PERRY/Boston trumps N. Korea
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:00 AM
North Korea ended the armistice that brought a conclusion to the war between American and United Nations forces on one side and communist forces from China and North Korea on the other. The United States lost more than 40,000 troops killed or missing in action in that war. Now the peace of sixty years ends with North Korea threatening nuclear attack. The thirty thousand American troops stationed in South Korea would feel the brunt of a conventional assault by North Korean artillery. While defense experts believe this suicidal move by the North Korean regime is unlikely, the United States takes the threats seriously.
The surreal bellicosity of North Korea - the almost flippant attitude of marching toward war - juxtaposed the seriousness of mass casualties with the silliness of North Korea's leaders whose unique communist dynasty, now in its third generation, deifies the founder Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il and his son, the current ruler, Kim Jong-un. The West ridicules their cult of personality involving rainbow births and incredible golf scores; were it not for the 1.2 million man army and nuclear weapons, we would let the country collapse upon itself.
Threats of a nuclear attack captivated American media without end. Had the North Koreans only known that two bombs of much less power would wipe them off the media map.
Two brothers in Boston, Massachusetts using pressure cookers as improvised explosive devices killed 3 and maimed over a hundred in their terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. For a week, Boston held its breath as the FBI searched for the killers. The brothers resurfaced, killing a law enforcement officer and engaged in a shoot-out. One suspect was killed; the other escaped; and this iconic American city was placed on lock down. Once the lock down was lifted, a Boston citizen went outside his house to smoke a cigarette and spotted the remaining suspect. The police captured him, ending the week-long manhunt and curtailing the round-the-clock media attention.
I don't suggest the media was wrong to focus so much attention on Boston, although in the rush to be first many reports were later shown to be wrong. But it was amazing to see how very little other news could penetrate the Boston media blitz.
When a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded killing dozens of first responders and citizens and leveling several town blocks of buildings and houses, that otherwise national news disaster got limited attention.
In politics, the debate on gun control was silenced. After attempts to create universal background checks and ban certain guns were defeated in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the bill. The rising debate on immigration reform launched by proponent Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican Senator and 2016 presidential hopeful, by appearing in one day on the seven major Sunday morning political talk shows, now struggles to regain media momentum.
And a classic story that blends the deadly serious with the absurd, made just a blip of attention in the national press once it was shown to be unconnected to the Boston terrorist attacks.
Ricin laced letters were sent to President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland from north Mississippi. The FBI identified a suspect: an Elvis and celebrity impersonator who has ranted about a conspiracy of organ harvesting covered up by the government. The suspect, Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, says he is not guilty. FBI searches of his house have yet to identify the source ricin - a poison made from castor beans. Curtis had previously corresponded with Wicker and other elected officials by electronic means and years ago, Wicker had even hired him to perform at an event.
In Court, an attorney for Curtis pointed the finger of guilt instead at Everett Dutschke of Tupleo, who ran against Holland's son, Democratic state Representative Steve Holland in 2007. Dutschke, a martial arts instructor, faces an unrelated charge of child molestation and was previously convicted for indecent exposure. Dutschke's YouTube channel features a call for candidates to appeal to the intellect of voters in a "reflective" dialogue filmed on September 11, 2008. There are also videos of and about Steve Holland (including a Star Wars parody) and a video of a stakeout of someone stealing Dutschke yard signs featuring the sleuth, presumably Dutschke, tailing the vandal down the road to his place of work.
Whether the blustering of nuclear armed boy dictators whose foreign diplomacy involves hosting Dennis Rodman, the tragedy of an industrial explosion leveling a town, or a threat on the lives of elected officials spotlighting north Mississippi characters, the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks consumed the news appetite of the nation.
Don't get me wrong, the terrorist attack in Boston deserves the attention. But news around the country continues, even when it goes underreported.
Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at @CapstonePerry on Twitter.