Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "Progress in Hollywood," March 23, 2002

FIGHTING FOR THEIR WHITES: A college adviser named Solomon Little Owl helped launch one of the most bizarre chapters in the political correctness saga. He and a group of American Indian students at the University of Northern Colorado named their intramural basketball team "The Fightin' Whities." The team boasts a logo made from clip art of a white man in a suit, and player jerseys say, "Every thang's going to be all white." The Washington Times's Valerie Richardson reports that this was a response to the allegedly ethnocentric tradition of naming sports teams after American Indians: Braves, Seminoles, Redskins, and the like. "We thought, 'Let's just turn the tables on them,'" Mr. Little Owl told her. "We disagree with Native American caricatures in sports logos, but when we raise the issue, people say, 'Oh, it's not derogatory, it's meant to honor you.' So we decided to show them how it feels." The irony may have been lost. According to The Denver Post, "Hundreds of people want Fightin' Whities T-shirts featuring the team's mascot." IN DENIAL: Newsrooms love free speech so long as that speech is liberal. Columnist John Leo notes that books like Bernard Goldberg's Bias have reintroduced this issue to the public, but mass journalism isn't reconsidering its priorities. He noted that two major columnists, Michael Kinsley and Tom Shales, attacked the book with "sputtering, almost vein-popping rage." Mr. Leo says he tried to prod editors to address the issue years ago-to no avail. Back in 1990, the Los Angeles Times's David Shaw published a lengthy report about the pro-abortion slant in the American media. It was ignored. "I arrived on the advisory board of the Columbia Journalism Review a year later and pushed hard (but, of course, late) for CJR to examine Shaw's findings," Mr. Leo recalls. "No dice. Everyone was determined to look the other way. I cannot think of a major newspaper series that got less attention. And the reason, I think, was obvious: Feminists in the newsroom would not stand for this issue to be aired. So it wasn't." WELL, DUH: Communism was "pure propaganda," said Mikhail Gorbachev. In a speech at Columbia University, he said that the system he once ran operated on lies and complete delusion. He said the ruling politicians "were discussing the problem of toothpaste, the problem of detergent, and they had to create a commission of the Politburo to make sure that women have pantyhose." Mr. Gorbachev claimed his perestroika system spun out of control once Boris Yeltsin took over in 1991; now his homeland is in "an abyss." He said he was trying to reform what he called an "unreal system." "We, including I, were saying, 'Capitalism is moving toward a catastrophe, whereas we are developing well.' Of course, that was pure propaganda. In fact, our country was lagging behind," he said. SOPHISTICATED ACTOR: Alec Baldwin hasn't fled the United States as he said he would if George W. Bush became president, but he's still making highly charged comments. At one public appearance, he called the Bush election "the other catastrophic event that happened in this country." The New York Post's Robert Hardt Jr. reports that he made these comments at a New Yorker-sponsored luncheon with Hillary Clinton. The former first lady did not comment on the actor's remarks. At a previous appearance in Florida, the Post reports he made similar remarks, comparing the 2000 vote to 9/11: "I know that's a harsh thing to say, perhaps, but I believe that what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City." The paper quotes Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's response: "He had promised he would leave the country if my brother got elected. Well he's back, I guess." RIGGED DISTRICTS: Gerrymandering must stop, argues John Fund in The Wall Street Journal. Today's politicians have built a system in which "incumbents are using high-powered computers to create lifetime sinecures for themselves." Thanks to politicized redistricting and modern technology, millions of voters have no real choice when they go to the polls. "In 2000, more than 20 percent of House members had no major party challenger. George W. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes, but 10 of the 21 Florida House incumbents ran unopposed," Mr. Fund writes. "Political analysts in both parties agree that there will be significantly less competition under new district lines in 2002. Only some 30 of the 435 House seats will be competitive this November." Mr. Fund finds one ray of hope: a North Carolina ruling earlier this year that gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The state's supreme court will hold hearings on the decision next month.

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