Published September 15, 2010
It’s like the “Ground Zero mosque” controversy in newspaper form. And it’s right here in New England.
To mark the end of Ramadan, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald printed a front-page photo of American Muslims praying. It ran on Sept. 11.
Readers complained “en masse,” according to the the publisher, for “insensitivity” to the Americans who died on that day nine years ago. There’s even a Facebook page to boycott the paper. (“The muslim criminals killed almost 3000 inocent (sic) Americans,” writes one commenter.)
The Press Herald publisher, Richard Connor, has since apologized:
Many saw Saturday’s front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, September 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago.
We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.
It’s not apparent what kind of “balance” the editors could have offered here. The Press Herald suffers from an unfortunate limitation of its medium: The news in its pages happens the day before it’s printed. The Muslim gathering featured on the front page happened on 9/10. The paper’s extensive 9/11 coverage ran on 9/12. (Remember, that famous NYT cover is dated Sept. 12, 2001.)
If you are a Muslim in America, be warned: apparently now even the very fact that you exist is offensive to people on September 11th.
The recurring insinuation is that Muslims in America aren’t American. Recall the WGBH-TV debate in which Rep. Stephen Lynch (who won Tuesday night’s Democratic primary in the 9th Congressional District) called them “they,” as excerpted here by Universal Hub:
“Respect and tolerance lives on a two-way street. I know a lot of those families who lost loved ones that day, I know a lot of firefighters who, their families, who perished that day and I just think it would be a huge win for the Imam to move that mosque and I would hope they would do that as a symbol for us and our fallen.“
“They,” of course, are us.
What do you think? Should the Portland Press Herald have stood by its coverage — or was it insensitive? Leave your opinion — respectfully — in the comments.