Monday, May 17, 2004

What is an Orangeman, anyway?

I enjoyed Dan Daly’s column on Syracuse University, but I must correct a few misconceptions (“Syracuse squeezes its team nicknames,” Sports, Thursday). Syracuse has always been called the Orange, along with several other nicknames. It is one of the few colleges with only one school color. Orange and blue usually are combined, but officially there is only orange.

Back in the ‘50s, in addition to the Orange, the sports teams were called the Saltine Warriors. Doesn’t that throw fear into your heart? Saltine did not refer to crackers, but to the fact that Syracuse used to have large deposits of salt in the ground. Its nickname was Salt City. There was a Dixieland band called the Salt City Five Plus One.

The warrior was an Indian chief. There was a bigger-than-life-size statue of him, firing a bow and arrow, at the main entrance to the campus. In the ‘60s, when political correctness took over the world, the Orange wussed out, got rid of the old Indian warrior statue and replaced the mascot with a Roman soldier but still called him the Saltine Warrior. That mascot never caught on. Next came the Orange guy we have now. Sometimes he was known as Bill Orange.

It’s ironic that the Indian was canned, because Syracuse has always been a power in lacrosse, an Indian sport, and each year played the team from the Onondaga Indian reservation. At least one Indian from the reservation played lacrosse as a Saltine Warrior, and no one seemed to mind. Another SU lacrosse player of the ‘50s worth mentioning was a guy named Jim Brown, who went on to play pro football and be in movies.


Syracuse, N.Y.

Planning a city ‘under siege’

John McCaslin’s May 7 Inside the Beltway item “Hysteria at work?” did not do justice to the Travel & Leisure article he quoted heavily. Mr. McCaslin seemed to focus only on the negative quotes contained in a fairly balanced article by Michael Wise to suggest that the federal government is “turning the nation’s capital into a city ‘under siege.’ ” In fairness, he also should have acknowledged the significant strides being undertaken by federal planners to address this issue, as did Travel & Leisure.

When the National Capital Planning Commission released its urban design and security plan in late 2002, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was an early and vocal supporter. Though he did express concern about the proliferation of security barriers, he backed the government’s efforts to integrate aesthetically pleasing landscape solutions and specially designed streetscape elements to provide security while preserving Washington’s beauty and accessibility.

Explaining that Washington’s first planner, Pierre L’Enfant, would have been pleased, he told the commission the plan was “superbly thought through and coordinated” and that federal planners were appropriately asking, “How can we make it both safe and beautiful?”

Since the plan’s adoption, work has begun on several key projects, including Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution museums on the Mall and a number of other federal agencies. When they are completed, we will have some inspiring examples of effective security and good urban design. Given the circumstances of today’s world, I think L’Enfant and Mr. Moynihan would be proud.



National Capital Planning Commission


False accusations against CAIR

In her recent column (“Waging a radio war,” Commentary, Wednesday), Michelle Malkin makes a number of false claims about the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Her first false accusation is that CAIR “won’t condemn Muslim fanatics.” In fact, CAIR has consistently condemned acts of terror by those who carry out acts of violence in the name of Islam.

We condemned the September 11 terror attacks within hours on that terrible day. We also have condemned suicide bombings, church bombings in Pakistan, the killing of U.S. medical personnel in Yemen, bombings in Istanbul and Madrid, and other attacks on civilians, regardless of whether they were perpetrated by individuals, groups or states.

Miss Malkin also falsely claims that CAIR fabricates quotes. She offers as evidence a recent controversy over anti-Muslim remarks by a Boston radio talk-show host. By highlighting a quote offered to CAIR by the station’s general manager and by avoiding mention of what the host actually said, Miss Malkin twists reality to serve her own biased agenda.

According to a Boston Globe reporter who obtained a tape of the program, host Jay Severin said: “I believe that Muslims in this country are a fifth column …The vast majority of Muslims in this country are very obviously loyal, not to the United States, but to their religion … the reason they are here is to take over our culture and eventually take over our country.” Mr. Severin asked a caller: “Do you think we should befriend them?” “Yes,” the caller said. Then, introducing another caller, Mr. Severin said: “I have an alternative viewpoint. It’s slightly different than yours. You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them.”

When challenged about this incitement to violence, Mr. Severin, like Miss Malkin, chose to focus on the original paraphrase of his remarks from the general manager rather than on his actual words.

Here’s what Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh had to say about Mr. Severin’s sleight-of-hand denial of what he really said about American Muslims:

“Severin has played the charlatan, hiding behind a Clintonesque denial and trying to fool his audience into thinking he has won a great victory in the small correction of his quote. He hasn’t been vindicated, and his faux populist palaver is complete intellectual dishonesty.” (Anyone interested in the truth about the controversymaygoto and enter “Severin” as a search term.)

Miss Malkin also bizarrely attacks CAIR for daring to challenge a radio talk-show host whom she herself quotes as claiming “Islam is a uniquely dangerous religion.” Perhaps she is so blinded by her own extreme anti-Muslim bias that she fails to see it in others.

In the post September 11 era, it is not surprising for conservative polemicists to tell only one side of any story. The unfortunate reality is that people like Mr. Severin are still on the air preaching hatred and people like Miss Malkin continue to defend their Islamophobic bigotry.

With such rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American neoconservative political and media circles, it should come as no surprise that discrimination reports against American Muslims rose by almost 70 percent last year alone.

There should be little question that had Mr. Severin stated that we should “kill” all blacks or Republicans, there is hardly anyone who would not agree that Mr. Severin would have been yanked off the air before his microphone went cold. If that were the case and Miss Malkin still defended him, which I find to be an unlikely scenario, it also would be quite apparent that her column would have been taken off the editorial pages of national newspapers before the ink from her sanctimonious pen could dry.


Director of legal affairs

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)


Slashing at public safety

I’m writing in reference to Friday’s article on the gang-related machete attack in Northern Virginia (“Gang member arrested in machete attack on teenager,” Metropolitan, Friday). What’s not said in the article is that the use of the machete is the result of Virginia’s program called Project Exile, under which those who commit felonies with a firearm do state time for the original crime and, after that sentence has been served, are sent off to a federal penitentiary to do a mandatory five years on the federal gun violation. Of course, in this particular case, the accused are two gang members, but for the honest person in the state of Virginia, where it’s fairly easy to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, this has major public-safety implications. If the bad guys are afraid to carry guns because of the “enhanced penalties” and they can’t be sure whether their intended victim is legally armed, we have achieved what the liberals say they want: decreased gun violence. If the punks choose to continue to cut up each other, well, in that case, I’m “pro-choice.”


Nashville, Tenn.

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