[from January 1999 issue]


"If we didn't forgive him, we would have cut his head off and rolled it down the street." The potentially decapitated head in question was that of an Asian-American shopkeeper who did not get on well with his African-American customers, many of whom were/are members of the speaker's well-known church in Southeast. And, we are not referring the Rev. Billy Graham. He would never raise his voice to incite his flock in such a manner, but apparently in this city it is viewed as a badge of honor to do so, at least according to supposedly distinguished men of God as the Rev. Walter F. Fauntroy who, among other things, quietly served this city as our first (in this century) Congressional Delegate.

The Rev. Fauntroy claims that the "same rhetoric used on Rev. Willie Wilson was used on Martin Luther King," according to a report in the Washington Post. What a dreadful way to sully the name of Dr. King! To, in effect, equate the motives and behavior of Willie Wilson with Martin Luther King is an abomination. Dr. King would never in a million years have even dreamed of committing physical violence against anyone; nor would he have praised Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan, as Willie Wilson has been known to do.

To have the mayor appoint and the council confirm a man of such anger and hate to serve on the board of an institution of higher education is a travesty. It is hurtful to the students and to the community overall. At least at-large Councilmember Carol Schwartz and Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson stood their ground and refused to cave into political expediency. There is simply no excuse for having done less than they.

There is no place for demagogues in a free society and whenever our leaders allow such persons to rise high we are all in danger of starting down a slippery slope. The political history of every continent is replete with such examples, even here in this country, but fortunately not yet examples as terrible as in other places.

It should be made absolutely clear that these comments are in no way to be construed as suggesting that the residents of Southeast ought not be represented on the UDC board, nor do we even remotely imply that persons of color are somehow not fit to serve in such a position. In fact, we believe very strongly that such representation is entirely proper; we only question the propriety of having selected Willie Wilson. This city, and that part of the city, is brimming with men and women of distinction and commitment to opportunity for the young and the under-represented. Why the mayor could not have selected a person of true quality and talent is a mystery (until, of course, one remembers politics). And now raw, gutter politics will take command at our only public institution of higher education. What a shame--and shame on the mayor and shame on the poor judgement of 11 members of the city council.