Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 30, 2004
WAR/POLITICS: Political Natural Selection
There's been a lot of piling on UMass grad student Rene Gonzalez over his breathtakingly asinine op-ed essentially spitting on Pat Tillman's grave (even drawing co-blogger Kiner's Korner out of his long hibernation). Ricky West has the goods on Gonzalez' other public fulmintions, including (predictably enough) anti-Semitism and racial slurs aimed at African-American Republicans, and one of his commenters notes that Gonzalez is also a signer of one of those appallingly discriminatory "divest from Israel" petitions.
Gonzalez' attitudes are despicable, of course, although he's as much to be pitied for his ignorance as hated; the guy is obviously so isolated and so lacking in social skills that he had no clue how offensive the vast majority of sentient adults would find his remarks. Hopefully, UMass has the sense not to have this idiot teaching anything to undergrads; he has, or should have, killed any chance he ever had of teaching anywhere, since nobody wants to court lawsuits by hiring an instructor so completely lacking in basic sensitivity.
Rene is now a graduate student. He's active in politics, he's interested in all the big issues, he's maybe thinking about a political career, and he's just written something he'll deeply regret . . . Rene will get what's coming to him. Picture him a couple of decades from now, struggling to explain his youthful extremism to party officials or journalists or voters.
As you will recall, this is the same reason why I support keeping flag-burning legal: anything that allows guys like this to imprint the scarlet letter of anti-Americanism on themselves before they get into politics is A Good Thing.
(On a related note . . . when I worked on Jim Rappaport's 1990 Senate campaign against John Kerry back in my College Republican days, there were rumors among the low-level volunteers that somebody had video of Kerry from the early 70s burning a flag. Knowing what I know now, it's obvious that Kerry was never as far gone as all that - but if he had been, it would have been political death for him even in Massachusetts).