April 26, 2011
Some weeks ago, a Florida swamplands preacher burned a Koran, ostensibly in protest of that book’s promotion of violence. The same preacher had threatened the same burning a year ago, but relented in the face of widespread disapproval.
Almost as soon as match touched page, Muslims half a planet away began rioting. Arab Muslims, incensed at the libricide, took to the streets and killed seven United Nations workers in northern Afghanistan.
Neither camp learned much from the biblioclasmic events, especially with regard to public relations. Floridian swamp-preachers, having long labored under accusations of ignorant fear-mongering and rabble rousering, gained no ground to the contrary. And Arab Muslims, accused by one of those preachers of revering a book which promotes violence, certainly did their international image no favors killing seven innocent UN relief workers several continents removed from the event.
The lesson neither team absorbed is: when you labor under stereotypes on behalf of a cause, you do that cause no favors by playing into those images.
April 19, 2011
Wall Street Journal editorialist Joe Rago stirred up unnecessarily strong feelings some time back when, in that paper’s pages, he questioned the value of blogs. The meat of the argument was that there are no fact-checking or stylistic guardians at the blogospheric gates – indeed, there aren’t even gates – and, as a result, blogs spew opinions which are both mis-informed and terribly written, thereby polluting the marketplace of ideas.
The mainstream media, flawed as it may be, endeavors at least to preserve some standard of factual accuracy and facility with the king’s English.
The blog mob fired back, mainly via its championed electronic platform, to defend itself and denounce Mr. Rago. Most of the counter-offensive was appropriately analphabetic. One recurring theme: “Who is this Joe Rago character? He’s barely ten minutes out of Dartmouth (where he was a member of Phi Delta Alpha and edited The Dartmouth Review), and already he thinks he’s O.O. McIntyre? And anyway, who was O.O. McIntyre?”
This week, Mr. Rago – all 28 years of him – was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial journalism for his work covering healthcare legislation. It’s a well-deserved honor and your editorial staff disloyally wishes him well, and wishes also he would write more often about Warren Zevon.
Joe Rago, editorialist.