Debate continues over article on Henry Ford's anti-Semitism
Dearborn — The censoring of a magazine article about Henry Ford's anti-Semitism has caused 'real damage' to a Dearborn museum, said the head of the city commission that advises officials on its administration.
"This incident has caused real damage to the Historical Museum," Jonathon Stanton, chairman of the Dearborn Historical Commission, said in a Feb. 10 letter to Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly. "There are serious questions to be answered for the future of the (The Dearborn) Historian (magazine) and for the museum."
Stanton's letter was in response to one written by O'Reilly last week in which he defended pulling the article before it was published in the 100th anniversary issue of the city's quarterly historical magazine.
A spokeswomen for O'Reilly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 28-page issue was never sent to its 200 subscribers as planned in January, but its cover featured a black and white photo of Ford with a quote that said: "The Jew is a race that has no civilization to point to, no aspiring religion, no great achievement in any realm." The quote was from The Dearborn Independent, a weekly newspaper Ford oversaw and infamously used to spread anti-Semitic views.
The mayor has also been criticized because the magazine's editor, veteran Detroit journalist Bill McGraw, was fired last month for writing the article.
O'Reilly said he did not fire McGraw, but museum officials said the mayor ordered them to do it.
Stanton also said in his letter that the mayor cannot pick and choose which topics are acceptable for academic institutions funded by the city.
"Historical interpretation and curation are tasks for historians, not politicians," he wrote. "Political decisions to ban topics for the city-funded historical journal are just as wrong as banning books from the city-funded library."
He also said O'Reilly's decision has resulted in a lot of negative publicity for the city.
"The city has in fact received a lot of negative publicity, but it was not because we honestly acknowledged a sad part of our history," Stanton said in his letter. "It was because we gave the impression that we wanted to whitewash our history. It was your decision, Mr. Mayor, that hurt the city’s reputation, not the Historian’s reporting."
The Dearborn Historical Commission is a mayoral-appointed body of 12 people that is tasked with advising on the general administration of the city's museum. The museum was founded in 1950 to preserve the history of the city and its citizens.