The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 2, 1994 · Page 18
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 18

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Wednesday, March 2, 1994
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Page 18
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THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 1994 19A epersonalizing evil in Hebron, Holocaust It was sheer coincidence that the evening chosen ! to see Schindler's List coincided with the appalling J news of the massacre in the Hebron mosque. But the ; power of Steven Spielberg's film about the horrors of j the Nazi Holocaust lent added weight to the tragedy I of the shootings on the West Bank, i As you watched the coldblooded commandant of J the film's forced labor camp in occupied Poland use innocent Jewish prisoners for pre-breakfast target . practice from the balcony of his villa, the mind turned , inevitably to Baruch Goldstein, the Brooklyn-born j physician who unloaded three magazines of bullets ; from his assault rifle into innocent Muslims at prayer last Friday, killing at least 39 of them, j The crimes cannot be equated. The Holocaust ! was a government policy that exterminated millions. Goldstein's crime was the act of an extremist, rightly ; and promptly condemned by the government of i Israel. But the horror of this century is that people j can be brought so easily to see their neighbors not ' just as enemies but as non-human objects, to be j liquidated without a second thought as an affirmation j of racial or national or religious or ethnic pride, i What is this curse that mocks this century's advances? Beneath the veneer of civilization, there is ; a strain of tribalism in us that can lead people to commit coldblooded murder. It is as if they feel . driven to act in ways that not only destroy lives but I Mexico's killers free to hit, run for the border i, By MARIE BRENNER ; ' f BROWNSVILLE, Texas Two people charged ''with murdering my cousin went on trial this week. Last year, my father called me: "Oh, my God, " someone has gunned Joey down in his driveway." 1 ': Yet because of Mexican intransigence and White 1 ' House indifference, the gunmen aren't on trial, j' Joey Fischer was an 18-year-old honor student in 1 ' this border town. He was popular and a good athlete. ' Weeks before his death, he had been accepted at the University of Texas. More than a thousand people ' attended his funeral. Why, we wondered, would ' anyone have wanted to murder him? A few weeks after the shooting, the district attorney described a bizarre conspiracy plotted by the mother of Joey's former girlfriend. The woman, Dora Cisneros, a doctor's wife, was reportedly enraged that Joey had broken up with her daughter. Joey had told friends that he and the daughter had "done it once or twice." In Mexican folklore, there is a theory that the death of a man who deflowers a virgin will bring back her virtue. ' According to the indictment, Cisneros had four co-conspirators: Maria Mercedes Martinez, a local J" folk healer; two Mexican hit men; and Daniel Garza, a ' middleman who hired the Mexicans. The hit men, Puentes Pizana and Israel Olivares, were reportedly paid $3,000 to kill my cousin. But they may never stand trial here. They fled to Mexico; Pizana is in a Reynosa jail on a car theft charge. Despite 16 years of Justice Department pressure and many requests for accused felons, Mexico has never released a Mexican citizen accused of murder. During the negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House seemingly ignored the issue. "It's like the old days of the badlands; they can come to this country and kill and then run across the border and hide," a Houston judge, Ted Poe, told me. One man, Serapio Zuniga Rios, has been accused of kidnapping and raping the 4-year-old niece of a staff member of Rep. E. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale. Rep. Shaw voted for NAFTA on the condition that Mexico would give up Zuniga; so far it has not. My family hoped the White House's fairy tale about post-NAFTA Mexico would come true. If trade barriers could be broken down, why can't the Mexican government agree to extradite killers? Marie Brenner, a staff writer at The New Yorker, wrote this article for The New York Times. David Broder deny the essential humanity of their victims. The most virulent expressions are often racial. Throughout this country's history, the stain of slavery has besmirched our professions of equality and freedom. Some may rue the day that God or nature created separate races, but that is out of our hands. When atrocities are committed in the name of nationality or religion, however, it is harder to feel blameless. This is a perversion of our own making, a reminder that even the noblest of institutions can have appallingly ugly undersides. Nothing is more elevating to humans than the religious concepts that reconcile us to each other and to the great mysteries of life and death. But it is probably the case that more men and women and children have been slaughtered in the name of religious faith than in almost any other cause. If one person believes he is giving witness to holy truth, while the other is affirming heresy, then no weapon is proscribed. National pride and ethnic pride can be strongly positive forces. But they have been twisted so often into excuses for violence that they can seem a curse. The truly appalling aspect of this is that so often, it is the best minds those which ought to be able to distinguish between the healthy and the virulent forms of religiosity, of ethnic and national pride that succumb to fanaticism and lead others to the slaughter. How can a physician, a man trained to heal and save lives, become so gripped by ideology or hate or fear that he becomes a mass murderer? One might as well ask how those civilized Germans, with their great gifts to music and literature and philosophy, could follow the likes of Adolf Hitler. One of the fascinating aspects of Mr. Spielberg's film is that he does hot disguise the moral ambiguity of his protagonist, the ambitious German industrialist. Oskar Schindler is seemingly quite happy exploiting the Jewish slave labor the Nazis provide him, but he rebels when those same workers are threatened with mass extermination. In real life, Mr. Schindler's qualms saved lives, which is why he has been singled out for sympathetic examination in this movie. But he was also complicit in a system that slaughtered millions of others not lucky enough to be on his list. Everywhere one turns in the news and in the theater that damnable duality of human nature confronts you. There is no escaping it. David Broder is a political columnist for The Washington Post. lew i?wt'f,t.-w. J' j Rep. Shaw Nancy's Turning Silver Into Gold By CHRISTINE BRENNAN Nancy and Tonya. Tonya and Nancy. It's over now. From now on, it's Nancy and Mickey . . . and Tonya and the lawyers. Nancy Kerrigan dumped Tonya Harding once and for all Friday at about 9:40 p.m., Norway time. That was when Ms. Kerrigan glided onto the ice to begin practicing for what would be the finest performance of her life, while Ms. Harding, after having had that little problem with her shoelace, slipped out the back door and vomited. Ms. Harding's been a tough one for Ms. Kerrigan to shake. For seven weeks, it went like this for Ms. Kerrigan: open the paper, she's there; turn on the news, she's there. People put them together, even though they've barely spoken. Question from a reporter at the Olympics: "What's the relationship between you now?" Ms. Kerrigan: "There isn't a relationship." Except for the one that was forced upon her. She was the victim of a Jan. 6 knee-bashing by members of the Harding camp. But hers was a flawless recovery, medically and strategically. (OK, so there was that little comment picked up by a CBS microphone about Oksana Baiul wasting time working on her makeup, because she was just going to cry anyway. What's the big deal? Didn't Ms. Kerrigan just sign with Revlon? Isn't she supposed to be talking about cosmetics on the air?) Ms. Kerrigan and her people pushed all the right buttons. The day after the attack, she gave a news conference, sounding more determined than ever. She was back on the ice in 10 days, sneaking in little jumps when her doctor wasn't looking. So Ms. Kerrigan comes to the Olympics. She thinks, as do most U.S. athletes, that Ms. Harding is not going to be allowed to join her. And then, on the first day of the Games, a deal is struck. Ms. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Hey, mom, we're at Disney World: Nancy and Brenda Kerrigan with Mickey Mouse Sunday. Harding's on the team. When it's announced, Ms. Kerrigan is asleep. No one bothers to wake her. After all this, the shared practice sessions, the media feeding frenzy, Ms. Kerrigan goes onto the ice at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre and she's so good, Ms. Harding gets lost in the shuffle; a sad footnote to one of the finest women's Olympic figure skating competitions in history. But as superb as Ms. Kerrigan was, she loses the gold medal to the Ukraine's Ms. Baiul by one-tenth of a point on a tiebreaker. Four judges gave their first-place votes to Ms. Kerrigan, four others gave theirs to Ms. Baiul. The ninth judge, Germany's Jan Hoffman, the 1980 men's silver medalist, split his right down the middle. Mr. Hoffman gave Ms. Kerrigan a 5.8 for technical merit and a 5.8 for artistic impression. He ' gave Ms. Baiul a 5.7 for technical merit and a 5.9 for artistic impression. The scores are even at 11.6. What breaks the tie? In Wednesday's technical program, it was the first mark, the technical one. In Friday's free skate, it was the second, the artistic mark. Ms. Baiul's 5.9 beat Ms. Kerrigan's 5.8 on Mr. Hoffman's card. That decided the gold medal. But this wasn't just some kind of lucky break for Ms. Baiul. Mr. Hoffman planned it that way. He rewarded Ms. Kerrigan for her technical merit and Ms. Baiul for her artistry. He made a statement in his marks, that the two were equally brilliant that night. But a judge can't tie skaters; he or she must rank them. And Mr. Hoffman knew that by giving Ms. Baiul the higher mark in artistic impression, she would beat Ms. Kerrigan on his card. It's a strategy that is above reproach. Unfortunately, the Czech, Ukrainian and Chinese judges whet ranked Ms.. Baiul ahead technically weren't as logical. Of all the bad things that the attack brought Ms. Kerrigan, there were some good things, too. One, the money. She was going to do very well before Jan. 6. Now, she's doing even better. Two, the fame. Your average silver medalist doesn't host Saturday Night Live, as Ms. Kerrigan will March 12. Three, the opportunity to show the world what she could do. Had there been no attack, Ms. Kerrigan's performance would have played to a much smaller, more distracted television audience. It would have been just another silver medal by an American figure skater: Linda Fratianne, Rosalynn Sumners, ho-hum. Instead, everybody watched. It looked like a gold-medal performance. And in a couple of months, with all those commercials kicking in, and with perceptions being what they are, that's exactly what it will become. B Christine Brennan writes for The Washington Post. Notable Quotes "This is the first reaction of the U.N. and NATO after hundreds, maybe thousands of no-fly zone violations. In any case we are saluting this action." Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, on the shooting down of four Bosnian Serb warplanes by two American F-16s. "There are many abused women in this country ... I would like them to call the closest hot line." Lorena Bobbitt, acquitted of cutting off her husband's penis, when she was released Monday from a mental hospital. Warning: Literature is 'disturbing' As of today, I've made the decision to allow no more literature in my house. I feel cleansed now. In fact, most of my (extensive!) psycho-social problems had been based on the reading of . . . too much literature. I hope that this is obvious to you. It is certainly obvious to the Board of Education of the state of California, which has been busily removing works of dubious literary stature from the statewide English exam it administers to lOth-graders. Under examination is a story by Alice Walker, about a woman who takes pity on a horse kept in captivity and decides to spit out the steak she is feasting on, out of respect for animals. The verdict: The story is "anti-meat-eating." Berry's World L St A I 'I'm going to claim "victim status" of something or other so my constituents will figure I'm not respon- sible for my actions." Stephanie Brush Frankly, although I have not read the story, I already feel contaminated by it. I have long felt that "anti-meat-eating" forces have sapped the strength of this great nation. It would be hard to prove that squadrons of ovo-lacto vegetarians are not at this very moment, poised at the borders of our meat-producing states, ready to fling tofu and bulgur at us. Yet, what's a lOth-grader supposed to think? According to Marion McDowell, president of the California Board of Education, any symbolic statement on animal rights contained in a testing format "could be rather disturbing to some students who would then be expected to write a good essay while they were upset." Can you imagine? Upsetting a lOth-grader, I mean? Here's a young person who's got guns in the schools and global warming and a probably dysfunctional home life to deal with, and he usually handles these things pretty well. But an "anti-meat-eating" statement, in the context of a harmless, everyday, stress-free English exam? Well, something like that could just send him over the edge. I would imagine that in some (Eastern) schools, they are still reading The Good Earth. This book takes place in China, for God's sake. China is still communist and doesn't want to improve. But literature takes no prisoners, knows, seemingly, no shame. Or take a dook UKe tLtnan trome, wnere a man falls in love with a woman not his married wife. Reading this book, I know, led me into one adulterous affair after another, usually with other read ers of literature. One man was even educated in California. But the fellow in question frequently indulged in meat-eating behavior, while I indulged in anti-meat-eating behavior. As a youth, I know I was frequently guilty of reading Catcher in the Rye on the sly. (This was a tide that obviously endorsed the eating of non-white bread products, often those with caraway seeds, and worse. I'm sure the inside of the book was awful, too.) I also read The Diary of Anne Frank (offensive to Palestinians) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (it endorsed child labor in its infamous "fence painting" scene). But as I say, all that pain and torment is over now. The books I've saved are going to be given to the Goodwill or maybe used as landfill. I plan to spend the rest of my life watching either Maury Povich or that new talk show, the one with that girl Leeza-Some-thing from Entertainment Tonight. I also plan to spend more time in California. There's nothing like sun and a good, stirring aerobics class with a woman named "Bambi" to get all that literary sludge out of one's mind. Uh-oh. Bambi wasn't a book was it? Steplianie Brush is a syndicated humor columnist fx ' i v Jiffi-'- ','J4 .' ' 1 , ' L-f If 1 .1 jio 1 TT.777r J M 1 A Mm a:fti:hKma&SA : fJ ft, 'ffl'ji -Trie right shape in a host rf I r - ps- Ifi'j ' i colgfrs to complement your casual 'il ''XSl 'V J wardrobe. 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