The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 19, 1997 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, May 19, 1997
Page 4
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MONDAY, MAY 19, 1997 THE SAUNA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913)827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters© Quote of the day "We're here to promote the idea that contempt, rather than celebration, is the proper response to advertising and the individuals that make is possible." Neil Postman author of "Amusing Ourselves to Death," opening last Tuesday's Counter-Clio awards, marking the worst In advertising. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Thicker than blood THE lttW Tlie death penally for the Unabomber THE ARGUMENT Family thought they would stop the killing D avid Kaczynski could have just kept quiet. Instead of ending a nationwide manhunt for a mad bomber that had gone on for 18 years and led nowhere, Wanda Kaczynski could have looked the other way. Instead, they put concern for innocent strangers ahead of their own family and led the FBI to their man, accused Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. And what does the Kaczynski family get for its gut-wrenching, public-spirited action? Wanda's son, David's big brother, now faces the death penalty if convicted on charges of sending the bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others. If this is the kind of reward a family gets for deciding that the law is thicker than blood, it is unlikely the Justice Department will find many similarly cooperative relatives in the future. Attorney General Janet Reno, ever on the lookout for opportunities to prove how tough she is, has made the decision only she can make, to seek the death penalty in a federal case. Wanda and David Kaczynski strongly opposed the decision, and are said by their attorney ta badeyastated by it. After all, the man was turned in by his own closest relatives. They recognized the ideas and phrasing in the infamous Unabomber manifestos published last year and, rather than risk the chance that he might kill again, did the right thing. If they had not done so, it is entirely possible that the Unabomber would still be active, still be sending his deadly packages to unlucky strangers. It is not as if the mother and brother were fellow terrorists rolling over on a co-conspirator in return for a plea bargain. The accused's relatives are not suspected of, much less charged with, any illegal act. If anything, they showed a courage many people might not be able to muster in similar situations. Some consideration for their cooperation, for their feelings, should be a factor in the way this case is handled. While the Unabomber crimes were heinous, and while the government's opinion of the suspect is that he is an unrepentant, violent man, it is hard to imagine him making bombs in his prison cell. The sad case of the Kaczynski family is a reminder that, while the survivors of murder victims deserve to be remembered by the criminal justice system, accused and convicted killers have families, too. Usually, those families are innocent people. Often, because murder most often is a crime committed by people who know their victims, those closest to the killer were also close to his victim. So those who have already lost one loved one to an illegal murder risk losing another to a legal one. In turning in their son and brother, Wanda and David Kaczynksi hoped that there would be no more blood on their family's hands. Now, they cannot be so sure. T IN AMERICA Cigarettes reduce great men to dust LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters @ saljournal .com Find a cure for hunger in America America has 14.9 million children living in poverty — more than any other industrial nation. Four million of these children are hungry. Studies show that even mild malnutrition can damage the brain, harming children for life. Another million children will be soon plunged into poverty when cuts from federal programs become effective, according to the Children's Defense Fund. The Kansas Childhood Hunger Project states that 69,000 children are hungry or at risk of hunger in Kansas. Yet, current funding for WIC — a fine nutrition program for poor pregnant and nursing mothers and their children — will result in many more eligible persons not receiving services. This program saves taxpayers $1.92 to $4.21 in Medicaid costs for every dollar spent on nutrition for newborns and their mothers. Food stamps have received huge puts and welfare reform is beginning to reduce grants to families whose mothers are not working the required hours per week — thus punishing their children as well as the mothers. Hunger has a cure legislation can help resolve the problem of hunger for children. This pro- BOB HERBERT Tlw New York Times Doctor remembers how Brynner, Lerner and Bernstein were brought down by smoking N W YORK — Dr. William Cahan remembers dropping by the dressing room of Yul Brynner during the original run of "The King and I" in the early-1950s. "You could barely see that famous bald head through the cloud of cigarette smoke," said Cahan, a renowned cancer surgeon and at the time the son-in-law of Brynner's co-star, Gertrude Lawrence. "When you saw him up on the stage with his bare chest, he looked indestructible. But he smoked four or five packs a day. I used to tell him the same thing I told everybody, 'For God's sake, cut it out.' " Cahan would go on to become the senior attending surgeon at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he dubbed his operating room "Marlboro country." He continued trying to persuade Brynner to give up cigarettes. In his memoir, "No Stranger to Tears," Cahan quoted the actor as saying: "Don't worry, Bill. They'll never get me." During a tour of the hospital last week, and later over lunch, Cahan talked of the many celebrities he has known — many of them close personal friends — who have succumbed to cigarette-related diseases. He told the story of a flight he took from Boston to New York in the 1980s with Leonard Bernstein and the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Bernstein was chain- smoking, as usual. But an obviously jittery Lerner was trying to quit. He bit his nails, fingered a string of worry beads and talked about how guilty he felt at having so much trouble cutting cigarettes loose. Lerner finally quit in 1986, but it was too late. A suspicious shadow on an X-ray taken just a few months later turned out to be lung cancer. It was inoperable. Pneumonia developed and Lerner was admitted to Sloan-Kettering's intensive care unit. A young nurse on duty one night said, "I know this Mr. Lerner is very sick, but now I think he's hallucinating." When a senior nurse asked why, the young nurse replied, "He says he wrote 'My Fair Lady.' " Cahan and Lerner had a big laugh over that the next day. But time was running out. "Alan called Lenny," Cahan said, "and tried to get him to quit. He said, 'Lenny, please. Look what it's done to me.' " Lerner died in June 1986, Bernstein in October 1990. In November 1990, Cahan wrote: "So they got Lenny, too, those patrons of the arts. To see him now reduced to dust by two lousy packs of cigarettes a day ..." T WHITE HOUSE WATCH * TOTAL tMM<JfJirl'''<JOVt.D STILL A/or PLI ro The tobacco companies have succeeded in having it both ways. When they are trying to entice you to smoke, they spend billions to make smoking seem glamorous, pleasurable and sexy. When a smoker goes to court for redress, the companies say you must have known smoking was dangerous. The tobacco companies have succeeded so far in having it both ways. When they are trying to entice you to smoke, they spend billions upon billions of dollars to make smoking seem like the most glamorous, adventurous, pleasurable and sexy pastime imaginable. When a smoker, riddled with disease and dying in great pain, goes into court for redress, the companies cry foul. It's your fault, they say. You must have known smoking was dangerous. Everybody knows it. In fact, most smokers find themselves trapped by the following insidious combination: Smoking is extremely pleasurable for large numbers of people. Nicotine, despite the bizarre testimony of tobacco executives, is highly addictive. Cigarettes are relentlessly advertised — men, women and children are bombarded from birth to death with highly effective overt and subliminal messages that smoking is good. And, finally, most people, young and old, live their lives to some degree in a state of denial. Cancer? It won't happen to me. When Cahan saw Yul Brynner for the last time, in the mid-1980s, the actor was in a wheelchair, on his way to a radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and the disease had spread to his spine. The two men chatted for a few minutes. As he was about to be wheeled away, Brynner turned and looked up at Cahan. In a hoarse voice, he said, "Why the hell didn't I listen to you?" Brynner died on Oct. 10, 1985. A memorial service was held at the Shubert Theater. Among the eulogists was Alan Jay Lerner. • Bob Herbert is a veteran journalist and now a regular Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, 229 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036. Clinton out to improve race relations P.O. Box 74O, Salina, KS 67402 posed legislation is languishing in the House of Representatives in spite of the fact that it provides full funding for WIC, improves food stamps benefits, and strengthens other food programs for children. This bill is desperately needed to strengthen the national nutrition safety net for children, and to reduce malnutrition for children. Anyone interested in prevention of hunger in our community, state and nation is invited to contact our representatives in Congress and ask them to promote HR 1507, Hunger Has A Cure. — TED MINTUN Salina Sebelius a strong lady Regarding your May 11 opinion "Paying protection," I just wrote a letter to Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebilius encouraging her to keep working for Kansas consumers. We have an honest politician here, so let's keep her. When we get somebody like this in office we must encourage her as taxpayers to let her know we care. The money she could gain by turning away from the voter is great. She must be a strong lady. — Mr. and Mrs. TONY WOLFF Brookville Son of the South is out to make blacks and whites understand each other better W ASHINGTON — A son of the South, President Clinton has been searching for months for a way to make an impact on improving the nation's deteriorating race relations. He's betting his bully pulpit — and his legacy — that presidential words can make a difference in promoting racial fe harmony. But he's still grappling with how to make specific steps to help steer the country to less tension. When Clinton leaves office, he hopes to be able to say he gave the country a balanced budget, got the nation ready for the 21st century, secured enough trade agreements to position the nation well for the global economy, improved education and made the next generation more able to cope with the complexities of life, v strengthened America's security and reduced racial tension. White House aides credit Clinton with having headed off race as a divisive issue in the 1996 elections after the O.J. Simpson verdict. Clinton said he was stunned by the divergence of black and white opinion on the verdict and pledged to try to find a solution. So far Clinton's finest moment on race relations came in a speech he gave in Austin, Texas, on the day of the Million Man March, Oct. 16,1995. He diagnosed America's problem by saying that far too many Americans "fear deep down inside that they'll never quite be able to see each other as more than enemy faces, all of whom carry a sliver of bigotry in their hearts." "America, we must clean our house of racism.... A house divided against itself cannot stand," Clinton said in a speech as impas- ANN MCFEATTERS Scripps Howard News Service "A subtle form of racism that we all have to be careful about (is) the presumption of what people feel or what they think based on the color of their skin. It still permeates this country and causes barriers." President Bill Clinton sioned as he's ever given. Clinton called for no new government action to right the wrongs he listed: While half of all white Americans earn more than the median wage of $35,000 a year, only one-fourth of African Americans do; more than half of all black children live in poverty; one out of three black men in their 20s spend time in jail; 65 percent of black children live without a father present. Despite his passion, Clinton has been uncertain on race. He took five months to develop his affirmative action policy — mend it, don't end it. He has had chilly relations with a number of black leaders, from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan. But last November in his race against Bob Dole, Clinton won among black voters, eight to one. Clinton insists that his plans to wire every classroom to the Internet, spend more on Head Start and give tax breaks to families to put children through college will do as much as any government program to give more black children the opportunity to succeed. Now he promises to give his major speech on how the nation can improve race relations in a commencement address June 14 at the University of California at San Diego. There is little dispute that Clinton understands race relations in America as well as just about any president has. DOONESBURY "People pass like ships in the night and don't talk about what they think (about race), j -vjie told a group of black columnists in 1995!... I don't think people are as straight with each other as they should be." ', Asked by the group to talk about what constitutes racism, he said, "One, it's racist to'af- firmatively discriminate against someone $n the basis of race. That's racism. Two, it's racist to act or refrain to act in ways that will cause harm to people, either physically or emotionally, simply because of race. And three, a subtle form of racism that we all have to be careful about, the presumption of what people feel or what they think based on the color of their skin. It still permeates this country and causes barriers." "••! Clinton said in the Austin speech that it is not racist for white Americans to be afraid in black inner cities because "violence for those white people often has a black face." And he said it is not true that black Americans get preferential treatment to get hired or promoted, but it is true and worrisome that black college enrollment is dropping. To change behavior, he said, "you have to change people's experiences" and people haV,e to deal with issues of race on an individual basis. • !•;•• First, he wants white Americans to understand and acknowledge what he calls the roots of black pain. If black and white Americans talk to each other, he says, he is convinced they will find out they have more in common than they thought. In San Diego he will vow again to start that dialogue, to give every American the opportunity to succeed and to give every American the educational tools he or she needs. • , , Race, Clinton believes, is not about goverty- ment or politics but "what is in the heart, and minds and life" of people. Changing hearts arid minds is difficult, and words alone won't be enough. This may be Clinton's biggest challenge yet. • Ann McFeatters covers the White House for Scripps Howard News Service, 1090 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005. By G.B. TRUDEAU IxjAprW HOWA90UT KW \9'» • MJtLt»fttt»A***m JIA

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