First of all, I want to thank you for the manner in which you have brought about such a marked improvement in both The Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram.
While I do not always agree with your editorial positions, the two newspapers show a wonderful improvement both in content and layout. I particularly appreciate your bringing back an international focus.
I do not know which is greater, my positive response to your front page story and photograph on Saturday as the Maine Muslim community celebrated Eid al Fitr or my great disappointment at your apology in the Maine Sunday Telegram for your editorial decision not to use a 9/11 anniversary story along with it.
I am afraid that with that apology you have continued to perpetuate the myth that the Muslim community is a community that supports terrorism. This only feeds the frenzy of those who have used the tragedy of 9/11 to further their skewed political, cultural and religious agendas.
Editorial decisions are editorial decisions. The public will like some and not like others.
It is only when the media, the last great hope for this fractured society, courageously speaks the truth, in this instance that we are a nation of many valid religions, that we will come through our present cultural and religious crises. Then we will recapture the free and open country we have been called to be.
Charles Waite Maclin
I was appalled at the insensitivity and lack of forethought as I pulled The Press Herald out of my paper box Saturday, Sept. 11. Expecting to see tributes and photos of things commemorating the anniversary of the vicious attacks on our soil nine years ago, I was instead greeted with a picture of Muslims worshiping and celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
This amounts to the insensitivity being shown by Muslims in New York City where a Muslim community center may soon be built so close to the World Trade Center site you could throw a stone from the mosque — and that’s what it will be — to the WTC site.
I cannot fathom the reasoning behind The Press Herald’s celebrating the end of Ramadan and relegating the horrific attacks which this country suffered on that day to second-page status. Appalling.
I was angered and offended by the letter of apology written by Richard Connor on the front page of the Sunday paper. What was the horrible offense for which Mr. Connor saw fit to apologize? The publication of an article about a large (and peaceful) celebration of the end of Ramadan on the front page of the newspaper while 9/11 anniversary coverage was inside the paper.
All we hear from critics of Islam is that it is a warlike religion that is a threat to the United States. Maybe the offense was the presentation of all of the peaceful Muslims who live among us, with lives no different than our own.
Mr. Connor and the people who were so upset about this article do owe us something, and that is the set of rules by which the presentation of news will be governed in the future.
Among the questions I have are: in what year (2020? 2030? 2040?) will a picture of a peaceful Islamic festival be acceptable on the front page of the newspaper on Sept. 11? Or will this be banned into eternity?
Moving forward, what are the rules governing the publication of news about Muslims? Who are the groups whose responses of offense will determine what can and cannot be printed?
This puts the lie to the idea that so many of these critics aren’t anti-Islamic. Their unwillingness to accept an article about a peaceful Islamic celebration, on a religious day peacefully observed by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world (no bombs thrown, no death-to-America chants) demonstrates their fundamental unwillingness to accept an Islamic presence in the United States.
They do accomplish one thing, though — every instance like this makes the case of the Taliban and al-Qaida better than these groups can, creating more terrorists by their actions.
I cannot tell you how furious and totally disgusted I was when I saw Saturday’s front page article in The Press Herald, “A show of faith and forgiveness,” accompanied with a large picture of Muslim men kneeling in prayer. Is your editorial staff that thoughtless, unfeeling and, for lack of any better word, stupid, that they would OK something like this to appear on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack (committed by Muslims) in our history?
And to make matters worse, to have your editor and publisher, Richard Connor, follow this up in the Sunday Telegram with an apology for “at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.”
Please, do tell us Mr. Connor, what kind of “balance” are you thinking about? Perhaps a “balancing” picture next to the praying men of the planes flying into the twin towers, or perhaps pictures of both towers as they collapsed? What can you give us as “balance,” Mr. Connor, to a nation that is still grieving for the thousands of our loved ones who were murdered in three separate, very-well-thought-out and premeditated attacks?
There is an old, oft-quoted expression, “a day late and a dollar short.”
That aptly describes what you and your staff have done in trying to apologize for what you did, in the name of “news.”
Cancel our subscription.
Martha M. Kelley
Richard L. Connor’s decision to apologize for The Press Herald’s coverage of the end of Ramadan as “unbalanced” is the validation of same religious ignorance possessed by those who attacked us in 2001.
Islam did not attack us on 9/11, a radical set of individuals did. The 19 hijackers who took innocent American lives were consumed by their nefarious dogma, not possessed by all Muslims, that teaches religious ignorance; the United States was attacked on 9/11 for our freedom of religion.
For all of his faults, President George W. Bush is often credited for making the clear distinction between a war on the terrorists responsible for destruction of U.S. lives and a war on Islam. Richard Connor might as well have run a headline on Sept. 12 reading, “War declared on Islam.”
Further, by giving into the same ignorance that is preventing the Muslim equivalent of a YMCA from being constructed in an old Burlington Coat Factory near the site of the former World Trade Center (a church and strip club are closer), Connor has helped to further drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims in society.
I’m Jewish; my grandfather was injured in World War II, a war that ensured that his people had the right to live and worship around the globe. He saw his share of anti-Semitism, and I still see it from time to time too, but it’s only a small fraction; we’ve come a long way as a nation.
Any threat to a Muslim’s right to worship is a threat to my right to practice as a Jew.
Instead of validating the ignorance that attempts to move us back 390 years, perhaps Richard Connor and MaineToday Media should devote a special series to spotlighting religious freedom in Maine.
Kennebunk and Orono
I was disappointed that Richard Connor felt the need to apologize for the front page coverage of the Muslim community’s celebration of Eid.
Regardless of how other readers apparently feel, I felt that the Saturday edition did provide balanced coverage of the two much-discussed events: the celebration of Eid and planned 9/11 observances.
The article on Eid was timely, informative and well-written. In addition, the photographs provided interesting images of members of the local Muslim community, reminding us how much more diverse and culturally rich Portland has become. It was totally appropriate for the article to appear on Page 1 given the importance of Eid to Muslims and in light of the large number of Muslims who turned out for the observance at the Expo. The changing demographic face of Portland is a big story and we need to see articles that help tell that story.
The article on Page 2 of the Saturday edition, which talked about anticipated 9/11 observances, also seemed well-placed and of appropriate length. The big news regarding 9/11 observances could only be reported after they had occurred, which is why it made more sense to feature those articles in the Sunday edition.
I hate to think that the editor of Maine’s largest newspaper would back-track on sound editorial judgment just because of the view of a few unhappy readers.
Well, we’ve just passed another anniversary of 9/11 and the remembrance of that tragic day.
What were you thinking by not having a front page story on the horrific events of that day and all the Americans who were affected by those awful deeds?
Sept. 11 should not be a day to protest the building of a mosque, but rather a day of rememberance and prayer for those lost to us.
If you had your hands on the pulse of the country — the United States, that is — then perhaps you would have extended some sympathy and feeling and given homage to the survivors and their families by printing pictures and text of rememberance on your front page.
I spoke with three of my friends that morning to remember how that day was for us and the feelings of sadness and peril we all felt as we processed with all of America the events of that day.
They also informed me that they will be canceling their subscriptions to your paper because of your ever-present noncoverage of the true stories of this country and its people.
Shame on you!
I was surprised to read Richard Connor’s letter to readers that in part was an apology to those offended by the front-page article on the local observance of the end of Ramadan on 9/11. I thought the article presented Islam in a positive manner because it showed Muslims practicing their religion without committing acts of terrorism.
We are not at war with Islam, as President Obama has said. We are at war with radical terrorists.
What I was upset about was that there was no front page and significant coverage commemorating the events of 9/11. This day of cowardly acts of pure evil and the senseless tragedy that resulted needs to be forever remembered and seared into the conscience of every American.
It is a day that brings us together in unity and resolve. The paper’s failure to fill the front section with personal stories and acts of heroism of those Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, is the proper part of Connor’s apology.
I’m flabbergasted that this paper is issuing an apology for reporting on the end of the Ramadan holiday. Moreover, your statement that the coverage deserved more “balance” because of its proximity to Sept. 11 on this year’s calendar is nearly unbelievable. It could be expected or anticipated coming from a conservative public official — but not from a news organization.
Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. To respond to a vocal minority who conflate the entire religion of Islam with the terrorists from Sept. 11 violates the very principles of free speech and freedom of religion that Americans hold dear.
And it demonstrates once and for all that this paper aims for the lowest common denominator — not balanced reporting.