Boston City Council President Michael Ross and Boston bloggers are criticizing a staff editorial that ran in last week’s issue of iThe Beacon/i. The piece expressed opposition to Ross’s proposed student housing legislation and called the councilor’s methods to enforce the law “Gestapo-like” without acknowledging Ross’ family history with the Holocaust.
iThe Beacon/i editorial board issued an apology for the piece published on page four of this issue.
In a letter to iThe Beacon/i, Ross said he found the language in poor taste because his father survived ten concentration camps during the Holocaust.
“I was disappointed to read the iBerkeley Beacon/i editorial (a href=”http://media.www.berkeleybeacon.com/media/storage/paper169/news/2009/02/26/Editorial/Ross-Doesnt.Want.You.To.Live.With.Your.Friends-3649493.shtml””Ross doesn’t want you to live with your iFriends/i/a,” 2/26) that compares a proposed amendment to the University Accountability law to the actions of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis against Jews in Europe during World War II,” he wrote. “This insensitive comparison distracts from the opportunity to have a fair exchange of ideas, which I welcome the opportunity to do.”
The new ordinance would require colleges and universities to report information on off-campus students in order for the city council to enforce an ordinance that was passed last year. The law prohibits more than four undergraduate students from living in a single apartment together within city lines. The councilor defended the law in his letter, saying its purpose is to help students, not hurt them.
In the piece, iBeacon/i editorial staff at one point sarcastically alluded to Hitler’s treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
“If the council president is serious about his cap on coed cohabitation, history provides a number of examples from effective tyrants,” the editorial said. “For instance, forget forcing colleges to report off-campus students’ addresses. Hitler had Warsaw’s Jews wear armbands for easy identification by the SS. Tattoos were effective, too.”
Gary Fayman, president of Emerson’s Hillel, said though he doesn’t agree with the ordinance Ross is trying to pass, the comparison to a dictator who killed millions went too far.
“My connection to the Holocaust is that I had great-grandparents killed at the hands of Nazis,” the sophomore studio television production major said. “You need to be aware of who you’re comparing people to. People are pretty good at reading between the lines.”
iBoston Magazine/i’s Boston Daily blog and iUniversal Hub/i also criticized iThe Beacon/i’s rhetoric.
“In addition to being way over the top, the editors of iThe Beacon/i would be wise to read up on the man they so easily and nonchalantly compared to Hitler,” wrote blogger Paul Flannery on Boston Daily.
Ross’ family history is open for the public to view on his Web site, mikerossboston.com. Under the “About Mike” section, he includes his father’s time in concentration camps in his biography. In its apology, the iBeacon/i editorial board said it was not aware of Ross’ father’s story.
Adam Gaffin of iUniversal Hub/i criticized the editorial as well, also attacking Emerson College’s teaching methods.
“Yeah, that’s just what the son of a man who survived 10 Nazi concentration camps while the rest of his family was wiped out would do,” he wrote. “But, hey, Emerson teaches kids how to be DJs on indie FM stations, not how to do research or make rational arguments.”