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Jewish World Review April 19, 2001 / 26 Nissan 5761

Evan Gahr

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Creepy People for the American Way -- THE political behemoth refuses to apologize. Blinded by an outdated ideology, its leaders don't quite realize how wicked they appear to most everyone else.

Is that how the Chinese viewed the United States before the spy plane controversy was resolved? Nope. It pretty much describes People for the American Way's refusal to apologize for the anti-American rant which feminist theologian Kyun Hung Chung delivered at its conference earlier this month. Saying she represented "recovering" terrorists, Chung waxed nostalgic about her dream to bomb an American Embassy, apparently in South Korea, sometime in the 1970s.

PFAW president Ralph Neas said through an aide that Chung's past -- she belonged to an anti-American student group -- shouldn't be held against her. How forgiving. Does PFAW also overlook youthful indiscretions by conservatives? Didn't PFAW even slime a Republican nominee because he previously collaborated -- in the 1970s! -- in a supposed "book banning" campaign?

In what he later justified on the grounds that parents not educators should determine suitable material for public schools, Charles Moser sided with a West Virginia parents group that tried to ban "anti-American" books. They apparently failed, but years later PFAW blacklisted him anyway.

In 1987, according to news reports, PFAW used Moser's past to convince a Senate committee to reject his nomination to the advisory council for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Welcome to PFAW's world: If you dreamed about banning books in 1970s you're unfit for government service But if, in the same era, you belonged to an anti-American student group and aspired to bomb the United States embassy, that's a dandy credential for a speaker at a PFAW conference. The April 4-6 conference, incidentally, purported to launch a new progressive religious partnership that would follow in Martin Luther King's tradition.

At her little-noticed speech before a nearly all-white crowd at the Washington Hilton, Chung also urged women to smear their own menstrual blood all over the country and neglect their own children (Chung's menstruation oration was first disclosed by How does that follow in Martin Luther King's tradition? PFAW won't say. Chung refused to answer follow-up questions from this writer.

Why won't PFAW just apologize for her appearance? As Chung said in a different context: "What's big thing about apology just to say I am sorry?"

Because Chung is a relatively minor figure on the left, disavowing her remarks wouldn't necessarily alienate PFAW's key allies. Neas could always triangulate. Publicly he could condemn Chung's ode to terrorism and exclude her from future events. Privately he could tell liberal allies a more politically correct reason: Chung's menstruation oration was implicitly sexist. Why? She had advanced the insidious white male myth that menstrual blood is unseemly

By refusing to repudiate Chung for her remarks, PFAW is clearly leaving itself vulnerable to challenge the next time it drudges up some tenuous connection between a GOP nominee and a group whose views it finds intolerable. If PFAW yelps that a GOP nominee once gave a speech at Bob Jones University, isn't the obvious Republican response, "The school was wrong to ban inter-racial dating, but at least it didn't provide a platform for anyone who dreamed of bombing a United States embassy."

PFAW president Ralph Neas--a darling of liberals ever since he helped Bork Bork in 1987--is hardly a crazed leftist. It's a safe bet that he finds Chung's words distasteful. Although this writer has not talked to Neas for the menstruation story (is he too shrewd or too busy to touch it?), previous conversations since 1991 give every indication that Neas has no more use for her than Hubert Humphrey did the Weather Underground. On a personal level, Neas is quite civil. He treats questions from conservative journalists with a measure of seriousness and respect. Even as point man for liberal lynch mobs, Neas pretty much leaves the hyperbole to others. (Whether that's like saying the guy who hands the match to an arsonist personally doesn't play with fire is another matter.)

Neas, who most recently helped lead the campaign to Bork John Ashcroft, learned the ways of Washington as an aide to Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA). He later worked for other liberal Republicans. Neas himself was a registered Republican for years, but finally left the party during the Gingrich era.

Meanwhile, imagine how Neas would react if a former Klansman delighted a Christian Coalition conference with his dream to bomb black churches.

JWR contributor Evan Gahr, a self-described neo-reactionary, is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. To comment click here.


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03/13/01: Stonewall Jackson strikes again
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02/28/01: Jesse the spendthrift? 'Moocher' is more like it!
02/21/01: Remember Saint Ralph?
02/17/01: Donna Brazile Speaks out on Clarence Thomas
02/15/01: Operation PUSH back
02/08/01: Of 'players,' boozers, and your tax dollars
02/02/01: Schumer's new insensitivity
01/31/01: The Real Pat Caddell
01/26/01: Louts Above the Law
01/18/01: Bush and other GOP converts to racial politics are profoundly misguided
12/20/00: Whose America? Here are some election results the "mainstream" press won't report
12/14/00: Gore's last smear campaign
12/05/00: Fido v. Fido --- the emerging 'pets' rights' movement
12/01/00: Missile defense fog
11/17/00: The Dersh opens his yap one time too many
11/13/00: Gore's biggest missing Florida bloc
11/07/00: Hillary's cruel blow to American pluralism
11/01/00: Given Hillary's history should anyone -- other than society's most radical -- be surprised?
10/26/00: Remembering Gus Hall, that 'all-American' kinda guy
10/19/00: Hey conservatives, Nader wants your vote!
08/24/00: Not So Super-Heroes
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07/12/00: Geraldo's Food for Thought
06/27/00: Time for To Execute a Murderer
06/20/00: Hillary and the Cop-bashers: Will the real Ms. Rodham please stand up?
06/08/00: For voting rights purposes, should criminal offenders be judged not by the content of their character but the color of their skin?
05/10/00: Feminist Majority Rule
05/02/00: The Tin Man's Doctor
03/07/00: Bob Jones hypocrisy: Liberals are lecturing Americans on "anti-Catholicism"?
02/03/00: The red and the Black: The Left-wing Extremist in Bill Bradley’s Camp
01/06/00: Looking backwards: An anchorman's version of the 20th Century
12/16/99: Yellow journalism for the Pink Lady?
12/07/99: How to make the American Psychological Association squirm

© 2001, Evan Gahr. This column is adapted from The American Spectator online