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Time to cool off 

A small, unprofitable far-right journal subsidized by Rupert Murdoch, the Weekly Standard is nonetheless cited by other far-right opinionators like Fox News. It was on Fox that the editor of the Standard, William Kristol, unloosed an astonishing critique of Sen. Barack Obama, who has a fair-sized chance of becoming the first black American president. Kristol compared Obama to a pro-slavery senator of a century ago, saying that Obama was “sort of the opposite” of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and “would have been with Stephen Douglas in 1858” when Lincoln and Douglas debated the slavery question. Like all politicians, Obama has been the subject of much unfavorable comment, but he’s never heard that one before. Kristol will have him in the Ku Klux Klan before long.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is capable of similarly far-fetched comparisons. D-G editorialists look at unrest in the Little Rock school system and find a re-enactment of the 1957 crisis, but with the roles reversed. Those patrons who protest — safely — the policies of a predominantly black school board are compared to those who bravely opposed school segregation in the segregated ’50s. Yesterday’s Women’s Emergency Committee is today’s Mothers for Progress, the D-G says. It’s a position not even the D-G would have dared take when members of the Emergency Committee were still alive. We knew some of those gallant ladies, and if they’d seen themselves likened to the Mothers for Progress, they would have stood up to the D-G and its publisher the way they stood up to Orval Faubus and his mobs. (Speaking of far-fetched, we’d love to have heard what WEC members thought of a new book on the ’57 crisis that paints Faubus not as the opportunistic rabble-rouser he was, but as the inoffensive victim of scheming newspaper editors and school superintendents.)

The D-G extends its already over-extended analogy to cover school Superintendent Roy Brooks. To the newspaper, Brooks’ critics are a “lynching party.” The loose usage of “lynch” is offensive, and cheapens a strong word. John Carter was lynched. Nolan Richardson, whose alleged assailants forced millions of dollars on him, was not lynched. Roy Brooks will not be lynched. Whatever happens to his Little Rock gig, he will be healthy and well compensated and find new employment quickly if he wants it.

Oddly, the D-G shows some understanding of the school situation when it praises Gov. Mike Beebe for being prepared “to help calm bad feelings, not exacerbate them.” If the newspaper will follow Beebe’s example and stop inciting anger with its “lynching parties” and its insulting assessment of past heroines, equity and order in the schools may yet be preserved.

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