Who Is Lee Shapiro?
Over at Romenesko, the e-mails are flying over the question of whether the term "Moonie" is a slur. One writer, who is identified by another as an employee of the Moonie Times, contributed this subliterate diatribe, which he reportedly sent to the Kansas City Star:
Using the term Moonie to describe Unification Church members is derogatory, demeaning and offensive - no different than calling someone a n---- or kike or rag head. (see recent Romenesko headline and today's Kansas City Star) Often predicated with [sic] "f------," as in "F----- Moonie", the purpose of the term is to isolate and dehumanize, so the dominate [sic] group can torture, kill, lynch, denigrate, whatever. It's a sleazy way of making a religious group fair game. But your editors probably knew that. Words can hurt, and in fact a close friend, a documentary film maker, was killed in Afghanistan in 1987, primarily because he was a "Moonie." His name, Lee Shapiro, is now on the Newseums list of journalists who died in the line of duty. He was there working, when few so-called real reporters had the balls. While I expect this kind of epithet from white trash, I expect more of a reputable newspaper. Are you a reputable newspaper? (6/23/2004 4:26:01 PM, emphasis added.)
Was Shapiro killed because he "words can hurt," and "because he was a 'Moonie'"? Well, not so fast. Here's what the Moonies say, on their Moonie website:
Another heartwarming story was when Lee Shapiro reported to Father about the Nicaragua film, Father said, "We have to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan. You make a movie." Lee Shapiro was completely determined to make a most dynamic movie in Afghanistan. So he traveled there fearlessly. So many people would not go, but he went with the Mujahudeen even to the front line. He himself looked like a Mujahudeen! He grew a beard. His weapon was not a gun, but a movie camera. He was on camel back with all his film taken on the front line. One day coming out of a fight, Soviet helicopters came. Everyone hid in the bushes, but Lee Shapiro realized he had left the film cans on the camel. More important than his life was this exposed film. So he ran trying to get the film, without any fear. The Soviet helicopter gunned him down. It then landed and picked up all that film and took it away to the Soviet Union. Father is now trying to recover it through the KGB. All the Soviet Congressmen who came this last time were told to bring us back that film. In any case, because of Lee Shapiro's effort the Congress unanimously voted him a Medal of Freedom.
That is a heartwarming story.
So, according to the Moonies, Shapiro, who was indistiguishable from an Afghan Mujahudeen, was shot from a helicopter gunship. It seems, uh, unlikely, then, that the Soviet gunner shot Shapiro because he someone called Shapiro a "Moonie."
(Of course, the Moonies could be lying about what happened.)
On the question of whether the term "Moonie" is a slur, I tend to disagree. However, I use it to describe the leaders of the church, or the church as an organization, or (mainly) to insult the religious bigots at the Moonie Times, who suck the Moon tit while espousing their own hate-fueled version of Christianity. While such usage may disparage the Church in the eyes of its members, such comments are not anti-religion, they are anti-criminal, anti-fraud and anti-bigot. And I have no use for criminals, frauds and bigots, whatever religion they hide behind.