- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

Preschool peaceniks
"They still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. They don't know how to spell their last names or tie their own shoes. But they do know that 'war is bad,' and that 'Bush is a bully.'
"The next generation of Berkeley peaceniks gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to demonstrate their opposition to a pending war in Iraq after school, of course. Armed with protest signs, microphones, and Harry Potter lunch-boxes, elementary and pre-school children demanded city leaders contact President Bush and halt his hawkish 'war for oil.'
"Two hundred students from Berkeley schools met local dignitaries, including Mayor Shirley Dean, city council members and a representative for [Rep.] Barbara Lee, [California Democrat].
"Though most students at the rally could not even name Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, many seemed certain the pending U.S. led war in Iraq is about oil.
"Celia, age 6 told the crowd President Bush 'wants to make war because he wants oil.'
"Later, when asked if she could name the president of Iraq, Celia, stumped, turned to a friend and asked, 'Is it a boy or a girl?' Her friend, equally puzzled, responded, 'I think it's a boy.'"
Steve Sexton, writing on "Preschoolers protest possible war in Iraq," Wednesday in the California Patriot at www.calpatriot.org

Upscale uptown
"As Harlem steps into the 21st century, many residents worry that its new prosperity may bring a loss of identity and community. Moreover, some residents are being left behind or displaced, they say. Kira Lynn Harris, an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum, bluntly articulates a question on the minds of many: 'Is Harlem slipping out of the hands of black people?'
"A longer view of the race issue is taken by Michael Adams, author of the newly published 'Harlem Lost and Found' and one of the community's most ardent preservationists. Adams tells of attending a dinner party at a fastidiously maintained, century-old Harlem town house. One guest griped about a newly arrived white family on his block who had complained about noise coming from a revival meeting. Another guest bemoaned white neighbors who called the police about a loud party. 'Why don't those people go back where they came from?' someone asked.
"'None of this would have been said, of course, if a white person had been at the table,' Adams says. 'As I listened to their complaints, I imagined hearing voices in this same dining room 80 years ago. The words were the same, only the colors were reversed.'"
Peter Hellman, writing on "Coming Up Harlem," in the November issue of Smithsonian

Divine comedy
"[J]ournalist Jorg Lau suggests adding to Salman Rushdie's list of things Islamic fundamentalists oppose (freedom of speech, Jews, short skirts) the very idea of 'the pursuit of happiness,' arguing that the right to take in a movie or tell a joke involves 'fundamental issues of self-determination' Media studies professor Jochen Horisch continues this reasoning, pointedly summing up the post-September 11 conflict of cultures by noting 'there is an awful lot of Muslim seriousness in the world,' contrasting that humorlessness with Western and specifically Jewish wit.
"The image of the Jewish wisecracker, whose urbane wit threatens to undermine traditional values and destroy the native community, recurred throughout the annals of German anti-Semitism. Osama bin Laden shares Hitler's anti-Semitism. Moreover, if we believe John Miller's 1999 Esquire interview, neither bin Laden nor his followers have anything resembling a Western sense of humor. As Germans know from historical experience, fanaticism, unease with modernity, a poor sense of humor and ethnic hatred are intimately related."
Jefferson Chase, writing on "Critique of Pure Comedy," Nov. 10 in the Boston Globe

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