- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Poster boy
"Emerging from the dust clouds of the Afghan desert like a long-suffering and possibly deranged penitent, the figure of John Walker Lindh at first elicited bewilderment. And it didn't help his cause that from some angles he looked truly sinister, like a younger, frailer version of the infamous Charles Manson.
"Hadn't President George W. Bush declared that America was waging a war against evil in which only two moral stances exist you are either with us or against us? Walker Lindh surely didn't look like someone who was with us.
"Walker Lindh, after all, sided with those who believe that righteousness is best served by doing harm to the United States and its citizens. Walker Lindh is also a proxy for those who consider California to be the epicenter of cultural decay in America. Some conservative commentators have even presented Walker Lindh as a poster child for the perils of liberalism, living proof that growing up in a left-leaning, permissive environment produces severe deformities of character."
Edwin Dobb, writing on "Should John Walker Lindh Go Free?" in the May issue of Harper's

Opportunity missed
"When Marion Barry announced last week that he was ending his brief run for the Council of the District of Columbia, Washington's political class breathed a sigh of relief. [M]any locals feel they've been spared a divisive, nasty election season
"But Barry's departure also denies the city something even more important: an opportunity to defeat the former mayor at the polls and thereby unshackle the District from his legacy.
"The numbers tell the story. Washington has changed profoundly since Barry's 1980s heyday. The African-American share of the city's population has fallen from 70 percent to 60 percent, as 100,000 black residents have left town, mostly for the suburbs.
"If Barry had run and lost, it would have forced would-be defenders of the poor to find a new leader. It might have forced them to answer for the incompetence that torpedoed the anti-poverty agenda he championed. It might even have forced them to find a new way to talk about the politics of rich and poor, which candidate Barry addressed only in the most hackneyed racial terms. But that didn't happen."
Michael Schaffer, writing on "End Run," in the April 22 issue of the New Republic

Pity and poverty
"Black Power ideology taught many blacks that opposition to mainstream norms was a mark of authentic 'blackness,' while whites, now guilty about the past, mistook pity for uplift. Thankfully, millions of black people transcended the new culture of pity and now constitute a large and growing black middle class.
"But it is no surprise that a substantial number of blacks came to believe what the New Left told them and became trapped in the culture of poverty unintentionally produced by social programs constructed by guilty whites. The result was the black 'underclass,' which now perpetuates itself, as cultures are wont to do.
"[W]hat we need is black intellectuals to chart a coherent and constructive pathway between ideological extremes. That the leftist position alone will not help us seems clear from how little the likes of Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters have done to improve the lives of the blacks who need it most, not to mention the devastation that open-ended welfare policies have wrought in cities across the nation."
John McWhorter, writing on "Race and Inequality," in the May issue of Commentary

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