Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rural journalists note the death of bin Laden; at least one points out hatred at home

Many rural weekly newspapers abandoned their local-only policy last week to give notice to the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. Some did front-page stories with local reaction; the Todd County Standard of Elkton, Ky., gave it no notice on the front, but filled an inside page with the names of all the victims of the 9/11/01 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, overprinted with a gray image of bin Laden and a quote from President Obama. (Click on image for larger version)

Some rural weeklies ran commentary about the end of the hunt for bin Laden. We especially liked one that appeared this week, in The Woodford Sun of Versailles, Ky., by occasional columnist Susan Dunlap. She wrote that Bin Laden was "the Boogeyman" to her daughter, who turned 16 on 9/11. Then she turned to a local concern, writing:

"Is there an enemy -- a boogeyman or boogeywoman, if you will -- of local threat? A look through the police reports published in last week's Sun prompts me to answer yes. According to an account, someone left a dead raccoon covered in fecal matter on the steps of St. Paul's A.M.E. Church in Versailles. A more colloquial way of stating what happened: A dead 'coon' covered in s#*% was left on the steps of a church traditionally attended by blacks."

Dunlap said the news should have been on the front page. "At the least, it's the sort of news that ought to make us sit up and take notice. . . . In a world that has shifted its concerns toward an anti-Muslim bias, what happened at St. Paul's is a reminder that it's too early, at least in our county, to declare. the war against prejudice against African-Americans a finished effort." She went on to shame the perpetrator, writing, "What happened on Douglas Street is proof that there is a boogeyman among us."

The Sun does not put articles online, but we have scanned the column so you can read it here.

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