Friday, March 23, 2007
Reading went well. Mostly wanted to know about the coverage of "swastika incident" mentioned in book. The reporting of the finding of the Nazi symbol in a San Francisco fire house was a perfect example of "lemming journalism"in which everyone followed the leader in lockstep. The swastika turned out to be a decade old and had "Fritz' foxhole" on it, a fact that went unmentioned in the public prints until the complaining firefighters lost their discrimination suit. Even with this, newspapers kept repeating that a "swastika was found in a San Francisco fire house." Caroline Paul refers to this in her fine book "Fighting Fire." Remember, this incident led to a federal judge saying the SFFD was "out of control." The feds eventually overseered the department's hiring practices. One firefighter who read the book called me and said the Chronicle ran a photo of the offending symbol but airbrushed out "Fritz' Foxhole." Turned out "Fritz" was a German-American firefighter and the well-crafted wooden swastika was presented as a retirement gift that was left forgotten in a locker until someone, we don't know who, found it years later.