May 17, 2006
An alleged hate crime that occurred between several teenagers last week provided another opportunity for certain newspapers to advance their own agendas: to label the East End as the next epicenter of racial intolerance.
Newsday went so far as to list all the other "hate crimes" on the East End in its persistent effort to make us the next Farmingville and thus fulfill its own prediction. In other words, having persistently reported — quoting a small group of left wing whiners — that the East End is a powder keg, Newsday now tailors its stories to support that contention.
For example, on May 9, Newsday reported "A Latino attorney and minister in Montauk was beaten by a local fisherman in April 2005." The problem with that statement was the alleged assailant was acquitted of all charges, the alleged victim's medical records revealed no injuries, and he is neither an attorney nor a minister. The statement is completely false. That type of reporting doesn't fuel the fire, its intent is to start a fire where none exists.
The misinformation concerning the Montauk situation was widely disseminated by Michael O'Neil, who, as a result of a crazed stroke of lunacy by the East Hampton Town Board members, was appointed to that town's antibias task force.
O'Neil, a professional fomenter, would like nothing better than an all out racial war to break out so he can continue getting ink and voicing his self serving "I told you so" mantra. O'Neil was the "source" used by Newsday in its initial report on the Montauk incident, and the police subsequently publicly called his account fictional.
O'Neil was one of the talking heads during the latest incident as well. In fact, he is affiliated with the South Fork Progressive Coalition, a radical socialist group that is at the far left of the political spectrum. In other words, he is no closer to representing the mainstream than the skinheads at the opposite end. Newspapers, like the N.Y. Times, that quote him as some sort of objective observer allow him to procreate his agenda to incite — that newspaper, Newsday and some local papers allude to Farmingville when discussing the East End, seeking a link where none exists.
Illegal immigration is a national problem: thousands of communities like ours are grappling with how to handle it. But related violence that resulted in attempted murder is limited to Farmingville.
The bottom line is there have been four or five legitimate hate crimes logged by East End police over the past 18 months — and no serious injuries.
Latinos and East Enders get along better than most. The community has accepted the integration of the divergent cultures. At the same time, the same tensions that exist throughout the country are felt here, even as the issue is debated in Congress.
The media needs to report what is happening, not what zealous amateur editors and reporters think is going to happen.
Most of the local papers, for example, had it in their minds a great boycott would occur two Mondays ago and thus decided front-page stories should be written. The trouble was, no boycott of any significance occurred on the East End. The most compelling evidence one paper could offer was that traffic was lighter than usual. The last time we looked, the Latino day laborers weren't the ones driving $30,000 four-wheel drive pick-up trucks.
If traffic was lighter, it was because the contractors who hire the laborers decided to take the day off. Our staff reported business as usual in all of the haunts we frequent, most of which are staffed by Latinos.
When one of these isolated bias incidents do occur, it is important to understand it does not make the East End a hotbed of hate crimes. Statistically, police reports confirm just how well we get along. That's the news, folks. It may not sell newspapers, but it's the truth. That used to be what newspapers were charged with reporting.