Alice Walker under fire for praise of 'antisemitic' David Icke book

The New York Times also faced criticism for publishing the Color Purple author’s recommendation without qualification

The New York Times Book Review and Alice Walker have come under criticism for comments the celebrated writer made in an interview with the publication in which she recommended a work by someone accused of antisemitism.

Asked what books were currently on her nightstand, Walker, the author of The Color Purple, mentioned among others And the Truth Shall Set You Free, by the controversial British figure David Icke. Icke, an author and public speaker in his own right, has long propounded a series of conspiracy theories in his work that many see as antisemitic.

“The book is an unhinged antisemitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious antisemites,” wrote Tablet magazine’s Yair Rosenberg, among the most strident critics of Walker’s comment. Rosenberg also faulted the Times for failing to react to or qualify the contents of the book to its readers.

Icke has long claimed that a shadowy cabal controls the world, a familiar antisemitic trope.

Uh, have we talked about Alice Walker keeping a David "shapeshifting Lizard People control the universe" Icke book on her nightstand?

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 17, 2018

“And like many conspiracy theorists, Icke claims that this secret conspiracy happens to be Jewish,” Rosenberg added.

Ideas in the book in question and much of his other work revolve around concepts expressed in the fraudulent antisemitic propaganda text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This isn’t the first time Walker has expressed her affinity for Icke’s work or been accused herself of antisemitism. In 2013 Walker praised another Icke book in an interview for the British radio show Desert Island Discs.

Apparently this isn't the first time Alice Walker has publicly exposed her unhinged anti-Semitism?

— Danny Gold (@DGisSERIOUS) December 17, 2018

A poem of hers from last year called It Is Our (Frightful) Duty has also been derided as antisemitic as well.

“By the Book is an interview and portrait of a public person through the lens of books; it is not a list of recommendations from our editors,” a New York Times spokesperson has said following the backlash.

This Alice Walker thing is really fucking sad and it makes me angry that she can’t see that the anti-Jewish conspiracies she uplifted and adopted are part of the same white supremacist power structure she so deftly fought through her written work in the past

— Rebecca Pierce🕸 (@aptly_engineerd) December 17, 2018

“The subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgments. As with any interview, the subject’s answers do not imply an endorsement by Times editors. Moreover, our editors do not offer background or weigh in on the books named in the By the Book column, whether the subject issues a positive or negative judgment on those books. Many people recommend books Times editors dislike, disdain or even abhor in the column.”


Luke O'Neil

The GuardianTramp

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