Courtesy of the media gossip site Gawker, we can read Andrea Elliott's speech to the newsroom after winning the Pulitzer Prize for her three-part series on the life of a Brooklyn imam, as well as that of her Metro section editor Joe Sexton. Both journalists emphasized the liberal, social justice angle of the series on Sheik Reda Shata.
Of course, there's no mention of what was noted at the time by Washington Times columnist Diana West when the story ran:
"Both the New York Post and the New York Sun have already pounced on the most egregious flaw of omission: not a mention, in 11,000-plus words, of the day in March 1994 when a man walked out of that same Bay Ridge mosque and, inspired by the anti-Jewish sermon of the day (delivered by a different, unidentified imam), armed himself and opened fire on a van carrying Hasidic Jewish children. Ari Halberstam, 16, was killed. The Times series, as it happened, concluded on the 12th anniversary of his death."
And as Times Watch noted , it's only deep intoElliott's article that one learns the sheik isn't the ideal Muslim moderate, but in fact supports the anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas.
Here's part of Elliott's speech to the newsroom, emphasizing the social justice aspects of her story (which doubtless made it more appealing to the Pulitzer Prize committee):
"As remarkable a person as he is, Sheik Reda is really unremarkable in terms of the experience he represents. He's like so many other Muslims in this country who have endured a tough journey in the years since Sept. 11, who feel they are living in a hostile land, and who have closed their doors to journalists out of fear. And yes, a lot of people wouldn't talk to me, but the only reason that some of them did was because they craved understanding, and wanted so much to be rendered with fairness and depth. And so I hope that, if a story like this has helped open their doors, we keep them open."
Metro Editor Joe Sexton also lauded the series for its activism: "You know, the sheik, in Day 2 of the series, talked about what had accounted for the often ignorant and hostile relationship that existed between Muslims and the wider world of America. 'I once read a Spanish proverb,' he said. 'The wall of hatred was asked, "How were you built?" And the reply was, "From the stones of insult. Well, if today that wall of hatred has some number of fewer bricks, it is in no small part because of Andrea's series."