- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

'Racial arson'

"So far, this summer has been a down time on Wall Street, but it's been a bull market for traders in racial arson. First came the bizarre joint press conference by Michael Jackson and Al Sharpton to allege racism in the music industry.

"Jackson, whose latest album 'Invincible' tanked despite a massive publicity effort by his record label initially raised the R-word against the industry as a whole, but wound up fixating on one person, Sony executive Tommy Mottola, calling him 'mean, racist and very, very devilish.'

"Following on the heels of the Sharpton-Jackson spectacle came the annual cartoon parade and shakedown jamboree that now passes for the NAACP National Convention. Conservative politicians, led of course by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft, were singled out and slimed, right-of-center blacks such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas were written off as tokens or Uncle Toms, wild conspiracy theories were floated and the few genuine impediments that remain to black achievement, such as teachers' unions who struggle to preserve Stalinist levels of corruption and ineptitude in the public schools, were given a free pass."

Mark Goldblatt, writing on "What Is Racism?" Monday in National Review Online at www.national-review.com

For the children

"[I]t is objected that a draconian, no mercy, zero-tolerance rule is necessary to 'protect the children.' Let us stipulate that reprehensible things have been done to children and young people. My point here is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that a person who did a stupidly wicked thing many years ago and is repentant and has rendered decades of faithful service without a hint of suspicion poses any threat whatever to children or anyone else.

"We used to call that redemption. Such a person is not to be thrown out as an abuser, but welcomed as a forgiven sinner to the company of forgiven sinners that is the Church.

"The bishops are paying a high price for making themselves look good in the eyes of a media that is largely indifferent to the Gospel that bishops are to serve.

"Pity the priests who are on the receiving end of this punitive policy, and their people. But the bishops, too, bear a burden. For instance, wrestling with their consciences about how to square 'one strike and you're out' with the teachings of the One who spoke about forgiving 70 times seven. He did not say to the one who denied him three times, 'Sorry, Peter, one strike and you're out.'"

Richard John Neuhaus, writing on "Scandal Time III," in the August-September issue of First Things

Being Anna

"It's lunchtime at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where a black Bentley pulls up to drop off Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in his gold-plated wheelchair. But his presence pales in comparison with the main attraction: stripper-turned-litigious heiress Anna Nicole Smith. Even Flynt can't help but crack a smile at the spectacle.

"'It's a curiosity thing, like Monica Lewinsky,' says Flynt. 'How many bimbos with nothing marry a billionaire and get to cash in on a fortune? That's most of the intrigue.'

"[The E! cable network has] been wanting to get in bed with Smith ever since her 1997 'E! True Hollywood Story' became one of its all-time highest-rated shows E! knew audiences were fascinated with the plus-size model; they just didn't quite know how to make hay out of her notoriety until now.

"'When "The Osbournes" came along, it was a no-brainer: Let's just put the cameras on her and follow her around,' says Mark Sonnenberg, E!'s exec VP of entertainment. 'There's a circus atmosphere that will attract people. Here's a single mother who's been struggling to make it while taking on the rich and powerful to make a better life for her and her son. She's also a grieving widow. When you watch and spend time with her, she's very captivating.'"

Lynette Rice, writing on "Reality TV," in the July 26 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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