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Category: Opinion

Hatred– alive and flourishing, alas

I recently wrote an opinion piece that examined the Trayvon Martin shooting (Let justice rule the day for Trayvon: April 4, 2012). To date, it has garnered more reader response than any other opinion piece or news article that I’ve prepared.

In some ways, this isn’t surprising. This case has captivated people at a level rarely seen, so a big response was to be expected. What I did not expect, however, was the level of hatred and outright racism that spewed forth from some of the readers who wrote in (the most hateful of whom refused to sign their names – no surprise there).

While leafing through their sickening rants (one actually referred to African-Americans as “animals”) I honestly thought that it was 1963, not 2012, and that Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor and his goons would soon deliver fire hose justice to those who dared to march for equality. That’s how bad these bile-inducing racist-rants were.

Like Martin’s parents, I believed then as now that the known facts of the case were compelling enough to arrest Zimmerman. I wasn’t alone in such thinking. Just last Wednesday, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. He was arrested and taken into custody.

So, what do these bigoted letters of hatred mean in the grand scheme of things? They show us that we still have a long way to go in the tolerance and understanding department – particularly where racial differences are concerned.

In my opinion political correctness is at least partially responsible for spurring such anonymous hatred.. This mindset has driven them underground where they seethe and become frustrated by their inability to voice their hatred. Every so often their abhorrence bubbles to the surface and they dash off ignorant letters like the ones that I received. As crazy as their logic is, it’s obvious that they do feel shame, at least on some level. Not signing their letters and emails is proof positive of that.

Zimmerman will now have his day in court. Facts will be presented by both sides, as is our American way. If the system isn’t hijacked on a technicality of some sort – always a possibility – a jury of Zimmerman’s peers will act as final arbiter in his culpability in Trayvon Martin’s death. It’s all that the dead boy’s parents ever asked for and it has now come to pass. For that shining moment of justice, may God truly bless America.

-Jeff Bahr


I want to first state I served in the United States Air Force and have nothing but the utmost respect for our veterans. With that said, I’ll get to my point.

The article states that there are petitions for the “renaming” of the Wittpenn Bridge on Route 7 connecting Kearny to Jersey City. This bridge was named for H. Otto Wittpenn a former mayor of Jersey City. Wittpenn was also a business owner, Hudson County Supervisor, naval officer of the Port of New York as well as a four-time gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey. In one campaign Wittpenn and Woodrow Wilson were both up for the Democratic nomination for Governor in New Jersey. Wittpenn stepped down to allow for a unanimous party nomination.

I was very displeased to see Mayor Santos ponder the question, “How many people today know who Wittpenn is?” I am very happy with the job the Mayor is doing in Kearny, but I feel he is taking the wrong direction on this. Rather than ask how many people know who (Whitpenn) is, why not propose a curriculum that teaches children local history as well as who the people are that have monuments and bridges named after them in the area. How many people can tell you who the Vice President is or who Schuyler Ave. is named after? Does this mean because no one today knows Arent Schuyler we should look to change the name of Schuyler Avenue?

It seems today there is so much change just for the sake of change! Don’t erase local history because people don’t know who these folks are, teach them what these people did that we decided to honor them in the first place with either a bridge naming, street naming etc. I love our veterans, and the same goes for them. Why would we name a bridge or dedicate a bridge to our fallen heroes if in 50 years someone comes along and says “well, who knows who that is anyway???”

Patrick Millar


Rituals of spring season are back

As my younger cousin ripped a liner through the infield at his T-ball practice on April 3, I couldn’t help but notice that spring had arrived.

Sure, technically spring arrived in mid-March, but with a calm breeze and warm air flowing through Riverside Park, spring finally seems to have arrived.

It’s not always the weather that gives that feeling either. The return of the sounds of the jubilant birds fill the air, whether its at normal times during the day or at the absurd times like coming home late at night. Other sounds like the wind through the now lively trees and the crack of a ball hitting a bat do it for me too.

As nature comes back to life, so does Major League Baseball, with a brand new season. Sure, many teams may not have high goals, but this is the one time of the year where many of those teams, the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros to name a few, still can have the hopes of making it to the fall classic.

To that effect, the two local teams have varying views on the upcoming season.

The Mets got great news in the fact that Johan Santana, the 33-year-old southpaw with a $137.5 million contract, was able to make his first start since September 2, 2010 when he tore a capsule in his left shoulder.

If Santana is able to build on his 5 inning, two hit, five strikeout performance on April 5, the team could head down one of two paths. If Santana pitches well but the lineup, which has had injury issues of their own, falters, then Santana could be traded, he would have to accept given his full no-trade clause. If the lineup does well, Santana and the rest of the starting rotation could help the Mets be a dark horse team in 2012.

Their city-rival Yankees, however, have a much different view on the season. As always, the Yankees are World Series or bust. The Yankees had remained stagnant for most of the winter, hoping to inch closer to the goal of a $189 million payroll. However, in January, the Yankees traded superstar prospect Jesus Montero for equally dominant pitcher Michael Pineda. However, Pineda’s spring training injury might prove to be a problem.

While the Yankees surely have enough talent to get them to the postseason, one can only wonder how much longer the older guys, Jeter, Rodriguez, etc. will continue to play like some of the best players in the league and become more of a burden.

Regardless of the outcomes at the end of the season, the thrill of baseball and spring’s return surely will wake up those still stuck in the winter hibernation.


-Anthony J. Machcinski

We’ve got mail


To the Publisher:

This past winter brought us crippling droughts and tornadoes, continuing unemployment, and partisan paralysis in Washington. I was really looking forward to March 20, first day of spring, balmy weather, blooming flowers, and the Great American Meatout.

According to its website (www.meatout.org), Meatout has grown since 1985 into the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign. A thousand communities in all 50 states and two dozen other countries host educational events. They challenge visitors to turn over a new leaf on the first day of spring, to kick the meat habit, and to get a fresh start with a wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

The Meatout diet is touted by leading health authorities. I found it very easy to follow, and I feel great. I get all the recipes and other information I need by entering “live vegan” in my Internet search engine. I spice up my diet by exploring the rich array of delicious soy- and grain-based meat and dairy alternatives in my local supermarket.

-Kenneth Miller, Kearny


Let justice rule the day for Trayvon Martin

The cause of the Trayvon Martin shooting appears fairly obvious. That is if one and ignores the propaganda coming out of such ignorance- inducing machines as Fox News and MSNBC. Before these cable “news” networks shanghaied the story and chimed in with their endless “concern” (i.e. an opportunity to bend facts to meet party lines) we had a rather cut-and-dry situation that didn’t require an Einstein to figure out.

The facts are clear. Self-appointed vigilante George Zimmerman took it upon himself to become Trayvon Martin’s judge, jury, and in the end, executioner, because he believed that the young man looked “suspicious.” Of course, Zimmerman believes that a great many people look suspicious – a fact ominously evidenced by his nearly 50 phone calls to the police in 2012.

Trayvon was talking on the phone to his girlfriend when he caught the inaccurate eye of this great protector of mankind. This is a valuable bit of evidence since it clearly shows that Trayvon was being stalked, not vice versa, as he was making his way back to his dad’s apartment after a junk food run. It’s also interesting to note that Zimmerman was talking to a police dispatcher during the incident, a person who emphatically told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that,” after he confirmed that he was indeed following the “suspicious-looking” man.

At some point, Zimmerman caught up with Trayvon and some sort of altercation ensued. Now please lean in close. I want the following to jolt your brain waves into full function because certain players in the media are corrupting this into a point of contention. If I were being pursued by an unknown man at night, a hulking form that outweighed me by a full 100 pounds, and he finally cornered me, there’s no telling what I might do to extricate myself from the potentially deadly situation. Whether it be kicking, eye-gouging, testicle mangling, etc., I would do anything and everything in my power to get the bastard off me. I imagine you would do the same. In a “stand your ground” state like Florida, I would not only have this implicit right to defend myself, it would almost be incumbent upon me to take such pre-emptive action to save myself.

Nevertheless, certain factions have now twisted this easy-to-understand response into something that it clearly is not – an indictment of Trayvon and a justification for Zimmerman’s itchy trigger-finger. Bottom line: If Zimmerman hadn’t pursued Trayvon that evening, I wouldn’t be writing this now. It’s an inescapable fact that the punditry can’t dismiss.

Just as bad as Zimmerman’s actions that evening was the abominable misapplication of justice that came after the slaughter. To say that the Sanford, Fla.Police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Zimmerman is asinine in the purest sense of that word.

What more did they need? They knew via fresh police phone records that Zimmerman had stalked the man prior to pulling the trigger. They also knew that Zimmerman was packing “heat” when all that Trayvon was packing was a pack of Skittles. And they were mindful of Zimmerman’s long history of phone calls to them; — reports that made the selfappointed block-watcher look like a wannabe cop at best and seriously paranoid at worst.

So, with all of this evidence at their disposal, did these Keystone Cops arrest Zimmerman? No. Did they drug test him? No. But for some unfathomable reason, they felt it imperative to drug test Trayvon; the young man now lying dead on a slab courtesy of Zimmerman’s pistol. At least not all were blind that night. One Sanford cop went on record saying that he believed Zimmerman should have been held on a manslaughter charge. But his was the lone voice in the wilderness.

Bottom line? Justice will only be served after Zimmerman is arrested and the due process of law is allowed to take effect. The case is no longer in the hands of the Sanford Police Department, so there’s a fair chance that an inherent wrong will be rectified. Only time will tell. For Trayvon’s family, I pray that it comes to pass.

-Jeff Bahr

What happened to variety in rock music

While listening to the faint, static-filled transmission of 105.5 WDHA, a rock music station out of Dover, N.J., I couldn’t help but be frustrated when as the results of their “Rock Madness” contest, I couldn’t hear the winner.

Depending on which side of Kearny Ave./ Ridge Rd. that you’re on, you can either get WDHA, or you get the static-filled mess that was bestowed upon me.

Ever since the ending of 92.3 K-Rock in early 2009, I’ve been searching for that one radio station to get hooked on. It baffles me that still in New York, there are no modern rock stations and only one classic rock station.

If that part doesn’t infuriate you, even worse, we are stuck with virtually the same three stations in Z100, 92.3 Now (took over for K-Rock in March 2009), and 103.5 KTU.

I’m not trying to put down the Top 40 stations, but the amount of times I’ve turned from one station to the other and heard the same song is just plain ridiculous. Sorry Katy Perry, but I don’t need to hear about what you did last Friday night 24 times on my five minute trip to work.

Since K-Rock’s ultimate demise, Q104.3 has remained the only station playing any sort of rock music, and even they play the same Zeppelin, Floyd, and Sabbath songs every day.

One station, 101.9, had a brief run as a New York rock station, billing themselves as, “The only station in New York playing modern rock,” but just months later the brash styling’s of Foster the People were replaced with dull talk radio.

Will there ever be a rock station in the biggest city in the world? Personally, I don’t see it coming until there is another band that just changes the landscape in the rock genre. Bands today know what makes money, and it’s simply not in rock music.

Hopefully someday that will change, until then, I’ll continue to listen to old rock music on Pandora radio.

-Anthony J. Machcinski


Dear Publisher,

I took the trip to New Hope on Wednesday and followed the guidelines set forth in the article. What a great trip I had in New Hope. I watched the people walking around while having lunch, did some shopping in the candle shop and sat by the river and the canal. I found the railroad and went on to Lahaska for dinner and looked at unique shops. It was a very interesting trip. I went on a weekday and was told the town is normally busier on the weekends. I will go again to ride the train and ride on the river. I just wanted to express my thoughts on this and to ask if this will be a weekly feature of this paper. What an exciting time I had. It was just great to travel someplace and not have to break the bank.

I am sure there are other places to visit in this great state. Here is hoping that this will be a weekly feature in The Observer and I am looking forward to going on more trips on one tank of gas.

Thank You,

Alexander J. MacDonald


For America’s sake, let’s stop the Lin-sanity

No, this isn’t about sports – at least not in the way that you might think. “Lin-sanity” is used in this instance as a metaphor for the way that people behave in a society plagued by political correctness. In my opinion, it’s a damn shame. Yes, I said damn. Don’t worry, we’re still allowed to say that one.

If you’re not yet up to speed on the “Lin-Sanity” phenomenon, here’s the deal. Jeremy Lin is a pro-basketball point-guard with the New York Knicks who recently came to prominence despite being a former “bench-warmer.” To say that he proved himself to be a well-rounded basketball player is like saying that Shaquille O’Neal is sort of tall.

Almost overnight fans became captivated by Lin’s surprisingly quick moves and shooting prowess, as well as his propensity for playing “team ball” by passing the ball often and well. The fact that he’s of Asian American decent only added to the story, since the NBA features precious few players from that part of the world. Lin’s scoring streak has cooled a bit of late, but that’s how streaks go.

When Lin first came to prominence, sports writers, forever looking to differentiate from the pack literally went pun-crazy with his name. Almost every newspaper featured such uninspired phrases as Lin-spiration, Lin-sanity, Lin-surrection, Lin-ovation, Lin-put, and scores of other Lin-guistics that swapped the surname Lin for an “in” prefix. If Lin should ever get hurt while playing ball, I’m certain some dork in a tweed coat will say that he’s been “Lin-jured.” If he gets sick, they’ll say that he has a Lin-fection. The lesson is clear – one bad pun obviously deserves another.

But this, as they say is not about that. This is about what happens to good people in 2012 if they accidentally cross an often imperceptible line, as 28-year-old ESPN news-editor Anthony Federico did recently when he wrote the headline, “A chink in the armor” to describe gaps, or “chinks” in Lin’s game.

“I wrote the headline in reference to the tone of the column and not to Jeremy Lin’s race,” Federico explained after he was hypocritically raked over the coals by the media and those who chose to believe that his use of the saying was racism tinged. “It was a lapse in judgment and not a racist pun. It was an awful editorial omission and it cost me my job…”

Federico then tells of his charitable works with the poor and points out how crazy it would have been for him, a young journalist on the rise, to write an overtly racist headline.

I believe him. I have personally used the phrase “chink in the armor” numerous times in articles throughout the years. The word is defined as a gap or crevice, and the phrase is generally used to describe a weakness or “gap” in someone’s skill set – an Achilles heel in his or her arsenal if you will. A slang version of “chink” has also been used maliciously as a slur against Chinese- Americans, but any reasonable person who has ever heard this four-word combination knows that it is in no way a pejorative term. Not even close.

Lin himself doesn’t believe that Federico meant any harm with this and has openly accepted his apology. But Lin’s forgiveness doesn’t matter one iota. In a fear-driven rush, ESPN fired Federico for his oversight. Do the big-wigs at ESPN really believe that Federico’s headline was prejudice driven? Probably not. But they’re in the game to make money. To avert a potential loss of advertisers they showed typical corporate disloyalty and cowardice by dumping Federico squarely on his ass for the supposed infraction. Yes, I said ass. Don’t worry; it’s just a slang word that means donkey. Somehow, we’ll all survive.

And therein lies a lesson for all. Maybe someday it will be you that makes an innocuous remark, and then has to pay the piper for this imagined sin. If you’ve been riding the politically correct train up until that point, you’ll be mighty shocked when that train suddenly derails and the vultures of political correctness pounce upon you. And pounce they most certainly will. But don’t go looking for any sympathy. In this twisted, tiptoe-over-eggshells world that you helped endorse, it was only a matter of time. Truth be told, that’s the real chink in the armor in America, and a “bloody” sad one at that.

Webster’s Definition:

Bloody –Adjective

Covered, smeared, or running with bloo

Vulgar. Used to express anger, annoyance, or shock

Can you guess which meaning I was going for?

-Jeff Bahr

Respect for family’s grief outweighs ‘getting the story’

On March 2, Jeff Bahr and I conducted easily one of the hardest interviews we’ve ever had to conduct. Scheduled to write a tribute piece on the late Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca for the March 7 paper, Jeff and I had the challenge of talking to the mother of the man, just two years my junior.

After conducting the interview, which was made easier by Osbrany’s mother Miriam having the most composure of any person I’ve ever met, I couldn’t help but think how happy I was to have the opportunity to do that interview.

As I continued thinking, however, I couldn’t help but think of the response we got at the Observer for not writing the article the minute we found out Osbrany had passed. Many readers called, e-mailed, and reached out via our website to ask us why we hadn’t done anything. One even said that we had, “a lack of journalistic spirit.”

I couldn’t believe what we had been accused of. A lack of journalistic spirit? Looking at our writing staff, which besides me, has many years in the business, a lack of journalistic spirit is certainly not something that we have.

I would like to say that maybe we just have a sense of compassion.

When I was in college, we were trained for many situations that we could be in as reporters. Whether it be as simple as covering a town hall meeting or as complex as asking about President Obama’s election, we had many different experiences, but not once did we have to ask a family member, a mother especially, about her young son’s passing.

I know about all about the shady side of journalism, where breaking information means money and the ruthless aggression it takes to succeed in this business, but personally, take a minute to think about your own mother.

Osbrany was only 20 years-old. Jeff, Ron, or myself, would have had to interview a mother the day of her son’s burial to get a word with her? I can’t speak about anyone else’s life experience, but I couldn’t imagine thinking about the death of friends of mine in the military, let alone elevating that to being personally related to them and trying to do the same thing.

Sure, its easy to sit back and watch as other papers got the who, what, where, when, why, and how of Osbrany’s sad passing, but did we need to be the gloom and doom added to this family’s already tough situation? I don’t think so.

The Observer did sit back, but only to give the mother time to heal, and ultimately, leading to a great article written by Jeff, giving great honor and personal touch to a story which needed to be told. A story that no other paper even bothered to try and obtain.

So for those of you who look at us and expect us to be the heartless “journalists” that you see in other places, I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s not the kind of people we were, are, or ever will be.

On another note, Jeff and I wanted to make sure that we properly thanked Anthony Baez, a former Marine and close confidant to the Montes De Oca family for all his help in obtaining and conducting the interview with Miriam, Franklin, and Rosa Matos and translating two of the interviews for us. Without your help, we would not have been able to fully honor the life of one of our fallen Marines.

-Anthony J. Machcinski


To the Publisher:

I was christened by Father John Washington at St. Stephen’s Church in May of 1939. As you are well aware, he was one of the four chaplains who gave their life jackets to others. They perished as the ship, Dorchester, sunk due to German torpedo in February 1943. I feel blessed and honored to have been christened by this good man who both lived and died his faith.

James J. Capobianco Sr.