Editor's note: The Star-Observer editorial leadership team had already decided to issue a statement on what we deem as hateful letters and viewpoints before this guest editorial was submitted. Ms. Heaton's editorial echoes our sentiments exactly. Please read it on these opinion pages.
I was disappointed to see yet another long piece about all there is to fear in the Muslim religion on the Star Observer's editorial pages, especially when it appeared just below the HSO news director's editorial about the vital role of community journalism.
For months now valuable space on these pages has been given over to not just opinions about a religion and the people who practice it, but a lot of accusations, myths and falsehoods about being Muslim as well as unsubstantiated claims that all of Islam promotes the destruction of Christianity and the United States.
I wrote for the Star Observer for 27 years and I understand the importance of our Letters to the Editor and how readers value their chance to speak their minds. I hope it is clear to people that letters are only the opinion of the writer and are not fact-checked for accuracy by the HSO staff.
It was difficult when the HSO made the decision to have readers pay by the word for their letters in support of candidates for local or state office. But over the last year the space on these pages has also been given over to so-called guest editorials, some of which have been informative and interesting. There has always been a place for them in the Star Observer. What I believe many readers find objectionable is the willingness of the editorial staff to so often give over this space to people who so clearly have an agenda that has a fear-based, anti-Islam bias. And they get this space completely free of charge.
It strikes me as more than a little ironic that some in our very privileged and diversity challenged hometown choose to lash out about a religion and the people who practice it as if is there is a real threat to our community. I know people in Hudson who remember a time decades back when, if an African American family so much as showed an interest in a home here, the word would spread and the property would be off the market before an offer could be made. Today we clearly see that behavior as racist. Is what we've been reading in the HSO of late very different from that?
I have no doubt that the people who did that thought they were protecting Hudson from some kind of threat but they were wrong, just as wrong as those are now who seek to close our community to anyone who doesn't share their beliefs.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts. The line between those two things has never been more blurred in this country than it is now. But it is time for the Star Observer editorial staff to return to the community journalism it built its reputation on and call a halt to these bigoted and repetitive rants. And if that means not hearing from anyone about Islam, so be it. This continued bashing back and worth no longer serves to inform; but rather aims to inflame and divide.
I think longtime readers of the Star Observer have had enough. It is time to return to what our newspaper has always done best - telling the stories of the people of Hudson and reporting the news that affects them directly.
I would urge the HSO staff to do more with the guest editorial space than give it over to the same people and opinions week after week. There are many important issues facing our community and wide and varied opinions on those issues from people who care deeply about the quality of life in Hudson. It might take some work finding them and getting their opinions to the page but it would be a far greater way to serve the readers and the community.