Hanging Out in Rockford: Give me a break! Coverage of alleged ‘terrorist’ plot sensational

“WE WERE THE TARGET,” screamed the Register Star’s headline. And then, just so you didn’t miss it, the whole lead article was in a peach color, fading into nothing at the top of the paper for emphasis. Inside the cover of the “D” section, we were greeted with “SIGHTS ON SHOPPERS.” Give me a break.

Most people won’t read the whole story. Most people will buy this load of absolute crap because the article is simply too long. Most people won’t notice it was the government’s own informant who allegedly suggested CherryVale Mall. Most people won’t realize it was the government that allegedly suggested and offered to supply the supposed (non-functional) weapons to this boy, allegedly for a couple of used stereo speakers! That alone should tip you off to the stupidity of this whole thing of nonsense. A 9-millimeter and four hand grenades for two used stereo speakers? They just as easily could have offered him a nuclear bomb. Get real! Only an idiot would make a trade like that.

These are government agents paid by our “Homeland Security” forces to protect us. These are government agents who appear to have wasted valuable resources to allow this apparently disturbed person to get into a situation where they could arrest him and claim a sensationalistic victory for the forces of good against the forces of evil. We ought to get really mad. But most people are self-centered and stupid (and lazy, it was a long article, couldn’t you have reduced it to a sound bite?), and will simply buy into this enormous pile of garbage.

The timing of the arrest is suspect. It comes too soon after the Baker-Hamilton Commission’s Iraq Study Group release. There has been a raft of things like this timed to shift the public’s attention from the real issues, like getting our butt out of Iraq. This one is so flimsy, it is comical. Once the feds discovered this boy, they should have thwarted any of his alleged plans. But that wouldn’t have created headlines, and that wouldn’t have justified their existence.

No, we get national television coverage and headlines like “WE WERE THE TARGET.” And the sad state of things is that those at the local daily don’t realize they are responsible for creating the very thing their headline screams. Without this kind of sensationalism, we may never have even heard of the alleged suspect, Derrick Shareef. Homeland Security? What a joke. I especially don’t like the Madison Avenue approach to the naming of it. How about national security, or is that too grown up for you?

I keep thinking this will end, that I will get up one morning, and the world will make sense. So far, that hasn’t happened. So instead, I will go to lunch. I will go to lunch at Café Greco, where the hottest bartender in town works Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (You all like my column better when I write about this kind of stuff, and I don’t blame you.) Crissy is that bartender, and not only is she a delight to look at, she is, as I told her the other day, funny and smart. Who knew?

Go Monday, and you can have the baked chicken. They have a really nice chianti by the glass. Sitting at the bar at Café Greco, eating baked chicken with the hottest bartender in the city waiting on me—maybe the world is starting to make sense after all.

Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

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