2002-03-23 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

I am not a liberal. I once was a liberal, but that was long ago and far away, back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s while I was still in college and early in my Navy period.

Being a liberal in those days was easy. It had little meaning and virtually all college students did it.

We supported the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the south. We supported Jack Kennedy and, later, Bobby.

At Post College we had a professor who came from Spain. He would come late for each class, work on his own time, grade on his own scale."

"None of this matters," he told us. "Ten years from now, you will have barricades on Northern Boulevard."

We laughed at him. In 1962, that seemed hardly possible. Ten years later, however, students had lived through the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK. There were indeed barricades on Northern Boulevard.

By that time, I was living what Dan Jenkins likes to call "life its own self."

By 1972 I had lived through my Navy years, supporting the war that many of my friends and contemporaries had died fighting. I had been teaching for five years, most of them in Bed-Stuy, had gone through three debilitating strikes against the community, rather than against the Board of Education. My son had been born. I had moved on to Connecticut, to write (and, later, edit) for the company that published Weekly Reader.

I was certainly no longer a liberal.

I wanted to see the welfare system disappear. I wanted something done about unwed teenaged mothers. I wanted "values" brought back into the schools. I wanted discipline.

As the years went by, I became even more of a conservative (whatever that means to you). In my view, mayors such as Koch and Dinkins destroyed the city, drove out the middle class and bankrupted us both morally and financially.

What brings this out now is the fact that many of those who responded to The Wave’s recent reader’s survey commented that The Wave has become much too liberal under my leadership and that both Gary Toms (The G-Man) and I have to go.

One even went so far as to say that the story he would most like to see in The Wave is the story of my suicide. That is pretty strong stuff.

Some of those who sent the polls indicated the reasons they believe that The Wave has become "a liberal rag."

They point to the fact that there are no longer multiple crime stories on the front page most weeks.

"You are covering up black crime in Rockaway," one correspondent wrote. "You are like all of those other liberals trying to keep us from knowing the real truth of what is going on."

"You liberals are always trying to excuse or cover up all the bad things that minorities do in Rockaway," said another.

"All the anti-police stories that you have been publishing show that you are no longer an Irish paper," yet another wrote. "You have no respect for those who serve the community. You have become ultra-liberal."

It is true that there are no longer five crime stories on the front page of The Wave. There are two reasons for that. Crime is down in Rockaway, as it is everywhere else. More importantly, as a community newspaper, The Wave has an obligation to write about the good things that are happening on the peninsula, and there are lots of good things going on, both on the east end and the west end.

As for this no longer being an "Irish Paper," whatever that means, I am not sure that the paper ever was an Irish paper. We are attempting, however, to more aggressively cover both ends of the peninsula. That means more east end stories, more stories about those who are not Irish, not Jewish, not those who many of our correspondents consider "our people."

The idea that The Wave has become somehow anti-police and anti-firefighter is laughable. Just look at the last 20 issues of the paper.

We have done a number of stories about police mistakes, particularly on the east end. Those are legitimate stories that need to be addressed, particularly by a community paper that addresses the entire community.

I am sorry if you see The Wave as a "liberal rag," or if you think that we are "covering up" minority crime because of some agenda of our own.

We are not. We are running crime stories, not as often on the front page as before, but covering them nevertheless.

We will continue to do so. We will also continue to address the needs of the entire Rockaway community, from West Lawrence to Breezy Point, to Broad Channel.

That is all we can do. What you believe of us or our editorial policy is yours to believe.


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