Here’s a look at opinion content published Saturday, Aug. 28, Sunday, Aug. 29 and today, Monday, Aug. 30:
Saturday, Aug. 28
Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten comments on the hysteria over the Cordoba Initiative’s proposed Park51 Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan. He writes:
… August is a notoriously slow month for news, and lacking a natural disaster or missing blonde to obsess over, the cable networks and commentators who fuel the 24-hour news cycle have made the proposed Islamic center and mosque the centerpiece in their overheated echo chamber. Still, even allowing for the timing, it’s clear that this controversy has tapped a troubling vein of popular suspicion and unease concerning Muslim-Americans and their beliefs.
Unhappy history tells us that this is dangerous territory, and the willingness of some to exploit it is one of this affair’s sorriest aspects. Possible Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, for example, has compared those who support the mosque’s construction to Nazis, who “don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.” A Republican National Committee member from Iowa insists that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. (If so, what the devil was all that Jeremiah Wright stuff about?) Evangelist Franklin Graham tells CNN that the president carries “the seed of Islam” — whatever that is.
One of the most distressing things is how rapidly this controversy has shifted from an ostensibly principled objection — the center’s backers have a legal and constitutional right to build on the site, but it is “insensitive” to do so — to a blanket objection to Islam in America. Such a slide was entirely predictable, because the minute you impute collective responsibility for 9/11 to U.S. Muslims, generalized expressions of bigotry are rendered licit. Thus, we have organized campaigns opposing the construction of mosques in places as distant from Ground Zero as Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kentucky. In Santa Clara, Calif., a group objects to a mosque adding a minaret, while in Temecula, Calif., Pastor Bill Rench argues that his Muslim neighbors ought not be allowed to build a mosque on a site adjoining his Calvary Baptist Church. …
Ramapo ballpark: Commentary
Stephen Marx of Sloatsburg comments on last week’s vote on public financing for a proposed minor-league ballpark in Ramapo. Marx argues that the referendum’s outcome — voters rejected public financing 2-1 — should carry forward a conversation about alternative uses for the stadium site.
Sunday, Aug. 29
Albany per diems: Editorial
We comment on our Albany Bureau’s second installment of the Platinum Legislature series, which examines the use of per diems by state legislators. We write:
… As Albany Bureau chief Joseph Spector reported, there is scant oversight or accountability — meaning lawmakers are essentially on the honor system. It is a reimbursement system that one would write only if someone else — the taxpayer in this case — was footing the bill.
Taxpayers might have reached the same conclusion — that they were being taken for a ride of a different sort — following last Sunday’s installment, which focused on the bloated salaries and stipends that make New York lawmakers among the highest paid in the nation, no matter that the positions are part-time, or that most lawmakers maintain other employment, or that the results for taxpayers mostly have been poor.
From one end of New York to the other, taxpayers have been clamoring for property tax reform and spending reforms, but results have been scant, at least in terms of a plan from Albany. Notwithstanding those concerns, hardly anyone predicts there will be any appreciable turnover come the November elections; expert gerrymandering and slack campaign-finance rules insulate the vast majority of incumbents from serious opposition.
The public trough, therefore, remains well-stocked and well-trafficked. …
After Katrina: Baird
Rockland columnist Bob Baird tells the story of Brian Bordainick, a Ramapo native who, at 24, is Louisiana’s youngest athletic director. Bordainick has played a roll in New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina at G.W. Carver High School in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward.
Phil Reisman announces the winner of his Playland contest, in which he asked readers for their ideas on the future of Playland. He writes:
… The winning prize of tickets and free parking to Playland goes to Joan Grangenois-Thomas. She had two good ideas. One of them, which popped up in a few other submissions, involved tearing down some of the crappier rides and replacing them with a water park.
She wrote: “After a July like the one we just had, I would have greatly appreciated having a water park near by to cool off.” She further suggested that one attraction, “a water ride cum lazy-river-type ride” could be incorporated into Playland Lake.
Grangenois-Thomas described her other idea as a video game, or virtual reality experience, “where you think you’re inside of Call of Duty or World of War Craft.”
“The planners,” she said, “could work with a technology company like industrial Light and Sound and create an experiential ride or activity on a scale that compliments the size of the park.” …
Obama and the GOP: Cartoon
Matt Davies comments on President Obama’s struggle to find consensus with Republicans on how to right the course of the American economy.
Westchester Children’s Museum: Commentary
Tracy Kay, executive director of the Westchester Children’s Museum, makes the case for his institution’s inclusion in any future devised for Playland. The museum is slated to occupy one of the park’s bathhouses.
Telecommunications legislation: Commentary
Jim Gerace, president of Verizon’s New York region, comments on legislation in Albany that would require “some telecommunications companies to turn over 40 percent of their New York-based infrastructure to the government if they are ever sold or decide to merge with another company.”
Monday, Aug. 30
Tale of inspiration: Editorial
We comment on the inspirational story of Courtney Burrell, a 14-year-old Rockland Board of Cooperative Educational Services student who has cerebral palsy and is working as a manager for the North Rockland High School football team.
John F. Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, offers a comment on the need for a federal shield law in light of the recent WikiLeaks controversy.