On Monday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann anointed Sidney town supervisor Bob McCarthy the day's "Worst Person In The World," for leading a charge to dig up a local Sufi community's tiny cemetery over a nebulous permitting issue.
No TV personality can ever resist having a jab at a tiny upstate New York town's self-importance, and Olbermann's no exception:
Maybe they are Muslim zombies, just waiting for the cue to jump out of the ground and do something terrible to that prime target of Sidney freaking New York -- I mean, it is only 38 miles from Binghamton.
Delaware County local politics tend to lean Republican. (I'm guessing most Keith Olbermann fans around here probably cast their ballots in the five boroughs.) So it's conceivable McCarthy could even spin his newfound infamy into a campaign talking point someday -- except that McCarthy has said loud and clear that his tenure as town supervisor, which runs through 2013, is his last stint in public office.
As we noted a few months ago, long before he hit the national spotlight, McCarthy's a bit of a loose cannon even by town-government standards. Back in April, he told his fellow supervisors at the county board meeting:
"I am just basically here to break up what's happening -- the same regime. I can do anything I want because I am never running for office again."
McCarthy, no less bombastic now that he's on national television, lays out the case against the Sufis for WICZ TV:
"The only reason that Muslims are involved in this is because they buried somebody on their lawn and nobody else around here does that," said McCarthy...
..."If you can't bury grandma in the backyard in Jersey, you can't do it here, either," said McCarthy.
Not to quibble -- but there are plenty of grandmas buried on lawns across rural America, and Delaware County alone has enough little family and church cemeteries to occupy an army of genealogists. From a New York Times real-estate story this spring:
Home burials are legal outside city limits in most states, although towns and counties may develop ordinances covering maintenance and proximity to water supplies, power lines, neighbors, and rights-of-way.
The local Sufi community whose cemetery is at the center of all this uproar hasn't been silent. Here's a comment posted on the YouTube video above, from user "NashqbandiOttoman":
We believe that the majority of people upstate are good natured, down to earth people. What is very disturbing is that whole town board of the town of Sidney unanimously agreed to go after the Muslim community over our cemetery.
While all this brouhaha has been very good for our web traffic, the editors of the Watershed Post are fervently hoping we can get through the rest of the year without another local town supervisor making some kind of national racism news. Enough already.