'Ff'lo (fflo) wrote,

so disappointed with NPR

What always seems to prompt me to want to write to NPR---and I really should, more often, cuz raised voices matter, and are heard, if only a little---is some crappy language usage better than which I think they oughta know. Like the other day, during a story on the Boxer-assisted objection during the certification of the presidential election results, they said Republicans have accused objecting Democrats of "sour grapes." What is meant by "sour grapes" isn't what they meant, though. They were following on the "Get over it" quotation you may have heard, and what they meant was pissing and moaning, or refusing to accept a result they didn't like, or passive-aggressive foot-draggy belligerence, but not sour grapes, which (if we remember our Aesop) is the disingenuous/feigned "I didn't want those anyway"---completely NOT what was indicated by people uttering some peeping up of complaint, and not what the Republicans were accusing them of.

Earlier I'd had this sort of language pissiness about their use of "eco-terrorism" to describe the possible nature of the destruction by arson of some big honkin' housing for the elite going up in a new subdivision in Charles County, Maryland. There was a political element to my anger in this case, too. What it might have been, if it were a case of political action against sprawl or such (though the usual in-yer-face tags associated with such direct action were absent), would be maybe "eco-vandalism" or something like that, but not any kind of "terrorism." A crime against property is hardly terrorism, and to call it that not only sensationalizes such activism but also cheapens the word "terrorism," already abused in politics here to the point of near meaninglessness. It's a word we need, too, like we need "literal": there is such a thing as the use of terrible, terrifying violence whose object is more the implanting of fear in a population than it is the primary destruction done by its individual acts, and "terrorism" is our word for that. When nobody dies or is even hurt, and the victimization in measured in dollars of damage done to property, that's just not terrorism, "eco-" or not.

So I was ranting about this to my buddy at the end of this last trip, and he provided an even more politically upsetting revelation. Turns out the vandalism in question is most likely a case of new-school cross burning---a racist attempt to discourage the arrival of wealthy blacks in an area that's long been pretty freakin' white. One of the young white male suspects (3 age 20, 1 age 21) worked as a security guard at the development.

NPR had switched its line in coverage to say something like "A variety of motivations are now considered possible." When the possible motive, simply by speculation, was "eco-terrorism," they were willing to state it repeatedly, but when actual evidence suggested race as the motivation, and there were indictments to report, they went all vague on us.

The link in the text is to a reprint of the NY Times story on the racial angle.

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