In the realm of print media in the U.S., there arguably is no entity as powerful as the New York Times. Such a position of power carries great responsibility-responsibility to be a protector of fairness and equality-which the Times often portends to be. To its great discredit however, the New York Times has established a new low in journalistic abuse with its blatantly bigoted magazine article of November 7, 2021- “The Untold Story of Sushi in America”, written by Daniel Fromson. The bigoted attack therein is both racially and religiously offensive as it targets the deceased religious leader, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, his religious movement and his family members-while managing also to insult the entire Asian race with its offensive images.
The title of the 26-pages concoction gives the impression that what follows will be some type of “food article”. The title proves to be as deceptive as the article itself; in effect disguising an outrageous continuation of the Times’ long-running vilification of the now deceased Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who passed away in 2012, and anything and anyone connected to him. This poorly written, factually incorrect and amateurishly illustrated piece manages to offend not only the millions of faithful worldwide of the Unification Movement that Reverend Moon founded, but also anyone of East Asian descent. This latter offense is accomplished through the disgraceful, stereotypically racist and quite frankly outdated depictions of “Orientals” as round-faced and severely slanty-eyed. These run in full color throughout the piece, and in the on-line version, the moon’s face (obviously meant to represent Reverend Moon) is a completely round face which rolls around in an unseemly manner, with unflattering distorted facial grimaces. In the most outrageous animation in the online version, giant chopsticks pick up the deceased Reverend Moon’s head and face as if he were a piece of sushi! Such depictions were made without a thought for how they would deleteriously affect the many thousands of sushi restaurant owners/employees and all of East Asian descent throughout the nation and world. While considered unseemly in the West, personally attacking an individual after his death-especially a religious leader- is seen as unbelievably offensive in Korea, Reverend Moon’s homeland.
From the beginning, Fromson uses the derogative term, “Moonies”- a term long ago established to be the religious equivalent of the racist “N word”-and just as offensive. Many respected publications now rightfully refuse to allow that term’s use. The New York Times’ own guidelines to its writers state that the term should not be used to describe members of the Unification Movement. In this article, the Times breaks its own guidelines in order to unfairly disparage the minority religion.
Reverend Moon, revered by millions as a man of great faith and accomplishment, is slanderously described as: “a hazy, zany memory…fit for a Seinfeld joke.” Could one be more insulting and bigoted than that? Fromson even includes an unfavorable mention of Joseph Smith and the Mormons. The opening sentence, “In the beginning, God did not create a sushi company” may seem “cute” to the Times’ editors, but many of Judeo-Christian background see it as a sacrilegious misappropriation of the opening sentence of their Holy Bible. Naturally, all who support First Amendment religious freedom rights will forcefully decry such a bigoted piece of writing. How could the “Grey Lady” be so tone-dead insensitive to the mistreatment of so many? It being selectively so, is even more surprising (and hypocritical?) when considering the Times’ highly self-promoted “1619 Project” that so thoroughly denounces racism in the U.S. It appears that the “yellow race” is exempt and undeserving of their regard. In this, the New York Times has proven itself to be indisputably racist.
It is known that sources quoted in the article were interviewed as early as 2017 by Fromson! Does the New York Times normally sit on an article for over four years? Certainly not. But when it comes to Reverend Moon, normal journalistic practices long ago went out the window for the Times. The Times never missed a chance to disparage Reverend Moon or his movement throughout his nearly 40 years of residence in the USA. The Times’ record of obviously biased coverage toward this man of faith is as long as it is contemptuous; and now continues even after his passing.
Do Reverend Moon and the members of his faith not deserve even a modicum of respect from the mighty New York Times? Here, Fromson writes with derision that Reverend Moon “wove tales of persecution and survival….into a mythology that helped attract tens of thousands of followers.” Fromson is implying that Reverend Moon made up his life story and further that tens of thousands of Unification members are so brainless that they would commit their lives to a mere myth.
It must have been galling for the New York Times that no matter how hard the newspaper tried to disparage and belittle Reverend Moon and his movement for four decades- both just continued to prosper. The capper of it all must have been Reverend Moon’s creation of the very influential The Washington Times in 1982; accomplished even while he was under indictment for trumped up charges of “tax evasion”. Suddenly, there was another prominent newspaper on the East Coast with the name “Times”- and it was created by a controversial Asian religious leader. Even more concerning for the NYT, as each year passed, the upstart newspaper became a stronger and stronger voice for traditional family values and a powerful source of ammunition for the conservative cause during the deciding years of the Cold War- often directly challenging and contradicting the New York Times. This must have “stuck in their craw” so sorely that now- after many years and even the death of Reverend Moon- they still could commission the publishing of such highly offensive racial and religious copy and caricatures as shamefully found in “The Untold Story……”. The New York Times should immediately take the online version down and issue an abject apology in print for all those offended by this bigoted article.
Howard C. Self is President of Right To Believe, a non-profit that promotes First Amendment rights and religious freedom.