The tragedy of mindlessness

Over the past 10 years the Minneapolis Star Tribune has made itself a national laughingstock as a paragon of political correctness. Its reputation is hard-earned and justly deserved, mostly through the efforts of the members of its editorial board.
Deputy editorial page editor Jim Boyd carried on the traditon this year, for example, plumbing new depths of silliness defending John Kerry’s Christmas in Cambodia whoppers when not even Kerry himself would do so.
On occasion, however, the paper’s top management has contributed to the zaniness. Ten years ago the Star Tribune adopted the policy of banishing references to team names based on references to Native Americans.
When the paper’s new editor came on board last year, he reversed the policy in the interest of accuracy. Now reporters and editors are merely encouraged to avoid “unnecessary references and the insensitive language that often comes with them,” according to the Star Tribune’s new policy on Indian mascots.
Last year editorial board member Kate Stanley worked hard to preserve the newspaper’s reputation as a joke. We wrote about Stanley this past December on the occasion of her bizarre tribute to Lowell Boswell in our post “Requiem for a bum.” Stanley’s column found great merit in the willful homelessness of her alcoholic friend Mr. Boswell, though she mourned his death on the streets.
This month Star Tribune staff columnist Nick Coleman deserves recognition for working hardest to preserve the Star Tribune’s reputation as a laughingstock. We caught up with Coleman over the weekend in “A case study” and subsequently discovered that he was the unjolly, unsaintly Nick who was falsely defaming us on Air America earlier this week. See “Surprise: Air America doesn’t like us” and “Dirty rotten scoundrel.”
Today Coleman devotes his column to a Minneapolis tradition — the 20th Annual Homeless Memorial March: “A homeless crisis, and it’s a scandal.” Unlike Stanley, Coleman does not find any reason to celebrate homelessness. Rather, Coleman uses homelessness in the more traditional fashion, as a stick with which to beat his readers for their selfishness.
The parade mourns the loss of homeless individuals who died this past year. Coleman refers to the actual or putative suicide of several of these folks. Coleman alleges that they died “without a safety net.”
It appears that we are to infer they took their lives in despair over their lack of shelter rather than as a result of alcoholism or mental illness, though not a single fact cited by Coleman supports the proposition. Coleman simply asserts that not all of the homeless are “loners or losers, alcoholics or misfits.” Well, thanks.
The suicides Coleman refers to all appear to involve men. Yet the theme of Coleman’s column is that the homeless consist mostly of women and children. Why are the women and children to whom Coleman refers in his column homeless? Coleman doesn’t ask and they don’t say.
It is true that Minnesota public policy is not entirely sympathetic to able bodied men who refuse to work, but it does have a safety net for them, and an even larger one for women and children. It is easy to get public assistance in Minnesota, and hard, especially for women and children, to lose it.
Thousands of women and children move to Minnesota every year to avail themselves of Minnesota’s generous safety nets. The women and children cited by Coleman in the column appear to be housed in shelters. Or are they actually sleeping on the streets? It’s a little hard to tell; the column is not exactly a model of great reporting.
Coleman hangs this lazy column on the spirit of the season, but the spirit of this column is entirely that of the liberal shame culture. At 425 Portland Avenue the two are conveniently confused.

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