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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Eagle

Livin la vida Al S.

On the Right

Sometimes, AU feels like Bizarro world - the phrase Jerry Seinfeld coined to describe a place where the opposite of reality prevails. Last Friday, a known race-baiter with a history of inciting racial violence received a roaring reception. The former leader of the totalitarian Soviet Union got his biggest applause lines when critiquing the United States, particularly on foreign policy. The mere mention of President Bush's name on campus often generates a negative visceral reaction for many. It's an unsettling thought that students fawn over Rev. Al Sharpton and Mikhail Gorbachev, but bash Bush almost instinctively.ÿ

Sharpton has made his career by stoking racial animosity, particularly among blacks and Jews in New York City. In 1991, he labeled Brooklyn Jews as "diamond merchants" with the "blood of innocent babies" on their hands after a Hasidic driver fatally hit a black youth with his car. Riots erupted and in revenge, a black mob killed rabbinical scholar Yankel Rosenbaum. In 1995, he protested a Jewish-owned Harlem store by saying on his radio show: "We're not going to stand idly by and let a Jewish person come in black Harlem and methodically drive black people out of business. We are going to see that this cracker suffers." Two months later, a protester shot four of the store's employees and set it ablaze. In 1988, Sharpton falsely accused prosecutor Steven Pagones of raping a 15 year-old black girl, Tawana Brawley. The allegation was preposterous, and a jury later found Sharpton guilty of slander. He still has not apologized to this day. ÿ

On Friday, Sharpton accused the president of lying to the American public, but it was Sharpton who couldn't get his facts straight. He constantly invoked Bush's alleged comment that Iraq was an "imminent threat" to the United States. There's only one problem, Rev - President Bush never used the phrase "imminent threat." Neither did anyone in his administration. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush said: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?" The Bush Doctrine - so widely controversial at the time - was over pre-emptive action, not action against an immediate threat. But facts are a nuisance to Sharpton. Just as he refuses to apologize to Pagones, he will continue to bash the president regardless of the factual merit of his remarks. But that didn't bother most students. Throngs of students rushed up to the front so they could be photographed with the raving reverend.

Just a month earlier, Gorbachev spoke to a packed Bender Arena crowd. While he deserves some recognition for his perestroika and glasnost reforms, his fame comes from not being as repressive as his Politburo predecessors. He allowed former satellite states to hold elections in 1989, but he never endorsed political or economic reform. Under Gorbachev, dissidents remained jailed in labor camps and the economy still sputtered under state control. The Soviet Union expended its military resources and suffered heavily in Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. Gorbachev had little ability to fight a Cold War they were losing. Renowned Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky once wrote that Gorbachev just narrowly opened the door to freedom, and the Russian desire for the end of one-party Communist rule overwhelmed him.

During Gorbachev's speech, he continued to defend aspects of communism and compared the American desire of spreading democracy with the Communist installations of puppet governments. There is no equivalency between the two. He was a mediocre geopolitical strategist and a weak moral authority. Yet Gorbachev got his loudest applause by criticizing former President Reagan, who led the fight against communism and its totalitarianism across Eastern Europe. ÿ

The Kennedy Political Union staff deserve credit for booking prominent leaders to speak on campus. But on a campus where students and professors frequently ridicule every aspect of President Bush's life - from his mannerisms to his religiosity - I am surprised that no one took the opportunity to critically question Sharpton and Gorbachev with the same ferocity our president receives. Instead, they got unadulterated adulation. Bizarro campus, indeed.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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