NYT columnist defends his 'disease of the Arab mind' comments

A conservative New York Times columnist is defending a column in which he referred to the "disease of the Arab mind."

In a Vox profile, Bret Stephens, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, talked about a controversial column he wrote for the Journal about an Egyptian athlete refusing to shake his Israeli opponent's hand after an Olympic match. 

Stephens's reference to the athlete suffering from anti-Semitism as a "disease of the Arab mind" provoked criticism that was renewed when he moved from the conservative Journal to the more liberal New York Times. People read the article as arguing that all Arabs were anti-Semetic. 

"I am by not any means indicting a whole race," Stephens told Vox.  

He argues that his detractors have done a "very tendentious reading of the column" and slammed liberal detractors for a "made-up controversy."

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"I don’t think, unless you are actively and willfully trying to twist what I said into something I didn’t mean, that you can read that as in any sense a racist comment or not a fair comment to appear in a major publication," said Stephens.

When Stephens joined the Times, several reporters from the newspaper pounced on his previous writings. They included the paper's Cairo bureau chief, who blasted the Times's new hire for "ascribing a pathological condition to an entire race of people."