Some food for thought

Wiley A. Hall 3rd

September 13, 1990|By Wiley A. Hall 3rd

A thing or two to think about, with apologies to talk-show host Arsenio Hall: Hmmmm . . .

People accuse Roy Dyson, Maryland's war-mongering 1st District congressman, of hypocrisy because he ducked out of the Vietnam War by pretending to be a conscientious objector.

But let's be fair. Not once in all of his chest-thumping years in Congress has Dyson ever volunteered to personally fight in any battle.

Not once has he ever said, or even hinted, that he personally planned to wield any of those expensive weapons he has so faithfully voted to fund.

No. Dyson has always advocated sending other people off to do the fighting, the same view he apparently took during the war in Vietnam.

From that perspective, hasn't Dyson been remarkably consistent all these years?

Hmmmm . . .

Wouldn't it be great if the members of the Washington Redskins football team met tomorrow after practice and voted to boycott every game this season until the club's owner changed the team's unbelievably racist name?

Don't the players feel even a little bad when American Indians complain that they are neither flattered nor amused by the supposed honor of having a team named after the color of their skin?

Over the years, the club's management has maintained that it is not bigoted.

But if management is not really bigoted, why does it cling so tenaciously to a name that no person of taste and sensibility would dare to use when addressing an Indian on the street?

Hmmmm . . .

Then, there is Washington's Eleanor Holmes Norton, who won the Democratic primary for D.C.'s non-voting delegate in Congress.

A civil rights leader and law professor, Norton has always conducted her public affairs with seeming dignity and strength and intelligence.

But in my book, she lost points on all counts when she let her husband take the rap for the couple's failure to pay taxes to the District of Columbia for seven consecutive years.

Do you think that any male candidate for public office could skirt a scandal about his personal finances by claiming, "Well, my wife handles the bills. It's all her fault."

Norton, by the way, apparently has established quite a record for citizenship in the District. She didn't pay taxes and she reportedly didn't vote in several elections.

Is that why she felt qualified to run for a non-voting seat in Congress?

Hmmmm . . .

The nation's health community is aghast at the results of a new study showing that people on medical assistance received medical care inferior to that obtained by people with private insurance.

Researchers examined the range of tests given heart patients in Massachusetts hospitals in 1985 and found that people with the best insurance received the best treatment.

Doctors were flabbergasted, of course, because they all take this Hippocratic or hypocritic, or hyperthalmic, or some kind of oath that's supposed to mean they care deeply about all human suffering.

But if hospitals don't care so much about getting paid, why are they so very, very careful to find out what kind of medical insurance a patient has before they treat him?

Hmmmm . . .

One of the three New York City teen-agers convicted of the rape and beating of a 30-year-old jogger during a so-called "wilding spree" in Central Park last year invoked Allah, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela during his sentencing hearing Tuesday.

Yusef Salaam, 16, the most outspoken of the three, read a rap poem in which he called himself "a righteous black man." Later, Salaam said he was the victim of a "legal lynching" and challenged the judge to "give me the max."

The judge granted Salaam his wish, although, alas, the max was only five to 10 years.

Do you think there is any hope that the three will use their time in prison to read up on the lives and times of the civil rights leaders they invoked?

Is 10 years really enough time for them to learn exactly the kind of behavior, the kind of values, the kind of man people mean when they use the word "righteous"?

Isn't there some way we could double, maybe even triple, the sentence -- just to make sure these poor deluded fools get the message?

Hmmmm . . .

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