The front of Thursday’s Metro section features Anemona Hartocollis’ soggy profile of a group of left-wing elderly protesters arrested last October for blocking a military recruiting center in Times Square.
The headline is sweet: "With ‘Grannies’ in the Dock, A Sitting Judge Will Squirm."
The text box is sickeningly sweet: "Who wants to rule against grandmotherhood, or apple pie, or Santa?"
Alongside the piece is a photo of the "Granny Peace Brigade" on the way back to court, complete with red vests, protest buttons, and walking sticks. It’s enough to send a diabetic into sugar shock.
Ironically, the avowedly left-wing Village Voice provides a more substantive and probing article on the group, led by activist Joan Wile, which is officially named "Grandmothers Against the War."
The Voice picks up some comments from the sweet old grannies, including this from 91-year-old Marie Runyon:
"I thought it was a great idea to get the message through to that son of a bitch in the White House. Our men are dying and the Iraqi people are dying and for what – for that idiot Bush!"
The Voice points out that group leader "Wile is savvy enough to know how the word grandma plays in the court of public opinion -- indeed, she has even encouraged the New York anti-war grannies to hand out cookies on the street."
By contrast, the allegedly non-partisan and hard-core Times pours on the sap, not mentioning Wile and covering the "grannies" like a feel-good community story, something you’d find in the "Community Heroes" section of your local freebie.
"Imagine having grandmotherhood on trial in your courtroom. This is the awkward situation in which Judge Neil Ross finds himself in Manhattan Criminal Court.
"The defendants are 18 women who call themselves grannies -- somewhat loosely, since although all of them are old enough, a few of them do not actually have grandchildren. They are on trial for, as Judge Ross put it in a casual aside, ‘protesting,’ and more specifically, protesting the war in Iraq, by sitting outside the Times Square military recruiting center last October.
"But the defense is trying to portray the trial as a referendum on grandmotherhood itself, and they are milking that all-American concept to the hilt, almost as deftly as the defense in ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ the 1947 feel-good chestnut, milked the American belief in Santa Claus."
More flattering description:
"These are not resort grannies, with dyed hair and manicures. For the most part, they have let their hair go gracefully, defiantly gray. Some carry canes; others use walkers. Ms. Runyon, whom the judge allows to sit next to the witness box so she can hear, wields the white cane of the blind."
Hartocollis plays along, all but comparing the left-wing "grannies" to Santa Claus:
"Like the unfortunate Judge Harper in ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ Judge Ross clearly recognizes that ruling against grandmothers -- like ruling against Kris Kringle -- could be political suicide, or at the very least make him a villain to grandchildren everywhere."
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