Laziness or Bias?

Dear Editor,

Following is note to Abigail Thernstrom:

Dear Abby,

I can’t say it gently, so I’ll just say it plainly: You goofed.

When at his town hall style discussion on race Bill Clinton asked you if you were opposed to the affirmative action policy that made Colin Powell possible, you should have risen to your feet in righteous indignation to unmask as emphatically as possible the ugly errors lurking behind Clinton’s insulting and ill-conceived question.

First, you should have insisted plainly that Colin Powell is not the result of a government policy or program, no matter who says otherwise. Colin Powell is the product of parental love and guidance, of intelligence, hard work, courage, commitment and character. For Bill Clinton to claim government credit for Powell’s military contribution is highly insulting to Colin Powell. It denigrates Powell’s real achievement, as if he could not have been a highly successful soldier on his own merit.

For liberals like Clinton, blacks cannot make it to the top on their own mettle, on their own hard work and money—they need Big Brother’s help, which is an amazingly insulting and paternalistic idea to put forth at a meeting on race. But for Clinton to say as much without opposition is, if anything, even more amazing. Perhaps nobody objected to Clinton’s statement because they all agreed with its racist presuppositions and therefore did not notice its ugly bias.

Their silence was eloquent.

Second, you should have reminded Bill Clinton that even on its own bigoted basis, his question neatly left out the victims of the affirmative action policy he was defending. Why didn’t you ask him about the possible MacArthurs, Pattons, Marshalls and Eisenhowers his pet policy suppressed by barring the door to military advancement to highly promising soldiers simply because they were the wrong race? The cost of this policy was the exile to historical obscurity of many talented soldiers simply because they had the great misfortune to be born to the wrong parents.

But you didn’t object.

Because of his political views and his inexperience, Colin Powell will never get my vote for president, but he’s a fine general. For all we know, he might even be as good a general as the man he displaced.

That’s no way to run an army, Abby. But it’s what you’d expect from a Commander-in-Chief who spent his adolescence and young adulthood running as fast and as far as he could from the armed services.

Michael Bauman, Ph.D.
Hillsdale, Michigan

In Harvard University Professor Samuel Huntington’s brilliant book, "The Clash of Civilizations," he persuasively argues that racial, ethnic and cultural clashes have replaced the world’s traditional political and economic wars. In "The Ends of the Earth," author Robert D. Kaplan agrees, noting that "The world has been moving in our century from nation-state conflict to ideological conflict, and finally to culture conflict." This may be the real, tragic legacy of programs like Affirmative Action. By focusing relentlessly on racial, ethnic and cultural differences in American society we manage to rub raw virtually every sensitive nerve ending between the Atlantic and the Pacific and beyond, inviting turmoil and conflict. —Ed.

Violinist Gets Out his Violin


Now I’ve heard everything. In this day of ever-expanding "rights" for every conceivable privilege known to man, some obscure violinist named William Gromko now scolds Las Vegans for not paying and attending his Nevada Symphony Orchestra performances (Las Vegas Sun 11/25/97). He apparently has found a God-given "right" to a paid audience.

Is this guy for real? Or did April Fool’s day come twice this year? Earth to Gromko. Earth to Gromko. Come down out of the ozone.

Here’s how the real world works: If 1.5 million people aren’t paying to come see your performances, you have one of two problems. Either your marketing plan stinks - meaning you haven’t done your job in convincing us that your talent is worth paying to see - or your product simply isn’t wanted by the ticket-buying public, no matter how good your advertising may be.

It’s called the free market - which means you’re free to sell your talent and we’re free to choose whether we want to buy it. Have you stopped to wonder why the Rolling Stones sold out at the MGM at $100 bucks a pop while you’re crying the blues that no one is showing up to listen to your "fine art?" You, not us, must be doing something wrong.

And where in the world did you get the idea that the hotels in town should subsidize your life’s chosen profession? Where do you folks get this entitlement mentality? Shame on us? Shame on you. Either develop a better marketing plan, or move to a more "progressive" community or get a new job. Just please…stop whining.

Charles A. Muth
Las Vegas

Tax subsidies for the "arts" -- whether from Washington, state government or local government, and whether the subsidy is for symphony orchestras, tastless art or "educational" television -- will always be greeted by "boos" from unhappy taxpayers, even if not from audiences —Ed.


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