News writers serious about reporting the facts (as opposed to those guilty of trying to commit an “act of literature”) know well the inverted pyramid, the convention of straight-news lead writing that starts with the most important fact and descending from there to the less important details. The Detroit News has picked up a story, likely from the AP, that is a splendid example of how not to do it.
Detroit — A woman accused of failing to tell U.S. immigration authorities about her role in a deadly bombing in Israel has pleaded not guilty in her first appearance in federal court Detroit Wednesday afternoon.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, who lives in the Chicago area, became a naturalized citizen in 2004 in Detroit. Nearly a decade later, she’s charged with covering up her conviction in an attack that killed two people at a Jerusalem market in 1969.
An Israeli military court sentenced her to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The 66-year-old woman was arrested last month and charged with not disclosing her conviction when she applied for U.S. citizenship in Detroit. She was released on bond in Chicago. (“Israel bombing suspect pleads not guilty to immigration charge in Detroit”).
Thus lead-writing in an age of PC. Reporters don’t write their own headlines, editors do, and in this case the Detroit News editor wanted to help muddy things more by describing Odeh as a “bombing suspect,” though this is flatly false. She isn’t a bombing suspect, but a convicted bomber and terrorist doing life, as even the article eventually gets around to mentioning in the fourth paragraph -- where the real lead lies buried. The fact of that conviction lets anyone in the media refer to Odeh unconditionally as a terrorist and a murderer – if the reporter chooses to do so. Instead, the media has chosen to pussyfoot around the real story rather than violate PC rules that Palestinian terrorists are never murderers and fiends, but freedom fighters.
Yesterday the Detroit Free Press ran substantially the same AP story, writing in their headline that Odeh is an “activist” with a “role” in a deadly Israel bombing.
“Role” could mean almost anything, or, as it was perhaps intended to imply, almost nothing; like maybe her only “role” was to drive her fellow PFLP members around to their day jobs, or to bring falafel to her fellow activists after a long day of handing out pamphlets outside the local mosque (isn’t that what activists do?). But the role she was convicted of was belonging to a terrorist group and placing two bombs in a Jerusalem supermarket that killed two people, and then placing another bomb in the British Consulate. The only reason Odeh is on the loose now is that Israel was forced to let her go in a prisoner swap with the bad guys.
Reporters and editors are pros who know exactly what they’re doing when they choose to do what they’re doing the wrong way. When it comes to reporting similar stories about people who don’t belong to PC-immunized pariah groups, they’ve don’t have this much trouble getting it straight. A typical example from a Department of Justice press release from a few years back goes like this:
An 83-year-old man who admitted that as a Nazi concentration camp guard he took part in a two-day killing spree in which 42,000 people were killed was deported to Austria Thursday from his home in Wisconsin, immigration officials said. (“Nazi Guard Deported to Austria”).
Most important fact: There’s been a Nazi concentration camp guard who participated in a mass killing spree living peacefully in Wisconsin all these years.
The most important fact in this week’s Odeh coverage? An old lady who looks like she could be Helen Thomas’s daughter is in trouble with immigration for being less than truthful about her past. Now that’s gotta grab any reader! especially because we don’t routinely see stories about any of the other 12 million people living here who’ve got white-lie issues with INS. Why, it’s almost as if they don’t really want you to pay close of attention to Odeh!
Still, if that nothing-to-see-here intro hasn’t put you off you’ll eventually find out that the poor old lady in the photo who needs help getting into the courthouse is “’revered in the Chicago area, serving as a mentor to many, someone to look up to . . . standing up to oppression.’” Brother, she’s a veritable Rosa Parks, except with TNT in her handbag. (Wouldn’t you think that with all the humanity loving, social justice heroes who’ve called Chicago home -- Reverend Wright, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Rahm Emanuel, Bill Ayers, Huey Newton, Angela Davis, Barack Obama – they wouldn’t have quite so much of a murder problem? Must be that their gun control laws aren’t strict enough.)
Odeh’s supporters marched around with her picture and signs that said “stop anti-Arab racism.” They know the immigration charge is only a pretext: “’the real issue is the U.S. government’s going after people in our community including before 9/11.’” Hey, if you say so; it’s true enough that people were going after Odeh (Israel, not us) long before 9/11 – because she slaughtered her victims way back in 1969. But Odeh’s supporters say Uncle Sam is only picking on her now because “’she speaks out for human rights and social justice.’” I guess speaking out can take all forms. The backpack bomb she used to kill Jerusalem shoppers was probably Odeh’s way of saying “three cheers for liberty, equality, and brotherhood!”
Strangely enough, this former model for the Palestinian issue of the Eddie Bauer catalog is actually in trouble now for not speaking out, specifically when INS invited her to speak out about anything in her background that might keep her from gaining entry to the country – like, for example, having ever been convicted of belonging to a terrorist group or planting bombs or killing people.
For some odd reason Odeh also let go by another great opportunity on Wednesday to speak truth to power about her case. According to the News:
“I don’t want to speak,’ she said, declining comment outside court following a brief arraignment.
Inspiring! A courageous champion of social justice, and doesn’t like to toot her own horn to boot!
Just the same, if she happens to be your mentor, a word of advice: don’t volunteer to carry her backpack.