Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do The Good People of Boston Really Need Mister Fred McFeeley Rogers Right Now?

I doubt it. From my Ottawa Citizen column today:
In place of actual acts of journalism related to Monday’s barbarism, was it really necessary for the Globe and Mail, Time Magazine, Slate and the Washington Post to gang up on everybody with pieties out of the cardigan-wearing Presbyterian host of a 1960s-era television babysitting service titled Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood?
Seriously. The Globe headline: “How to talk to kids (and especially adults) about the Boston Marathon bombings: Try Mr. Rogers.” Time: “In the Wake of the Boston Marathon Attacks, Mr. Rogers Quote Spreads Hope Across the Internet.” Slate: “The History of Mister Rogers’ Powerful Message.” The Washington Post: “Mr. Rogers gives hope while social media becomes virtual house of prayer for Boston.”
This has the aspect of some strange acid flashback to the 9/11 trauma, with demented insinuations about a “false flag” operation as a backdrop to an obsessive preoccupation with the saccharine insights of an allegedly “much loved” Fred McFeeley Rogers from Televisionland. It is this one that has gone so viral on Facebook and Twitter and such places since Monday: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
It has been like waking up in the middle of some sort of horrible Wellness Seminar. . .
It doesn't sound to me like Bostonians need to be patronized with mummy chatter and footrubs. Not when I turn to Dennis Lehane, anyway. They messed with the wrong city. This wasn’t a macho sentiment. It wasn’t “Bring it on” or a similarly insipid bit of posturing. The point wasn’t how we were going to mass in the coffee shops of the South End to figure out how to retaliate. Law enforcement will take care of that, thank you. No, what a Bostonian means when he or she says “They messed with the wrong city” is “You don’t think this changes anything, do you?”


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