An Inclusive Litany


An education text used at California State University, Dominguez Hills, says: "We cannot afford to become so bogged down in grammar and spelling that we forget the whole story... the onslaught of antihuman [sic] practices that this nation and other nations are facing today: racism, and sexism, and the greed for money and human labor that disguises itself as 'globalization.' " (From "Spelling and Social Justice," a chapter in Beyond Heroes and Holidays, by Enid Lee, et. al.)

Another text used at San Francisco State University, New Designs for Teaching and Learning, by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm says: "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught.... Successful teachers understand the outside context of community, personal abilities and feelings, while they establish an inside context or environment conducive to learning."

In Methods That Matter, Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar similarly dismiss content knowledge: "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts." The authors add: "The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people. And no matter what the test, does anyone seriously expect rich suburban kids, whose 'Nordic' neighbors create and sell these tests, to wind up at the bottom?"

And in The Piaget Primer, Ed Labinowicz concludes that school reforms centered around mastering basic skills are simply satisfying "parental ego needs" that "they can flaunt before their neighbors" and that "have little to do with children's best interests."


Two San Francisco Bay area artists, Emily Duffy and Ron Nicolino, have engaged in a legal battle over who owns the intellectual rights to the idea of rolling many brassieres together into a giant ball.


Gore Vidal announced that he might write a movie script about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh "and those of us who object to the tyranny of the U.S. government against its people."


In Ontario, the family of a teenage girl killed while driving a utility vehicle at a John Deere plant is suing the company, the local school board, and the organizers of Take Our Kids to Work Day.

Writing in the Journal of African American Men, Don Elligan, a clinical psychologist at the Boston Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology, recommends using rap in the mental health treatment of young black men. In "Rap Therapy: A Culturally Sensitive Approach to Psychotherapy with Young African American Men," Elligan reports on one clinician's breakthrough with an angry teenage boy whose father had been murdered after serving jail time for drug dealing. After sharing raps with the therapist, the boy composed a rap revealing his strong feelings for his mother, helping decrease his violent outbursts at school. But despite such successes, Elligan warns, "If the therapist is unable to effectively meet the expectations of Rap Therapy, it is not clinically indicated for the therapist to attempt its application."


A woman found guilty of embezzling $241,061 was spared an 18 month prison term because she was deemed a "shopoholic" who used the money to go on shopping sprees to fight chronic depression.


Created to resolve Holocaust-era disputes, the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims has so far spent more than $30 million on salaries, hotel bills and newspaper ads while distributing only $3 million to claimants.

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, May 22, 2001:
Critics should not accuse other nations of trying to "stack the 53-member commission with friends." Look within yourselves and at this once great nation. We've done nothing about land mines. Crime is rampant in our schools and on the streets. We are the most violent nation on Earth and most certainly do not deserve any seats on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

—Nancy Robie

[Ed.: In addition to encouraging slavery, the government of Sudan, which won a seat on the commission at the same time the United States was voted off, has for many years engaged in a genocidal effort to forcibly convert and impose Islamic law on the Christian and animist south, resulting in an estimated two million people killed and five million displaced. In 1998 alone, more than 100,000 died from policies of deliberate starvation.]

Another letter from the next day:

In his letter to the editor (May 18) on the protesters at Harvard University, Richard Heck asks, "Did any president in the last century do more to eradicate poverty than Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Harvard BA, 1903)?" The answer to professor Heck's question is yes: Lyndon Baines Johnson (Southwest Texas State Teachers College BA, 1930).

—Daniel Breen

[Ed.: A little-known historical fact: despite their undeniable political popularity, neither Roosevelt's New Deal nor Johnson's War on Poverty had much actual effect on poverty. Following a halting recovery from the deep well of 1932, the American economy dipped into another severe recession in 1938, the unemployment rate remaining flat up until the massive military buildup leading to World War II. Similarly, the percentage of people under the poverty line remained unchanged following implementation of Johnson's Great Society programs.]

The Italian high court ruled that prisoners who are released to work in surrounding communities as part of their sentence have a right to paid holidays. Still, they won't be allowed to spend their holidays outside of jail.

The following bill was referred to the Massachusetts committee on State Administration on January 3, 2001, followed by a public hearing on April 2. After a favorable response, it went to the Senate Steering and Policy committee on April 17, and was passed by the Senate May 7. It's now in the House committee on Steering, Policy, and Scheduling:
In the Year Two Thousand and One.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Chapter 2 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section: The Boston Cream Donut shall be the official donut of the Commonwealth.


Death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal delivered yet another recorded address to graduating college seniors, this one at Occidental College near Los Angeles. Unlike his previous year's address at Antioch College, this one drew no protests, perhaps because Antioch is much closer to Pennsylvania, where he murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982.

"I think he has a message that fits perfectly with [Occidental]—radicalism, justice, activism," commented Bre Fahs, a 21-year-old senior who led the effort to have Abu-Jamal speak. "This is a college that's quite committed to the free expression of ideas," said Occidental College President Theodore Mitchell. "So I'm pleased that we are able to provide a venue for Mumia to speak."

"Had I known this was going on I would have gone down there and held up a picture of Danny," said the slain policeman's widow, Maureen Faulkner. "He was in college when he was murdered and he never got a chance to graduate." Not being allowed a rebuttal at past commencement ceremonies, Ms. Faulkner has held up pictures of her slain husband in silent vigils. She moved to southern California to put behind memories of her husband's murder, but California has over the years proven to be a hotbed of pro-Mumia activism.

[Ed.: After Abu-Jamal's call for a new trial was rejected the following December, the Paris City Council voted to make him an honorary citizen. Ms. Faulkner is probably racking up some serious frequent-flyer miles. His death sentence was eventually overturned, and he will get another sentencing hearing.]


The Committee on Names of Fishes, a seven-member joint committee of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society, recommended changing the common name of Ephinephelus itajara from "jewfish," since that might be considered offensive. However, the new name they recommend, "Goliath grouper," is inexplicably named after a Philistine famous for killing Jews.


Massachusetts State Rep. John Rogers of Walpole proposed that prison cells be counted as affordable housing units to enable host communities such as his own to qualify for special state grants.

A formerly suicidal insurance executive who lost his job following a six-hour police standoff in which he brandished a gun at a Denver mall is suing his former employer for discrimination based on his mental disability. At issue is whether a suicide note he left during a period of "acute situational depression" could be interpreted as his implicit letter of resignation.


California Assembly leader Kevin Shelley called for a moment of silence to honor the memory of Mrs. Landingham, a fictional character on NBC's "West Wing" show who is killed by a drunk driver. Shelley called Mrs. Landingham a "great American" whose "contributions to the nation were too numerous to count." An NBC spokeswoman responded by noting that Kathryn Joosten, who played the president's secretary on the Emmy-winning show, is alive and in good health.

After Roger Clinton, the former president's half-brother, was arrested in Torrance, California, for drunk driving and disturbing the peace, his lawyer, Mark Geragos, said Roger was a victim of "political profiling." His arrest came a month after his big brother granted him a pardon for a cocaine offense.

In a Senate floor speech on March 1, 2001, Senator Hillary Clinton (D, NY) declared: "No one should have to leave their hometown, their families, and their roots to find a good job in America."


Another of President Clinton's outgoing executive orders mandated increasing efficiency standards in washing machines 22 percent by 2004 and 35 percent by 2007. Some high-end clothes washers already meet the new energy standards, but fewer than 9 percent of consumers choose them because they are so much more expensive. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculates that the only way for a consumer to come out ahead financially with one of the new machines would be to run 392 loads a year and by owning it for 14 years.

Appliance manufacturers welcome the new regulations. One commented: "Selling it in the marketplace is easy if there is a standard in place. It's not a matter, necessarily, of consumer acceptance." Bills have also been introduced in both the House and Senate that would set up tax credits for manufacturers who meet the standard before the deadline, so they will still be paid if consumers balk at the more expensive models.

[Ed.: The Bush administration upheld the new regulation.]

Located 75 miles from Vilnius, Lithuania, Europe's latest theme park is called "Stalin World." Visitors pay $1.40 to get in, arriving by crowded cattle trucks. The park is peppered with substandard barracks, and is circled by barbed wire, watchtowers, and speakers blaring Soviet propaganda.

In his new book, The Conscience of a Liberal, Senator Paul Wellstone (D, MN) declares: "Our national goal must be to ensure that every child, by kindergarten, knows the alphabet, colors, shapes, and sizes. This will require well-paid professional teachers, assisted by skillful and well-paid teaching assistants."

In Florida, members of a gay and lesbian softball league debated whether to lift a rule allowing only two straight players per team. Argument centered around whether heterosexuals would come to dominate the league as a result, and whether the perception that they might represented a bias against the athletic abilities of gays and lesbians. "That's ridiculous," said one gay activist. "That's like saying all African-Americans are fantastic basketball players."


Virginia Governor James Gilmore canceled the "European American Heritage and History Month" after he learned it had been proposed by a white supremacist group, the National Organization for European American Rights, that's headed by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon David Duke.


Hundreds of angry protesters staged a sit-in at Northeastern University, blocking Boston streets during rush hour and chasing after president Richard M. Freeland after he announced plans to raze the black student center. Plans called for replacing it with a much larger building that would offer more space to black student groups, but that would also have to be shared with other campus groups.


A physics lesson broadcast on CNN, May 9, 2001:
The so-called fuel economy standard for passenger cars is now 27.5 miles per gallon. But for light trucks such as SUVs, it remains 20.7 miles per gallon. A bipartisan Senate bill calls for raising that standard to equal that of passenger cars by 2007.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA): "There is no earthly reason why SUVs and light trucks shouldn't be as fuel efficient as sedans."

[Ed.: A July report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the current set of CAFE standards, which encourage smaller cars, contribute to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths a year, as well as ten times that many serious injuries. They're also more than a little silly, since they're averaged for each manufacturer's class of vehicle. Thus, DaimlerChrysler is able to define its popular PT Cruiser—a mere whisp of a vehicle—as a "truck" to offset the low mileage of large SUVs such as the Dodge Durango.]


An African-American staffer for one of the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives reports that while having Christmas dinner with his family after the Florida election drama concluded, his twelve-year-old niece asked: "Now that Bush has been elected President, am I going to be treated as three-fifths of a human being?"

Eric Cohen of the Weekly Standard reports taking a group of black fourth and fifth graders from a Washington housing project to an outing in the nation's capital, a few days after a man had been arrested for firing shots at the White House. Cohen asked the children what they thought of their new president. Some of the responses:

"When I heard about the shooting I was pretty happy... I thought Bush might have got shot."

"President Bush is going to put us all back in slavery."

"He's going to round up all the black people and kill them."

[Ed.: A little-known historical fact: While denying slaves basic rights, Southerners attending the Constitutional Convention still wanted them counted as full persons for the purpose of representation. Northerners devoted to the goal of limiting or abolishing slavery didn't want slaves counted—not because they didn't acknowledge slaves were really people, but simply as a means to diminish the electoral power of the South. The three-fifths formula was a compromise.]

From a letter to Warden Harley Lappin from Bruce Friedrich, vegan campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, March 20, 2001:
On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I am writing to ask that you make Timothy McVeigh's final meals vegetarian ones. This request has been suggested to PETA by several of my friends in Oklahoma, where I grew up (about 15 minutes from the Federal Building).

Now that the federal prison system offers a vegetarian meal plan, Mr. McVeigh should not be allowed to take even one more life. In fact, wiping meat off all inmates' plates could help killers lose their taste for blood. As you know, many violent criminals, including Jeffrey Dahmer, started out as animal abusers, and it's been found that all serial killers have a background history of torturing animals. Feeding inmates bean burritos rather than baby back ribs might just help break the cycle of violence.

In Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, a third-grade boy was suspended from school for possessing a picture of a camouflaged G.I. Joe soldier armed with hand grenades and knives. He drew it at home and brought it in his notebook and the teacher wouldn't have known about it except a dumb snitch had to go and tell.


Senator John Kerry (D, MA) announced that by delaying an 80 percent reduction of allowable arsenic limits in drinking water, President Bush "is content to allow one in every 100 Americans with certainty to get cancer from drinking water."

The actual study Kerry was garbling, by the National Research Council, estimated that for the five percent of the U.S. population whose water contained arsenic, which occurs naturally, there was a 1-in-100 lifetime chance of cancer, not a certainty. Far more certain is the fact that 25 percent of men and women develop cancer regardless of their arsenic intake.

A joint study by the Brookings Institute and the American Enterprise Institute estimated that putting the strict arsenic standard into effect might save ten lives per year, but with money that would save more lives if spent elsewhere, about $190 million annually. Indeed, there would even be a net gain to public safety if keeping the money would help citizens buy a new car or gas range.


The principal at Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona, ordered about 40 statements in the dedications, comments and remembrances section of the annual yearbook to be blacked out by hand with magic markers. Among the censored items are sexually suggestive comments such as "I love you Mark," and religious statements such as "God bless everyone." Use of initials to spell out phrases like "Friends Forever" was also blacked out because gangs might use them as their monickers.


Richard Espinosa filed a $1.5 million claim against the city of San Marcos, California after an otherwise popular cat who lived in the local public library attacked his assistance dog, Kimba, inflicting scratches and punctures and resulting in a $50 veterinarian's bill. (The cat was apparently uninjured.) Espinosa says he "was emotionally traumatized and suffers from flashbacks, terror, nightmares and other problems." Espinosa also said he uses Kimba, a 50-pound Labrador mix, to help him deal with complications related to panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.

[Ed.: Espinosa later amended the lawsuit, claiming the attack was a "hate crime."]


A group of students who won a nationwide patriotic essay contest stopped at the Jefferson Memorial during a trip to Washington D.C. and became so filled with patriotic pride that they spontaneously burst into singing the National Anthem. Before they got to the last stanza, however, they were stopped by a National Park Service ranger. According to a federal regulation, any time a group of 26 people or more gathers at a national monument and attracts an audience, it is considered a demonstration, which requires a permit. Jefferson would have had something to say about the matter.

Voted off the island, the United States lost its seat in the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Diplomats said one of the reasons for the ouster might have been retaliation for frequent U.S. condemnation of human rights abuses worldwide. As part of the same vote, Sudan, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Togo were elected onto the commission, where they will join Syria, Algeria, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

[Ed.: Senator John Kerry (D, MA) took the ouster as evidence that the international community now sees "a lack of a sense of honesty" in the United States.]

Responding to complaints of racism from Latino students, a task force at San Diego State University recommended toning down the image of the school's football mascot, Monty Montezuma. Rather than breathe fire, carry a spear, and loudly exhort fans, the cheerleader would have to dress and behave respectfully, lose the "Monty" nickname, and be modeled more closely after the real Aztec ruler.

But Tom Davies, a dissenting task force member and professor of Latin American history, said that if the school wanted a historically accurate Montezuma, he would have to be carted around on a litter and remain wordless during the football games, his subjects forbidden to even look at him. For the game to proceed, halftime would be devoted to a ritual human sacrifice.

The New York Law Journal, April 30, 2001:
The Southern District Committee on Grievances has censured a Queens attorney for what it called his "race-based abuse of opposing counsel" during a 1996 U.S. Department of Labor proceeding. Thomas C. Monaghan, of Broad Channel, was disciplined for stopping a deposition to harangue the opposing lawyer for mispronouncing the word "establish" as "extablish" and the word "especially" as "expecially."

A newly identified pathology, described in "Psychodynamics of Political Correctness," in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 33, No. 2, 1997. The author of the paper, Oakland University professor Howard S. Schwartz, recently completed a full-length book on the subject, The Revolt of the Primitive: An Inquiry into the Roots of Political Correctness.
Political correctness represents a regression in university functioning in which paternal influences are repudiated and a biparental model of authority is replaced by one revolving around a primordial conception of the mother. Paternal influences are those which represent the engagement with external reality, and regression to the primordial mother is therefore a rejection of external reality. Aspects of university functioning that are explained by this model include the inversion of valuation, the assault against the white males, the subordination of rationality in decision making, the balkanization of the university, the drive to the extreme, and the anomaly of female power.


When conservative firebrand (and former leftist firebrand) David Horowitz sent a paid advertisement listing "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks Is a Bad Idea for Blacks—and Racist Too," most college newspapers refused to run the ad. Of the few who did, editors at Berkeley's school newspaper followed up with a front-page editorial apology. At Brown, whose editors published the ad without apology, 4,000 copies of the student newspaper containing the ad were stolen. As one professor observed, "If something is free you can take as many copies as you want." Another professor of African-American studies said: "I have talked to students who told me that they cannot perform basic functions like sleeping or walking because of the ad."