Politics & Policy


The Dean and "diversity." Tips from Tito. A kid and his hooker — and more

Yesterday, David Broder — the “dean of the Washington press corps” — published a column on affirmative action. (Incidentally, a friend of mine — a Washington journalist — just named a son Dean. A mutual friend of ours remarked, “Wait till he grows up and discovers he was named for David Broder.”)

You’re of course welcome to read Broder’s column for yourself, but let me give you the gist: “I am an older ‘white male’ at my newspaper, the Washington Post, and this is a paper that has practiced affirmative action for a long time. This has greatly enriched my work life. I’m so happy and proud to be among ‘diverse’ people.” Pardon my crudity, but that cuts to the chase. When you peel back the artful and correct language, that’s what it says.

David Broder can sleep better at night knowing that he is surrounded in his place of employment by the “diverse.”

A thousand thoughts come to mind, but let me air only about three. First, you know that expression that pro-immigration people use against anti-immigration people? “You want to pull up the gang plank, now that you and your family are here.” I think of that when I hear the likes of David Broder hail affirmative action.

Second, it would be strange to say that one has a favorite political cartoon, of all time, but if I did, it would probably be this one: I don’t remember who the cartoonist was; but I remember that the cartoon had four panels. Some schlubby little guy is listening to Bill Clinton talk. Clinton is saying, in the first panel, “I support affirmative action because I have a heart.” In the second: “Because I have a sense of history.” In the third: “Because I have a sense of justice.” And in the fourth: “Because I have . . .,” and the schlubby little guy breaks in: “. . . a job already.”

I always thought that this cartoon spoke volumes.

Finally, I have my own experience. No one likes to listen to a whiny “white male” (you can never say “man,” only “male” — as in a wildlife documentary): whine, whine, whine. Couldn’t get into the school I wanted to go to. Couldn’t get the job I wanted. Jesse Helms and the crumpling hands, blah, blah, blah.

But let me tell you. Many years ago, I pledged that, if I ever got comfortable, professionally, I wouldn’t grow lax on affirmative action. I would remember the job-seekers, the strugglers, trying to get a foot in the door. I wouldn’t be one of those safely onboard, with the gang plank pulled up, or available only to a select few, based on — of all insidious things — race.

I tried quite hard to break into journalism — mainstream journalism, thank you very much. Doors were shut practically before I knocked. Do I blame affirmative action? Not really — but I would be foolish to be unmindful of it.

One day, I called a contact at the Washington bureau of a major American daily — oh, hell, it was the Los Angeles Times. The man said, “Before you go any further, let me tell you that affirmative action is very, very aggressively practiced here. Forgive my bluntness, but I wouldn’t want you to waste your time. And if you ever say that I told you this, I’ll deny it, with my dying breath.”

Eventually, I was hired by a conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard. They didn’t care what my race was, they didn’t care what my sex was, they didn’t care what my background was: All they cared about was what I could do, what I might bring to their enterprise.

Leave it to a “conservative” magazine to uphold the liberal values that the “liberals” — i.e., race-smitten leftists — have turned their backs on.

So, good for David Broder, that he enjoys a workplace of “diversity” (but how many Republicans are in that shop?). As he’s drifting off to sleep, however, he might give a thought to those who are just as eager to work for the Washington Post, or to attend the University of Michigan, but are shut out — barred — because of the color of their skin.

We may call it “affirmative action,” but it’s just race discrimination, pure and simple.

As I’ve said too many times in the past, my great hope is that Americans, one day, judge people as people, as individuals, for good or ill — not as bearers of a skin color. But sometimes I despair that this hope will ever be realized. In fact, we may be going the other way.

Well, on to something cheery, like war. In my previous Impromptus, I noted that Peter Arnett, once canned by NBC, took up with the London Daily Mirror and Greek television — figures. But it’s even better. He has not only the Mirror and Greek TV, but Belgian TV! What’s next? Only if he were given a column in Le Monde could the chips fall more ideally.

When we took our “shot” on Opening Night of the war, we were guided by three Iraqi informants. So say recent reports. These informants were duly discovered and killed. According to UPI, two were shot to death and the third bled to death after having his tongue cut out. I hope that their names are enshrined at Langley, to be honored forever. These were Iraqi patriots, risking — and giving — their lives to free their nation of one of the most dreadful beasts in modern history.

I know already that several Impromptus-ites read, and enjoyed, the article in Saturday’s New York Times on left-wing professors versus their more pro-war, or less anti-war, students. I found the article in a way encouraging, but in a way depressing, because students have to fight so hard against the faculty charged with teaching them, not indoctrinating them.

I love what a sophomore at Amherst, Jack Morgan, said: “There comes a point when you wonder, Are you [a professor] fostering a discussion or are you promoting an opinion you want students to embrace or even parrot?” A lefty prof at Amherst (pardon the redundancy), Barry O’Connell, said, “My job is not to get my students to agree with me” — which is nice. Then he conceded, “There is a second when I hear them, and my heart just falls.”

Yeah, I know. So, tell them who Aristotle was or something — and let them read the day’s papers on their own.

We knew there would come a time when the ’60s radicals would be the graybeards of the faculty. But their era can’t end soon enough.

Speaking of Amherst, they just named a new president — and may I be so cheeky as to point out that his name is Marx? That’s Anthony W. Marx, a political scientist who has been at Columbia and whose specialty is — yes — race. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Oh, and did I mention his wife is a sociologist? And not the Paul Hollander type, I imagine.

It gets a little worse. The above-mentioned Prof. Barry O’Connell — the one who professes not to indoctrinate, but whose heart sinks — said, “The fact that [Marx] knows a lot about race and political resistance and that he has [a] commitment to public education are the things that make me hopeful and excited.”

Ay, caramba!

I noticed in a news story that Saddam Hussein got the idea for his underground bunkers from — no, not Hitler — Tito of Yugoslavia. He visited there in 1976, and ol’ Josip Broz gave him a tour. Saddam then and there resolved to build a network of bunkers of his own. And that’s what our troops are about to explore, a perilous job.

Great how the despots sort of stick together, isn’t it? They’re kind of a special club. There aren’t many people with whom a tyrant can compare notes.

New Zealand just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Edmund Hillary’s climb atop Mt. Everest. This, inevitably, reminded me of my own Sen. Clinton. You remember when she claimed that her parents had named her after Sir Edmund? (In fact, she told the great mountaineer this.) Then it transpired that he was an utter unknown when she was born, not having made his climb then.

But it would explain the unusual spelling of the senator’s first name. I have a conservative Republican friend who named her daughter Hilary — she was always offended by Mrs. Clinton’s misspelling of her name, politics aside.

Was slightly disappointed to see a Jay Leno quip on April 1. “Today Vice President Dick Cheney walked into the Oval Office and said, ‘You want to run things for a while?’ And Bush said, ‘Sure.’ And then Cheney went, ‘April Fool!’”

That old thing? That old chestnut/canard? Not put to rest yet? Even now, this far into Operation Iraqi Freedom? I guess it’ll never die. The comedians and the Dowds — I’m separating the two categories — are apparently too strong in the culture.

I bring you some news from my hometown, Ann Arbor, Mich. No, this isn’t about the community’s leftism. It’s far more fun than that. Almost makes me proud of my roots!

A 15-year-old kid in Mott’s Children Hospital hired a prostitute — she actually entered the hospital and completed the transaction.

Police would not release information on the boy’s medical condition, citing patient confidentiality laws.

Kara Gavin, a university hospital spokeswoman, said hospital staff members were cooperating with police. “We have extensive security here, especially for infants and young children,” she said.

“Teenagers and younger adults obviously can have visitors and use the phone, and we’re always trying to strike a balance. We expect everyone — staff and patients — to uphold the law while they’re here.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But still: My hero!

A reader from fair Ann Arbor writes, “Thought you’d like to know how things are going in your hometown. I’ve seen three houses in the Ann Arbor area prominently displaying French flags. One of the houses is four doors down from me and my family. My face reddens every time I drive by that damned shack.”

Last, I don’t know how I missed this, from the Oscars (except I didn’t watch them). As you might guess, I have always hated “And the Oscar goes to . . .,” to replace the longstanding “And the winner is . . .” The traditional phrase was thought to be politically incorrect.

But a reader tells me this: “I caught the award for Best Picture, which was presented by Kirk and Michael Douglas. As they opened the envelope, Michael started the PC, and therefore lame, prelude: ‘And the Oscar goes to . . .’ But Kirk, bless him, in as loud a voice as his condition allows, bellowed: ‘AND THE WINNER IS . . .’!

“This, I will remember.”

Me too, baby.


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