- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

‘Capable, black and conservative’

Since the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, I have become increasingly disgusted by what purports to be the black leadership in Congress and around the country. It seems that a black man or woman cannot hold beliefs outside of the traditional ones espoused by liberal blacks without having his or her sanity, intellect or character called into question (“Black Caucus rips Bush nominee,” Nation, Saturday).

One must march in lock step in order to be a bona fide “black person,” and one must believe truly in all opinions of the “black leadership” in order to be capable of representing black Americans accurately. All this is, of course, according to the Congressional Black Caucus. I am speaking specifically about its opposition to a black female California Supreme Court justice named Janice Rogers Brown, whom it has called a “female Clarence Thomas.”

This label is supposed to be an insult because caucus members feel they have successfully smeared U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas, who worked hard and, because he was conservative, managed to work his way through the bigotry in America without the special treatment or favors deemed necessary for blacks to survive in America.

The success of a black man unaided by set-asides and preferences is wrong, according to some black liberals, and the Congressional Black Caucus demonized Justice Thomas as an Uncle Tom because of it. Now, its members are doing the same to Justice Brown.

It seems that if you are capable, black and conservative, you can count on being held back by the likes of Jesse Jackson and his minions in Congress. A black person will get the support of the more vocal “black leadership” only if he or she doesn’t leave the plantation that was created by this supposed leadership and white liberal Democrats.

How bigoted and disgusting. I hope enough black Americans hear of this injustice to create a furor that will help Justice Brown take her rightful place on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where her honor and integrity can serve America. All Americans — white, black or of any hue — deserve someone of her qualifications.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowi1

Shooting the messenger?

It will be interesting to see how much energy the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the FBI expendonNathanielT. Heatwole, being questioned after the facade of today’s aviation security was breached (“Legal proceedings expected in box-cutter case,” Metropolitan, yesterday).

Here we have a 20-year-old pacifist who seems to have been so frustrated with the obvious holes in our aviation security system that he is accused of taking it upon himself to lay it all on the line and demonstrate just how vulnerable we remain. This comes after the bloated TSA bureaucracy has wasted millions of our tax dollars on process instead of results.

Watch the attempt to shoot the messenger. Already the FBI-TSA spin is that young Mr. Heatwole is not considered a “threat” to aviation security. Not that I condone smuggling contraband aboard planes, but it is the TSA that is the real threat to security. After all, isn’t the TSA and its public relations spin continuing to promulgate the facade of aviation security instead of focusing on results? For further proof, look at the recent reports of the General Accounting Office and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, which demonstrated the weakness of security screening and revealed that test answers were supplied to screeners in training.

TSA screening and proficiency is a joke and, before we crucify a young man, let me suggest some accountability for the managers from the failed FAA security apparatus that allowed the vulnerabilities of September 11 to persist and for the failed TSA bureaucrats who have continued that shameful facade to this day.

No accountability — no justice — no progress.

BRIAN F. SULLIVAN

FAA special agent (retired)

Plymouth, Mass.

The skinny on dieting

It’s hard to say whether it is a courageous effort at journalistic integrity or the height of journalistic irony that The Washington Times’ online Commentary page was filled with flashy ads for the South Beach Diet on the same day that contributor Michael Fumento’s piece taking that diet down a peg adorned the literary portion of that same page (“Chic but chubby,” Commentary, Monday).

As one of those who persistently insists that he reads Playboy only for the articles, I might readily have missed this dichotomy of advertising and content, but the models, who apparently have done better on the low-carb deal than science suggests they should, are unavoidably eye-catching. Or is it possible that these visions of slender youth are only representations of a slimmer you or me (with a little Ponce de Leon thrown in for effect), as if this is some kind of Madison Avenue military secret deserving of punishment by the Federal Trade Commission?

Nothing substitutes for hard work to attain anything we seek in life, but there is equally no substitute for a pretext to begin those travails or the travel down several blind alleys before we find the tunnel that leads any of us from beneath our personal demons. While the diets of doctors Robert Atkins and Arthur Agatston do not have physiological magic, they may spur the more mundane process of losing weight in the first place. That the weights of many dieters are destined to yo-yo is not necessarily different from the experiences of dieters who rely upon a New Year’s resolution to jump-start the process.

One has to come to realize there is no magic bullet. Intellect might lead to this conclusion without personal empirical trials, but given that self-image and personal improvement are matters of the heart as well as of the mind, it will remain up to the individual to resolve these conflicts of scholarship and salesmanship.

Perhaps, then, it is not so inconsistent as it seems that advertising offering us a panacea supports journalism promising us anything but. Please keep bringing us Mr. Fumento’s clear thinking on that state of science, and by all means support this institution with advertisers that are also not subject to censorship, but to the fabled if sometimes forgotten principle of caveat emptor.

BRIAN BISHOP

Exeter, R.I.

Tipping your hat

Cheers to Jennifer Harper for her concise review of Peter Post’s “Essential Manners for Men” (“Book is for men behaving badly,” Page 1, Sunday).

Not that the subject of manners isn’t worth the attention, but Mr. Post’s three-page diatribe on the importance of correct toilet seat placement leads me to believe he has had entirely too much time on his hands. I don’t think he could lead a group in silent prayer.

His book is one I’ll avoid at all costs.

LT. COL. GEORGE MURRAY

U.S. Marine Corps (retired)

Carlsbad, Calif.

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