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Showing restraint against extremists
The late Keith Blackledge, editor of the North Platte Telegraph and historian of that community to the north, once recalled the criticism once leveled against newspapers more concerned about distant happenings than local events, that they were "addicted to Afghanistan."
As we recall, he made the observation during the Soviet invasion of that country in 1979, back when the Islamic extremists were our allies and decades before we returned to that exotic land to fight some of the same people.
His point then, and our point now, communications is shrinking the world at an exponential rate. Events on the far side of the world affected us then, and do so even more today.
And it works both ways.
The latest example is cited by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
Plans by a Florida church to burn Korans on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, will endanger troops and damage the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, Petraeus said.
The pastor of the church, paradoxically named the Dove World Outreach Center, was already burned in effigy at a protest rally attended by about 500 people in Kabul.
That Pastor Terry Jones' 50-member church in Gainesville, Fla., could have that kind of an impact that far away shows just how far out of proportion media coverage can be magnified once it's seized by extremists.
The same could be said for the tiny Westboro Baptist Church, who once made an appearance at a McCook funeral, blaming gay rights for military deaths. That group, which recently won a flag desecration case in Nebraska, is now targeting the Roman Catholic church on something called the "GodSmack Tour."
It's tempting for either side of an issue to overreact to such stupidity, but unless cooler heads can muster the courage to show restraint, the extremists will have won.