The Highlander – A Beacon of Hate?
I am a great fan of The Highlander Neighborhood Monthly. It is a wonderful community resource that has informed me of many local happenings and introduced me to many fascinating local individuals. In the past, I have not paid much attention to Carl Brown, “The Plain Brown Rapper,” but this month I became astonished by him – astonished that our neighborhood paper would give his ridiculous tirade the decency of print!
Brown’s column in the September edition of your paper is full of seditious comments. Among his bizarre assertions, Brown suggests that our President has something in common with “Charlie Manson” and that the “lovely ‘religion’ of Islam” – is responsible for the Taliban inflicted wounds of Bibi Aisha who was recently featured on the cover of Time magazine.
Hate crimes against American Muslims have risen sharply in recent weeks – a stabbing in New York, a bomb in Tennessee. It is disgraceful that Mr. Brown would use The Highlander, OUR monthly newspaper, to propagate the sort of hate and fear that quickly turns to violence. There are many individuals in the Highlands community who practice Islam. It should be the job of our neighborhood journal to welcome them to our neighborhood. Instead, thanks to “The Plain Brown Rapper” The Highlander could be accused of demonizing them.
The vivid detail with which Brown describes a fictional attack on workers building the proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan is nothing less than disturbing: “Molotov cocktails and bombs and vandalism will curse this accursed plan. Till the end of time. And one day it will go: BOOM.” He goes on to say, quite eerily, “Mark my words.”
The citizens of Louisville, of all places, should know the dangers of this sort of editorializing. In 1850, the Louisville Journal published the slanderous text of George D. Prentice, a member of the appropriately named “Know-Nothing” party. His editorials set off the “Bloody Monday” riots against Louisville’s Catholic population. In the end, hundreds of local homes became smoldering ashes and dozens of citizens were dead.
Certainly, Mr. Brown’s rants will be taken seriously by few in a community such as the Highlands which is known for its acceptance of others and embrace of difference. Nevertheless, words are powerful, and publication gives them authority.
After many years of reading The Highlander, I know that your paper strives to build our community, connect neighbors, and create a spirit of camaraderie among local citizens. I respect the newspaper’s mission to accept reader submissions and “print as much as space will allow.” I would, however, urge you to reevaluate your position on inflammatory speech to prevent our community forum from becoming a beacon of hate.
– Sharon M. Scott, Highlands Resident
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Highlander does not condone or condemn the views of contributors, but we strive to draw the line at anything we believe to be hate speech. Otherwise, we welcome all opinions and would like to thank Ms. Scott for her keen observations. Touché!
Thanks for the excellent article by Jonathan Ashley. It was insightful and well written. I read the additional copy online, which was equally good. More, please.
– Sharon Welch, Highlands