Monday, December 13, 2010

In defense of Robert McCarthy

Before we begin, a prize is being offered for the person who can tell if this piece from the Associated Press is an editorial, or a news story. 

Now, who the heck is Robert McCarthy?  According to the AP story, he's a 70 year old man who expressed reservations about a new cemetery in his town that is owned and run by Sufi Muslims.  Big, big mistake.  After weeks of mass killings by Muslims in the Islamic world, failed bomb plots by Muslims here at home, widespread persecution of religious minorities by Muslims in Muslim countries, the post-modern Left has been itching for a story to turn everything back to the Liberal mantra that white, European and American heterosexual Christian men are the only incarnation of evil and the singular cause of all human suffering in the world.

Mr. McCarthy, they thank you.  Here is our first introduction in the piece to ol'Robert:
The Sufis had followed proper procedures and received burial permits. But that didn't deter town Supervisor Robert McCarthy from calling the graves illegal and suggesting the bodies might have to be disinterred. "You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table," he said.
We are then told that he "became a poster child for Muslim-bashing everywhere. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann denounced him as "worst person in the world." Satirist Stephen Colbert direly warned viewers about Muslim vampire "sleeper-in-coffin-cells" infiltrating the Catskills."

Now, the first thing that leaps out at me is, as of now, I have no clue who this 'poster child for Muslim-bashing' is.  Second, I have no idea why he is objecting to the graves in the cemetery.  Only that he is.  Of course, being a good leftist propaganda piece, what I'm supposed to think of Robert is a foregone conclusion: Guilty as not charged.

Anyway, we move on.  We are informed that locals "watched in horror" as their town was labeled backward, Islamaphobic, and ignorant.  Of course that those who labeled the entire town this, or even McCarthy this, based on a single sentence could have been the problem isn't even considered by the Ministry of Leftist Propaganda the Associated Press. Anyway, on we go.

We are treated with a string of quotes from locals expressing how "sickened" they were by this brazen display of Islamaphobic bigotry and hate.  This brazen display:
You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table
Which, of course, should prove to anyone that the Islamaphobia we all hear about that is just percolating under the American landscape is alive and real and living in small town America.

Over the next few weeks, the piece tells us  that "a spirited, almost intoxicating sense of mission seemed to surge through Sidney, 150 miles north of New York City. Though the town Board of Supervisors hastily dropped the cemetery issue, it had set in motion something it couldn't contain. People reached out, not only to Sufis, but to each other. They set up websites, bonded on Facebook, launched petitions to impeach McCarthy and investigate town government."

Wow, that's exciting!  How inspiring!  How wonderful!  Especially that last part, about trying to get him impeached.  After all, let's not forget that he said:
You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic table
And yet, I still don't know anything else.  I don't know why he said it.  I don't know the context.  Was he worried about something, had some ordinance been violated?  Was their a public safety concern?  No mention of the usual anti-Islamic rhetoric (unless Grandma is code for something I'm unaware of).  Nothing so far at least that suggests anything other than a desire to halt the burials in a new cemetery.

At the meeting to demand his resignation, and apology, or impeachment, or whatever, we are told that "they trekked to the Sufi center eight miles outside town, to sip tea with the sheik, to vow that Sidney, population 6,000, will be in the spotlight again, this time as a shining example of tolerance and understanding."

Get that?  A shining example of tolerance and understanding.  Again, bonus prize for the reader who can tell if this is an editorial or a news story.  But then there is a line break.  A small, black line tells us these things happened, and now we are in the here and now, the reason why this story found a reason to be told today, now (as opposed to my guess that the media was desperate to whip up the old 'evil American Racists' meme).

We are invited to breakfast at a local diner.  There, the scene is set.  On one side we are shown the McCarthy supporters:
"regulars, including a core group of McCarthy supporters, meet every morning for breakfast. These days, the main topic of conversation has been, as one man jokingly put it, "the turbans on top of the hill.""
We are then introduced to Hass Hass,  who according to the propaganda piece is "the chief spokesman for the Sufis and chief thorn in McCarthy's side."  We are told that Hass:
"seems to be everywhere — talking with national media, writing letters to town leaders and state officials, attending meetings of the newly formed "Concerned Citizens for Responsible Sidney Government," filing freedom of information requests. His unruffled manner and calm, authoritative voice have captivated the crowd as he persistently confronts McCarthy with the facts and the law."
Calm, unruffled, authoritative?  Wow, what a man.  Is the AP reporter wanting to marry him or something? You can't help but imagine Gergory Peck playing his life story.  But let's hold up for Mr. Peck, we'll see him later.  Right now, back to the glowing recommendation of Mr. Hass.  In addition to his personal charm, it is also revealed that he is a "captain of the local ambulance squad, volunteer firefighter, and roofing contractor", and that because of this, "Hass was already a familiar face in town. Now, almost overnight, he has become a community leader with many urging him to run against McCarthy in the next election."

Rock star, local style.  The scene continues to unfold.  A waitress at the restaurant has invited Mr. Hass over because she has grown worried due to the Islamaphobic conversations she is hearing that include such oldies as "all Muslims are terrorists, that the Sufis have pictures of Osama Bin Laden at their center, that the town would be better off if they dug up their graves and left."  She is quoted as saying, " If ever there was a time to shatter caricatures and prejudices, it was right here, right now."  No, strike that.  She wasn't quoted.  It was not a quote, nor did she say it.  We are told without quotes that she 'thought' it.  How the AP writer knew this is beyond me.  If she said it, why not quote her?  If she didn't say it, what little magical crystal ball of ESP does this writer possess?

Well, the showdown comes when Mr. Hass sits down across from McCarthy supporter Bill Howes.   Mr. Howes wears boots and a ball cap.  He 'grunts' at Mr. Hass when he sits down.  Grunts don't ya know.  They banter about sports and tell racy jokes, but things go south as the conversation turns to McCarthy. Howe defends McCarthy on the grounds that it's about more than just the whole cemetery issue.  Hass fires back that McCarthy "told reporters all over the country that what we did was illegal, and it wasn't."  Since the piece doesn't say if McCarthy was right or not, apart from saying that the papers were filed in proper order, we have to assume Hass has the point here. 

At that, we see Howe get up, excuse himself, and move to another table.  Then the story says that  "later, he will boast about having breakfast with "those Muslim guys" and will tell people how nice they seemed. But he has no plans to take up Hass' invitation to visit with the sheik."   I assume the reporter witnessed all of this.  The reporter, Helen O'Neil, actually saw him going around and saying this, and was also informed by Howe that he has no intentions of visiting the sheik.

What happens next?  Well, the story unfolds with Hass gathering around himself a group of rustic admirers, and enlightening them on the reasons for his embracing the Sufi faith.  Then we get to see a day in the life of Mr. Hass, in which he travels back roads checking on roofing jobs, stopping to check out the health of elderly farmers and their cows, and just generally getting warm and happy greetings from everyone.  Except one place, and that is  the Jess F. Howes building supply store in Sidney Center.  The reason for the lukewarm reception appears to be that "[e]arlier in the year, Hass says, he asked the owners to remove offensive Muslim jokes scattered on the counter. They did, but he felt it was done reluctantly. Now Hass refuses to shop there."

Again, no real evidence they did so, just Hass's testimony that they had.  And his testimony that it was done reluctantly.   But what the heck, that's good enough.  Just the name Howes suggests a relation to that other grunting fellow we met earlier.  Plus, when asked for a comment, a man behind a glass counter gives 'a phony name' and 'snaps' a no comment response.  Snaps.  Grunts.  Boy, what an ineloquent place.  No wonder so many people called the town ignorant.

Then comes another page break with a line, showing us that the story is about to go a different direction.  Next, we'll lean about the Sufi community, where it came from, and what happened that caused the events that brought the good town of Sydney onto a map I've never heard of despite my fondness of following the media. This is just too much fun to ignore, and I want to milk it for everything it's worth, because believe it or not there's a big HUGE lesson to  be learned in all of this.

1 comment:

  1. So what's the lesson?
    Only believe half of what you hear and none of what you read or something to that effect.
    the media- well the ministry of propaganda at least never seems to get it right.


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