Alice Walker and The New York Times face severe backlash on Monday after a recent interview with the outlet went viral, noting Walker’s reverence for a book by David Icke, a controversial British conspiracist known for his anti-Semitic work.
In a December 13 column called “By The Book,” Walker is asked what books are currently on her nightstand. She first mentions, “The Road of Lost Innocence” by Somaly Mam which details child sex trafficking in Cambodia. But it was her second mention, “And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” Icke’s latest eyebrow raising book, that caused most to take a step back.
“In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true,” Walker said in the interview.
The book continues Icke’s previous theories which allege Jews financially backed the Holocaust and run a secret society which rules the world. Icke has also been called a Holocaust denier over his writings.
Critics feel the interviewer should have pushed back on Walker’s answer, to question why she, someone who has advocated for the dissolution of white supremacy, would push a piece of work rooted in the same framework.
Walker is the first woman of color to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her groundbreaking novel, “The Color Purple.” She has gone on to win numerous awards and accolades for her writing which centers her experience as a Black woman in post-modern America.
Several notable advocacy groups including the Anti-Defamation League have asked the Times to include a qualifier regarding Icke’s work.
Others pointed to a 2013 interview of Walker’s which noted her appreciation of Icke’s work.
“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 said in a statement to The Wrap.
“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.”
But because of Walker’s visibility and cultural impact, social media continues to hold court over Walker’s comments and the threat to Walker’s legacy.