Metro Detroiter Yona Drasnin Kahn read a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press that made her angry. It wasn’t that she disagreed with the message from a reader reminiscing about Corktown. It was that he used the word “Sheeny,” derived from a German word that’s a harsh slur for Jew.
So she took to Facebook and wrote:
What’s on my mind today? A letter to the editor in today’s Detroit Free Press, where the writer reminisces on his childhood in Corktown. He fondly remembers the “sheeny” who peddled his wares in the alley.
This is an unambiguously anti-Semitic slur. For the first time in my life, I wrote a letter to the editor. Would the Free Press have condoned the use of a derogatory term referring to a member of any other minority group? I think not. Is an apology from the Free Press to the Jewish community in order? You bet.
She also fired off a letter to the paper, demanding an apology. “That peddler could have been my paternal grandfather, a Russian immigrant who made an honest living by selling his wares to support his family,” she noted.
Brian Dickerson, head of the editorial page, tells Deadline Detroit that it was mistake to publish the word and plans to apologize in next Sunday’s edition.
“An editor who was not familiar with the term or its pejorative association read past it and a letter that should not have been published as it came to us was inadvertantly published in print but not online,” he said. “We apologize for printing a term that should have been recognized as one with a very unsavory antisemitic history.”