May 31, 2002


: The Christian Science Monitor lays it out:

Within the first 48 hours, India is expected to attack the Neelam Valley Road across the Kupwara sector in Indian-held Kashmir, says an Indian Air Force officer involved in the planning. The Indian Air Force will try to destroy an important bridge over the Jhelum River which connects Pakistan with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. But "Indian action will attract heavy Pakistani punishment," says General Mehta.

In the Kargil conflict, the Indian government decided not to cross the 460-mileLine of Control that divides Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This policy was to ensure that the "limited conflict" did not escalate into a full-fledged conventional war.

The main source is apparently Ret. Major Gen. Ashok Mehta, an Indian military analyst. Being retired, he could be like those generals we see Fox and MSNBC and CNN trot out every time a terrorist sneezes in Afghanistan. If it's a real plan and if they're so open about it, how serious a plan is it? It does resemble what India did in 1999's conflict, but that alone argues that India will behave differently this time. My guess, and it's just that, is that putting this plan out there is a way of making the US aware just how serious things are, and of making India look like the stand-up party in the fight. "We only want to get the terrorists, and aren't interested in anything more." Other than that "decisive battle" Vajpayee mentioned the other day, anyway.
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: I took French in high school, two years of it, but I can't speak a lick of it now so I can't evaluate this take on David Gregory's smarmy French interlude with Jacques Chirac the other day. But man, do I hope it's true.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Only the performance art world would come up with this:

For the performance, documented by Stoppi's [he's one of the artists in a show in Baltimore] camera, the artists dressed themselves up as dolls packaged in the manner of children's action figures - "Jihad Joe," "Taliban Barbie," etc. Each figure is fastened in its presentation box with various accessories - knives, pistols, Molotov cocktails and cunning red and black "suicide belts" packed with nails and C-4 plastic explosives.

And, like all performance artists these days, these folks have a cultural point to beat us over the head with:

There's a sort of macabre humor here that, in light of Sept. 11, may seem a little tasteless until one realizes that murder, mayhem and sex are precisely what toy manufacturers have been peddling for years under the guise of innocent childhood fantasy. So the piece is a biting commentary on the moral myopia that makes killing and maiming a form of entertainment and the toy industry's remarkable ability to turn such spectacles, however gruesome, into mass-market children's fare.

Funny thing is, I grew up around GI Joe and Johnny West and all sorts of "violent" toys--even had a BB gun when I was about 10 or so, and learned the finer points of shotgun operation at about age 12--but I didn't turn out to be a war-crime bomber. No, the war-crime bomber generation grew up in a place bereft of such "violent" toys, so I guess they had to dream up violence the hard way.
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I've decided against running my own version of Blog Watch. I tinkered around with it, and it's just too much of a grind. Blog Watchers like Kevin Holtsberry have my eternal respect for their faithful work, though. And btw, congrats to Kevin for getting an Instalanche. Long overdue, imho.
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: Diane says it won't happen. She makes a good case, but I hope she's wrong. President Bush said a few months back that it's his administration's policy to change regimes in Iraq. He hasn't been a perfect conservative in office, but one thing he does stick to is his word, and he came pretty close to giving his word on Iraq. Additionally, we simply have to get a handle on Saddam's weapons program. How do we do that, except by credibly threatening invasion, and carrying it out if we have to? Like I said, Diane's arguments against invasion are solid. I just hope they happen to be wrong.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


like Maryland? Ellen Sauerbrey ran as an unabashed GOP candidate for governor here in 1994, and came with a sliver of winning (some say she did win, but Parris Glendenning's minions cooked the books in enough precincts to put him over the top. Her after-election protests earned her the name "Ellen Sourgrapes"). In 1998, Sauerbrey ran again, but as a more "moderate" candidate, and got shellacked. This time around, Rep. Bob Erlich will be the GOP nominee against that Kennedy woman. This site argues that a candidate like Erlich stands a better chance of winning if he runs as a real, rock-ribbed conservative. I agree. If he runs as a moderate, Marylanders will just vote for the real thing that the Dems offer. If he runs as a real conservative, he'll present a clear choice to the voters, and is likely to fare well in rural Maryland. If his message includes a solid anti-crime thrust, he'll do better than most GOPers in Baltimore City, which is crucial to any run for governor here.

The site I linked does say at least one thing I disagree with, though, and that is that gun control is an Achilles' heel issue for conservatives. I think recent elections have shown that gun rights are a strong issue for conservatives, and a weakness for "moderates" and liberals. So Erlich should make sure to feature gun rights, and should be bold in campaigning on it.

(thanks to reader Martin Knight for the link)
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Henry Copeland thinks so. I'm a little skeptical, but intrigued.
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: Richard Cohen's column supporting research cloning is surely a joke. The opening paragraph, in which Cohen the columnist cures someone's Parkinson's via cloning, is a fantasy. I may have more to say on this in the future, but I'm acquainted with an Alzheimer's researcher who thinks the pro-cloning people are just chasing rabbit trails (though he seems to be mildly in favor or research cloning for other purposes). Whether he's right or not, the possible benefits of cloning are intrigiung but to date totally unproven. Of course, the rejoinder to that is that we must continue research, clone clone clone, to see where it leads. Funny how that argument never creeps into discussions of oil exploration, or nuclear energy, or things the left doesn't like.

Then Cohen gets utilitarian:

But what you should notice above all is that my goal -- my sole intention -- is to alleviate human misery. I want to cure Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. I want to replace defective cells with brand-new ones, and because the donor and the recipient are one and the same, I don't have to worry about the body's rejecting the new cells. I don't want to make so-called designer babies, nor, for that matter, is there any chance at the moment I could. At the moment, the sad fact is that I cannot even make the cells I want. Someday, maybe, I can. Someday I -- which is to say "we" -- can have cures for diseases that now make life so miserable for so many.

The end justifies the means, in other words. You're going to have to do better than that, pro-cloners. Madmen have come up with all sorts of schemes to "alleviate human misery," most of which just spread misery further and wider. Communism and Nazism, just to name two off the top of my head, are philosophies built ostensibly to alleviate human misery. I'm not comparing cloning to Commies and the Gestapo, though some pro-cloner will probably misquote me as doing so. What I am saying is that basing your stance purely on the utility of a thing is dangerous, as every action we take will have unintended consequences that we cannot anticipate. The pro-cloners may have noble intentions, but their efforts may end in disaster.

Ramesh Ponnuru, in The Corner, has already noted Cohen's curious venture into fact-free polemics regarding former President Ford's "anti-abortion" stance, so no need to repeat that here. Ford's pro-choice. 'Nuff said.

Cohen's big finish is a bit surprising, though. He pulls a reverse slippery-slope:

But this bill [the proposed cloning ban] is nothing less than an attempt to impose a religious doctrine on the rest of us. It is not that far removed from the Vatican's attempt to silence Galileo because he supported the Copernican theory that the earth revolved around the sun. It is an attempt by legislative fiat to stop science in its tracks: Thou Shalt Remain Ignorant.

Anti-cloners want to stop science, retract the Vatican's forgiving Galileo, put the earth back at the center of the universe, and outlaw abortion (I've just given pro-cloners another sentence to take out of context, haven't I...). Cohen's right about the abortion angle, but his logic is backward. The pro-lifers that oppose cloning oppose it on two grounds: that life begins at conception, and cloning creates a conceptus destined to be destroyed; and that allowing legal cloning puts outlawing abortion further out of reach. We don't oppose cloning thinking that doing so will lead to outlawing abortion--we oppose cloning because we see it as, in part, a pro-choice offensive against us. Opposition to cloning is essentially defensive, in other words. As is opposition to abortion.
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May 30, 2002


: George Will, one of my all-time favorite thinkers, has missed the mark on this one if his latest column is true to his opinion. He cites the worries of three airline pilots, all of whom are against arming pilots as a last line of defense against terrorists. Three is a rather small sample, given that a majority of the Airline Pilots Association favors pistol-packing pilots. And as for their concerns, I found them slightly comical.

"You cannot fly an airplane and look over your shoulder, firing down the cabin," says one of these pilots. What you could do, he says, is look down the cabin by means of a closed-circuit television camera that would warn the flight deck of cabin disturbances requiring quick action to take the plane to the ground. Flight plans should show the nearest alternative airport at every stage of every flight.

The camera and flight plan alteration make sense, but what's this about flying while looking over your shoulder? What about co-pilots, and autopilot? Surely airline pilots don't keep their hands on the yoke the entire time they're in the air.

These pilots' second problem with arming their 120,000 brethren is, well, the brethren themselves:

Another potential problem with arming America's 120,000 commercial airline pilots is what one of the three pilots here calls, with no demurral from the other two, "cowboys or renegade pilots." Many commercial pilots began their flying careers as fighter pilots. Two of the three speaking here this day did. One of them says: There is some truth to the profile of fighter pilots as, well, live wires and risk-takers. Arming them might incite them to imprudent bravery. Armed pilots would be more inclined to go out into the cabin, whereas the primary goal should be getting the plane to the ground.

Yes, the primary goal is a safe landing, but the rest is such a backward argument. Ex-fighter pilots are risk-takers, but they're also highly trained professionals, not teenagers at the wheel of a Buick. They will do what their training demands. Airlines, pilots, the military and law enforcement should come together to work up some rules of engagement. Former military personnel understand such rules, and will follow them to the letter. The "cowboy" argument basically holds a pilot's military career against him, which is both unfair and unwise.

Their third argument is that the ALPA is using the arming issue to reintroduce a third pilot into the cockpit. May be, but it sure seems a roundabout way to create jobs. I'm not much of a union guy, but in this case I'm inclined to take the ALPA at face value. It says a majority of its pilots favor being armed, and agrees with them and is pressing the issue as a result. Pretty straightforward to me.

Finally, they argue that Israel's pilots aren't armed, so why should ours be armed? After all, Israel's El Al hasn't had a hijacking in 34 years. Israel is also serious about on-the-ground security, and doesn't mess around frisking grannies and children--it goes after terrorists according to a specific profile. Israel can also afford to put marshalls on every single flight, which is impractical in a country that's more than 100 times larger than Israel and whose airlines fly to many more destinations than El Al.

The arguments of the three pilots are without merit. Pilots should be armed as a last line of defense against hijacking. It's not a perfect solution, but ask yourself this: If you're on a hijacked flight, are you more comfortable with an armed pilot on board or the roar of an F-16 in the distance? One will try to kill the terrorists, the other will blow the plane you're on out of the sky.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: So much so that ABC bleeped His name from that insipid show The View.
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: The US is preparing to evacuate more than 60,000 citizens from India and Pakistan. Or, maybe not.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I don't usually say "go read this now," because I'm not here to order anyone around. But I'm making an exception in this case, because the story in question details the aftermath of Palestinian war-crime bombings. If you're still undecided whether the Israelis or Palestinians have the moral high ground, get your head out of the sand and read the article--and look at the X-rays of survivors who've been torn by nails, screws and other schrapnel packed into the Palestinian bomb belts. And read what the murderers do to innocent children:

At a Tel Aviv nightclub June 1, a suicide bomber left 15-year-old Alona Shportova with serious brain damage and paralysis. She also had some of her limbs lacerated. In the suicide bombing of Dec. 1, Eran Mizrahi suffered a nail through his skull. He was celebrating his 16th birthday at a restaurant in Jerusalem. His injury left him paralyzed and in a catatonic state.

In many ways, we in the West are fiddling while Israel burns. God have mercy on us if we don't stop the terrorists now.

(thanks to Chris Johnson for alerting me to this story, and to David Janes for alerting Chris)
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: Back in my radio days I worked at an NPR station that was a weird hybrid between the university comm department it was a part of and the National Public Radio world at large. We had FM wannabe students, including myself, running boards for Bluegrass and opera. I had a Christian rock and roll show that aired Sundays, therefore preventing me from going to an actual church. We also had to run Ad Council promos, and oh how I learned to hate them. They're government-funded schlock advertising "good advice," and I use the phrase loosely. Reader Mark Rice is offended by a new crop of Ad Council ads I haven't heard yet, but will no doubt hate them when I do:

One ad I heard for the 100th time has a mom that makes a phone call to some emergency number and telling him that her child is jumping around doing strange antics. The emergency guy says, "Is that music I hear in the background? I think your child is dancing." The mother responds, "I've seen dancing, and that's not it!!!".

The ad continues with statements about recognizing art and valuing it.

The ad ends with this comment:
"Art, ask for more...
Brought to you by Americans for Art and the Ad Council."

I think an ad needs to be put together that has a businessman calling 911and saying "My employee just wrote me a memo that has all these mispelled words on it, and I can't understand what he's trying to communicate." The emergency guy should respond with "Sir, that person didn't get phonics in school. Sign that person up for remedial english with an emphasis in directive phonics, and that will take care of the problem."

"English proficiency, ask for more...
Brought to you by Americans for the Prevention of Stupidity

But if we prevent stupidity, who'll vote for the Democrats? Ok, that was a cheap shot, but seriously, I used to wonder how hard the producers laughed each time they cashed a check from Uncle Sam for churning out such dreck. I don't wonder anymore--I know they're busting a gut all the way to the bank.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Curmudgeonry says we need a General US Grant, unafraid of battle, ruthless in tactics and committed to total victory in the coming war, if it comes to war, with Iraq. True enough, we'll need tough, bold generals to conduct the campaign. And we'll need audacious leadership, too. Lincoln fired timid generals link McClellan, though Mac had built the Army of the Potomac into a splendid fighting force. His problem was that he was afraid to use it, and his fear prolonged the Civil War. Grant was fearless, and took the battle to his opponent, dictated the course of the battle when he could, and fought relentlessly. Bush is going to have to be two parts Lincoln and one part Napoleon--ruthless, and able to carry out what may become a multi-state campaign--to win this war.

I've been giving some thought lately to the strategic choices facing President Bush and Saddam Hussein. Suffice it say that I don't think Gulf War II will resemble Gulf War I very much, except in the end result. Saddam has had eleven years to stew over his defeat, and those years have probably taught him much about our military's tactics. He's weaker now in raw numbers than he was in 1990, but in terms of defensive tactics I expect he'll be a very different opponent this time around. He'll still lose, just not in the same way he did last time.

(link via Cut on the Bias)
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seems to be acting up again. First time in a long time, though.
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May 29, 2002


: First it was Dan Rather (c'mon, we all know he's a Dem) imagining that Attorney Gen John Ashcroft is out to get him. Now Sen. Chris Dodd is imagining that President Bush has been blaming 9-11 on Sens. Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle. And the facts won't get in his way:

"If I were the president - I mean, look, the president in this case, he ought to be angrier than any member of Congress," Sen. Dodd told radioman Don Imus.

"Instead of pointing fingers at Tom Daschle or Hillary Clinton, I'd be bringing in these people [in my administration] and saying, 'Don't ever let this happen again. And as mad as they are at you, I'm a lot madder at you, 'cause ultimately it's on my watch. If something goes wrong, I'm going to be held accountable both today and historically. So don't ever let this happen again.'"

Dodd added that "the idea of getting mad at a senator or congressman is a little misguided, in my view. You get mad at your own people."

When Imus countered that Bush hadn't voiced any anger at Sens. Daschle or Clinton, Dodd replied:

"Well, that was the sense of it all: that somehow the administration believed, you know, it was kind of blaming Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton. I mean, that's politics."

That last bit is telling. "That's politics." Imus wasn't supposed to question the factuality of Dodd's assertion, he was just supposed to accept it like the rest of the press does, because "that's politics." When Imus did question him, Dodd screwed up and accidentally told the truth, which was that his assertion was entirely political and without facts. And therein lies my central problem with the Democrat party. "That's politics" extends into every nook and cranny of life for them. Everything boils down to the political, and how they can use it to gain some advantage over the Republicans and increase power for themselves. Social Security needs fixing--let's lie about it and make stuff up to scare seniors, because that's politics. Even in the war, we've seen several prominent Democrats including former presidents launch nebulous criticisms at President Bush, criticisms which have no basis in fact but which might reduce Bush's poll numbers. Now they're all imagining that the administration is attacking them. That's politics.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Letter from Gotham has finally gotten around to updating her permalinks, and this humble blog is now among them. I'm thinking my traffic will double overnight as a result, since Gotham is a great blog. But she's called this space "Bryan's Junkyard," which accurately describes the workshop in my basement, as well as the other areas of the house under my direct control. But the title "JunkYardBlog" isn't about my basement. It's because I figured I'd use my blog to attack any thing that moved and caught my political eye, and that my attacks would be mostly defensive--defending my faith, my home state, my nation, etc against terrorists, idiotarians and others--like a junk yard dog defending his home. Junk yard dogs are also usually mutts without pedigree, which seems appropriate to me.

Anyhow, thanks for the link, Diane. Getting linked at Letter from Gotham is cooler than firing up stogies and shooting the breeze with Boba Fett and billiard babe Jeannette Lee.
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in an effort to figure out why this site takes so long to load up. I'll hopefully get it straightened out today and either put the old Comment thing back in or one that works a little better.

UPDATE: The problem did seem to be the Comments, which are hosted on another service. Gotta find a new one, I guess.
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for more than a week now that I believe an Indo-Pakistan war is unlikely, mainly because a full-scale war isn't in the short or long-term interests of either country. I've also been pointing to rogue elements (as opposed to direct state-sponsored operators) as the source of much of the recent violence in and around Kashmir, and even speculated that one group, Al Qaida, stood to benefit more from the violence than any other. Lawless, disputed Kashmir would be the perfect redoubt for Al Qaida, and a base from which the group could destabilize Pakistan as punishment for siding with the US in Afghanistan, and step in to take over (or try and prevent the rise of a replacement government) should Musharraf's government fall as a result of war.

Evidence is mounting that I'm right, at least as regards Al Qaida's role in Kashmir.
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May 28, 2002


should change its name to "Hamasvard." Why? Take a look at some recent scholarship.

UPDATE: I totally blew this story, wrong school, the works. And Hamasvard does sound like a smelly type of cheese. Sorry. Still, Harvard did host a Hamas-connected commencement speaker, and deserve scorn because of it.
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May 27, 2002


: Owing to the anti-Semitic silliness in Norway's supermarkets, Letter from Gotham's Diane has proposed that the EU gid rid of its colorful bar-code look and try something a little more true to European history.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: James Boulet, writing on National Review's site today,
adds more details on the "Hispanic" Jango Fett controversy:

The Detroit News actually convened a focus group to critique the newest Star Wars movie, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, from a civil-rights standpoint. As expected, they found problems.

The bounty hunter, Jango Fett is played by Temuera Morrison, a New Zealander of Maori descent. But "he looked totally Latino," complained one panelist, Martina Guzman. Another panelist, Jose Cuello, chimed in, "and his kid [Boba Fett] looked even more Latino."

The clones are bred on the planet Kamino, which sounds like the Spanish word camino which translates, notes the News, as "road" or "I walk," somehow transmuting the clones into stand-ins for illegal Mexican immigrants.

Thanks to another dictionary, Arab Americans could also take offense. Imad Nouri complained that, because Jango's son calls him "baba," the Fetts are actually Arabs, not Latinos: "I frankly think the bounty hunter is Arab. He's basically a terrorist and 'baba' is Arabic for 'father.'"

So let's sort all this out. Temuera Morrison is Maori, from New Zealand. But his appearance, the appearance of his son, and the name of the planet where the clones are made offends Hispanics and Arabs, two groups that are actually not involved at all. And it's a newspaper dragging these sentiments out of focus groups--manufacturing news, in other words. And it's all over a cool Star Wars character. Boba Fett is as cool as Samuel L. Jackson driving a '67 Mustang convertible with billiard babe Jeannette Lee riding shotgun, and these people are mad that he might be a relative? But hey, since they can play this game, why can't I?

Have you noticed that all the really bad guys in Star Wars are white guys? Well, other than Darth Maul, whose origins are never explored to any fan's satisfaction. But Senator/Supreme Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is a white guy. Count Dooku is a white guy. Anakin Skywalker is a white guy, and in the next episode he's going to become the arch villian of the entire series, and remain a white guy though he'll don that black samurai/death mask armor. And then, take a look at the crews of all Imperial ships, and the Death Star, and every other Imperial troop whose face is shown. What do they all have in common? They're all white men--every last one of them. And most of them have snooty British accents to boot.

I think George Lucas is anti white men. He must hate every last one of them, I mean us, even though he is one himself. And he must hate the British. Oh wait, that attack's already been tried against Mel Gibson. Anyway, if using a non-Hispanic and non-Arab actor can offend Hispanics and Arabs, then populating the Empire with a bunch of white men makes me mad.

So here's a memo to George Lucas: stop using anyone that looks Hispanic, or Arab, or can be accused of sounding like he's from the Caribbean, or of being a big-nosed junk-shop owner with flitty little wings, or children, the eldery, higher primates, or white men--especially if they have British accents. You'll just make somebody mad.

That'll only leave you with Yoda, Samuel L. Jackson and Natalie Portman, but I'm sure you can work with that.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: CBS anchorman Dan Rather seems to think that Attorney General John Ashcroft is out to get him. Viewers should keep this in mind when watching future stories about Ashcroft on the CBS Evening News.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


seem to be reverting to the 1930's. A socialist dictatorship threatens democracy across the continent (in the form of the EU this time), and anti-Semitism is getting a stamp of approval, at least in Norway.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2002


: I took TAPPED to task for their chutzpah, and reader Ramesh Ponnuru (okay, I just wanted to name drop) writes:

Attempts to stigmatize political opponents for psychological dysfunctions to
which they are allegedly prone have a long and bipartisan history. But it shows
a particular lack of historical memory to accuse conservatives of landing the
first punch since the foundling conservative movement of the 1950s was greeted
by precisely such psychologizing. Conservatives were said to suffer from
paranoia (see Richard Hoftstadter's collection of essays) and to have
"authoritarian personalities" (Theodor Adorno).

And even in the Clinton years, there was at least as much speculation about the
psychology of "Clinton hatred" (never "Clinton distaste" or "Clinton objection")
as about Clinton's own psychology--which was anyways an understandably
interesting topic.

I remember being called a "Clinton hater" myself a few times. I wore the perjorative proudly. It's interesting how nowadays you never hear Michael Moore or Cynthia McKinney described as "Bush haters," though hating Bush is something both obviously do loudly. And if you look beyond our borders, the Soviet state was notorious for using accusations of mental illness to jail dissidents. The gulags were full of the "insane," and the quickest way to get such a diagnosis was to criticize the Communist government's policies. Calling one's political opponents "crazy" or the like has a very long and, um, indistinguished pedigree.


On the racial equality front, Martin Knight sends in this link, to a story that must be read to be believed. It seems that Arizona State University has a course in its Fall 2002 course catalog entitled History 191, Navajo History. No problem there--surely the Navajo are among the most interesting Indian tribes, and History 191 would surely be the type of class I'd take if I were an ASU student. But I couldn't take the class, unless I could prove to have some Indian blood in me:

class enrollment is limited to Native American students

I wish I were making that up, but I'm not. Lucky for ASU's students (and everyone else), there's a group called FIRE, which stands for Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and FIRE burned ASU for its overtly racist policy. Well, they didn't actually burn ASU--in fact, FIRE seems to have been very reasonable and respectful in its handling of the situation, and as a result, ASU has dropped the racist requirement from its catalog.

But how did it get there in the first place? Clearly, something is wrong when any course description can slip through with such poison in it. I hope FIRE stays on the case and keeps universities more tolerant and open to their diverse student populations.
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