Media

Dearborn Mayor Reverses Course on Henry Ford Article -- Sort Of


February 07, 2019, 5:23 PM

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Mayor John O'Reilly and Henry Ford

Update: 11:32 p.m. Friday -- The Dearborn mayor's office shared a letter to subscribers of the Deaborn Historian explaining why he decided to halt distribution of the magazine and republish the articles in a booklet he's paying for:

In this case, I did not think the City's interests would be best served by presenting the illustrations and main article about Henry Ford and his newspaper in a City sponsored publication. In a world where negativity is so prevalent, I thought they could lead people to link the City of Dearborn of today with hateful messages repeated from 100 years ago. (See full letter at end of article).

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Report From Thursday afternoon 

Dearborn Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr. has reversed course -- sort of -- after deciding to block the city-funded, "Dearborn Historian" magazine from being distributed. The magazine featured a cover story about Henry Ford's anti-Semitism. 

On Thursday, Mary Laundroche, director of city's public information department, issued an email to the head of the Dearborn Historical Commission saying that the mayor was going to use his own resources to pay for prining and mailing of four articles in the magazine "so that the subscribers will receive the information from The Dearborn Historian’s current edition. It will be an 8-page booklet, which is in production at the print shop today."

The email went on to say that the "mayor fully supports the good that can come from exposing and talking about hateful rhetoric, and as you know has been a leader in promoting Dearborn as a welcoming community, committed to respecting and engaging with people from all backgrounds."

Laundroche did not immediately return a call to Deadline Detroit to explain why the magazine itself isn't being mailed, though one explanation may be that the mayor was reportedly upset when seeing the cover of the current magazine that displayed a photo of Henry Ford with a quote from the anti-Semitic newspaper he owned. 

The original story, written by its editor Bill McGraw, first appeared in Deadline Detroit.

After deciding not to distribute the magazine, the mayor fired McGraw. The Dearborn Historical Commission then passed a resolution supporting McGraw and distribution of the magazine.

Related coverage today:

Here's a copy of the letter that will accomodate the booklet the mayor is publishing himself and sending out to subscribers of the city's historical magazine.

Dear friends:

This booklet contains the plain text of the article on Henry Ford and the Dearborn Independent, as well as the three related pieces, originally written for The Dearborn Historian. I am using my own resources, and not City money, to circulate information at the heart of public concern.

I want to explain to you why I made the decision to halt the mailing of The Dearborn Historian, which is usually focused on human interest stories. It is a City controlled and City-funded publication, As Mayor, I am ultimately responsible for all City communications, and have the duty to consider their effect on perceptions of our community.

In this case, I did not think the City's interests would be best served by presenting the illustrations and main article about Henry Ford and his newspaper in a City sponsored publication. In a world where negativity is so prevalent, I thought they could lead people to link the City of Dearborn of today with hateful messages repeated from 100 years ago.

I wanted to distance the City from possible criticism for being seen as a source of despicable viewpoints. I felt in a city publication, these viewpoints could interfere with people's understanding of our commitment to inclusion and respect. I felt they could potentially undermine our efforts, and those of our community and business partners, to promote Dearborn as a welcoming place.

As Mayor, I have a unique perspective on the lasting impact controversial historical figures have had on Dearborn. Paying for the distribution of this booklet is consistent with my practice of frequently sharing our history, including the more difficult parts. If there are criticisms generated by this printed distribution, I want them to be directed at me instead of the City.

I fully support the good that can come from exposing and talking about hateful rhetoric. We have worked hard in Dearborn over many years to confront forces that would divide us. I'm very proud to say that these efforts have led us to a much better place, a place that rejects discrimination and welcomes and supports people from all backgrounds. We have learned from our past. That's a reality I'm committed to protect.


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