"I'll be dagnabbed if I know what this is all about," said I on seeing but not yet reading Chi Trib's page-one-splashed takeout on Rev. Moon and sushi. Scanning it on its three pages, with sidebars, I gathered that it's quite a business success story, all about entrepreneurism and hope in the future that turned out very well for hard-working immigrants and others. Good for Chi Trib, I thought, celebrating the American way at last.
But I sensed a certain antagonism, even finger-pointing. I mean how many times can you read "controversial church" without feeling uneasy about this business success story? Frankly, I began to smell a rat. This story is about something that's extremely suspicious because it (a) has religious overtones, (b) the religion lacks the eclat of long-time establishment, (c) its practices are bizarre, worse than washing feet on Holy Thursday or baptism by immersion, (d) its founder hasn't had a new picture taken in years, and (e) he's conservative and founded the Washington Times.
I know the celebrated religion-despiser and columnist Eric Zorn got the message, on-line if not in hard copy: Boycott sushi! But I'm not as quick as he and have had to think about it.
It's "a remarkable story that has gone largely untold," says the story in the fourth 'graph, in case we readers missed this and might go on eating sushi unawares. Zorn, in his typical vacuum-cleaner approach to data-amassing -- the guy is really industrious -- is a sort of backup for the story in his listing what Moon has said that will make sushi taste like ashes.
The story itself warns against "indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement" by the very sushi we eat. It points to a Trib "survey of prominent Chicago-area sushi restaurants that use the Unification Church-affiliated True World Foods," putting teeth into their warning. It returns to the movement-supporting theme:
Although few seafood lovers may consider they're indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement, they do just that when they eat a buttery slice of tuna or munch on a morsel of eel in many restaurants. True World is so ubiquitous [sic: it's either ubiquitous or not, you don't compare "ubiquitous"] that 14 of 17 prominent Chicago sushi restaurants surveyed by the Tribune said they were supplied by the company. [Oh no!]
The story goes into contortions to disprove its claimed non-affilliation with Moon's church.
Etc. etc. Who gives a hoot? Who eats sushi that you know? Among them who cares if Moonies put it on the table? I don't know when I've seen a story -- page one splash, remember, and two complete pages inside the hard copy -- that so illustrates elitist, closed-circuit, ax-grinding mainstream journalism as this one.
Remember this day, 4/12/06. It's when Chi Trib conquered the lost-readership problem with a page one scoop about sushi and where it comes from.