sept. 11. This superficial discussion is symptomatic of The Tech’s poor opinion coverage of immigration issues all over this edition.
The reason for The Tech’s glibness above and lack of lucidity elsewhere is that my bosses, the Executive Board of The Tech, have concluded they are ethically bound by an ill-considered agreement they made to print only the vague editor’s note immediately below this space and the letter to the editor and the guest column on page 5, as a result of the tempest in a teapot that resulted when last Tuesday’s Tech printed Joshua S. Katz’s letter to the editor that unjustifiably accused Amer Jubran, a New England Palestinian activist, of being an “active supporter of Hamas.”
My Executive Board bosses, who are inexperienced in negotiation and public relations, met with Jubran and the guest columnists for a two-hour meeting Sunday night, and agreed with them on the text of the editor’s note that appears below to serve as a corrective. The unfortunate ramification of this agreement is that they are unable to provide more than the completely uninformative and ludicrously vague “editor’s note” that appears below to explain The Tech’s actions.
I here try to correct what I respectfully view as my bosses’ mistake by invoking my dissent power, not subject to their supervision, as a member of our Editorial Board. If The Tech is going to make agreements with activists like Amer Jubran (and with the page 5 guest columnists), it should at least be able to tell our readers about them. If The Tech makes mistakes, it should be able to tell the readers about them with candor. I don’t know why Amer Jubran and his MIT supporter columnists would demand these concessions from my bosses, but they are not serving good journalism by refusing to release my bosses from their unwise agreement.
The truth is that Katz’s assertion that Jubran is “an active supporter of Hamas” comes only from the fact that Jubran wore a green armband, possibly with Arabic lettering, while leading a rally on Nov. 2, 2002 in Boston’s Government Center. Katz believes that the armband demonstrates support of Hamas. Jubran’s MIT supporters assert that the armband meant only that he was a “peace marshall” for the rally. Jubran himself declines to discuss the matter, citing the sensitive nature of the accusation in the face of the INS’s removal proceedings against him.
The Tech was sloppy in printing the remark without checking it out further. The guest column authors correctly rap The Tech for its “complicity” in allowing the remark to be published. The Tech should not have printed Katz’s assertion without looking into it more thoroughly beforehand. But, ironically, while the guest columnists complain about the suppression of free speech and debate, it is only they who have actually suppressed any speech here, by refusing to release my Tech bosses from their ill-considered agreement to be so uninformative against their better judgment. Accuracy is our goal; candor should be our defense. The Tech should not have made the agreement.
Our readers deserve better and more lucid coverage of important matters of immigration politics, especially given the relevance of the debate about how our nation of immigrants manages and regulates immigration after Sept. 11. We need to do a better job in the future, and not sign away The Tech’s ability to cover these issues beyond the glib “IWW” fashion you see above.