From history to herstory.
Former Brooklyn Paper writer Erica Sackin made a hilarious, women-only version of the official photograph of the White House “war room” on the night of Osama bin Laden’s killing, a graphic response to a Yiddish newspaper’s controversial decision to airbrush Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another administration female from its coverage last week.
Readers worldwide were flummoxed when the newspaper Der Tzeitung erased the women from the iconic photo of presidential advisers watching U.S. forces kill the terror mastermind because its editorial policy allegedly requires “modesty.”
But turnabout is fair play, so Sackin photoshopped all the men out of the photograph and posted it on FreeWilliamsburg.
“It just seemed fair,” she said of her version, which sent President Obama, Vice President Biden, Chief of Staff William Daley and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to history’s dustbin, but retained the only women from the original photo: Clinton and counterterrorism director Audrey Tomason.
The picture provides a thousand words of parody of Der Tzeitung’s editorial policies. But if the image wasn’t enough, Sackin herself mocked the newspaper in an interview.
“This was done out of respect for the men in the room, and so their physical depiction wouldn’t distract our readers from the gravity of the situation at hand,” said Sackin, adding she wanted to appreciate the men for who they are and not what they look like.
Der Tzeitung’s editor Albert Friedman said that altering the photo was a mistake — but he did defend an editorial policy that prohibits women in photographs because it would violate “laws of modesty.”
“We wanted to honor the president and our armed forces for the historic significance of the moment, so we opted to publish the photo, but without the women included, as is our long-standing editorial policy,” he said.
In the weeks since Bin Laden was killed, the newspaper has received criticism worldwide for its editing job. But the paper still has many defenders — particularly in the neighborhoods containing most of its readers.
An Orthodox group called the Brooklyn Modesty Committee released a statement this week commending Friedman for “standing courageously against those who want to undermine the holiness of the Jewish people.”
“Publishing photos of women is a contradiction to the authentic Jewish way of life, and this is one of the most important principals in Orthodox newspapers,” said a group member.
But Williamsburg resident Baruch Herzfeld said most Hasidim were embarrassed by the decision and called the modesty group “Talibanowitzes.”
“The whole ‘protecting modesty’ issue is a cover that allows power hungry, backwards misogynists to bully their community,” said Herzfeld. “It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with hate and chauvinism.”