Dear Mr. Auster,
As a Midwesterner, I always find the New York Times to be rather exotic, as if written by and for a strange tribe in a distant land. It is clear that these folks just think differently. In the article about the people on the yacht who were killed by Somali pirates that you posted, we read this:
Still, friends said that the Adams were not on a mission of proselytization.
Note the “NOT” in capital letters. We wouldn’t want anyone to think of the victims as Christians who wanted to spread the gospel. That’s just religious fanaticism on the order of those “Bible Christians” whom Jonathan Meacham condemns as intellectually bankrupt. Sophisticated, modern people cannot care that much about such old superstition, right?
“They were very much in love and shared both a love of the sea and a love of God’s word,” Samantha Carlson, a fellow sailor, said in an e-mail to friends. She added: “They were NOT proselytizing or converting anyone.”
Maybe this does not strike you as odd, living among such worldly folks. I have been around coastal types for the past decade, and I still find their thinking unfathomable.
Dear Mr. A.,
The Times is not representative of the East Coast or of people on the East Coast. It’s strangeness is peculiar to itself.
Take, as an example, this headline from today’s paper:
Moral Support With a Stream of Slices
“A stream of slices”? That doesn’t even sound like English. Yet it’s typical of the weirdly affected tone that characterizes much of the paper.
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Donors from around the country, and the world, have kept the Wisconsin protesters well fed, and kept Ian’s Pizza deliverers like Paul Sarnwick busy.
The Times occupies a perverse universe of its own. Yet one can find interesting news and information in each issue.
Also, over the last few months, I have stopped buying the New York Post, so I need a paper to read, and occasionally I buy the Times.
I stopped buying the Post for two reasons. First, when they turned on gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino last October for opposing homosexual marriage and for criticizing homosexual “brainwashing” in the schools, they lost any credibility as a conservative paper. The Post itself had previously stood against (at least somewhat) homosexual “marriage” and (more strongly) homosexual propaganda in the schools. Now they were saying that anyone who opposed these things was outside the bounds of acceptable politics. The betrayal of their previous anti-PC stand was too much to bear, and I virtually stopped buying the Post after that.
The second reason was the relentless trashiness of the paper. While this had bothered me all along, I endured it. What finally passed the line was a front page-filling photo in early January of a bare chested, muscular man standing with a woman kneeling before him, as though she were about to perform a sex act on him; the fact that they turned out to be the singer Sting and his wife advertising their “tawdry” relationship did not alter the transgressive quality of the photo. The Post’s editors have no respect for their readers; they see their readers as willing consumers of sexual trash. Well, I’m not one. I want a newspaper, not a sex magazine. I haven’t bought the Post since then.
At least, when I’m reading the Times, though I may feel occasionally bored, I don’t feel a repeated need to wash. It presents, though often dulled by its weirdly polite/PC style, detailed substantial news, for example, what’s happening in Libya. The substantive news content of the Post is often close to zero.
Also, how many Jonah Goldberg and “Rich” Lowry columns can one read? The main reason I bought the Post was for its opinion pages, and they are dominated by neocons and NRO types. So I don’t miss the Post at all.
P.S. When I read that article about Scott and Jean Adam, the line, “They were NOT proselytizing or converting anyone,” did not strike me as an intrusion of liberal correctness, but as a factual statement. Scott Adam liked to travel around the world on his yacht distributing Bibles to people, but he was not an evangelist or a preacher. The distinction was worth making.
At the same time, as you point out, the capitalization of “NOT” does seem to suggest a need to overemphasize the point. However, the capitalization was not done by the Times, but appeared in an e-mail by a friend and fellow sailor of the Adams, Samantha Carlson, and we are not told what part of the country she comes from. Maybe she’s from the Midwest.