On September 24, I wrote a post: "If a Girl Dies in the Forest, Does Anyone Other than Me Care? Gabriela Alejandra Gonzalez Ardon, MS-13, and the odd lack of coverage — and outrage". It detailed the brutal killing of a 16-year-old, allegedly by MS-13 "affiliates" who were in jail charged with another savage attack (on a 17-year-old male) when the grand jury handed down indictments in her killing. That story prompted responses from members of the community who — like me — could not understand why the case did not receive more attention. I promised to "not let up", and I am keeping that promise.
On Thursday, the Center released my video on the case. If you care about Gabriela Ardon (or any other alleged MS-13 victims), or the dangers the gang poses to communities far and wide, please watch it.
The responses that I received were from individuals who likely have not previously bookmarked the Center's webpage. They found my stories on the case by Googling Ardon's name. One was from the person who erected the makeshift memorial on the trail, another was from someone (who went to great lengths to hide his/her identity), with their own theories on the matter, including some important facts I did not know. I will respect the privacy of all and not provide any other details.
I will quote, however, from that anonymous correspondent:
This crime was barely covered in local news, fell away instantly, and no follow-up stories have come out. Given that nothing like this particular crime (a completely over-the-top violent gang murder) has ever happened here (in this general neighborhood), one would think the story would have gotten massive coverage, if only to alert the local population to be careful. Nope! In fact my immediate neighbors hadn't even heard of the murder and were shocked when I told them about it. They missed the three minute splash it made in the news.
That person suspects that the reason for that blackout is because local leaders — in league with the hometown paper — want to downplay the extent to which violent crime effects all Baltimore communities — particularly the (extremely) upscale ones, like where Gabriela Ardon was killed. There is likely a lot to that — but it is a dereliction of duty on their part to do so.
I trust the people to do the right thing, but they will only do that when they have all of the facts. If the press deliberately hides those facts (a running theme in the run-up to the 2020 election), they are, in essence, infantilizing their readers and listeners, and stating that they cannot trust them with the truth.
I myself believe that the dangers MS-13 poses (and they are seriously bad people, whose savage attacks promote crime and insecurity in communities in the United States and abroad, as I have recently explained) are downplayed in the media for two reasons, both illegitimate.
One, President Trump has focused extensively on the gang, and any reporting on its heinous activities would give currency to his statements. Such reporting would (1) support the conclusions of a president to which much of the media is openly hostile; and (2) suggest that the reporter is anything other than an anti-Trumper (and therefore submit him- or herself to ejection from that largely soi disant "socially aware" occupation).
Such actions would be a repudiation of what were once journalistic norms, but more importantly, that dichotomy is false. You can be against Trump while at the same time being against girls being sex trafficked and degraded, and people being beaten with baseball bats or hacked to death by machetes (not to mention beheaded and having their hearts cut out).
Two, the media is concerned that reporting on MS-13 crime (or any alien criminals, for that matter) would indicate that they are "anti-immigrant". Again, that is a false dichotomy.
In fact, it is inherently inconsistent, given the fact that (1) most alien criminals prey on immigrant communities; and (2) MS-13 largely limits its activities to those communities. In fact, it is part of the gang's business model, as ICE has explained:
MS-13 preys upon Central American immigrant communities by extorting small businesses, peddling street level narcotics to those with substance abuse issues, aggressively recruiting the youngest and most vulnerable community members into the gang, and by inciting violence from rival gang members.
Simply put, you can be "pro-immigrant" and "anti-alien criminal". I am, and so is every one of my colleagues at the Center.
A cynic could contend that the press does not focus on MS-13 criminality exactly because it falls on those immigrant communities (who may not be big consumers of their product), and not on the public as a whole. I hope that is not the case, but again, note that Gabriela Ardon's body was found in an upscale community — according to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation website, houses there run $500,000 and up.
She may have been found in that community, but there is no reason to believe that Ardon — who had gone missing from her home on Long Island, N.Y., three times — was from that community. As the anonymous email suggests, no one there seemed to know her (and many were not even aware of her murder).
But, as my anonymous correspondent noted: "It's obvious to all of us who have lived here for years that crime is spilling out of the city into the suburbs." The "not in my backyard" crowd may have to eventually take notice when the gang shows up in their background — as literally happened here.
Not that it matters. MS-13 (both in this country and abroad) relies on funding, and is — as I noted in an earlier post — "essentially a large foreign criminal pyramid scheme with illicit franchisees". Eventually, they will have to expand their operations into communities across the United States — not just immigrant ones. But, even if they don't, who cares? Any death is a tragedy, and every murder is an outrage — especially when the victim is a 16-year-old girl.
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant", to quote Dr. Seuss. I am not letting up. Neither should anyone who does a Google search for a story the press has ignored and finds this post.