2007-10-19 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But (Political Issues Edition)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

... Al Sharpton says that he is just trying to help a Jamaica man who was shot by cops in November of last year in the same incident in which Sean Bell was killed by police bullets. When Trent Benefield was arrested recently for beating his girlfriend, he told police that Sharpton and his National Action Network have been giving Benefield upwards of $3,000 a month to live on since he was shot by undercover police officers. The officers involved say that they believed that the three men who were shot were going to get into some sort of a gunfight outside a Jamaica nightclub where they had just had an altercation with another group of men. Sharpton says that they were the victims of police racial profiling, even though most of the officers were black. Benefield told police that Sharpton and his network have been supporting him since the shooting. "They give me whatever I want, whatever I need," Benefield reportedly told police. Sharpton admitted that he was paying not only Benefield, but the other two men who were shot in the incident and Bell's fiancée as well. One police union official said, "I think an investigation should be conducted because if [Sharpton is] purchasing testimony, he may be perpetrating a fraud on the criminal justice system." I agree. It certainly appears that Sharpton is insuring loyalty and insuring testimony in a very high-profile case in which he has a great public relations stake - sort of like Tawana Brawley and the Rockaway Five, and we all know how those cases turned out for Sharpton.

...The conventional wisdom has always been that American workers would not be available to fill the jobs done by illegal immigrant workers should they be deported or otherwise taken from their jobs. Once again, it appears that the conventional wisdom is wrong. There is one example that proves the contention that American workers will take onerous jobs if the job pays a living wage. Last November, immigration agents raided the giant Smithfield Food's hog butchering plant in North Carolina - the largest such plant in the nation. They detained more than a thousand workers, mostly illegal Hispanic immigrants, and eventually arrested 21. In the following weeks, more than 1,100 other workers disappeared from the plant, apparently convinced that they were next. Now, nearly a year later, most of those workers have been replaced by American citizens. There have been some problems. The company had to increase salaries to more than $10 an hour to lure the new workers, cutting the company's profit margin. And, the turnover in the malodorous and grueling jobs has been double what it was when illegal immigrants were used, plant officials told a reporter from the New York Times.

... I should no longer be shocked at what Ann Coulter, the Neocon Paris Hilton, has to say. She called 9/11 widows "witches," demanded that Muslims be killed or converted to Christianity and branded presidential candidate John Edwards "a faggot." Actually, I am not surprised at what she says, but I am surprised that cable television networks continue to provide her a forum and legitimize her drivel. Last week, she told CNBC talk show host Donny Deutsch, who is Jewish (as am I), "We just want Jews to be perfected [by converting to Christianity]. That's what Christianity is." Claiming to speak for all Christians, Coulter added that Christianity is "on the fast track." She said that Christians "believe in the Old Testament, ours is more like Federal Express." A spokesperson for the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) commented, "The notion that Jews are religiously inferior or imperfect because they do not accept Christian beliefs was the basis for 2,000 years of church-based anti-Semitism." Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese said, "I don't know what denomination she claims to be, but she certainly does not speak on behalf of us."

...Think about what Mayor Mike has wrought for our city. He instituted a smoking ban and may well have saved some lives, but also destroyed a number of businesses. He instituted a trans-fat ban and a trip to McDonald's is no longer so flavorful even if it is healthier. He banned formula samples from hospitals under the control of the city's HHC, forcing poor women to breast feed whether they liked it or not. He forced many already impacted areas to accept low-income housing in order for them to get the market-rate housing they really desired. He vowed to wipe out homelessness by forcing the homeless to accept his programs or get out of town. He changed the rules so that the homeless now have to access friends and family before they can seek city shelter - something that many people are loath to do. His new plan to charge people who have to drive into the city's central business district to go to medical appointments, financial appointments, to simply go shopping or to a Broadway show, proves once again that he is out of touch with the common person. In addition, in my mind, he has fouled up the school system with his constant changes in the governance rules and with his strong support to the NCLB Act to the detriment of the city's public school students. His legacy is going to be ashes, not diamonds, except for the elitist Manhattan interests that he really represents.

...The NYCLU is once again getting involved in the schools, an area where the organization has no expertise and only a preconceived notion that all kids would do the right thing if only you left them alone to do it. There was an assault at Beach Channel High School two weeks ago that sent to two students to the hospital. By all reports, a group of girls, led by an intruder, attacked a BCHS freshman sitting in the cafeteria. They punched her, kicked her, and hit her in the head with a heavy lock. Even the Department of Education admitted that it was a "melee." If it had not been for the school security agents, she may well have been seriously injured or killed.

Yet, the NYCLU looks at the SSA's and the police that they work for, as interlopers and ask that they be taken completely from school buildings. I wonder what world they live in, a world where police are not necessary and nobody breaks the law. That world in not available in our public schools. In another school, not in Rockaway, a girl attacked an SSA because she would not allow the girl into the school before it was open. When police came to arrest the girl, the principal got in the way, attacking an SSA in the process. Both were arrested, as well they should have been. That is a reality in the schools and the NYCLU does no public good by excoriating the agents for doing their job.

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