Sunday Editorial on Editorials

Sundays are editorial days. All the newspapers are brimming with words of praise and punishment on the last day of the weekend. I’ve decided that on Sundays I should specifically comment on the comments I read in the Sunday specials.

A local Portland, Maine columnist Bill Nemitz wrote an article on January 4th on the Bush Shoeing and Jamilla El-Shafei’s planned recreation in D.C. The Press Herald received a flood of letters chastising Nemitz for various parts of the article. One letter takes issue with the opinion Nemitz puts forth in his column.

“Nemitz approached the line that separates journalism from advocacy when he published the Web site that the woman is using to collect the shoes, and he crossed it when, in closing, he wrote “come Jan. 20, we’d all best get over it.” The message I got was, “But let’s pile it on until then and here is where you can help!”

Bill Nemitz writes an opinion column. Nemitz agree with El-Shafei’s shoe tossing protest. That was his opinion. If he chooses to advocate a certain cause that is his choice. And it is your choice to disagree with him, as I do. (Bush has been bashed enough. Let the man fade into obscurity already.) To clarify the difference between an editorial and news article for that particular letter writer I present some definitions:

1. an article in a newspaper or other periodical presenting the opinion of the publisher, editor, or editors.

2. the presentation of a report on recent or new events in a newspaper or other periodical or on radio or television.

The difference is quite clear.

Another writer takes issue with Nemitz’s opening lines.

“Nemitz talked about his sister who lives in Virginia and, “whenever she drives by one of those Civil War re-enactments so popular down her way, rolls down her window and bellows, ‘Get over it!’ “

There was a time when I would have agreed with Nemitz’s sister. I spent a large portion of my youth in ignorance. After reading Tony Horwitz’s excellent “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War” my opinion changed. Those of us in the North only have a passing interest in the Civil War. We forget that our Southern neighbors literally live with the history. Unlike us they are surrounded by the bloody battlefields on which the Union and Confederacy waged war. We should remember those five awful Aprils. The conflict shaped so much of our nation today and those re-enactors play their roles to remind what happened, not to change history. Nemitz’s sister would do well to remember that before she embarrasses herself by shouting any more ignorant words cowardly from a speeding car.


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