Statues, slavery and 'The New York Times'
July 31, 2020
(JNS) — Irony may be dead in America, but if any were left alive, this would count.
Consider the work of Vincenzo Miserendino (1875-1943). An Italian-American sculptor, he created statues and busts of famous Americans and other notables, including several of Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus. In today’s America, they can only be called “endangered.”
One of his Columbus statues in Hartford, Conn., has been removed quietly; another, in Reading, Pa., is the subject of a petition to remove it and already has been vandalized.
It’s interesting that few of the articles about the vandalism and removal of “offensive” statues mention the names of the sculptors who labored to create them. But that isn’t surprising. The story is about destruction, not creation.
Miserendino also created statues and busts on commission for people who thought that they were important enough to be immortalized in bronze. One of these was Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of The New York Times from 1896 until his death in 1935, who turned it into the profitable powerhouse of the newspaper industry, a so-called “newspaper of record,” and whose family continues to run it today.
Miserendino made at least three busts of Ochs, one of which is located in the lobby of the Times building in New York. Others are on Long Island and in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia.
The Times has established itself as the flagship of “woke” culture with its “1619 project” to change the perception of the historical foundation of the United States from the Founders’ vision of a just society to one of a vicious enterprise, built on the stolen labor of black African slaves. Although there are numerous historians and others who believe that it is a tendentious left-wing-ideology-laden tract, it has had great influence, especially on the young people who see in it a justification for their attempts to rectify the relationship of Americans to their past by destroying monuments.
One would think, therefore, that nothing is safer than the bust of Ochs at Times Square. But one would be wrong, or at least until the vandals learn a few facts uncovered by New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin about the father of the Times.
It seems that Ochs’ uncle owned slaves. His mother was a “charter member of a Daughters of the Confederacy chapter and requested that a Confederate flag be draped across her coffin, which it was.”
Her brother and several cousins fought for the Confederacy. Ochs, who owned The Chattanooga Times before he purchased The New York Times, published an editorial referring to the “evils of Negro suffrage,” and another praising Jefferson Davis. He contributed to the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, Georgia. His brother, George, was “simultaneously an officer of The New York Times Company and a leader of the New York Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.”
After Ochs died in 1935, his son-in-law, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, took over as publisher. And his grandson, A. G. Sulzberger (who is also the great-great-grandson of Adolph Ochs), holds that position today. Goodwin claims that there is “compelling evidence” that an ancestor of the Sulzbergers, Abraham Mendes Seixas, born in 1750, was “a slave trader and/or auctioneer.”
I am certain that most, if not all, of this is known to the Ochs-Sulzberger family. But every copy of the Times has the name of Adolph Ochs on its editorial page.
So there you have it. The feet of the family that owns the holy New York Times are filthy with the mud of slavery.
Will they remove the bust of Ochs from their lobby and take his name off the editorial page? Will there be an abject, groveling apology for his crimes from his descendants? Tune in tomorrow.
And now, in the immortal words of the great Paul Harvey, you know the rest of the story.
Victor Rosenthal was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., lived on a kibbutz through the 1980s and returned home to Israel in 2014 after 26 years in California. He writes at the Abu Yehuda blog.
This article was first published at AbuYehuda.com.