Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker is facing a backlash after endorsing a new book written by controversial author David Icke.
The 74-year-old The Color Purple writer listed Icke’s And the Truth Shall Set You Free as one of the books on her nightstand in The New York Times’ “By the Book” column.
“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,” she said of the book. And the Truth Shall Set You Free reportedly includes anti-Semitic passages, including blatant denial of the Holocaust, which Icke suggests should be taught in schools.
Walker also endorsed Icke five years ago, adding his Human Race Get Off Your Knees to her “Best of 2013” list published by The Atlantic. That book reportedly argues that mankind “derives from a race of inter-dimensional reptilian beings,” according to The Wrap.
The Anti-Defamation League called out both Walker and The Times for embracing Icke’s rhetoric, writing on Twitter, “We’re deeply disappointed that @nytimes would print Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke. We have asked editors to update the review w/ information about this author’s #antiSemitism.”
We’re deeply disappointed that @nytimes would print Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke. We have asked editors to update the review w/ information about this author’s #antiSemitism https://t.co/C7cse1xxYt
— ADL (@ADL_National) December 17, 2018
The Times has responded to the critique, saying “By the Book” allows individuals to choose whatever books they prefer, and should not be considered an endorsement from the paper itself.
“’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. The subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgments,” the newspaper said in a statement to The Wrap.
“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.”
Walker has yet to respond to the controversy.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.