2007-08-17 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But …(You Gotta Believe Issue)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

...Robert Lane said it all in a letter to the editor of Newsweek magazine a few weeks ago, in response to a cover story about American Muslims. He wrote: "What is the moderate Muslim community doing to protect against the hijacking of Islam? If 19 right-wing Christian conservatives had flown aircraft into buildings with the intent of killing innocents and continued to release a stream of suicide bombers, true Christians worldwide would have rallied and would still be protesting, en masse, this total assault on their religion. Many of us have taken the Muslim communities' lack of anger as tacit approval of militant Islam. Unfortunately, Islam has become synonymous with violence and terror, and many moderate, peaceful Muslims are now the victims as well."

...Another letter caught my eye, this one from Marilyn Schiffman of Hamden, New York. She writes about the mayor's proposed program to pay students for good test grades.

"We ought to step back and take a good hard look at what exactly we want education to be. If education means a good test score, then bribe, pay or do whatever it takes to make yourself feel that you're getting a great education when test scores are high. If, however, we want children to feel that learning is exhilarating and an accomplishment that is self-directed and self-fulfilling, we should spend this money on improving what wise people know is the thrill of being educated. If adults cannot get their priorities straight and believe that a good test score is all there is to education, we deserve to churn out generations of ignorant and misguided children."

…Carl Banks has become my "main man" on the radio. For those of you who don't know Banks, he once played football for the New York Giants and now sits in the former seat of Don Imus on WFAN radio during morning drive time. Last week, in a discussion of the murder of four young black college students in Newark, New Jersey, Banks asked where Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other black leaders were on the horrendous murders. "They'd be there if a cop shot the kids," Banks said. "They should be there now." Doesn't that sound like what I've been writing for years?

...Every time I hear the Department of Education talk about what wonderful school principals they are turning out at the Principal's Academy at Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan, I have to think of some of the leaders we have in our schools today. First, there is Maritza Tamayo, the principal of the Unity High School in Manhattan, who allegedly held a Santeria rite at the school to rid it of bad vibes and to help discipline. That rite included white robes, mystical headdresses, splattered chicken blood, burning incense and tarot cards. That's the ticket to better school discipline - chicken blood and tarot cards. Then, we have Debbie Almontader, the principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, which was due to open in September. She recently tendered her resignation after she failed to condemn a student's Tshirt that suggested that the bloody Intifada begun by Muslim terrorists should be imported to New York City. I have to wonder why this school even exists. Why not a school about Jewish culture that includes lessons in Hebrew and Yiddish? Why not a school about Puerto Rican culture that teaches Spanish? Why not just pander to every distressed minority in the city? To keep democracy alive, we need less isolation on the part of minorities, not more. Every time a new school for one group or another, whether they be Muslims, newcomers, gay and lesbian, special education, religiously-based or whatever, starts up, a little bit of democracy dies. It does not matter whether the student body is open to all, it will be primarily made up of students who adhere to the school's ethnicity or religious beliefs. Whoever came up with an idea for an academy that focuses on Muslim history and beliefs and teaches Arabic in this day and age should be walked out and sent to the nearest asylum.

...The New York Times did it again. In a recent story on the ongoing subway searches that were instituted after bombings in other cities, its pull-quote is: "Two years into divisive security measures, officials say it is worth continuing." First of all, other than the NYCLU, who else believes that the program is "divisive?" Nobody. In fact, riders have come to expect it and overwhelmingly agree that they like it because they believe that the searches make them safer. The Times was angry that the NYPD would not disclose when and where it was going to run the patrols, but that would only direct the terrorists to unprotected spaces that would then be easier to attack.

…City councilman Charles Barron wants to be the Brooklyn Borough President. He says that, if he wins, he'd "take care of African-Americans - unapologetically." "Am I going to be a borough president for all of the people? Absolutely," said the former Black Panther who often partners with Rockaway's councilman, James Sanders. "But I'm letting y'all know now, I'm taking care of the black folk."

...What caused artist Jeremy Blake to step into the ocean at Rockaway Beach and commit suicide? Police say he was despondent due to the suicide a week before of his long-time girlfriend, but documents have come to light that both Blake and his girlfriend, Theresa Duncan, believed that they were being harassed by members of the Church of Scientology. In fact, the two had filed a lawsuit against the church charging that it was causing them both mental and financial harm. Stay tuned.

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