I walked into 7th grade math class and our teacher was crying. My classmates and I all sat there in stunned silence most of us had never seen a teacher show such emotion. Finally she looked up and said, “John Lennon was killed last night.” Some of the kids had no idea who John Lennon was, others had a vague idea or had heard of the Beatles from their parents or older siblings. Only a handful of us were fans of John and his music. In a quiet voice my teacher told our class about John Lennon. She told us about his music and what he stood for, and how his message of peace had touched her life. Then she brought out a small, beat up cassette player from her desk and a shoebox full of cassette tapes and we spent the rest of our class period listening to his music. I remember watching my teacher’s sad eyes as we all listened to “Mother,” “Imagine,” The Ballad of John and Yoko,” “Working Class Hero,” “Happy Christmas (War is Over) as well as several Beatles songs. We didn’t learn any math that day, but we all learned about a man whose music touched so many and a man who just wanted us all to give peace a chance. Kevin Routh, St. Peters, Mo.
Conservatives and to a lesser extent libertarians are often accused of being racist for things like opposing affirmative action, skepticism about broad antidiscrimination laws, claiming that intergroup differences in income are not necessarily due to discrimination, arguing that some cultures are better than others, and so on. If the GOP wins this particular fight and Reid is forced to resign, there will be a new norm in public discourse under which no prominent person can openly say the same kinds of things as Reid without being labeled a racist. This norm will ensnare some people of all persuasions. It will also have the unfortunate effect of making honest discussion of racial issues even more difficult than it often is already. But in many settings especially the media and the intellectual world it is likely to be used most aggressively against conservatives and libertarians. And if conservatives complain that such attacks are unfair, their credibility will be undermined by their own previous attacks on Reid. I realize, of course, that it tempting to score some political points against Reid, especially at Replica Designer Handbags a time when Republicans see the Democrats popularity plummeting and hope to make major gains in the November elections. However, even forcing Reid to resign probably will have only a minor, temporary impact on the overall political balance of power. By contrast, the effect on discourse norms will be much more permanent.
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