- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

'Ride of our lives'
"Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, last seen in 'Episode One' as a 10-year-old boy, is now grown up. While an interstellar battle arises, Anakin accepts a mission as Jedi bodyguard to Princess-turned-Senator Amidala played by the now very grown-up Natalie Portman.
"In 1977, creator George Lucas put a spin on the old-fashioned western, placing the action in outer space rather than Tombstone. Using spaceships that completely filled a Cinerama film screen, and a villain every kid in America wanted to defeat in battle, he made 'Star Wars' the most popular good vs. evil franchise of all time. It grabbed our imaginations and took us for the intergalactic ride of our lives."
Philip Boatwright, writing on "Star Wars," yesterday in Baptist Press News at www.bpnews.net

Teaching revolution
"Since [September 11], the American public has [grown] increasingly aware of the oppressive presence of the academic left. Recently, attention was drawn to one of the basic freshmen reading courses required at UC Berkeley, which is titled 'The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance' and is taught by English instructor Snehal Shingavi. The course description concludes with the following caveat: 'Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.'
"Snehal is, in fact, the spokesman or leader of many different left-wing causes and extremist groups. [H]is base of operations is as the Berkeley leader of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), a Trostkyite splinter which advocates violent revolution in the United States. Its Web site, under the heading 'Revolution, not Reform' explains 'The structures of the present government the Congress, the army, the police and the judiciary cannot be taken over and used by the working class. They grew up under capitalism and are designed to protect the ruling class against workers.'
"In other words, American democracy is a sham, and only violent revolution can bring about the triumph of the socialist cause."
Rory Miller, writing on "UC Berkeley: A Safe Harbor For Hate," Monday in Salon at www.salon.com

'Head count' casting
"Affirmative-action policies began as a call to seek out qualified blacks to allow them access to avenues closed to them for centuries. But in the 1980s, too many distorted this into insisting that sheer 'head counts' were the central concern, regardless of qualification. In this spirit, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume has excoriated the major networks for not including enough 'black faces' in their seasonal lineups.
"Wendell Pierce [is] an accomplished stage actor who drew rave reviews in the San Francisco production of Anton Chekhov's 'Uncle Vanya.' But two years ago he was cast as 'the best friend' in Steven Weber's two-season sitcom flop. His chemistry with the other actors was nil; he was clearly cast simply to, as they used to say, 'lend some color.' I'm sure Pierce would rather have had the work than not. But it was awkward seeing this artist cavorting perfunctorily with white actors looking like a 'Negro' token, circa 1968.
"I would rather see black actors playing the live-action cartoon characters on the featherweight black sitcoms on WB and UPN than watch them spinning their wheels being set decorations on other shows. Mfume might be satisfied with mere 'black faces.' But the last time I checked, what we were after was treating black people as full human beings."
John McWhorter, writing on "Black Isn't a Personality Type," Sunday in the Los Angeles Times

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