Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hussein and Punishment as Vengeance

From Touchstone Magazine's "Mere Comments" section

December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein has been executed by his own people for his crimes against them. The Vatican has protested the execution.

In 1976 Richard Herrin murdered Bonnie Garland. He confessed to the murder and intent to murder. As undergraduates at Yale they were lovers. She broke up with him after graduation. He broke into her house at night, took a hammer to her head as she slept, and smashed it open like a watermelon.

Both Herrin and Garland were members of the Catholic community at Yale. The Catholics there immediately sprang to the defense of Herrin, placing him in the Christian Brothers while he awaited trial by the order of a judge with ties to the Christian Brothers, raising money for the defense, and finding a psychiatrist who would function not as an expert witness but as a defense lawyer, presenting an analysis that would help Herrin.

Despite the confession of intent to murder, Herrin was convicted only of manslaughter, and was given a sentence of a minimum of eight and 1/3 years (in a very comfortable cell), to the outrage of the Catholic Community who thought that NO ONE SHOULD EVER GO TO JAIL, NO MATTER WHAT THE CRIME. They argued that Bonnie was dead, that ruining another young life – Herrin’s – would not bring Bonnie back, so why punish him.

Sister Ramona, Herrin’s chief defender, extended this argument to Eichmann.

After the collapse of Nazi Germany, Vatican officials helped war criminals escape justice. Franz Stangl, a Catholic SS officer, had first worked in the euthanasia program, with which many Catholics cooperated, and then supervised the mass murder of 900,000 Jews at Treblinka. As trains arrived at the camp, Jews, men, women, and children, were off-loaded, told to strip, and then driven naked by guards with whips to the gas chambers. Stangl found his way to the Vatican and got help from Bishop Alois Hudal, whose Nazi sympathies were well known to all. Stangl moved to Argentina and lived under his own name until Simon Wiesenthal found him. There had been high officials at the Vatican in 1945 who did not think that mass murder should be punished.

Willard Gaylin wrote a book about the Garland murder, The Killing of Bonnie Garland. He was astonished at the lack of moral sense among the Catholics he interviewed in the 1970s. I highly recommend the book. It describes the moral vacuum among Catholics who tolerated the sexual abuse of children.

Among Catholics, even at the highest levels, there is a lack of moral revulsion at the most heinous crimes, such as Herrin committed on a small scale and Hussein on a large scale, feeding his victims into wood choppers or to packs of starving dogs. As Gaylin discovered, there is little or no sympathy for the victims, a great deal of sympathy for the criminal, and a strong dislike of those who call for vengeance.

Underlying this attitude Gaylin detects a faulty concept of justice: “Obviously for all of these people there exists a specific concept of justice that only looks forward; it is concerned with what purpose would be served by punishment in the future. It starts with the death of the victim, and looks forward from there. It is an incomplete and imperfect consideration of justice. A worthy concept of justice would demand that we look backward as well as forward. This concept of justice would require a respectful consideration of punishment.”

Gaylin describes the dangers of private vengeance, and continues, “The state must punish not just because it might serve some other purpose, not because it will do some good to some future other, but simply because the killer of our child deserves to be punished.”
Righteousness demands that the guilty be punished, and the governor wields the sword to punish evil-doers.

Gaylin writes: “in both these major institutions, the Church and the state, there is a role for the concept of evil, whether it is called sin or crime. There is a concept of payment, whether it is called punishment or penance,” but “for the most part the clerics involved with Richard were peculiarly disinterested in the concept of penance.”

Repentance is the first word of the gospel message, but it has been strangely absent from Catholic discourse for many decades. The gentle way in which sexual abusers were handled, the desire to protect criminals from their just punishment by the state, the strong sympathy for universal salvation which John Paul II evinced, all reveal a fundamental change in the Catholic attitude to sin and repentance, crime and punishment. Forgiveness is impossible without repentance, and repentance must include a desire to set right the evil that we have done, if only by accepting punishment for it.

Whence this change? Psychology has been far more influential in the Catholic Church than Scripture in the assessing responsibility, and “compulsions” can remove responsibility from any act. In reviewing the personnel files of sexually abusive priests in Boston , I have noticed that psychological jargon becomes more and more prominent over the decades.

But of course the group that wants to get rid of the idea of responsibility and sin and repentance and punishment are unrepentant criminals and sinners, and the Catholic clergy has harbored an extraordinary number of those in recent decades. Cui bono if punishment is rejected as barbaric? – Those who have committed the most heinous crimes against God and man.

Posted by Lee Podles at 10:35 AM Permalink Comments (111) TrackBack (0)

Not Everybody Loves Patricia

The New York Times
Published: December 31, 2006

AT Frank E. Campbell’s funeral chapel on Madison Avenue two weeks ago, friends and colleagues gathered to remember the actor Peter Boyle, who died on Dec. 12 at 71. They told stories about his impishness, his artfulness, his liberal fervor. Judy Collins sang “Amazing Grace.”

Ms. Heaton with Ray Romano in an episode from the final season of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the long-running CBS sitcom, for which she won two Emmy Awards.

In the pews Patricia Heaton couldn’t stop sobbing. For the nine seasons she had played Debra Barone on the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Mr. Boyle had played her Neanderthal father-in-law. They passed much of their downtime jousting about politics.

More conservative than he, she would call him a “pinko flag-burning Commie.” He would counter, “So tell me about this Christian God of yours.” Feeling unarmed for such battles, Ray Romano, the show’s star, said he usually hustled off “to see what the new doughnut was at the craft table.” He needn’t have. Their differences were serious, but the jibes were good-natured: tokens of closeness, not distance. And now he was gone.

And not just him. In the nearly two years since “Raymond,” one of America’s most popular television shows, went off the air, a lot of the former givens have disappeared. ABC toyed with but chose not to broadcast a new sitcom Ms. Heaton developed; a documentary that she produced (and that her husband, David Hunt, directed) had trouble finding a distributor.

“It was like I had been the queen of a planet where everyone loved me and did everything I asked, and suddenly I was back home on Earth,” she said with a laugh over breakfast recently. “I wasn’t worshiped anymore.”

She was speaking, in part, about the instant downgrading of her self-image from celebrity mother to plain old mom, complete with soccer schedules and puky laundry. (She and Mr. Hunt have four boys: 13, 11, 9 and 7.) But she was also speaking about the difficulty of finding satisfying film and television projects at 48, a difficulty that has led her to risk a return to the theater, which she pretty much ditched 16 years ago as one might ditch an abusive lover. In defiance of the usual Hollywood patterns, she is appearing not in a diva role, but as part of the ensemble cast of Theresa Rebeck’s new play “The Scene,” which opens off Broadway on Jan. 11 at Second Stage Theater.

For those familiar only with Ms. Heaton’s light comedy or political profile, her gale-force performance and her gleeful way with the obscenity-packed dialogue may come as a surprise. This is, after all, the same woman who walked out of the 2003 American Music Awards telecast, before her scheduled appearance, in disgust over the language and behavior of some presenters.
It’s also the woman who in 1998 became honorary co-chairwoman of Feminists for Life, a group whose goals include economic and social support for women who “refuse to choose” abortion. Ms. Heaton’s campus speeches and Washington lobbying resulted in the occasional snub from strangers (and the argumentative attention of friends like Mr. Boyle), but she managed to avoid the organized wrath of the left. More recently, however, she has found that the protective varnish of sitcom stardom degrades very quickly and that the ideal of affection, or even civility, among people who disagree is not widely upheld.

Her latest skirmish began several months ago when an industry friend expressed his concerns about embryonic stem-cell research. In Missouri, he explained, voters were considering a constitutional amendment that would permit the harvesting of stem cells from donated eggs and aborted fetuses. Because of the close race for control of Congress, the proposal drew national attention; the Democratic candidate for the Senate supported the amendment, while the Republican opposed it.

“I told my friend: ‘I don’t want to do anything about this. It’s not even my state,’ ” Ms. Heaton recalled. “But he said: ‘I just feel like I can’t sit by. I have to answer for my actions at the end of my life.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, thanks a lot, now I have to too, because you told me about it.’
“In the end,” she said wistfully, while nevertheless digging into a plate of blueberry pancakes, “you’re responsible for the knowledge you have.”

So she agreed to tape a 12-second message for a fund-raising video, in which she said: “Amendment 2 actually makes it a constitutional right for fertility clinics to pay women for eggs. Low-income women will be seduced by big checks, and extracting donor eggs is an extremely complicated, dangerous and painful procedure.”

But the video, which also included St. Louis sports figures, turned into a Mel Gibson-size nightmare when it got onto the Internet and, without her knowledge, was then shown as an advertisement on television during Game 4 of the World Series. It didn’t help that it looked so cheesy or that it began, inexplicably, with the actor Jim Caviezel (who had played Jesus in Mr. Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”) staring weirdly at the camera and speaking in Aramaic.
“Oh my God, it was a disaster,” Ms. Heaton acknowledged. “And then there was the whole Michael J. Fox aspect.”

Also unbeknownst to Ms. Heaton, Mr. Fox, his Parkinsonian tremors clearly visible, had just appeared in an ad supporting the amendment. Because of the timing, her comments looked like a response to his and became associated with Rush Limbaugh’s suggestion that Mr. Fox was faking his symptoms for sympathy.

Ms. Heaton was appalled, she said. “Not only was the ad so bad, but why was it put on? It took the focus off of what we’re talking about, which is very serious, and made it look like a feud or something, a Hollywood tabloid subject, a media thing of pitting people against each other.”

The Internet floodgates opened. Web sites weighed in on “Fox v. Heaton” and generally eviscerated her. On, April Winchell, a California radio personality, posted a 38-second remix of Ms. Heaton’s clip. It starts out saying, “I’m Patricia Heaton, and I’m a religious zealot who thinks she knows what’s best for everybody” and gets uglier from there: “I could give you the whole story, but I’d rather beat you over the head with my Bible. And besides it’s not like stem-cell research makes you look younger. I mean, if it did, I’d be all over it.”

That last dig was a reference to Ms. Heaton’s plastic surgeries, about which she has been unusually candid. In her 2002 book, “Motherhood and Hollywood” (Villard), less a celebrity memoir than a collection of spiky, self-deprecating essays, she described herself as a “5-foot-2 runt” whose stomach, “after four C-sections and too many years of nursing,” had become “a big old wrinkly suede bag hanging down,” and whose breasts “had to be folded up like origami” to fit into strapless gowns. Now she looks toned and lovely.

If Ms. Heaton has made her surgery fair game, her political views are not so easily pigeonholed. Some derive from the “seamless garment” doctrine of her “devout Catholic upbringing” (she opposes both abortion and the death penalty) while others are clearly her own. (She supports gay rights and the use of most birth control.) And she is not, in person, prudish or judgmental. Most of her friends have had abortions, she said, and they’re still her friends.

It isn’t so much her views that cause her trouble as her unwillingness to finesse them for public consumption. She is compulsively honest, though she feels that’s not so much a virtue as “an illness, like Tourette’s.” Even her more extreme positions are stated without hedging: If it were up to her, she said, there would be no abortion for any reason. But she offers such thoughts with a sense of helplessness, as if she were trapped by the implications of her core principles.

And then there is her un-wingnutlike desire for conciliation. As soon as she realized what had happened, she sent Mr. Fox a message saying that she was sorry and that she prayed for his recovery. He responded graciously (the amendment passed with 51 percent of the vote) and later said, “If we can have a healthy dialogue about issues that people see differently, that’s marvelous.”

That’s a big if. Most of the dialogue, Ms. Heaton said, has been brutal: “People saying they hope my kids get sick and die so I’ll know what it’s like to need medical research.” Colleagues have attacked her at industry functions; gossips claiming to know her have described her as a horrible person. A theater Web site recently ran a discussion thread on boycotting “The Scene.” And castmates have told Ms. Heaton that their friends were saying things like: “You’re working with her? You know what her thing is, right?”

Ms. Rebeck, the playwright, knew and didn’t care. “That’s flawed thinking,” she said of the boycott chatter, “like what happened with the Dixie Chicks. And I would hate to think of liberals as the new conservatives. I don’t agree with all of Patty’s politics, but she’s not the kind of political thinker who drives you crazy with their solipsism, and I think the country might be in better shape if we could engage with each other in the way she does. Anyway, she’s pretty great in the play” — she called Ms. Heaton’s comic timing “something I dream about” and her emotional availability “staggering” — “so that’s where I come down.”

There’s a connection between responding credibly to a fictional situation and responding to real-world issues. But Ms. Heaton mistrusts that connection, even in herself, because she has seen how easily actors can manipulate emotions and turn an embarrassing need for attention into a cause.
“Being an actor, I love what we do,” she said, “but I don’t have that high a regard for it. And when embarrassing people, myself included, talk about their views, you just have to laugh. Who cares? And yet somebody’s given you a pulpit, so you do it. On the other hand, you can do a lot of good without going on CNN, and I totally respect actors who never discuss their views. I wish I was one of them. Too late now. I’m trying to get back in the box.”

It’s hard to see how she can do that while simultaneously exploring more and deeper means of expression. On “Raymond” she took a character who was something of a cipher in the pilot episode and filled her in with despair; her anger at being stuck with all the domestic chores was so visceral that it often seemed like a brick lobbed through the screen. Mr. Romano said that’s what got Ms. Heaton the job; it also won her two Emmys. She says she drew that anger directly from her experience as a wife in the middle passage — “the seething years” — of marriage.

But there was only so far she could take such insights within the confines of the sitcom format. “The Scene,” which is billed as a “brutal comedy,” is what might have happened if “Raymond” had been written for HBO and doctored by Dickens. In it Ms. Heaton plays Stella, a talk-show booker whose marriage to an out-of-work actor, played by Tony Shalhoub, spirals out of control. All of Stella’s carefully balanced disappointments and color-coded accommodations collapse in the face of something very much like evil.

Ms. Heaton knew instantly upon reading the play that she had to take the role. She understood Stella subcutaneously; when one of the characters described her as a “frigid Nazi priestess,” she felt it was almost a compliment. But she also understood the play’s unflinching moral outlook. Though it is set in high-rise Manhattan instead of a Cleveland suburb, it felt like home to her, with its portrait of people who know life is a battle between right and wrong but who don’t always have the will to join the right team.

Ms. Heaton’s parents left no doubt as to which team was which. They attended Mass every day, and their taste in interior decoration ran to pictures of St. Lucy holding her eyeballs on a platter. There wasn’t much room for young Patty’s “Look at me!” demands for attention, but her childhood was marked by nothing much worse than benign neglect until she was 12, when her mother died. The resulting flare of grief seemed to etch the pattern of her mother’s standards on her forever, and also her distance from them.

In college, and especially during eight subsequent years of hapless struggle in New York, that distance became a kind of no-man’s-land she had to traverse daily, from bad job to binge to church and back again. The churches varied: Catholic, Calvinist, New Age cult. (She now attends Sunday school, but not services, at a Presbyterian church.) Nothing closed the gap, not an early marriage or quick divorce, not sinning or atoning or jobs modeling shoes. By the time she left for Los Angeles in 1990, her “slightly annoying Ohio enthusiasm” had been expunged, and she was “emotionally battered.”

What finally helped was meaningful work, marrying Mr. Hunt and the huge responsibility of caring for children. (“And thank God I found somebody good to do it for me,” she said. “I mean, I wouldn’t hire just any Swedish nanny.”) The chaos of otherness calmed her down, brought her closer to her parents’ ideal of the sacrificial life, of “dying to yourself.” But living that ideal when you are an actor can be somewhat contradictory, which is pretty much the heart of Ms. Heaton’s artistic and personal drama as she awakes from a “16-year coma.” What is she good for? What is she called on to do?

She knows she often flubs the answers. “But I take comfort,” she said, “in noticing that all the people that God chose had problems and failings: David, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene.” She spoke these names without special deference, as if they were pals from high school glee club.
“God reached out to them specifically. And I’ve always felt closest to God when I’m on a stage. I guess it’s really useful to be damaged in this business, because it makes it possible for you to express things — and get paid for it.”

She laughed at herself. “Though it can,” she admitted, “be inconvenient in real life.”

At 80, Paterno still going strong

Additional Stories
Penn State's Morelli flashes new confidence
Partying not in pregame plans for Penn State
Posluszny winds down PSU career

By The Associated Press
Sunday, December 31, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. - Witty one moment, fussy the next.

Joe Paterno brought an entertaining act to the Outback Bowl, and now the real fun is about to begin.

The 80-year-old Penn State coach is determined to not let a broken leg keep him off the field when the Nittany Lions face No. 17 Tennessee on New Year's Day, so long as he feels he can do the job without being a distraction.

"I don't want to be on the sideline where everybody's worried about me because they've got to play a game," Paterno said. "They've got to concentrate on what's got to be done on the field and not worry about whether somebody might run over me."

Paterno hasn't been on the sideline for a game since Nov. 4, when two players collided with the coach during a loss at Wisconsin, breaking his shin bone and tearing two knee ligaments in his left leg.

He had surgery the following day, then missed a Penn State game for the first time since 1977, watching the team play Temple from home on Nov. 11.

A week later, he returned to Beaver Stadium and took in the season finale against Michigan State from the press box.

Paterno showed up for Monday's Outback Bowl in a jovial mood, clearly relishing the challenge of preparing the Nittany Lions (8-4) to face Tennessee (9-3), a team that appeared in a bowl game 16 consecutive seasons before going 5-6 in 2005.

He and Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer shared the podium at the first press conference of the week, exchanging kind words about one another's program and touching on subjects ranging from the teams' previous meetings to Paterno's longevity.

Paterno, making a record 33rd appearance in a bowl game, is in his 41st season as head coach at Penn State.

Fulmer has guided Tennessee to a postseason game for the 14th time in 15 seasons, including a loss to the Nittany Lions in the 1994 Florida Citrus Bowl.

"His legendary record is one thing, but it's that he's done it the right way," Fulmer said, adding that he can't imagine any of today's brightest young coaches taking a job and remaining in the same position as long as Paterno or 77-year-old Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

Fulmer said that dawned on him last offseason when a former college teammate sent him a tape of Tennessee's victory over Penn State in 1971, a game in which Fulmer faced Paterno as a player.

"It hit me because (the film) was black and white and because it was the game of the week, probably the only game of the week," Fulmer said, adding that there is so much more exposure for the college game these days.

"It's so scrutinized, and everybody's got the Internet, and everybody's got the talk shows. ... There's so much more involvement with trustees and boosters. ... Coach Paterno never had any of those issues until the last few years, and he's bounced back from those."

Paterno agreed.

"The whole environment has changed. Most of the coaches I know can handle the pressure of being in a place long enough, but I don't know that many athletic directors or presidents can," Paterno said.

"When there's pressure put on the university, the presidents or the athletic director, wherever it comes from, it's awfully tough for those guys to handle it. It really is. Because they need the money from boosters. At Penn State, I've been fortunate enough that I've outlived most of the boosters. I've buried many of the pain in the rear ends."

Paterno, who turned 80 on Dec. 21, said he goes about his business the same way he did 25 or 30 years ago because much of the routine of a college coach — from recruiting to preparation for games — has not changed.

Even with a broken leg, he isn't showing signs of slowing down.

"We live in a world where everybody wants to put somebody in a little bottle. Maybe I shouldn't be coaching at 80. I don't know," Paterno said.

"Sometimes I wake up in the morning, sometime in the middle of the night looking at Tennessee tape and I say: 'What the heck am I doing in this job? I could be sleeping and get up in the morning and walk around the block and not have to worry about it.' But it's fun. If I didn't enjoy it, I'd get out."

Thomas Sowell: Worthiness

December 29, 2006 11:00 AM
Productivity vs. merit.

One of the questions often asked by those obsessed with income “gaps” and “disparities” is: “Is anyone really worth the millions of dollars a year that some people receive as personal income?”

Such a question presupposes that there is such a thing as “real” worth. That assumption goes back to the Middle Ages, when people thought that there was a “fair and just price” for things.

But if there were an objective value — whether of goods or of labor — then economic transactions would make no sense.

When you buy a computer, the only reason you part with your money is that the computer is worth more to you than the money. But the only reason someone sells you the computer is that the money is worth more to them than the computer. The difference in value of the same thing to different people is the whole basis for economic transactions. If there was any such thing as an objective value, these transactions would make no sense. Why bother making an exchange if what you get is no more valuable to you than what you give? If there is an objective value of a computer that is greater than what is being paid for it, then the seller has been cheated and is a fool to keep making such transactions. Similarly if the objective value is less than what is paid: The buyer is a fool to keep buying something that is not worth its price.

It is the same story when Derek Jeter gets paid millions of dollars to play shortstop for the Yankees. He gains by exchanging his time and skills for the money that George Steinbrenner pays him. But Steinbrenner also gains by paying Jeter to play shortstop — which helps bring in more money in gate receipts, the sale of television rights, and other sources of revenue.

As for the rest of us, it is none of our business what Steinbrenner pays Jeter. It’s their deal. If we don’t understand it, there is no reason why our ignorance should influence what happens.

The medieval notion that there is an objective “fair and just price” dies hard, though even in medieval times St. Thomas Aquinas saw some of the problems with the idea. The British classical economists of the 18th and early 19th centuries saw cost of production as an objective basis for prices. But, since the 1870s, economists around the world have recognized that value is subjective, and have incorporated that into their analysis of prices, based on supply and demand.

If something costs more to produce than people are willing to pay, then the producer just loses money. But a principle that seems obvious, after it has been articulated, may take generations to evolve and be incorporated into our thinking.

Yet here we are, in the 21st century, still talking about whether people are paid more or less than they are “really” worth — and we are hot to give government the power to “do something” if we don’t understand why some people are paid so much or so little.

If ignorance is bad, confusion is worse. Productivity, for example, is often confused with merit. If Derek Jeter worked like a dog for years to perfect his skills as a baseball player, some might think that he had earned the big bucks he gets. But if he was just born with natural talent and the whole thing is a breeze to him, that would mean he didn’t really merit such a huge payoff.

But Steinbrenner is not paying for Jeter’s merit. He is paying for his productivity, whether at bat or in the field. Somebody who worked twice as hard and was still only half as good would never get the same money that Jeter gets.

Many poverty-stricken people in the third-world work harder than most Americans work but, for a number of reasons, they don’t produce as much. That is why these countries are poor.

Transferring wealth from 300 million Americans and spreading it out over more than two billion people in India and China is not going to do much. But enabling more people in India or China to become more productive can help them and us — and has.

Multinational corporations are among the biggest spreaders of greater productivity to third-world countries and they usually pay higher wages than local employers. But moral exhibitionists who are hot for the redistribution of other people’s money are among the biggest critics of multinational corporations.

William F. Buckley Jr.: Spare Thoughts on Saddam

[This piece was written before Saddam Hussein's execution. - jtf]

December 29, 2006 11:00 AM

Many data, historical and analytical, are being thrust at us, following the pronouncement of the death sentence on Saddam Hussein. What one might loosely call "the prosecution," anxious to defend this mite of justice handed down by the Iraqi court, reminds the world that it is incorrect to assume that the execution of Saddam can measure up to what Saddam did. Remember, we are told, the court ruled on only a single barbarity, namely the Dujail massacre.

That involved murdering about 150 Shiites. They were being punished for conspiring against Saddam. Most of them were, simply, shot. But not all. Some, we learned, were inserted into meat grinders. If the trial revealed what were Saddam's motives in this alternative means of execution, word of what they were has not got out. Most would think it naive even to ask. The idea — alternative means of execution — wasn't a scientific experiment: Execution by bullet, or by giant blades that tear bone and flesh apart — which is better? The idea, manifestly, was to exhibit the lengths to which Saddam was routinely prepared to go in order to discourage dissent.

We are reminded that there is no mathematically satisfying way to measure the life of Saddam up against all the lives he destroyed. As well suggest that an execution of Hitler or Stalin or Mao could ever have balanced the scales on what they had done. Capital punishment is exacted, in modern law, as punishment for taking a single life. Taking hundreds, thousands, millions of lives mocks the very idea of executable justice. But the symbol of Saddam on the gallows is a symbol of justice pursued, even if plenary satisfaction is not possible.

The date is not set, but we are advised that under Iraqi law, execution is required to take place not more than 30 days after the affirmation of the sentence. And so we pause to anticipate the cries against capital punishment. Thoughtful citizens, especially those dutifully inclined to listen to the teachings of the Christian church, acknowledge that to endorse the sentence on Saddam is to endorse the capital punishment decried by a very large school of ethicists and, indeed, by the pope himself.

Let's go ahead and acknowledge that taking a life, even under civil sanction, asserts an authority over human life not lightly assumed. In the arguments of the abolitionists — and that includes most Western governments and 110 percent of the world's professional ethicists — this is never justifiably done in cold blood.

A formal philosophical-moral manifesto, seeking to annul the authority of the Iraqi court, has not yet been enunciated, but it will be. So far we have only the meanderings of Ramsey Clark, routinely dismissed. In plain fact, only the U.S. Army could exercise the power to freeze Saddam's trap door, and this isn't going to happen.

What is going to happen is an outcry against capital punishment, and we are obliged to listen to what will be said and to weigh the arguments, even if we have wrestled with the dilemma before. But we are entitled, also, to satisfaction from what is about to happen.

For all that the Arab world seems crowded with young men who are prepared to blow themselves up provided they can simultaneously blow up other people, the indications are pretty clear that Saddam Hussein himself has no appetite to go to the gallows. His aggressive, contemptuous conduct during the trial, the scorn he has shown for the very idea of a tribunal that presumes to question his sacrosanct judgments, balances ironically with his claims to innocence. I didn't do it, and if I did I was entitled to do it. Saddam Hussein does not want to die on the gallows any more than the Nuremberg gang did.

But this is the point at which we are entitled to a measure of satisfaction precisely over what Saddam is going to experience. Even if it is prideful to take his life, it is something other than sinful to take satisfaction — pleasure, even — at its forfeit.

It was rumored, in 1946, that the hangman in Nuremberg adjusted the nooses of some of the condemned to magnify the pain of suffocation. Such sadism was not called for then and is not called for now. But if fornication is wrong, there is no denying that it can bring pleasure. The death of Saddam Hussein at rope's end brings a pleasure that is undeniable, and absolutely chaste in its provenance.

Mark Steyn: What we need is some resolution

What we need in New Year is some resolution
December 31, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times

My New Year's resolution is not to make any New Year predictions. I called last year pretty badly -- readers may remember my confident assertions every week or two that the Republicans would hold the House and Senate. War is a tough sell in a democracy, particularly the kind of war we face today. On the other hand, one should never underestimate the seductiveness of complacency. If you happened to catch John Edwards, the hair-today-gone-tomorrow pretty boy of the 2004 campaign, re-emerging in the artfully positioned debris of New Orleans last week, it was hard not to be impressed: An empty suit had somehow managed to get emptier. He's running for president on five big priorities: ''guaranteeing health care,'' ''leading the fight against global warming,'' ''strengthening our middle class and ending the shame of poverty,'' and by then my fingers were too comatose to write down the fifth theme but, if memory serves, it was guaranteeing to lead the fight to strengthen ending the shame of platitudinous campaign rhetoric.

Listening to Edwards, you get no sense that this man is in any way engaged with the times. He's not alone, of course. It's been striking to read accounts of the incoming House leadership (of both parties) unable to tell the difference between Sunni and Shia or name a single book they've read on the present conflict. We are in an era of fast-moving demographic and technological transformation, and lavishly remunerated national legislators (with huge numbers of staff to do all the research) have minimal curiosity about it.

Here's something else nobody's curious about: Sandy Berger. Consider this passage from the inspector general's official report on the Sandypants and his destruction of classified materials from the National Archives:

''Mr. Berger exited the Archives on to Pennsylvania Avenue, the north entrance. It was dark. He did not want to run the risk of bringing the documents back in the building risking the possibility [redacted] might notice something unusual. He headed towards a construction area on Ninth Street. Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ, and did not see anyone. He removed the documents from his pockets, folded the notes in a 'V' shape and inserted the documents in the center. He walked inside the construction fence and slid the documents under a trailer.''

Why is this man getting his security clearance back in 2008?

Aw, who cares? The thousands of Americans who drive around with that ''9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB'' bumper sticker are positively blase when confronted with an actual verified documented instance of a former national security adviser carrying on like a Cold War double agent making a dead drop.

I mentioned the old New Year's resolution up above, but in fact that's what I wouldn't mind seeing in 2007: a bit of resolution. There wasn't much in evidence last year. Take another little vignette that'll look good in the movie version:

Mustaf Jama, a Somali ''asylum seeker'' in Britain wanted for the murder of a policewoman, fled the country by taking his sister's passport, wearing a niqab (the full Islamic head-to-toe get-up that covers everything but the eyes) and passing unhindered through the checkpoints at Heathrow.

How about that? It turns out we are profiling after all, but we're profiling everybody except Muslims. Your wizened l'il ol' gran'ma on a Yuletide break to London is bent double and out of breath struggling to take off her coat and shoes. The officials sternly scrutinize her passport to check that the picture matches her flustered and bewildered face. All around her hundreds of women are doing the same, mutely shuffling through the scanner in their stocking feet. But Britain's most wanted man is breezing through because he took the precaution of dressing as a Muslim woman. And it would be culturally insensitive to expose them to the same scrutiny as your gran'ma.

Many of us think about the long-term shifts necessary to win this struggle: euthanizing the United Nations and overhauling other malign and anachronistic institutions. Fat chance. Mustaf Jama's express check-out is the perfect parodic reductio of "security": The state is willing to inflict pointless bureaucratic discomfort and inconvenience on everyone else, but the demographic group with the most links to terrorism gets to go through the fast-track VIP channel.

The funniest line in the Jama story was Her Majesty's government's touching faith in the Horn of Africa's extradition procedures:

''He is thought to be hiding in Somalia where approaches have been made to the transitional federal government to return him to Britain.''

At the time, the "transitional federal government" barely controlled enough of Somalia to fit inside Jama's niqab. This summer the country fell to the Islamic Courts Union, a Talibanesque regime interested in turning another husk of a state into a jihad training camp. But in the last few days the Ethiopian military has swept through the country and the Islamist forces have crumbled before them. Both Somali troops and various foreign jihadists have thrown off their uniforms and melted into the general population. Granted, that's what they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, too: They're shrewd enough to understand it's not worth engaging superior militaries on their terms; better to wait awhile and grind them down in a dirty messy insurgency.

Well, we'll see about that. One difference between the Ethiopians in Somalia and the Americans in Iraq is that the former aren't fighting with one hand behind their back just in case some EU ally or humanitarian lobby group or fictitious Associated Press source leaks some "war crime" or other to the media. In fact, the Ethiopians have the advantage of more or less total lack of interest from the Western media. So they're just getting on with it.

And, given the potential for Islamist destabilization of their own country, they were wise to do so. The "international community" has reacted in the usual ways: calls for immediate cease-fires so that an ineffectual U.N. force of peacekeepers can go in and enjoy their customary child sex with the locals while propping up the Islamists. The Ethiopians can't be blamed for not taking the U.N. seriously. To be sure, the alternative to the jihad boys is a bunch of thugs. But that's the reality of much of the map today: a choice between being an outpost of the global jihad, or a patchwork quilt of warlords, or a bit of both with some feeble, half-hearted multilateral force mediating between the two. I don't know whether the Ethiopian intervention will work in the long run, but, if it does, the best hope for squashing the jihad might be to outsource the fight to Third World regimes less squeamish about waging it.

Happy New Year.

© Mark Steyn 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Paul Hollander: Tawana Brawley and the "Exotic Dancer" at Duke

Paul Hollander
December 29, 2006

The recent case of the lacrosse players at Duke University accused of raping a young black woman brings to mind the case of Tawana Brawley, the black teenager who in 1988 made similar charges against a group of white men in Wappinger Falls , NY.

In both cases, what turned out to be unfounded charges were widely given credit and generated immense publicity; celebrities and politicians rallied to the cause of the alleged victims, lengthy and costly legal investigations followed, and at last it emerged that the accusations were groundless. In both incidents, the charges were seized upon as self-evident, incontrovertible proof of the incorrigible and ineradicable racism that continues to permeate and infect every pore of American society.

On the Duke campus, the incident was seen, at least initially, as proof not only of the ingrained racism of American society but of other evils as well, such as sexism and “classism.” Rallies, demonstrations, protest marches and candlelight vigils were held and demands were made on the administration of the university to combat racism with greater determination. “On a single day in March 550 news outlets featured some version of the story.” [1] The incident was said to be a “wake up call against sexual assault,” and “enraged students raised questions about their safety on campus.” [2] Members of the faculty were in the forefront of those denouncing American society and its endemic racism. 88 members of the faculty "issued a statement in April saying 'thank you' to the protesters who had branded the players rapists." [3]

Protestations of the presumed innocence of the accused were often brushed aside; they were white, upper middle class males accused by a poor black female. The black female in question worked for an escort service (a widely used euphemism for prostitution) and attended the lacrosse players’ social gathering as an “exotic dancer.” It is doubtful that similar attention would have been generated if the alleged rape victim had been white since being black and female has, for some time, been the quintessential defining attribute of authentic victimhood.
The long and indisputable legacy of mistreatment and discrimination black people suffered explains the continued, ready acceptance of claims of victimization also enshrined in compensatory legislation, known as affirmative action. White guilt has been an understandable, but increasingly questionable response to this historical record.

According to the President of Duke, “the lacrosse episode... put into high relief deep structures of inequality in our society - inequalities of wealth, privilege and opportunity...and the attitudes of superiority these inequalities breed.” The Vice Provost said that “whatever we have been doing to address these problems [race, class, sex and privilege] has been insufficient and needs to be redoubled and tripled.” A law professor who was also the chair of the Academic Council asked:
“Have we tolerated behavior that would cause people to believe that they can treat other people without respect?” [4] The Raleigh News and Observer concluded that the situation has exposed serious issues of race, gender and class division.” [5]
An article in The New Yorker reported that

“Much of the bitterest vitriol came from members of the Duke faculty who were willing to assume not only the players’ guilt but theuniversity’s. At a session of the Academic Council Brodhead, [thepresident] was roundly assailed for not taking decisive action againstthe team and one professor... urged him to confess publicly that Dukewas a racist and misogynist institution. Houston Baker, an Englishprofessor...asserted in a letter (he subsequently made public)to...the Provost, that at Duke, white male athletes were “veritablygiven license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech” and excoriated theuniversity for its complicity in the “sexual assault, verbal racialviolence and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.” [6]

It should be noted that the Duke faculty was not unanimous in harboring such sentiments. There were those willing to remind the public of presumptions of innocence, and James Coleman, in particular, another law professor, was highly critical of the handling of the case by the district attorney who characterized the accused as “a bunch of hooligans.” [7]

While the Duke case is not yet officially closed, the charges of rape have been dropped (but not those of sexual assault and kidnapping). The accuser ha expressed a new uncertainty about the nature of the incident and, moreover, DNA tests have indicated that the lacrosse players had no sexual contact (that could be defined as rape) with the accuser but that she had such contact with others prior to the time of the alleged rape. [8]

Unlike in the Tawana Brawley case, in North Carolina the district attorney gave every indication of a politically motivated urge to indict the accused and he pursued his case with an ethically dubious zeal (which included withholding information from the defense and using questionable methods for identifying the alleged wrongdoers). He was running in an election and appeared to seize the opportunity to display his anti-racist credentials for the benefit of black and liberal voters. It worked and he won re-election.

After several decades of compensatory legislation, the revamping of curricula in all educational institutions, virtually universal reverse discrimination (known as “affirmative action”) and a wide range of indicators that both official and unofficial racism has greatly diminished, demagogues like Al Sharpton continue to make lifelong careers out of mining white guilt and this guilt shows little decline, as the Duke incident also suggests. Why should this be the case?

It is reasonable to suspect that when the dust settles and it becomes widely known and fully acknowledged that the accusations against the lacrosse players were questionable and probably altogether groundless, those who had been convinced of the truthfulness of the charges will fall back on the reasoning that was offered by professor Stanley Diamond in 1988 in the aftermath of the Tawana Brawley case:

“The case cannot be measured by legal canons, official justice orreceived morality... The grand jury has responded to the technicalquestions of the case, weighing the evidence but necessarily blind toits deeper meanings. In cultural perspective, if not in fact, itdoesn’t matter whether the crime occurred or not...What is mostremarkable about this faked crime is that traditional victims havere-created themselves as victims in a dreadfully plausible situation.” [9]

The point of view quoted is likely to originate in deep reservoirs of sympathy and guilt for the past sufferings of the “traditional victims” which resist being drained by the evidence of substantial social and cultural change. This resistance may be linked to sentiments of enlightened moral superiority which manifests itself in the eager and profuse admissions of guilt. To feel guilty for the sins of one’s ancestors (or fellow citizens) and to dwell on this guilt in public is a lofty and attractive moral position not easily abandoned.

Many academic intellectuals’ sense of identity rests the role of the virtuous social critic, on “conspicuous compassion,” and the associated readiness to renounce society for a variety of sins.
But wallowing in guilt is not necessarily the best guide to action or policy or even to self-esteem.
Overwhelming feelings of guilt resulted in the policies of reverse discrimination, in new injustices, when in a variety of competitive situations a middle or upper class black person is given automatic preference over a similarly (or better) qualified poor or lower class white one on account of the color of his skin and the sufferings of his ancestors.

White guilt is complemented and validated by the self appointed spokesmen of the black population who thrive on and make abundant use of what Shelby Steele called “the victim-focused identity.” The position of the innocent victim is even more compelling morally and psychologically than that of the righteous critic of society confessing his guilt - it provides a self-evident, unchallengeable moral high ground. At the same time, considerable material and social status benefits follow from the legally certified and institutionalized victim identity.

When white guilt converges with attachment to the victim identity there will be an enlarged, reflexive receptivity to the claims of the likes of Tawana Brawley and “the exotic dancer” at Duke University. It may be time for an emotionally satisfying white guilt to give way to more careful considerations of right and wrong which are not automatically determined by the skin color of either the wrongdoer or his victim.

Paul Hollander has written several books dealing with the political attitudes and political morality of American and other intellectuals, most recently The End of Commitment. Revolutionaries, Intellectuals and Political Morality. (2006)


1. Duke Magazine, May/June, 2006.

2. Duke Chronicle online, March 29, 2006.

3. "At Law," Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2006.

4. Duke Magazine, May/June 2006.

5. Quoted in New Yorker, September 4, 2006.

6. Peter S. Boyer: "Letter from Durham," New Yorker, September 4, 2006.

7. Raleigh News Observer, March 29, 2006.

8. New York Times, December 23, 24, 2006.

9. Stanley Diamond: "Reversing Brawley," The Nation, October 31, 1988.

Don Feder: Learning About Islam With Imam Ellison

Don Feder
December 29, 2006

The Anti-Defamation League says it’s time for Rep. Virgil Goode (R, Va.) to “rethink” his “ill-considered remarks” which demonstrate “a serious lack of understanding of the fundamental religious guarantees enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.” That bad, huh?

The Council on American Islamic Relations (Jihad R US) says of Goode’s comments, “There can never be a reasonable defense for such bigotry.”

Even the American Humanist Association is agitated. Its president, Mel Lipman, fumes, “If Virgil Goode is to continue serving in Congress, he needs a refresher course in basic American civics” -- from the ACLU, no doubt.

The occasion for these fevered condemnations was a letter Congressman Goode sent to a number of his constituents, in response to the announcement of Rep-elect Keith Ellison (D, Minn.) – a convert to the Religion of Peace – that he would bring a Koran with him to his swearing-in ceremony.

“I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way,” Goode wrote. While The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are prominently displayed in his congressional office, “The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.”

If that weren’t enough of an offense against multiculturalism, Goode went on to observe that unless we “stop illegal immigration totally” and end “the diversity visas policy, pushed hard by President Clinton” allowing more immigration from the Middle East, “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States.” And that’s not a good thing?

Meanwhile, Ellison wowed the Sons of the Prophet ( Dearborn , MI chapter) at a conference on Sunday. “You can’t back down, you can’t chicken out, you can’t be afraid, you got to have faith in Allah, and you got to stand up and be a real Muslim,” Ellison told those gathered for the annual convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America.

According to Jihad Watch, the Muslim American Society has ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson says the Islamic Circle of North America “is on record as calling for jihad in the United States .” They sound like real Muslims to me.

Abu Ellison rhetorically inquired of the Dearborn Brethren: “How do you know that Allah … did not bring you here so that you could understand how to teach people what tolerance was, what justice was?”

Right you are, Keith. After all, there are so many shining examples of justice and tolerance in the Muslim world, where minorities are treated with such admirable fairness, justice is impartially administered and respect for human rights is a standard we could all emulate. (Please note the sarcasm here.)

“We all support the Constitution, one Constitution that upholds our right to equal protection,” Ellison told CNN’s Wolfe Blitzer.

Yes, but wouldn’t you say Goode is a vile bigot? Blitzer inquired. Ellison nobly declined to engage in “name-calling.” “I don’t know the fellow and I’d rather just say he has a lot to learn about Islam,” Ellison condescendingly replied.

Poor, ignorant Virginia backwoodsman that he is, Goode just doesn’t know enough about Islam to appreciate its exquisite beauty and lofty principles – like the thing about Jews being the descendants of apes and pigs.

We all have much to learn about Islam, and perhaps the Minnesotan can help to enlighten us.
But first, consider this: The book which Ellison will proudly schlep to his swearing-in has been used to justify the following:

· The Madrid bombings of 2004, the London bombings of 2005 and the plot to blow up as many as 11 trans-Atlantic flights that unraveled in 2006

· The Beslan massacre – where 186 Russian school children and 158 adults died in a hostage crisis in 2003

· Rioting in Pakistan , Afghanistan , Nigeria and Libya (over Danish cartoons dissing Mohammed) in which 139 were killed

· A series of blasts in Mumbai , India , in July, which left 209 dead and more than 700 injured.

· Attacks during this year’s celebration of Ramadan (280 in 17 countries) in which more than 1,600 were killed. I didn’t kill anyone for Hanukah. Guess I’m just not serious about my religion.

· The murder of a priest and a nun, the firebombing of churches in the West Bank and multiple death threats following the Pope’s comments on Islam and the balance between faith and reason

· The ethnic cleansing of 90% of Kosovo’s pre-1999 Serb population, not to mention the destruction of hundreds of churches, monasteries, convents and shrines in the province
· The ritual slaughter of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh

Think anyone in the mainstream media is curious about how America ’s first Muslim congressman feels about the foregoing? Think again.

There’s a teenaged girl in Indonesia on whom an indelible impression was made. Noviana Malewa has a scar from a machete cut running from her cheekbone across her face and down her neck.

Noviana was lucky. On October 29, 2005 she was walking home from school with four teenaged companions, when the group was set upon by machete-wielding attackers dressed in black. Her friends were decapitated.

The inspiration for this atrocity came from which literary work: 1) “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” 2) “Sense and Sensibility” 3) “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” 4) “It Takes a Village” or 5) “The Koran”?

It is the very book Ellison will proudly carry to his swearing-in that was the motivation for these murders.

The heads of the four teens were found in bags on the steps of a church with the following message, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.” When apprehended, one of the murderers said the killings were planned as a “gift” to mark the end of Ramadan.

To help us ignoramuses learn about his faith, perhaps Imam Ellison could explain the following verses in the Koran, with special reference to their relationship to justice and tolerance:

· “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number.”

· “Fight those who do not believe in God…Nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam) even if they are people of the Book (Christians and Jews) until they pay the Jizya (poll tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

· “Ye Muslims are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind.”

· “As to the thief, male and female, cut off his or her hand: A punishment by way of example, from Allah for their crime.”

· “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.”

· “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is crucifixion, or the cutting off of the hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land.”

· “The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, so Jews will hide behind stones and trees and the stone and the tree will say ‘O Muslim. ‘O servant of God! There is a Jew hiding behind me: come and kill him.’”

And please -- I beg you -- don’t cite the Bible verses about dealing with civilians in conquered cities, or the penalty for blaspheming or cursing one’s parents.

It’s been 3,000 years since a Canaanite city was put to the sword. ( Israel doesn’t even have capital punishment for Muslims who murder Jews in the name of Allah.) Christianity’s last crusade was half-a-millennium ago. I know of no Western nation that applies the death penalty to those who sass mom and pop.

On the other hand (the one that hasn’t been cut off), execution for adultery, fatwah/death warrants for “insulting the Prophet,” the rape of female captives, honor killings of women suspected of extra-marital sex, suicide bombings and other excursions into holy war are regular occurrences in the Muslim world.

Such crimes are condoned by the highest religious authorities in Islam, including the scholars of Al-Azhar University and Adb al-Rahman al-Sudais, sheikh of Mecca’s Grand Mosque. (Ain’t Islam grand?)

On January 3, Ellison will take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States with his hand on the Koran. But are the two in any way compatible?

Our form of government is based on the Bible. At the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument (1843), Daniel Webster declared that the Bible “is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, and his equality with his fellow-man.”

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it in 1935 (speaking on the 400th anniversary of the printing of the English Bible), “We can not read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic.”

Christianity and Judaism are embraced voluntarily. Throughout its history, unto today, conversion to Islam is often under duress. (Ask the 1.9 million who died in the Sudan’s second civil war – 1983 to 2005) The Bible appeals to reason. Islam is based on blind, unthinking adherence to the Koran. Benedict XVI alluded to this in his famous remarks at the University of Regensburg.

The Bible contains the seeds of our current conception of equality under the law and human rights. (The American Revolution was preached from colonial pulpits. The anti-slavery movement started in the churches of New England.) That’s why the Western world pioneered the abolition of slavery. That’s why the Islamic world still has it.

If there’s anything in the Koran compatible with civil liberties, it has yet to be discovered. The Koran is the basis for the system of dhimmitude – the subjugation of non-Muslims. That’s why democracy has never developed organically in the Islamic world. If the Islamic advance into the heart of Europe hadn’t been stopped at the Battle of Tours (732 AD), our government might resemble Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s – where freedom of conscience is not exactly enshrined in law.
The concept of tolerance that permits the election of a Muslim in an overwhelmingly Christian country is not based on the Koran, but the book Muslims believe it supersedes.

While Ellison is teaching us benighted Islamaphobes about justice and tolerance, perhaps he could save a few lessons for his co-religionists in the Muslim world (like the headhunters of Indonesia ) – where such concepts are non-existent.

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Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meditations on "The History Boys"

This piece more thoroughly outlines the reasons for the fullness of my revulsion for "The History Boys" whereas the article below just hints at them. - jtf

[Carol Iannone 11/29 12:53 PM]

I won't say I wasn't warned. Extremely discerning people whom I greatly respect told me The History Boys was not really about history, and only about boys in the homosexual connection. But it seemed at least like it might touch on ideas about school and teaching, and at one time I liked the work of Alan Bennett, or thought I did. And I waited until it was made into a film so it would cost only ten dollars instead of thirty or forty.

Still, it was a shock just how perverse it was after all. Under the guise of a friendly play about boys from modest backgrounds aspiring to Oxford, the audience was coaxed into smiling and chuckling about such things as a teacher groping his students (and with the Mark Foley frenzy barely over), and a student commanding a repressed teacher to blank blank blank, that is, administer oral sex on him, expressed in the vernacular.

And the teaching? The play is supposed to be contrasting two styles of teaching, but both styles are inane. The old teacher can't be bothered to prepare a real class, but has the boys sing, act out scenes from movies, pretend they're in a French bordello to practice the language, and identify wisps of poetry here and there. This is supposed to contrast with (and perhaps it is marginally less noxious than) the over-focused-for-success method of the new teacher who advises empty revisionist views of history just to get attention on the Oxford entrance exams, and manages to suggest that the great venerable institution of Lewis and Tolkien is really just a burnt out pile of pretty stones and clever fakery.

The true method in his madness, though, is the modern English desire to destroy any faith in their country at any time in its history. (That's the purpose of Foyle's War, a dark British TV series set during World War II, designed to inform us that even during England's finest hour, the island was full of ratty people who deserved to lose.) No wonder the Muslims think they are entitled to remake Britain.

And the play went on tour throughout Britain. So that audiences in all the provinces are going to hear the surly student tell his teacher that by next week the teacher will be blanking blank blank, that is, administering oral sex on him, expressed in the vernacular. Audiences are expected to smile at it, and many do. The only thing you can say is, Plato was right: Art does corrupt.

This is similar to the reverence accorded to Madonna when she decides to play the proper married lady after her years of turning a couple of mini-generations of American 'tweens into little tramps. One moment the mature English matron writing children's books, the next moment an unhinged celebrity tongue-kissing women on television awards ceremonies. It's the actual mixture of the two modes that is more offensive than one or the other. Something that draws you in with its seeming normalcy and then shoves perversity in your face.

Film Review: "The History Boys"

I unwittingly stumbled into this ridiculous movie today and I'm still struggling to overcome the experience. Of course, if one takes the position that virtual foreplay between teacher and student is something to be laughed off, then one may enjoy this cloying bit of work. If you know why the fat man is smiling in this picture at right and you are bothered by it, then I would strongly urge that you avoid this insipid little film. - jtf

Subplot distracts from 'History Boys'
Mary F. Pols
Contra Costa Times
Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Having conquered first the London stage and then Broadway, playwright Alan Bennett has adapted his play "The History Boys" for the screen, enabling those of us who never get to Broadway productions to finally see exactly what all that Tony Award-winning fuss was about. Nicholas Hytner directs the very fine original cast from his National Theatre production, so truly, this is as close to the theatrical experience as a moviegoer could hope for.

The story, set in Northern England in the 1980s, follows eight schoolboys (they're 17 or 18) through an intense post-term cram session intended to win them the Holy Grail of English academia, acceptance to Oxford or Cambridge. Their teachers include an old favorite, Hector (Richard Griffiths), a rotund fount of poetry and literary references, who encourages them to practice their French by acting out scenes set in a brothel; and Mrs. Lintott (the magnificently dry Frances de la Tour), who teaches history in a more traditional manner.

As the story begins, the fussy headmaster (Clive Merrison) has just hired a buttoned-up Oxford graduate named Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) to give the boys "edge," or rather, to teach them to manipulate the essay and admissions system. He's very clever and young, "about five minutes older than we are," says Scripps (Jamie Parker), the skeptic of the bunch.

Actually, all the boys are skeptical, and their ensuing brattiness comes at us at top speed, so it takes a while to attach individual personality traits to them.

There's the gay student, Posner (Samuel Barnett), who adores the coolest, cutest boy in school, Dakin (Dominic Cooper, memorably seductive). Timms (James Corden) is plump and confused by poetry. Rudge (Russell Tovey, in a performance that manages to marry humility and bluntness) is what we on this side of the Atlantic like to call a dumb jock. Crowther (Samuel Anderson) wants to be an actor and Akhtar (Sacha Dhawan) craves success. The eighth is Lockwood (Andrew Knott), who, sadly, does not make much of an impression.

Their witty banter with Hector and Irwin is arch, precocious, and feels, not surprisingly, like dialogue from the stage. It's a bit exhausting.

Bennett has "opened" up his play, and director Hytner takes us outside from time to time, but we're definitely in a piece of entertainment that has the rhythm and urgency of a busy stage performance. No one hems or haws, and no trip through the hallways of the school is silent; they're all opportunities to drop a quick joke or update us on some crucial bit of information.
At first blush, "The History Boys" seems a straightforward tale of a clash between the ambitiously modern (Irwin) and the old school, albeit eccentric, Hector, who cares more about the boys' happiness than their ambition. Thanks to Hector, his boys can spout Auden, quote Bette Davis speeches and sing their way through many a lovely old ditty. The boys enjoy their old teacher, but they also find him somewhat foolish, and Irwin seems a more appealing role model to many of them. It's as if Robin Williams had a real rival in "The Dead Poet's Society."

Then Bennett adds another layer to the story, a pair of subplots about attraction between student and mentor. The one involving Irwin is handled with grace and sensitivity, but the second puts the plot on perilous ground; we're not sure what to make of it. Hector is a groper. He offers his students rides on his motorbike and reaches back whenever he can to give their genitals a good squeeze. This habit is treated by the boys with a sort of old-fashioned tolerance; they good-naturedly trade off the gropee duty. The headmaster is annoyed when he finds out about it, but even he characterizes it as "more appreciative than investigatory."

Americans are notoriously prudish, but if it is prudish to say it is hard to swallow Bennett's seeming implication that enduring a groping is well worth the trade-off for the Auden expertise, I'll take the label. When Hector insists "nothing happened," the image of him grinning gleefully (Griffiths, by the way, is a man who does not take kindly to the cinematic close-up) while groping offers a clear contradiction.

Having created this moral confusion for the audience, Bennett sweeps it all away with a mushy, sentimental ending that would seem tidy if we weren't all too aware of the pile of dirt the playwright left under the bed.

Reach Times movie critic Mary F. Pols at or 925-945-4741.
'The History Boys': C+

Starring: Richard Griffiths, Frances De La Tour, Stephen Campbell Moore, Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Jamie Parker, Russell Tovey, Samuel Anderson, Sacha Dhawan
Rated: R (language and sexual content)

Victor Davis Hanson: Ahmadinejad Weaker Than He Lets On

December 28, 2006

Iran's Ahmadinejad Far Weaker Than He Lets On
By Victor Davis Hanson

The Iraq Study Group, prominent U.S. Senators and realist diplomats all want America to hold formal talks with the government of Iran. They think Tehran might help the United States disengage from Iraq and the general Middle East mess with dignity. That would be a grave error for a variety of reasons - the most important being that Iran is far shakier than we are.

The world of publicity-hungry Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not expanding, but shrinking. Despite his supposedly populist credentials, his support at home and abroad will only further weaken as long as the United States continues its steady, calm and quiet pressure on him.

In Iran's city council elections last week, moderate conservative and reformist candidates defeated Ahmadinejad's vehemently anti-American slate of allies. At a recent public meeting, angry Iranian students - tired of theocratic lunacy and repression - shouted down their president.

By supporting terrorists in Iraq and Lebanon, enriching uranium and insanely threatening to destroy a nuclear Israel, Ahmadinejad is only alienating Iranians, who wonder where their once vast oil revenues went and how they can possibly pay for all these wild adventures.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has invested little in the source of his wealth - the oil infrastructure of Iran. Soon, even the country's once-sure oil revenues will start to decline. And that could be sooner than he thinks if the United Nations were to expand its recent economic sanctions in response to Ahmadinejad's flagrant violation of nuclear non-proliferation accords.

So, as Iranians worry that their nation is becoming an international pariah and perhaps heading down the path of bankruptcy in the process, now is not the time for America to give in by offering direct talks with Ahmadinejad. That propaganda victory would only help him reclaim the legitimacy and stature that he is losing with his own people at home.

Better models to follow instead are our past long-term policies toward Muammar el-Qaddafi's Libya and the Soviet Union of the 1980s. As long as Libya sponsored terrorism and attacked Westerners, we kept clear, and boycotted the regime. Only in 2003, when the Libyans unilaterally gave up a substantial program of weapons of mass destruction, agreed not to violate nuclear proliferation accords and renounced terrorism did we agree to normalize relations.

In other words, "talking with" or "engaging" Libya did not bring about this remarkable change in attitude within the Libyan government. In contrast, tough American principles, economic coercion, ostracism and patience finally did.

The United States always maintained open channels with the Soviet Union. After all - unlike with Iran or Libya - we had little choice when thousands of nukes were pointed at us and Red Army troops were massed on the West German border.

But Ronald Reagan nevertheless embraced a radical shift in U.S. policy by actively appealing to Russian dissidents. He used the bully pulpit to expose the barbarity of the "evil empire" in the world court of ideas. All the while, Reagan further enhanced America's military advantage over the Soviets to speed the regime's collapse.

After the fall, courageous Russian dissidents from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to Natan Sharansky did not applaud Jimmy Carter, who had smugly pronounced the end of his own "inordinate fear" of such a murderous ideology. Instead, they preferred Reagan, who had challenged Soviet Premier Michael Gorbachev "to tear down" the Berlin Wall. America came out ahead when we were on the side of people yearning for change rather than coddling the regime trying to stop it.

The larger Middle East that surrounds Iran is in the throes of a messy, violent three-stage transition: from dictatorship to radicalism and chaos to constitutional government. Thugs and terrorists like Ahmadinejad ("We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy") want it to stop and return to the old world before Sept. 11.

In similar fashion, there are also terrible aftershocks in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the old authoritarian rules of Saddam and the Taliban are over. So perhaps is the Syrian colonization of Lebanon. Yasser Arafat is gone in the Middle East, and his successors are fighting each other more than they are Israel.

In all this chaos - which will take years to settle - the United States needs to stick to its principles. Neither immediate military intervention nor dialogue with Iran is the answer. Instead, we must just keep up the pressure on the trash-talking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is far weaker than he lets on.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing

Ann Coulter- Kwanzaa: Holiday From the FBI
December 27, 2006

President Bush's Kwanzaa message this year skipped the patently absurd claim of years past that: "African-Americans and people around the world reflect on African heritage during Kwanzaa." Instead, he simply said: "I send greetings to those observing Kwanzaa."

More African-Americans spent this season reflecting on the birth of Christ than some phony non-Christian holiday invented a few decades ago by an FBI stooge. Kwanzaa is a holiday for white liberals, not blacks.

It is a fact that Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI pawn, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI.

In what was probably a foolish gamble, during the madness of the '60s the FBI encouraged the most extreme black nationalist organizations in order to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.

Despite modern perceptions that blend all the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites. They did not seek armed revolution. Those were the precepts of Karenga's United Slaves. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named "Jamal" currently sit on death row?)

Whether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear. Curiously, in a 1995 interview with Ethnic NewsWatch, Karenga matter-of-factly explained that the forces out to get O.J. Simpson for the "framed" murder of two whites included "the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, Interpol, the Chicago Police Department" and so on. Karenga should know about FBI infiltration. (He further noted that the evidence against O.J. "was not strong enough to prohibit or eliminate unreasonable doubt" – an interesting standard of proof.)

In the category of the-gentleman-doth-protest-too-much, back in the '70s, Karenga was quick to criticize rumors that black radicals were government-supported. When Nigerian newspapers claimed that some American black radicals were CIA operatives, Karenga publicly denounced the idea, saying, "Africans must stop generalizing about the loyalties and motives of Afro-Americans, including the widespread suspicion of black Americans being CIA agents."

Now we know that the FBI fueled the bloody rivalry between the Panthers and United Slaves. In one barbarous outburst, Karenga's United Slaves shot to death Black Panthers Al "Bunchy" Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins on the UCLA campus. Karenga himself served time, a useful stepping-stone for his current position as a black studies professor at California State University at Long Beach.

Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy '60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven "principles" of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life – economics, work, personality, even litter removal. ("Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.") It takes a village to raise a police snitch.

When Karenga was asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from "classical Marxism," he essentially explained that under Kawaida, we also hate whites. While taking the "best of early Chinese and Cuban socialism" – which one assumes would exclude the forced abortions, imprisonment for homosexuals and forced labor – Kawaida practitioners believe one's racial identity "determines life conditions, life chances and self-understanding."
There's an inclusive philosophy for you.

(Sing to "Jingle Bells")

Kwanzaa bells, dashikis sell
Whitey has to pay;
Burning, shooting, oh what fun
On this made-up holiday!

Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Least-Great Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani – the same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.

With his Kwanzaa greetings, President Bush is saluting the intellectual sibling of the Symbionese Liberation Army, killer of housewives and police. He is saluting the founder of United Slaves, who were such lunatics that they shot Panthers for not being sufficiently insane – all with the FBI as their covert ally.

It's as if David Duke invented a holiday called "Anglika," and the president of the United States issued a presidential proclamation honoring the synthetic holiday. People might well take notice if that happened.

Kwanzaa was the result of a '60s psychosis grafted onto the black community. Liberals have become so mesmerized by multicultural nonsense that they have forgotten the real history of Kwanzaa and Karenga's United Slaves – the violence, the Marxism, the insanity. Most absurdly, for leftists anyway, is that they have forgotten the FBI's tacit encouragement of this murderous black nationalist cult founded by the father of Kwanzaa.

Now the "holiday" concocted by an FBI dupe is honored in a presidential proclamation and public schools across the nation. The only principle Kwanzaa promotes is liberals' unbounded capacity to respect any faith but Christianity.

A movement that started approximately 2,000 years before Kwanzaa leaps well beyond collectivism and litter removal to proclaim that we are all equal before God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). It was practitioners of that faith who were at the forefront of the abolitionist and civil rights movements. But that's all been washed down the memory hole, along with the true origins of Kwanzaa.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Closing in on History, Knight Remains Unchanged

The New York Times
Published: December 28, 2006

It is not surprising that Bob Knight says his favorite song is “My Way,” or that when his time on earth is over he hopes for this epitaph: “He was honest.” Until then, however, he must be satisfied with assessing his impact on the game of basketball.

With one more victory — his 880th — Knight will pass the former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith for the most career wins in N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball. It can come today, when his Texas Tech Red Raiders play host to Nevada-Las Vegas in Lubbock, Tex., and will be the crowning achievement on a 41-year career filled with them: five Final Four appearances, three national titles, an Olympic gold medal as the coach of the 1984 United States team and a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Knight, 66, says he has thought about his coaching legacy. In fact, he said, he first gave it serious thought more than 20 years ago when he was considering jumping to the N.B.A. He asked his friend, the Hall of Fame Coach Pete Newell, for advice. Newell asked Knight what he wanted from coaching.

“I told him that I wanted to be thought of by other coaches the same way that you are thought of,” Knight said in a recent telephone interview.

He still does.

“I want them to know that I am a guy who watches more film than anyone, who cared if I could find a way to take advantage of a weakness in an opponent so I could beat them,” he said. “I want them to know I’m a teacher.”

In coaching circles, Knight’s legacy appears to be intact.

His former players make up a who’s who list in coaching, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Iowa’s Steve Alford and the KnicksIsiah Thomas. Even longtime rivals concede Knight’s name is synonymous with the “part-whole” method of teaching, man-to-man defense and the motion offense. All ascribe a virtue to Knight that is perhaps at odds with his public image: patience.

Still, some worry that Knight’s coaching accomplishments have been eclipsed by his often profane and highly publicized tantrums, which include throwing a chair onto the court during a game against Purdue and a run in with a police officer in Puerto Rico, and especially his dismissal from Indiana in 2000 after 29 seasons in the wake of a confrontation with a student.

“Here is one of the great minds in basketball,” said Quinn Buckner, the point guard for Knight’s 1976 Indiana team that won the national championship and posted a perfect record. “He has graduated all of his players, and never had trouble with the N.C.A.A. And unfortunately, because of the way things have transpired, I don’t think this record, and the impact that he had on so many young people’s lives, will ever be fully appreciated.”

Knight, however, is not one of the worried. He has conceded the battle for public opinion and insists that he has no regrets about how he has conducted himself on or off the basketball court.

“You don’t find any kid who’s ever played for me, or any coach who’s coached with me saying these things,” said Knight who began his head coaching career at Army. “They are who I’m answerable to. I’ve done what I thought I’ve had to do, and haven’t worried about what other people think.”

Instead, Knight gets a measure of his impact on basketball in his frequent conversations with Alford or Lawrence Frank, his former student-manager at Indiana who now coaches the Nets.

Both employ the “part-whole” method of instruction that they learned from Knight, who had absorbed it from Newell. It is a simple technique grounded in fundamentals.

“You break it down in pieces,” Frank said. “You make sure each player knows what he must do in a one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three. By the time you get to five-on-five, everyone has a high level of understanding and confidence. I have never seen a coach so committed to turning over every stone to find an answer.”

Before practices at Iowa, Alford finds himself laying the tape down the center of the lane just as Knight does to remind his players where to help their teammates on defense. He starts practices with the same four-corner passing drill that he did as a player at Indiana. He frequently utters to his Hawkeyes one of Knight’s famous rules: They must make four passes before someone shoots.

“Look at how much has changed,” said Alford, who intended to be in Lubbock to see Knight perhaps break the record. “Coach won games when there was no shot clock, when there was a 45-second shot clock and now a 35-second clock. But really, he has never changed in his coaching style or personality. He always has known who he was and has never wavered.”

Newell, 91, says every basketball coach at any level is indebted to Knight for refining what is by far the most popular offense in the game: the motion offense, which is based on ball movement, screens and spacing.

“Bob is a great clinician,” Newell said. “and over the years, he has spent countless hours with other coaches teaching his philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a youth league or high school coach, Bob will take his time telling you exactly what he does and why he does it. He’s one of the few coaches that doesn’t believe in keeping secrets, and he has a gift for imparting them clearly.”

While virtually every team runs some form of a motion offense, not many of them do it as proficiently as a team coached by Knight.

“The six years I was in the Big 12 with him, I thought Texas Tech was the toughest team to prepare for because of how they ran their motion,” said Kelvin Sampson, who coached at Oklahoma before taking over Indiana this season. “They made hard cuts and were a good passing team. They knew when to attack off the dribble, got you in angles and attacked you in different areas. He does such a great job of discipline and shot selection. They may get a shot within five or six seconds or get a shot in 30 seconds. They take what you give them. I think his motion offense and the discipline of his teams have always set him apart.”

It is Knight’s insistence on discipline, and the manner in which he enforces it, that has brought him the most unflattering scrutiny. He can be bellicose and was caught on videotape grabbing the neck of one of his former players at practice, which precipitated his dismissal at Indiana.
Buckner, now a broadcaster for the Indiana Pacers, concedes Knight was a demanding coach.

“We were not a democracy, but he was fair,” Buckner said. “Coach was exceptional at pushing our buttons. I can’t say that every day I liked it. But we trusted him and knew that he was not there to put us in peril. Looking back on it, I can say that he helped make me a man and prepared me for life far beyond basketball.”

Knight remains a private man, especially when it comes to what his friends and former players say are his many acts of kindness.

For Frank, he made dozens of phone calls behind the scenes to jump start his coaching career.
“I found out about them months, sometimes years later,” Frank said.

But for Landon Turner, one of the stars of Indiana’s 1981 team, Knight’s devotion to his players became public. Four months after the Hoosiers captured the national title, Turner was paralyzed in a car accident. Knight tirelessly raised money for Turner’s hospital bills and pushed him to resume his life.

“I will always be in debt to him,” said Turner, now a motivational speaker in Indianapolis. “The money meant a whole lot, but really the most important thing he did was not treat me any differently. He still challenged me and cussed me out. I love him for that.”

Ultimately, Knight believes he is accountable only to the players he has coached at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech and the friends he has made over the years in coaching and beyond. He is proud of the record he is about to set and honored to be in the company of revered coaches like Smith, Adolph Rupp and John Wooden. Still, he is not sure of how accurate the record is at measuring how successful he has been in pursuing his passion.

“Maybe I’d be more impressed if I won that many high school games,” he said. “That’s where the real coaching is done. You take the talent that lives in the area and mold them into a team.”

Thayer Evans contributed reporting.

Knight, Smith reach top taking different routes

By Robyn Norwood,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 25, 2006

Bob Knight and Dean Smith share little in image or personal style, but their ideas on basketball often converged.

Knight, poised to break Smith's record of 879 victories as a Division I men's coach as soon as Thursday, once said Michael Jordan — who played for Smith at North Carolina and for Knight in the 1984 Olympics — described the differences most memorably.

"One time he said Dean Smith was the master of the four-corner offense and I was the master of the four-letter word," Knight wrote in his 2002 autobiography, "Knight: My Story."

"But he would always say that we had the same end in what we were trying to do."As Knight closed in on the record, tying it Saturday when Texas Tech beat Bucknell, The Times spoke to three contemporaries of the two men, quizzing them on a series of superlatives that ranged from serious to jesting.

Jim Calhoun has coached two NCAA championship teams at Connecticut and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gene Keady was Knight's adversary for many years when Knight was at Indiana and Keady was at Purdue.

And broadcaster Dick Vitale has known both for decades, referring to them admiringly as "Robert Montgomery Knight" and "Michelangelo."

Best coach with a five-point lead and two minutes left:

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. When he had his best players, it was almost like they were in some kind of trance. I've heard other coaches say that. They played with such discipline.

• Keady: That's an even one. I played them both, and I want to say there wasn't much difference. Both were very well-organized, great strategists, with great players.

• Vitale: I want to be a politician here, but when you're coming down the stretch, a guy like Knight, he holds a lead.

Best down five with 20 seconds left:

• Calhoun: The greatest coach ever, down any number, put Dean Smith. I have never seen a guy able to manipulate the clock like that, at a minute and a half, two minutes, 30 seconds. Nobody else could make some of the comebacks I saw his teams make over the years.

• Keady: Probably Knight. I remember one time, we were up one, and he got it inside to Dean Garrett and he stuck it in. (Purdue was ranked No. 2 in 1988 when Garrett's go-ahead basket with five seconds left helped Indiana to an 82-79 upset.)

• Vitale: Dean Smith, Michelangelo, for years was really, really great when he was behind. It was unbelievable, so many miracle wins.

Best judge of talent:

• Vitale: They were both recruiting blue-chippers throughout their careers. That was synonymous with Carolina and Indiana. But Dean could take a super player and get him to blend in and play as a team. People don't realize how difficult it is to have McDonald's All-Americans all the time.

• Calhoun: Dean could judge talent probably better than anybody. Michael was a name out of high school, but he wasn't like you have today. Dean took players and made them into much better players. And he also made great players into semi-role players. It was rare for a player to take over a game.

• Keady: Smith.

Best with less talent:

• Keady: Knight.

• Vitale: Knight could take even mediocre talent and get them to play their hearts out, to play to the best of their ability.

• Calhoun: Anybody who played for Knight instantly became better. He determined their role. I would say both could judge talent, and both could mold it. Steve Alford was a better college player because of Knight.

Best in a coaches' clinic:

• Vitale: I remember being a high school coach listening to Knight early in his career. I was absolutely in awe. So many concepts. He relishes those settings. Dean didn't like the public eye.

• Keady: They're probably equal clinicians.

• Calhoun: Dean is not as great a clinician, because he's a little secretive. He's probably most interested in social issues. I'd probably rather hear from Dean on social issues now.

Best at a booster club meeting:

• Vitale: I would give that edge without a doubt to Knight. Dean would rather not be part of a scene like that. Bob Knight can be hilarious when he's on a roll. He can rock the place.

• Keady: Probably Knight was the funniest at booster club meetings. I never heard Dean at one.

• Calhoun: No question, Bob is one of the most captivating speakers I've ever heard. I've heard Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Bill Clinton. Incredible. I put Bob Knight in the top five or six I ever heard speak.

Best NCAA tournament coach:

• Keady: I'm not touching that one.

• Calhoun: I don't really think you can pick. Bob Knight won three and Dean won two.

• Vitale: Two guys, five national titles. They're in the Hall of Fame. I'm in the hall of shame!

Best Olympic coach:

• Keady: There was the boycott when Bobby was coaching in '84 in L.A., but I would say equal.

• Calhoun: You're talking now about two great racehorses.

• Vitale: I mean, they both won the gold. How can you pick one over the other?

Best if he were coach of the Lakers:

• Vitale: Knight's not a guy who's crazy about the NBA, but if he were coaching the Lakers, he'd get the utmost respect from Kobe [Bryant].

• Calhoun: Knight. Put him and Kobe together.

• Keady: Smith. I don't think Knight could put up with their baloney.

Best if he were coach of the Sparks:

• Vitale: Dean Smith is such a teacher from within. I think personally he'd do a great job with the Sparks.

• Calhoun: You couldn't put Bob with the Sparks. You just couldn't do that. I think Dean could coach anybody.

• Keady: The Sparks?

Best behind closed doors with his team:

• Keady: Bobby.

• Vitale: I think that's where both excelled. They were masters on a 94-by-50 court. There's no way I'd give an edge. That's their greatest asset.

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. I heard one of his meetings once, at the Great Alaska Shootout. We were sitting in the lounge and could hear it. It was an hour long. I wanted to go out and play. It was so captivating, we didn't move.

I think Dean was so much tougher behind closed doors than people know, and he was much tougher at practice than you would guess.

Best behind closed doors with his university president:

• Keady: Smith with the president.

• Calhoun: They're both good in their own way. There's no facet of history Bob Knight can't talk about, and Dean is very good on social issues. They did share one thing: Both men, when they were coaching their own institution, Dean at Carolina and Knight at Indiana, there was no other institution in the world. Duke has that now with Mike [Krzyzewski]. Mike thinks there's one place in the world that has basketball and that's Duke. It was the same way with them. There are very few guys who are part of the fiber of the institution like that.

• Vitale: That's easy. That's got to be Michelangelo!

Best companion on a hunting trip:

• Keady: Knight on a hunting trip, as long as he doesn't shoot you.

• Vitale: That would have to be Dean. I don't trust Bob with a loaded gun.

• Calhoun: Bob. I don't hunt, but I'd like to be with him.

Best companion on a golf course:

• Keady: That's not even close, Smith. All those Carolina guys are excellent golfers. Smith, Bill Guthridge, Larry Brown.

• Calhoun: Dean is a very good companion on a golf course, but he complains a lot about his game.

• Vitale: I've never played golf with either guy, but with Bob's reputation for having a temper, I'd give an edge to Dean.

Best player each ever coached:

• Keady: That's easy. Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas.

• Calhoun: It seems obvious, but was Michael Jordan as good when he was at Carolina as some other guys? You could make cases for others — [Sam] Perkins, [James] Worthy, Al Wood. I'll give you an example at UConn. Clifford Robinson was a good player at UConn, but he's gone on to be a 20-year pro. Khalid El-Amin was a great player here and part of six Big East championships, a national championship and two final eights, and he played one year in the NBA.

For Knight, Isiah.

• Vitale: Knight probably, I know, would not agree, but Isiah. Knight loved Quinn Buckner.For Dean, Michael.

Best remembered for:

• Keady: I think for Dean, his multiple defensive schemes. He was hard to play against. And Knight, probably for simplicity. He would keep it simple, but his simplicity beat you.

• Vitale: Both will be remembered for doing it the right way, with integrity and no NCAA violations. They had certain principles that never changed. Their philosophy of stressing the importance of the classroom to me will be remembered for generation after generation. And they learned more in their 94-by-50 classroom than basketball. They learned life skills in pressure situations, work ethic, pride.

• Calhoun: I think with Dean, the word "program." He turned a team into a program. I think he was the first in my life I ever heard express it that way. But from the moment he recruited somebody until they die, they're a Carolina guy. They all come back every year, Billy Cunningham, all of them, are there every single year. And I learned more about the fastbreak from Dean than anybody.

I think Bob Knight gets his kids able to focus. I heard him say once, "Never take a shot unless it's in earnest." But Bob, I think, is known much more for his volatility than sometimes he is known for his gifts, and, quite frankly, for being as clean a coach as ever went down the line. All the various things, grad rates, NCAA rules, he is truly exemplary.

*Times staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report.