2002-02-02 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Some odds and ends as we move into February.

I was going through The Wave from November of 1939, looking to see if my birth announcement was in the paper, when I glanced at the lead story in the paper. It was a story about the fact that the city of New York was about to spend thousands of dollars (lots of money in those days) to make Rockaway into a tourist destination in both the summer and winter months. Does that sound familiar 62 years later?

Steve Dunleavy is a columnist for The New York Post. He is slightly to the right of Attila the Hun but his columns are always fun to read for his right-wing rhetoric. A recent column of his was entitled, "Only Blessed Idiots Could Be This Stupid." In this case, Dunleavy could be describing himself. His column was about the removal as the statement "God Bless You" from the sign in front of Beach Channel High School. Only, Dunleavy called it "Broad Channel High School." You remember the story. The statement was put on the sign to honor those in Rockaway lost in the World Trade Center attack, those who died in the crash of flight 587 and those who are currently fighting in Afghanistan. A teacher at the school, angered by the reference to God, called the Board of Ed, which had it removed. Dunleavy then goes on to write, "Broad Channel – an island community in Jamaica Bay – sends most of its kids to Beach Channel High School. Yesterday, the people who live on the island were ready to secede from the city." I am not sure whether he was speaking about Broad Channel, the community or Broad Channel, the high school. In any case, he is wrong about the reaction to removing the sign. He continues, "I hope that Mike Bloomberg will try again, lest the people of Broad Channel form their own government. Think I’m joking? Go there. I know it well. You walk in there, but never swagger unless you look good with a limp. Broad Channel: be calm, be straight, write to us at The Post, leave your fists at home. Well, knowing Broad Channel, that might be a stretch, but cool it lads." What is he talking about? Is he saying that Broad Channel residents are hot heads that want to beat up the teacher who had the sign replaced? Is he saying that if you go to Broad Channel you will get your leg broken? In this case, it is Dunleavy who comes off looking like the stupid idiot he mentions in his headline.

The anarchists are coming to New York City this weekend to protest the World Economic Forum. They decry corporate power, demand freedom for a cop-killer in Philadelphia, demand that America got out of the Middle East and generally desire that government disappear. They have caused riots in Seattle and in Italy. That is what they do. Anarchists love riots like rats love cheese. It is their stock in trade. Newsday thinks that they are great. While every other paper in the city, including The New York Times, worries about what they will do to the city in the wake of the World Trade Center, Newsday worries that the anarchists will be bothered by the police. In a recent issue, the paper showed a picture of cops involved in a drill at Shea Stadium, preparing for the onslaught. The picture they used made the cops look like budding Torquemadas. The fact is, the anarchists have more to fear from the people of New York City than from the cops. In the wake of the World Trade Center, nobody wants to be bothered with that rhetoric. I can just see a scenario where the protestors run into some construction workers who have been working at Ground Zero and they try and tell the workers that they are part of a grand imperialistic scheme to undermine the third world. The protestors are liable to find themselves buried in their own bodies, and that would be just fine with me. Every American has the right to peaceful protest, but that is not what these people have in mind and that has been proven over and over again, despite what Newsday might say about the subject.

Lt. Col. Martha McSally, USAF. flies the A-10 Warthog, a ground supply attack plane that is tough on its pilot and even tougher on its adversaries. Assigned to a squadron in Saudi Arabia, she was forced by our government to wear an abaya, the traditional Muslim dress for women and was forced to sit in the back seat and be accompanied by a male colleague whenever she left the base. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and it is amazing to note that we would not allow an attack pilot drive a car. In any case, McSally sued and the government has relented. She no longer has to wear the Muslim dress, but she still cannot drive off base and she still must be accompanied by a male officer wherever she goes off base. The State Department says that it is necessary to follow the rules of the nation you are in at any given time, but that is ridiculous. Saudi Arabia needs us more than we need it. The United States is all that stands between the Saudi kings and the other nations in the Middle East that would love to destroy that nation and take over its oil. What was the Saudi response to our change in policy? They criticized our government and demanded that our female servicewomen wear the head-to-toe robe. They threatened to kick us out of the bases that we use on their soil. We should find another place to go and then we should walk away next time the Saudi’s are attacked by one of their Arab neighbors. You can’t have it both ways. If you want our help, then you have to play by our rules. If not, look for help elsewhere.

I worry about Charles Barron, a new city councilman from East New York. Barron was recently named to head the higher education committee and that is the last place that I want a person who is a former Black Panther. The city university system is just beginning to turn around from the years that it was a politically correct dumping ground, and I don’t want to see that progress reversed. What, you say, perhaps Barron has changed. No way! When Barron was first sworn into office, he riled at the pictures of Thomas Jefferson in the city council hall. "We should take down the pictures of that old white pedophile," Barron said at the time. He went on to say that we had to "bring the hood to the hall," by taking down pictures of white politicians and putting up pictures of African Americans instead. Does it sound to you like he has changed from his Black Panther days? Barron sounds to me like he has a racial agenda, and that is just what the city university does not need at this critical time in its history.

Let me get this straight. Deborah Schwartz, an Orthodox Jew who had just come back from a trip to Israel, tells her class in a Brooklyn public school that it was Arabs who attacked the World Trade Center and that Arab-Jewish violence is tearing the Middle East apart. She is charged with engaging in "verbal corporal punishment," and her teaching license, as well as her job, is on the line. When asked about the charges, board of education officials, admitting that what she said was not anti-Arab, would only say, "where do you draw the line?" Nobody seems to be supporting Schwartz. At the same time, a professor at a public university in Florida, an Arab professor told his class, "that he was wishing for Victory for Islam and called for Death to Israel." When he was called on the carpet by the university, dozens of both Arab and non-Arab groups rushed to his assistance, full of "academic freedom" speeches. The professor is back on the job. One wonders if the professor’s backers would back Schwartz as well. Of course not. At the same time, the State Department is hosting a Muslim public relations specialist who told a radio audience on September 12, "Israelis had the most to gain from the attack on the World Trade Center and most likely did it to build anti-Arab sentiment in America." The State Department cited freedom of speech and disparate viewpoints to justify his invitation. How about disparate viewpoints in our school system? Not on your life. When a teacher gets dumped upon for telling the truth, we are all in trouble.

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