|First Reformed Church on Court Street in Hackensack is said to be the second oldest church building in New Jersey. Gen. George Washington attended the funeral of Gen. Enoch Poor, who is buried in the church cemetery.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
What's the point of giving an opinion column to a veteran reporter who doesn't seem to have an opinion about anything?
That's the question on readers' minds today after plowing through thousands of words from Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record on anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the terrorism in Paris (A-1).
For some reason, Kelly doesn't mention a similar column he wrote in June 2010, when he covered a protest against a plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.
Then, he witnessed and reported "a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims."
"'Go home,' several shouted. 'Get out,' others shouted," Kelly reported before telling readers the men were not Muslims, but Coptic Christians working for a Christian satellite TV station.
They had "come to protest the mosque," he added, noting two police officers had to pull the men to safety.
Other media were quick to pick up Kelly's account, complete with quotes, but unlike the Record columnist, they also condemned the protesters in no uncertain terms.
Salon.com noted the demonstration was "attended by various wingnuts, racists, riled-up nativists and terrified fools."
Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic.com said:
"Of course, this would be reprehensible even if the men turned out to be Muslims....
"The larger objection to building a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero is irrational and incompatible with core American values: freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to pursue happiness."
Today, the Page 1 headline over Kelly's column contains the strongest language on anti-Muslim and anti-refugee comments from Governor Christie and other contenders for the GOP presidential nomination:
In the text, "harsh rhetoric" and "harsh tone" are the best the weak columnist himself can manage.
Anything stronger is put in the mouths of Democratic presidential candidates and others (A-6) -- a sleight of hand the cowardly Kelly employs frequently.