Sunday, July 10, 2005

Clueless in London

The New York Times today has a solid front-page examination of how Britain, and particularly London, "had become a breeding ground for hate, fed by militant Islam" over the years. Nice piece.

Inside, however, we get one of the most idiotic stories I have read in the Times in quite a while. (And that is quite a statement, as you can imagine.) The feckless Hassan Fattah, who had previously cheered the Hezbollah "resistance," writes about the Arab neighborhood beneath which one of the underground blasts took place. The headline: "Longtime Haven for Arabs Now Must Ask: Why Us?"

"As the sense of physical danger from the bombings ebbs in this predominantly Arab neighborhood, many have begun asking a fundamental, and somewhat terrifying, question: why us?" says the story. It goes on: "That such a quintessentially Arab street would be a target, quite possibly for Islamic terrorists, only added to the shock. Virtually anyone singling out Edgware Road would have known that this strip is predominantly Arab, and that many of the victims would be Arab."

Excuse me. "Why us?" Hassan bubby, the neighborhood was not a target of the terrorists. The bombing took place in a London Underground tunnel near Edgware Road. Nobody planted a bomb in a cafe on Edgware Road. The victims were non-Muslim commuters, as the terrorists knew full well.

In fact, the Times itself reported only yesterday that the terrorists probably chose a tunnel under a Muslim neighborhood to make a quick getaway!

The Times story on Saturday quoted a "senior European intelligence official" as saying: "Part of their [British officials'] thinking is the cell chose a predominantly Muslim neighborhood to launch these attacks," and adding "The bombers might have thought it would make it easier for them to leave the stations and blend in."

Fattah, on the other hand, believes it is only "quite possible" that Islamic terrorists were to blame. Hell, he's right! It could have been Basque separatists, semi-retired Irgun operatives, or maybe Puerto Rican extremists! Personally I think it was disgruntled veterans of the Austro-Hungarian army, still upset about the Versailles Treaty.

Seriously, though, you really have to wonder how it could be that fifty or so Times editors, all presumably college graduates, could have allowed this rubbish to get in the newspaper. Are they all quite as clueless as their reporter? Or is the Times so hopelessly devoted to PC, and to showing its "even-handedness," that it felt the need to "balance" its sold front-page piece with the swill that Fattah generated?

This article, by the way, illustrates why the Times needs a strong Public Editor. Unfortunately, Barney Calame, in his nearly three months on the job, has proven to be a complete dud. His predecessor Dan Okrent would often duck the important issues. But Calame not only acts as an extension of the newspaper's bureaucracy, but most weeks he doesn't even bother to write a column! He is proving to be a perfect Public Editor -- from the perspective of the politically biased hacks in the newsroom.

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