Last week, the New York Times ran an article under the headline “In Ḥasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush with Public Money,” which accused these institutions of providing students with woefully inadequate secular educations, employing corporal punishment, and other failings. Moshe Krakowski, acknowledges the serious problems this article raises while pointing to its numerous shortcomings.
The reporters admit that only a few dozen of the  people they spoke with still live in the ḥasidic community, all of them fierce critics of the yeshivas. These 275 activists and critics hold important views that deserve to be heard. But so do the thousands upon thousands of Ḥasidim who disagree with them. [The authors] ignore these people completely. Amazingly, the reporters made only a single visit to an actual ḥasidic yeshiva. . . . And—this is actually hard to believe—it appears that they didn’t bother contacting current school administrators until after the article was nearly complete.
After detailing various flaws in the ways the Times article presented its data, and in the data themselves, Krakwoski addresses a different sort of question:
Why are oversimplified and often deeply distorted portraits of Ḥaredim so commonplace?
The answer, sadly, is that the mere existence of the Ḥaredim challenges all sorts of claims about religion and modernity that other Jews, in particular, hold sacred. These radically countercultural Jews go out of their way to reject society’s values and norms, and so validate everything other Jews secretly fear. They are a living embrace of the idea that the Jew is different. For reminding everyone of this, they are either scorned, or reduced to a shtetl fairy tale, or more often, hated.
When it comes to Ḥaredim, the rules of polite discourse do not apply, and generalizations, prejudice, and bigotry are proffered as self-evident fact.
If, as Tom Lehrer sang, “everybody hates the Jews,” whom do the Jews hate?
Ḥaredim. They are the Jews of the Jews.