News & Politics

Follow-Up to Mark Ames' NIU Article

Letter to the Editor: AlterNet is still missing the point about the NIU shootings article.
Editor's note: AlterNet recognizes that Mark Ames' recent article on the NIU shootings angered many readers. We often publish views that aren't necessarily our own. However, we appreciate and respect our readers' comments, which we featured prominently in a compilation of reader responses: Making Sense of Murder: AlterNet Readers Discuss the NIU Shooting. We hope these efforts encourage robust debate and help balance the conversation.

While I thank you for posting readers' responses to Mark Ames' "controversial" article on the NIU shootings, I think that you missed the entire source of the outrage by presenting your follow-up article in the traditional MSM "he said-she said" type of "balanced" format.

Quite simply, Mr. Ames' underlying and ridiculous premise in his NIU article is that mass shootings occur only at what he believes are second-rate colleges or universities. He goes on to say that the shooter lived in Champaign-Urbana, where he currently was enrolled at the University of Illinois, but that he chose to instead to travel to DeKalb, Illinois to inflict his nightmare of horror and death on students attending a less desirable university in a less than desirable location.

Until several days ago, I would have thought that AlterNet would have been the LAST place or media forum to have published or posted any assertion as hurtful and heinous as what Mr. Ames is both suggesting and saying. Quite honestly, these are exactly the type of glib and inane remarks that i would expect to hear or read from Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or any number of Fox News "reporters' or "anchors." Consequently, I believe that the sense of outrage concerning Mark Ames' writing stems from the fact that the editorial staff at AlterNet made the conscious decision to post (or print) Mr. Ames' heinous article -- from the "get-go!"

There is no doubt that there are numerous factors that contribute to such horrible tragedies as those that occurred at Northern Illinois University or Virginia Tech. Indeed, I strongly agree with your readers who cited the lack of both gun control and the availability of mental health assistance as being among the contributing factors. And I also agree that there is indeed a terrible sense of elitism or "entitlement" that underlies much of American society, which, as several AlterNet readers pointed out, was addressed by Mr. Ames in his article. Nevertheless -- and PERHAPS MOST IRONIC OF ALL -- it is Mr. Ames himself who suffers the greatest from this very sense of elitism when he makes the absurd assumption that mass shootings only occur at what he believes are second-tier places of education -- and not at a Harvard University or at the Berkeley campus that I understand he attended.

Again, I have come to depend on AlterNet as a wonderful source for information and writing that cannot be found anywhere else in the traditional mainstream media. However, concerning Mr. Ames' article on the NIU tragedy (which your headline described as occurring on a so-called "hopeless" campus), I hope that AlterNet's editorial staff deeply regrets EVER printing or posting Mr. Ames' horrible words.

For your information -- and perhaps you already know this -- Markos Moulitsas, Founder/Chief Editor of the blog The Daily Kos, often mentions in his writing that he is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. I do not believe that many people would "lump" Markos Moulitsas into the 'Dennis Hastert' category of alumni, which Mark Ames so disparagingly describes as epitomizing institutions like NIU.
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