FDR, Mr. Free Market?; Eleanor Beats Churchill on Human Rights; Leo’s Campus Cowards
1. Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson explained Franklin D. Roosevelt was a finalist for "Person of the Century" honors because he championed "free minds and free markets." Huh?
2. Isaacson added a syrupy tribute for Eleanor Roosevelt, and noted when it came to human rights, " Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor appreciated better than Churchill did."
3. Time Chief Foreign Correspondent Johanna McGeary lauded Gandhi: "Sixties kids like me were his disciples when we went South in the Freedom Summer to sit in for civil rights and when we paraded through the streets of America to stop the war in Vietnam."
4. Mining a surprisingly untapped vein for the supposed free speech-lovers in the national press corps,
U.S. News columnist John Leo reported on the cowardly college presidents who allow politically incorrect student newspapers to be stolen or destroyed.
With a strangely dated December 31 (Friday instead of Monday) edition, Time presented Albert Einstein as its Person of the Century. U.S. News & World Report put the very general "Outlook 2000" theme on its cover, and Newsweek published a double issue last week to get some extra vacation days on the competition. U.S. News deserves extra credit for mentioning that ABC axed conservative William Kristol from the panel of its Sunday show This Week.
Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson explained Franklin D. Roosevelt was a finalist for "Person of the Century" honors because he championed "free minds and free markets." To be specific, he declared: "If you had to describe the century's geopolitics in one sentence, it could be a short one: Freedom won. Free minds and free markets prevailed over fascism and communism. So a more suitable choice would be someone who embodied the struggle for freedom: Franklin Roosevelt, the only person to be Time’s Man of the Year thrice (for 1932, 1934 and 1941). He helped save capitalism from its most serious challenge, the Great Depression. And then he rallied the power of free people and free enterprise to defeat fascism."
Time also published a Roosevelt tribute from the ubiquitous liberal historian/mythmaker Doris Kearns Goodwin, and one from President Clinton, who echoed Isaacson: "When our children's children read the story of the 20th century, they will see that above all, it is the story of freedom's triumph: the victory of democracy over fascism and totalitarianism; of free enterprise over command economies; of tolerance over bigotry. And they will see that the embodiment of that triumph, the driving force behind it, was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Since when was the New Deal (not to mention the strict economic regulation during World War II) a triumph over "command economies"?
Issacson returned to his pet theme near his article’s end: "Roosevelt, scarcely an exemplar of humility, nonetheless saved the possibility of governmental humility from the forces of utopian and dystopian arrogance. Totalitarian systems -- whether fascist or communist -- believe that those in charge know what's best for everyone else. But leaders who nurture democracy and freedom -- who allow folks to make their own choices rather than dictating them from on high --are being laudably humble, an attitude that the 20th century clearly rewarded and one that is necessary for creating humane societies." Since when have liberal Democrats been humble about government dictating from on high?
Isaacson added a syrupy tribute for Eleanor Roosevelt. "Roosevelt made another great contribution: he escorted onto the century's stage a remarkable woman, his wife Eleanor. She served as his counterpoint: uncompromisingly moral, earnest rather than devious, she became an icon of feminism and social justice in a nation just discovering the need to grant rights to women, blacks, ordinary workers and the poor. She discovered the depth of racial discrimination while touring New Deal programs (on a visit to Birmingham in 1938, she refused to sit in the white section of the auditorium), and subsequently peppered her husband with questions over dinner and memos at bedtime. Even after her husband's death, she remained one of the century's most powerful advocates for social fairness."
While he applauded Churchill’s vigorous resistance to Hitler, Isaacson found Churchill lacking in the "human rights" department: "In his approach to domestic issues, individual rights and the liberties of colonial subjects, Churchill turned out to be a romantic refugee from a previous era who ended up on the wrong side of history. He did not become Prime Minister, he incorrectly proclaimed in 1942, "to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," which then controlled a quarter of the globe's land. He bulldoggedly opposed the women's-rights movement, other civil-rights crusades and decolonization, and he called Mohandas Gandhi ‘nauseating’ and a ‘half-naked fakir.’ As it turned out, Churchill's tenacity was powerful enough to defy Hitler, but not as powerful as the resistance techniques of the half-naked fakir. Gandhi and others who fought for civil rights turned out to be part of a historic tide, one that Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor appreciated better than Churchill did."
Time apparently flirted with celebrating both Franklin and Eleanor on the cover. According to a Monday report in the Los Angeles Times, "On Dec. 10, CBS news anchor Dan Rather taped four potential openings for the documentary that will air this evening: Einstein, Gandhi, Roosevelt -- and one pairing Eleanor Roosevelt with her husband."
Time Chief Foreign Correspondent Johanna McGeary lauded Gandhi. "Consciously or not, every oppressed people or group with a cause has practiced what Gandhi preached. Sixties kids like me were his disciples when we went South in the Freedom Summer to sit in for civil rights and when we paraded through the streets of America to stop the war in Vietnam. Our passionate commitment, nonviolent activism, willingness to accept punishment for civil disobedience were lessons he taught. Martin Luther King Jr. learned them; so did Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi, the unknown Chinese who defied the tanks in 1989 and the environmental marchers in Seattle a few weeks ago." As for McGeary’s concern for Chinese tank-defiers, she stood out in June for denouncing the authors of the Cox Report in Time, since it might harm our relations with the Chinese autocrats.
Mining a surprisingly untapped vein for the supposed free speech-lovers in the national press corps, U.S. News columnist John Leo reported on the cowardly college presidents who allow politically incorrect student newspapers to be stolen or destroyed. In his effort to award his "Sheldon" award for the biggest head coward (named after former NEH chair/University of Pennsylvania chief Sheldon Hackney), Leo explored incidents at Ohio State, Georgetown, the University of Central Arkansas, Skidmore and Yeshiva.
Leo saved the best story for last: "The last finalist is Donald Gerth, president of California State University-Sacramento, where 3,000 copies of the State Hornet were stolen in October. But first, a quiz: Suppose a campus has bomb threats, four outbreaks of violence at the football game (one of them fatal), and a picture in the campus paper of a dangerous chokehold being applied to a man who resisted arrest at the game. Which of these events would cause the campus to erupt? Answer: none of the above. A major eruption came because the man shown resisting arrest was a Latino, thus reflecting badly on all Hispanic-Americans. Because of this editorial insensitivity, Latino students stole the papers, used them to barricade the editorial offices, then presented a list of nonnegotiable demands, including a permanent ban on publication of any material depicting minorities in a negative light."
He concluded: "During this uproar, President Gerth said nothing. When the State Hornet got a bomb threat and death threats, he did nothing. But a month later, when the ethnic studies department received a bomb threat, he whirled into action. He called out campus police and contacted the FBI. He sent out a stern campuswide letter condemning the threat and demanding tolerance. Citing the obvious double standard, a faculty member said, ‘I think we've got your man for the Sheldon.’ Yes, you do. Congratulations, Donald Gerth, Sheldon laureate 1999."
Isn’t it curious that the same networks that fawned all over Jesse Jackson for standing up for violent students in Decatur, Illinois, can’t find a camera crew for craven free speech squashers like these?
-- Tim Graham
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