The Washington Post has an opinion blog entitled "All Opinions Are Local." Print edition editors regularly pick from the blog to excerpt a post to the editorial page under the heading "Local Opinions."
Today's entry, "Stop the torrent of hate after a deadly drunk-driving crash," was filed by one Simone Campbell of Washington, whom the Post noted "is executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group." The online edition bears a much blander headline, "A proper tribute to Sister Denise," referring to Denise Mosier, the nun who was killed in a Sunday car crash by repeat DUI offender and illegal immigrant Carlos Martinelly-Montano.
In her 3-paragraph piece, Campbell essentially lumped xenophobes and racists in with conservative critics of law immigration enforcement, slamming "hate speech" on "The Post's online comments section" and insisting that Martinelly-Montano's immigration status did not cause "this tragedy." Campbell then promptly proceeded to politicize Mosier's death by arguing that "comprehensive immigration reform" would "be a proper tribute to Sister Denise's memory."
The Post did not note that Campbell's group Network supports a "Realistic path to earned legalization for people in the U.S. without status," in other words, amnesty to immigrants in the United States illegally.
On Sunday morning in northern Virginia, a drunk illegal immigrant -- who had previously been convicted twice on DUI charges -- allegedly crashed head-on into a car full of nuns, killing one, Sister Denise Mosier, and injuring the rest.
The Benedictine Sisters have since come out to say they are "dismayed and saddened" that the crime "has been politicized and become an apparent forum for the illegal immigration agenda."
USA Today religion writer Cathy Lynn Grossman picked up on that angle of the story yesterday, asking readers if they could forgive a drunk driver who killed a loved one of theirs, a perfectly legitimate query for a blog called "Faith & Reason." But Grossman then gratuitously threw in a loaded question that confuses anger over lax federal enforcement of immigration laws with xenophobia, asking:
A lot of newspaper readers just scan the headlines quickly and choose only a few stories to read, even on the front page. Newspapers are often accused of tabloidish, exaggerated headlines. But sometimes, they do the opposite, with duller headlines that seem designed not to inform -- or offend.
The front page of Tuesday's Washington Post carried the headline "Va. driver had record of DUIs before fatal crash." Here's what it could have said: "Illegal alien had record of DUIs before fatal Sunday morning crash killed nun." The Post also bland-ified the headline inside the paper: "Driver had DUI record before fatal crash in Va." The caption for Carlos Montano on page A-12 also avoided his illegal status: "Carlos Montano, 23, is charged in the crash."