Who could have guessed, when the little Delaware County town of Sidney was being painted as a hotbed of bigotry on Comedy Central and MSNBC a couple of months ago, that the town would end up being nationally singled out as an object lesson on how to build community across cultural barriers?
That's exactly what's happening, thanks to an in-depth report by the Associated Press that's being reprinted in hundreds of newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Austin American-Statesman, Boston Herald, Wall Street Journal, and -- ironically enough -- MSNBC itself.
Today, the AP also released a video report on the battle over the Sidney cemetery. On televisions across America, people are watching the incredible things happening in Sidney: religious be-turbaned Muslims and longtime Delaware County locals sitting together at the local diner, strangers getting to know one another, talk of a grassroots movement "to rid the town of corruption and bigotry."
With passions still running high in the town and beyond its borders, it's worth considering: If this issue hadn't erupted in public, in an ugly and painful way, the improbable renaissance currently underway in Sidney wouldn't have happened either. Here's hoping that the next time a local issue gets as nasty and divisive as Sidney's cemetery wars have been, some good will ultimately come of it.