[Postscript, 9/2/12: Tonight, Peter Brimelow just published my VDARE Katrina update, “Revising Katrina for the Age of Obama.”]
'World's biggest encylopedia' serves up propaganda.
by Nicholas Stix
With almost 2.4 million on-line entries, and more than 1 million volunteer editors, the English-language version of Wikipedia.com is the world's biggest encyclopedia, and according to the rating service Alexa it is the world's ninth-most frequently visited Internet site. "The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" promises to deliver "the sum of all human knowledge."
The theory is that since anyone and everyone contributes, Wikipedia can become an essentially unlimited storehouse of information. With the help of enough contributors, articles will be accurate and comprehensive — and in some cases, it almost works that way. If you want to know how to tie a monkey's fist or what goes on at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Wikipedia will tell you.
However, when it comes to controversial questions — race in particular — the everyone-is-an-editor model breaks down. Wikipedia suffers from the same liberal biases as any mainstream publisher, but exercises them even more ruthlessly. This is because many contributors offer factual but subversive information — which forces many Wikipedia administrators to spend their time actively rooting it out.
Wikipedia's origins go back to 2000, when Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, then a pornographer, and Larry Sanger, a doctoral student in philosophy at Ohio State University, founded the online encyclopedia "Nupedia." Nupedia's articles were to be written and vetted by experts, but the going was slow. Mr. Sanger suggested using "wiki" ("wikiwiki" is Hawaiian for "fast") software that would let anyone write articles, and came up with the name "Wikipedia." The encyclopedia was officially launched on January 15, 2001, and immediately took off, soon to become one of the most frequently consulted information sources on the Internet. Mr. Sanger set out on his own in 2002, and now presides over two other online encyclopedias, Digital Universe and Citizendium. Unlike Wikipedia, they are written by experts.
Mr. Wales consolidated his power at Wikipedia and became an Internet celebrity who can charge five-figure fees for speaking engagements. In 2003, he founded the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation to run Wikipedia, which he offered to the foundation as a gift. Last year he claimed Wikipedia was worth $3 billion, so he must have taken a handsome tax write-off. In 2008, the foundation had 14 paid staffers and an operating budget of $4.6 million, most of which went to maintaining 300 servers.
When it comes to controversial questions, the everyone-is-an-editor model breaks down
It is the million or so volunteer editors who actually keep Wikipedia going, and it is this cadre of "editors" and more powerful "administrators" who have coalesced into something of a leftist cult. It need not have turned out this way. The heart of the Wiki theory is that anyone with a computer can be an "editor." Unless an article is locked for some reason — this is rare — you can click on the "edit this page" tab and change the article any way you want. Most editors register and acquire a pseudonymous Wikipedia name, but you don't have to register to edit an article. All changes are recorded on a "history" page that lets you compare all the past versions of the article. There is also a "discussion" page where people explain why they made changes and sort out disagreements.
"Administrators" are editors with special powers. They can lock down articles if there have been battles over content, and they can ban editors who misbehave. Although it is easy to change Wikipedia names, an offending editor's unique internet provider address can be permanently blocked. Sometimes punishment is harsh. Wikipedia's British spokesman David Gerard once banned an American critic, Judd Bagley, along with thousands of his Utah neighbors who were using the same Internet provider.
Wikipedia has rules for editors. They are supposed to adopt a "neutral point of view" (NPOV), "assume good faith" on the part of other editors, be "civil," refrain from "personal attacks" on each other, not act as if they own certain articles, avoid "legal threats" or "vandalism," and, whimsically, "ignore all rules:" "Every policy, guideline or any other rule may be ignored if it hinders improving Wikipedia."
Because so many people tinker with articles there are far more spats and standoffs than at a publication with a real editor. Wikipedia has had to establish a tangle of procedures for "editor assistance," "third opinion," "requests for comment," "mediation cabal," "mediation committee," "requests for mediation," "requests for adminship," "conflicts of interest," "requests for arbitration," et cetera.
Officially, therefore, Wikipedia offers redress to editors who think they have been abused, but administrators generally close ranks and get help from other ideologically sympathetic editors who hope, themselves, to be promoted to administrator. You could therefore spend a lifetime figuring out how arbitration is supposed to work and then find that no one follows the rules. There have been so many clashes, bruised feelings, outcasts, and disgruntled former administrators and employees that Wikipedia critics have started their own sites and blogs, most notably at wikipediareview.com.
The most zealous members of Wikipedia's ideological enforcement brigade keep lists of articles they want to keep ideologically pure, and get instant electronic updates if anyone changes them. Some enforcers even get feeds whenever a particular editor they suspect of ideological impurity edits an article. Zealous enforcers can instantly go to the article and undo the changes. This is called stalking.
Some critics believe Wikipedia is a personality cult built up around Mr. Wales, but the leftist slant of the encyclopedia does not reflect his own politics. He is said to be an "objectivist," or admirer of Ayn Rand, who opposed federal help for New Orleans after Katrina and hates gun control. He probably settled for whoever would work for free, and just lets the leftist cabal have its way. Only by dropping editorial standards could Wikipedia get a massive force of volunteer labor.
Real encyclopedias are devoted to the truth. For Wikipedia, however, "the threshold for inclusion ... is verifiability, not truth — meaning, in this context, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." When it comes to race or politics, the definition of "reliable source" is anything reliably left-wing. Sources can include liberal college newspapers and even what amount to fundraising letters from the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League. Wikipedia articles almost never cite the one medium that actually employs fact-checkers: magazines.
While real encyclopedias always publish their editors' names, Wikipedia's enforcers are obsessed with keeping their comrades' identities secret. They claim lives and jobs are in danger from stalkers. In fact, anonymity is the perfect shield for political bias and outright fraud.
In 2005, a new editor calling himself "Essjay" presented himself as a tenured professor of religion with two doctorates. It also helped that he identified himself as a homosexual and an atheist, so he was accepted as an authority on theology. Essjay enjoyed a meteoric career as an editor and administrator with more than 16,000 edits until February 2007, when he was exposed as 24-year-old Ryan Jordan, who had no college degrees, and whose knowledge of Catholicism was limited to what he learned from Catholicism for Dummies. Andrew Orlowski, an information technology journalist, calls Wikipedia an MMORPG — a "massive multiplayer online role-playing game."
Even people whose identities are known can get phony credentials. Chip Berlet is a life-long lefty who sniffs out "bigots" from his perch at Political Research Associates. In Wikipedia's eyes that makes him an expert on race, Christianity, "fascism," "anti-Semitism," and "right-wingers," meaning he can control entries, and post political rants.
Although Wikipedia pretends to take a hard line against anything that could be construed as libelous, it is a veritable defamation factory. For over four months in 2005, the article on retired newsman and Robert Kennedy aide John Seigenthaler, Sr. said he "was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother Bobby." When Brian Chase of Nashville was tracked down as the source of this nonsense he said he thought Wikipedia was "some sort of 'gag' encyclopedia ... I didn't think anyone would ever take it seriously for more than a few seconds."
At various times, the entry for Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he was a convicted pedophile who had spent time in prison, and an SPLC staffer wrote anonymously in the article on Pope Benedict that the pontiff was a pedophile and an oppressor of women. Anonymous edits from the BBC and the New York Times — the changes were tracked to office computers — defamed President George W. Bush, whose article is always in some degree of lockdown.
A certain amount of spite and prank-playing is inevitable in an encyclopedia anyone can edit — it's surprising there is not more — but the volunteers seem to guard articles about their fellow lefties more carefully than they do articles about conservatives. There also seems to be something of a siege mentality. In 2007, Wikipediareview.com reported that there has been an unofficial policy known as BADSITES that bans links to people or publications that have criticized Wikipedia.
The enforcers at Wikipedia ignore large swaths of entries that are nonpolitical or for which they do not have enough cadres to police. However, biographies, especially of living people, are among the most hotly contested articles. They tend to be either hagiographies or demonographies, depending on the subject's politics, race, or sexuality. In theory, people are not supposed to edit articles about themselves, but this rule is difficult to enforce. Mr. Wales is said to stick to the letter of the law by having proxies spruce up his entry.
Wikipedia's articles on race parallel and sometimes even outdo the left-wing propaganda of schools, universities, and the media. They generally take the fashionable view that there is no such thing as race. A typical entry about evolution explains that "a gene-centered view of evolution" shows the "inanity" of thinking in terms of the evolution of "races" (with scare quotes). It warns that the scientific study of race and intelligence "seems to show that genetics could also be used for ideological purposes," and implies that anyone who acknowledges the reality of race has sympathies for Nazism.
The article on racism is more than 10,000 words long, and is careful to explain that "racial discrimination is treating people differently through a process of social division into categories not necessarily related to race" (emphasis added). Skepticism about the reality of race disappears, however, when it comes to charging whites with discrimination. The same article approvingly cites "sociologist and former American Sociological Association president Joe Feagin [who] argues that the United States can be characterized as a 'total racist society' because racism is used to organize every social institution." We learn further that in Mr. Feagin's view, "today, as in the past, racial oppression ... pervades, permeates, and interconnects all major social groups, networks, and institutions across the society."
No communist pals, no adultery
The breathless, almost 10,000-word entry on Martin Luther King, Jr. asserts that Mr. King never had communist associates and was never unfaithful to his wife: "The FBI began wiretapping King in 1961, fearing that Communists were trying to infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement, but when no such evidence emerged, the bureau used the incidental details caught on tape over six years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position." "Incidental details" is a delicate reference to womanizing.
As for Communism, the article settles the question by quoting King as saying, "There are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida." The article simply ignores the communist convictions of King's close associates Stanley Levison and Hunter Pitts "Jack" O'Dell, and says nothing about King's relations with the communist Highlander Folk School and its founder, Myles Horton. Neither the article on King nor the school mentions any connection between the two.
Wikipedia explains that the FBI recordings only sound like adultery: "[M]uch of what was recorded was, as quoted by his attorney, speech-writer and close friend Clarence B. Jones, 'midnight' talk or just two close friends joking around about women." In fact, even sympathetic biographies by historian David Garrow, black studies professor Michael Eric Dyson, historian Taylor Branch, and a memoir by King's best friend, Ralph David Abernathy, make it clear that King had a prodigious appetite for mistresses and prostitutes. Mr. Branch even quotes one of King's excited outbursts with a woman not his wife: "I'm f***ing for God!"
The article tries to deceive readers about Mr. Abernathy's memoire, claiming that "Abernathy says that he only wrote the term 'womanizing,' and did not specifically say King had extramarital sex." The citation links to an interview transcript in which Mr. Abernathy says no such thing. Frequent redefinitions — such as taking the sex out of "womanizing" — inspired television humorist Stephen Colbert to joke that at Wikipedia, "Definitions will greet us as liberators."
The article ignores King's support for racial preferences and promotes the now-obligatory view that King was devotedly color-blind. It claims he was committed to non-violence, whereas he admitted he valued violence for its high publicity value. The article buries a brief mention of King's plagiarism toward the end, well out of chronological order, where few people will find it.
The 5,900-word article about Brown v. Board of Education would have readers believe it was a popular, constitutionally and scientifically grounded decision, and that its few opponents were all practitioners of "scientific racism." It fails to mention that Kenneth Clark's social science, which formed the basis of the court's decision, was fraudulent or that Clark's testimony was essentially perjury. Needless to say, the article cites no books by conservatives such as Raymond Wolters or Paul Craig Roberts that correct the liberal myth. Nor does the article mention the Harvard Law Review's (vol. 100:817, 1987) extensive account of Solicitor General Philip Elman's illegal, back-door collusion with Justice Felix Frankfurter to twist the court toward desegregation.
The article on affirmative action aggressively supports it. The criticisms it offers are tame: beneficiaries get an unfair stigma, for example. Earlier versions used to concede that blacks are admitted to top colleges with much lower SAT scores than whites, but that fact has been censored since 2005. Far from mentioning any of the eye-opening accounts of the consequences of hiring unqualified non-whites, it takes the astonishing position that people who get preferences are better qualified than whites:
"That is, since individuals in such groups are — in the absence of affirmative action — systematically excluded, and since the groups are composed of individuals that are otherwise equal to others, such groups have a higher proportion of qualified candidates precisely because they are normally excluded."
The article on redlining gives the impression that before the 1968 Fair Housing Act and 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which forced banks to lend to non-whites with bad credit, it was impossible for blacks or Hispanics to get mortgages. This is, of course, false. Before those laws, millions of blacks grew up in homes their parents bought with mortgages, and since blacks and whites were held to the same credit standards, their default rates were the same. The article does not point out that the changes in the law have driven default rates by blacks and Hispanics far higher than the white rate.
In this connection, the article about Detroit's 1967 race riot, which is largely a laundry list of excuses for violence, offers the following incongruous sequence:
"After the riot, respondents to a Detroit Free Press poll listed poor housing as the second most important issue leading up to the riot, right behind police brutality.
"Detroit had the highest home ownership rate among black people in the nation ..." Presumably, they all paid cash. The article strains to avoid giving the impression the riot had anything to do with race, and the 4,000-word entry is inexplicably entitled "12th Street Riot."
Not surprisingly, the article on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers no reason but "racism" for opposing this enormous federal intrusion into freedom of association. The nearly 6,000-word article on the Civil Rights Movement is simply bizarre, opening as follows:
"Historically, the civil rights movement was a concentrated period of time around the world of approximately one generation (1960 -1980) wherein there was much worldwide civil unrest and popular rebellion." The article includes the Communist-inspired German student movement and the Chinese Cultural Revolution in this imaginary worldwide civil rights movement.
The section on America mixes black and Hispanic nationalism with nostalgia for Communism: "Later in the movement's trajectory, groups like the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, the Weathermen and the Brown Berets turned to more militant tactics to make a revolution that would overthrow capitalism and establish, in particular, self-determination for resident U.S. minorities ..." It is possible to find articles about the American civil rights movement, but they have different names.
Wikipedians routinely portray blacks — even criminals — as heroes or victims, and censor accounts of blacks who misbehave. Entries on prominent black-on-white atrocities leave out race, or if racial identification is unavoidable, the article may explain that race was irrelevant. By contrast, articles on white-on-black atrocities, such as the James Byrd and Emmett Till cases, emphasize racial animus as the primary motive. Anyone who explores the racial character of black-on-white crime or who condemns the media for covering it up is a "racist" or "white supremacist."
In many media accounts of crime, photographs are the only clue to the races of perpetrator and victim. Wikipedia deliberately withholds this clue. Censors have repeatedly removed all photographs from the article on the Wichita Massacre (see "The Wichita Massacre," AR, August 2002). The entry on the February 2008 massacre at the Kirkwood, Missouri, city council lacks any photographs of the black assailant or his five dead and two wounded white victims, and ignores race completely.
For over a year, the entry for the Duke rape hoax (the article is titled simply "Duke Rape") showed pictures of the three falsely charged Duke lacrosse players, while censors hid the name of Crystal Gail Mangum, the black "exotic dancer." Both before and after the players were cleared, censors deleted entire stories on Miss Mangum. The entry now contains no photographs, though it makes no attempt to conceal race.
As information began to surface on the Knoxville carjacking-kidnapping-rape-torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom (see "The Knoxville Horror," AR, July 2007), a number of editors initially fought the Wikipedia enforcers' usual tactic of censorship and cited dozens of mainstream media articles. True to form, a series of censors deleted them, along with photographs and anything else that identified race. Some censors insisted that only "racists" could believe the crime might be racially motivated or that media coverage had been biased. They cited interest in the crime by "racists" as a reason to downplay the story. Wikipedia suddenly demonstrated delicate scruples about the possibility of libel, insisting that Christian and Newsom had "allegedly" been murdered, and that it was impossible to know whether murder the victims had been raped.
Christian and Newsom
In June 2007, administrators locked down the article while they deleted all photographs and references to my own in-depth research on the crime. They took the ultimate revenge against the person who initially wrote about the murders, and banned him permanently from contributing to Wikipedia.
Surprisingly, there is an article on race and crime but one learns nothing about the subject. Countless times, editors have added statistics on black crime rates, interracial crime, and comparisons of racial crime rates, only to see them censored. The most aggressive censor calls himself "Yuchigai," and insists that anyone who tries to include crime statistics is guilty of "POV (point of view) pushing." He warns, "Remove unwelcome information. Again, artificially limited subsets (e.g. inter-racial crime) do NOT belong in this section."
Wikipedia is nervous about having any article at all on this subject, and the jumpier censors have urged that it be removed. Instead, it opens with a statement that all historical discussions of high black crime rates are a form of "scientific racism." The article then repeats Wikipedia orthodoxy, claiming that "cultural anthropology and neo-Darwinian synthesis ... demonstrated that the category of 'race' was not scientifically legitimate," and links recognition of race to "the racial policies of the Third Reich." In case readers stumble onto statistics elsewhere, the article warns: "Crime statistics should be considered with caution and may not always adequately reflect reality. Correlation between two factors does not imply causation ..."
Since statistics are verboten, the more than 2,000-word entry on racial profiling promotes the myth that innocent blacks are constantly targeted by police merely because of skin color. It suggests that if blacks really are arrested and convicted more often than whites it is only because police are so suspicious of them.
A paragraph on the accidental, fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo by New York City police officers explains that "critics feel that the police were suspicious of Diallo simply because he was a black man walking down the street after midnight." Diallo was not just walking down the street. He was an illegal immigrant standing in the vestibule of his building who panicked when police showed up. He failed to respond to commands, and whipped something out of his pocket police thought was a gun. The officers ignored other blacks in the neighborhood and approached Diallo only because he fit the description of a serial rapist.
The article has links only to tendentious studies on racial profiling such as those from the ACLU. Whenever anyone adds links to studies debunking the myth, left-wing censors remove them.
The first paragraph of the article about Rodney King contains no less than three errors: It calls Mr. King a "taxicab driver," it claims the Los Angeles police officers who beat him were "restraining" him (making it sound as though he was already under their control), and insists that "there is no part of the tape that shows Mr. King attacking the officers." It is well known that when George Holliday brought his amateur video to TV station KTLA, a staffer edited out the opening sequence that showed Mr. King charging Officer Laurence Powell. It was the censored version that the world saw over and over.
Wikipedia readers will not learn that Mr. King had led two dozen California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles police officers on a chase reaching speeds of 115 mph or that he resisted arrest because he was violating parole. Readers will not learn that Mr. King's two black passengers did as police told them and were unharmed. Readers will not learn that the officers first tried the "swarming technique," in which four men each grab an arm or a leg, but Mr. King tossed them off with "superhuman strength." They will not learn that Mr. King would not go down even after being hit twice with a 50,000-volt taser. The article gives the impression that officers stopped a black driver, pulled him out of his car, and started beating him.
The Wikipedia view of Rodney King
Curiously, the article on the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 includes much of the information missing from the article on Rodney King. Still, it strives mightily to deny that it was a race riot, and plays down the lethal violence done to whites, calling it "the occasional murder."
The article blames the riots in part on anger over the light sentence given to a 49-year old Korean convenience-store owner, Soon Ja Du, for fatally shooting a black 15-year-old, Latasha Harlins, on March 16, 1991. It fails to note that the strapping Miss Harlins, who was probably shoplifting, had badly beaten the diminutive Mrs. Du. It also fails to report the constant shoplifting, 30 burglaries, and two armed robberies — one only seven days earlier — the Du family had suffered from blacks, or the nine Koreans who had been murdered by blacks in convenience store robberies during the previous year alone.
The 5,200-word article on the Cincinnati riots of 2001 (see "Cincinnati Burning," AR June 2001) begins with the following words: "Between February 1995 and April 2001, fifteen black [Cincinnati] males under the age of 40 were killed by police, while no other males from other races were killed by police ..." It generally excuses the rioting as an understandable reaction to police brutality.
Politics, Zimbabwe style
On October 28, 2006, someone pointed out that 13 of those 15 blacks had either just murdered a police officer or were attacking one. The same editor also added that during the rioting, "white motorists were pulled from their cars and beaten with bricks and baseball bats while shouts of 'get whitey' filled the air." Twenty-four hours later one of the censors removed this carefully sourced material, explaining that he had taken out "sensationalizing statements & removed superfluous info." The material has never been restored.
Articles about foreign countries are no better. The more than 10,000 words about Zimbabwe offer many details about Robert Mugabe's "human rights abuses" against blacks, but whites are victims of nothing more serious than "eviction" because of "the controversial land redistribution of 2000." Likewise, the 11,400-word article about South Africa says nothing about the threats whites face or the authorities' indifference to their murder and dispossession.
Wikipedia's treatment of pro-white or race-realist groups is transparent propaganda. The article on white nationalism reminds readers that the very concept of race is "an anthropological archaism," and suggests only two possible positions on race: multiculturalism or neo-Nazism. It writes admiringly of anti-white groups as "anti-racist organizations," while treating anyone sympathetic to whites with hostility and skepticism. Any concern for the survival of whites is nothing more than "the repackaging, relabeling, and transformation of white supremacy into something that would appeal to a broader, more educated audience." Conclusion: "The American Renaissance, Council of Conservative Citizens, the National Alliance and National Vanguard are ... widely recognized as white supremacist and racist groups."
Censors have regularly sought entirely to delete the entry for the pro-white think tank, the National Policy Institute (I should note that I served proudly as the director for one of its projects — see "How Whites Stack Up," AR, August 2007), claiming the institute is not "notable" and therefore does not deserve an entry. Editor "Closedmouth" deletes all the information that explains why it is a significant organization and then complains that the "article may not meet the notability guidelines for companies and organizations."
The article about American Renaissance has been constantly vandalized. AR is invariably "racialist" or "a monthly white separatist magazine." Anyone who dares to call it "race-realist" is promptly censored. It is obvious the censors have never read the magazine, and cite only hostile opinion columns and public-relations mailings from "anti-racists" who have barely read it either. Here is one description of the magazine: "Some issues of AR have featured theological arguments. One argument has been that interracial and inter-cultural marriage is racial suicide and an unequal yoking, and that such unions 'go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish'."
For brief periods the article has been descriptive and neutral, including the views of critics, but that is unacceptable. Most of the time, perhaps 90 percent is criticism, with scarcely any attempt to describe AR's goals or arguments. This note from a censor calling himself Skylab reveals both his ignorance and bias: "Personally, I would rather just never have to read about these hysterical racists. However, I came across this article by accident and felt I should contribute to it."
At one time the entry for the New Century Foundation was a meaty piece that cited both The Color of Crime and its critics, but it has been cut down to an inflammatory stub, insinuating that NCF is essentially a neo-Nazi organization and that The Color of Crime is semi-literate rubbish. "Possecomitatus" was unintentionally revealing when he explained why he changed references to the report: "The Color of Crime: Removed words that made this sound likeoit [sic] was researched by serious epaopl." [sic]
The article about Jared Taylor became such a battleground that Wikipedia locked it down for several months. It has since been reopened, but as one well-meaning editor discovered, anything but criticism is unwelcome:
"I tried to insert some actual, substantial quotes from Taylor that might have something to do with this subject and give an actual feel for Taylor's beliefs and they were promptly deleted with the rationale that they were just 'a plug for Taylor's views.' Uh, excuse me, but is this [a part of the article called "Views"] not supposed to be a section on Taylor's views?"
Blacks get different treatment. Leonard Jeffries, Kamau Kambon, and Frances Cress Welsing have all called on blacks to kill all whites (Mr. Jeffries expressed this more as a wish), but Wikipedia calls none of these people "racist" or "black supremacist." Censors say that such terms are against Wikipedia rules that require an NPOV. Someone who calls himself Malik Shabazz has even eliminated the word "controversial" from the article about Mr. Jeffries, calling it "POV," or biased. Wikipedia seems to accept the dogma that only whites can be "racist."
As with black criminals, censors keep out unpleasant facts. Readers will not learn that Mr. Jeffries's students reported him as saying, "If I had my way, I'd wipe them [whites] off the face of the earth." Dr. Welsing's article does use the R-word, but only indirectly — "Welsing has been criticized for allegedly [emphasis added] promoting an overtly racist ideology" — but there is no mention of the genocidal core of her thinking. Only Mr. Kambon's entry sometimes notes his call for blacks to exterminate all whites — and only when the energetic "Yahel Guhan" has not taken it out.
It would be easy to cite more examples, but the point is clear: Wikipedia actively purveys and reinforces the prejudices of our time. I see it as a cross between an Internet message board and today's authoritarian, multi-cultural university. Or, as co-founder Larry Sanger, himself a liberal, wrote in June 2006, "Wikipedia has gone from a nearly perfect anarchy to an anarchy with gang rule."
But isn't conventional myth-making about race exactly what we would expect? Why should Wikipedia be any different from the New York Times or CBS or New York University Press? It should be different because the Internet is far more free-wheeling and undeceived than the New York Times. People who actually know what they are talking about often correct stories in ways that force Wikipedia's censors to face what really happened. Editors at the Times probably do not often have to make a decision about deliberately removing a relevant, well-researched fact simply because it jars their political sensibilities.
This is not to let the Times entirely off the hook. The truth is there for anyone willing to look for it. However, people with a certain political bent do not look for the truth, so are unaware of it, and are spared the unpleasantness of explicitly censoring it. Unlike what happens at CBS or the Times, truth of an inconvenient kind creeps unbidden into Wikipedia articles, from which it must be forcibly removed. What distinguishes the censors at Wikipedia is that they do this regularly and cheerfully. It is this constant extirpation of verifiable fact that makes Wikipedia far more culpable than "mainstream" organs that do nothing more than pass along to readers their own ignorance and assumptions.
Nicholas Stix is a journalist and researcher, much of whose work focuses on the nexus of race, crime, and education.