- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

Sanitizing history

D.C. court judges and accompanying officials of the D.C. court system requested that two framed Civil War paintings hanging near the lobby of a Williamsburg hotel be removed in advance of a management training conference last week.

Instead, the general manager of the Radisson Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center — in close proximity to the historic Confederate fort of the same name — had the paintings covered with white bedsheets.

“The sheets are now down,” hotel manager Larry V. Wood told Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview yesterday.

The paintings of Civil War scenes included historically accurate images of the Confederate flag in the smoke of battle.

“There are things in the world’s history which are offensive and many things which we are proud of,” D.C. court spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz told this column yesterday, defending the court’s action. “Similarly, there are many things in a nation’s past which are troubling.”

The court, Mr. Wood confirmed, made it clear in its contract that they wanted the paintings hidden from view prior to their arrival at the hotel on Wednesday.

“We thought they would change the pictures and put them elsewhere,” Ms. Gurowitz told us. “The method of handling the request [with sheets] was their choice” (no word on whether the sheets, similar to those used by Ku Klux Klansmen, offended the delicate sensibilities of the judges).

Mr. Wood said it is “not unheard of” for his hotel and others like it to remove items that for whatever reason are offensive to certain guests, “be it a flag or a portrait.”

But was this sanitizing history?

Said Mr. Wood: “Our actions certainly are not a direct reflection on our opinions or views.”

Laci link

Two conservative lawmakers are highlighting the Laci Peterson homicide case in California as argument that a federal law is needed to protect fetuses who are killed in violent crimes against pregnant women.

Under a California law, attorneys are prosecuting Laci’s husband for her murder as well as the murder of her unborn son, Conner. There is no equivalent law for crimes committed against pregnant women under federal jurisdiction.

“That’s not right,” says Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, urging Americans to contact their lawmakers in support of federal legislation to change that.

Mr. Pitts and Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, have begun distributing a weekly report to make their case. The two host a weekly meeting with like-minded folks, called the Values Action Team.

Besides the Peterson murder, the two lawmakers in their first report last week cited legislation that would provide money to prevent and treat AIDS around the world. Mr. Brownback said conservatives would have to work hard to protect bill provisions that stress abstinence as the key way of preventing AIDS, and allow faith-based organizations to receive the money even if they opt out of certain things, like handing out condoms.

Meet your meat

Democratic activist and actor Alec Baldwin remains in the United States, despite promising to leave the country if George W. Bush was elected president in 2000.

This afternoon, Mr. Baldwin will be on Capitol Hill telling Mr. Bush and anybody else who will listen that the Humane Slaughter Act, signed into law in 1958 by Dwight D. Eisenhower and made tougher by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, is not being enforced in the nation’s slaughterhouses and factory farms.

The actor will present a video he narrated for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, that documents “shocking violations” of the act.

Mr. Baldwin has mailed the video, titled “Meet Your Meat,” to every member of Congress. It shows pigs confined to concrete-floored stalls, where they are castrated and de-tailed without anesthetic. We skip the part on chicken beaks and veal calves. Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, will introduce Mr. Baldwin.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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