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Jewish World ReviewJune 20, 2000 / 17 Sivan, 5760

Evan Gahr

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Hillary and the Cop-bashers: Will the real Ms. Rodham please stand up? -- RECENTLY, Hillary Clinton took umbrage when New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani likened the paramilitary INS agents who snatched Elian Gonzalez to "storm troopers." Referring to U.S. law enforcement officers in such terms is "extreme and unwarranted," Mrs. Clinton objected.

Certainly, gratuitous allusions to the Third Reich can be a problem in American politics. Just ask Mayor Giuliani and the congressional Republicans who have repeatedly been likened to Nazis in recent years by Democratic congressmen and others. Indeed, official delegates to the Democratic Party's New York State convention--which just nominated Mrs. Clinton for the Senate--harassed a police department honor guard in just such a way. According to the Albany Times Union, the offending delegates spat upon the flag-carrying cops and jeered at them as "Nazis" and "members of Giuliani's Third Reich."

So does the First Lady really want to start a debate about the vilification of police officers? If so, she's either got a lot of chutzpah or a mighty short memory, for the fact is, Hillary Rodham Clinton has collaborated with cop-bashers for some 30 years.

Back in her Yale Law School days, Hillary was party to one especially venomous critique of the police. At that time, she served as associate editor of a student journal which depicted city policemen as racist pigs --literally-- and even seemed to glorify cop-killing.

The Yale Review of Law and Social Action was the left-wing journal of that university's law school. Its debut issue, dated spring 1970, lists Hillary Rodham as an editorial board member. She was no figurehead; Daniel Wattenberg, whose American Spectator piece first linked Hillary to the law journal, uncovered a Review source who recalls that Rodham, for instance, gave a detailed, sympathetic critique for an article entitled, "Jamestown 70."

A special double issue of the Yale Review during Hillary's editorial service focused on the legal travails of the Black Panthers. In 1970 and '71, several Panthers stood trial in New Haven for the torture-murder of fellow Panther Alex Rackley. On the same page as an unsigned article describing the police raid on the New Haven headquarters of the Black Panther Party following the murder, the Review ran a cartoon showing hairy pigs, snot dripping from their noses, marching with rifles in hand. As they oink and mutter "kill" aloud, the bubble above their heads has them thinking, "niggers, niggers, niggers."

The same issue has another pig-cop cartoon showing a horribly wounded pig-cop on crutches. He got what he deserved, explains the cartoon text. After all, a pig is "a foul depraved traducer." Yet further on comes a third drawing of a pig-cop, this one dismembered by gunfire. The headline above the decapitated head: "Seize the Time!"--the slogan of the Black Panthers.

What, if anything, did Mrs. Clinton know about these cartoons? Her silence about her earlier radical politics makes it impossible to know. But Hillary and her fellow Yale Review editors were undoubtedly career-minded activists, not the kind of hotheads reckless enough to lend their names to a magazine over which they had no control or knowledge. Besides Hillary, the editors included her friend Sol Stein, whom President Clinton named to the federal bench in 1995, and Greg Craig, the high-visibility attorney who saved President Clinton during impeachment and then saved Castro during the Elian Gonzalez seizure. (Craig tells The American Enterprise the cartoons are abhorrent and denies any involvement.)

Today, Hillary keeps company with cop-basher par excellence Al Sharpton, who seems to view just about any police officer in a minority neighborhood as a "white interloper" (his phrase). She issues responsible-sounding warnings against pre-judging cops, yet characterizes Amadou Diallo as having been "murdered" (a comment later described as a slip of her tongue). She is building her New York Senate campaign on odes to family values and law and order. So which is the real Hillary?

Her record -- campus radical in the late '60s and early '70s, supervisor of the Legal Services Corporation during its most loony-activist phase under Jimmy Carter, and her late 1980s tutelage of the New World Foundation when it played sugar daddy to the hard Left--renders Hillary Clinton's current incarnation as a pragmatic centrist highly dubious.

True, Mrs. Clinton is not the only one who did foolish things in the '60s, but her historical record bears re-examination because, as with so many of her other controversial endeavors, she has never come clean.

Does she now have any regrets over her hard-Left past? In this particular case, exactly how involved was she?

Yes, people can and do change. But where's the evidence that Mrs. Clinton's newfound admiration for the police, and all of her other "middle of the road" positions, are anything but a cynical ploy to get elected?

Genuine turnabouts in thinking usually begin with an acknowledgment of past mistakes. In any case, suppose a prominent Republican was discovered to have been associate editor of a student law journal that published racist caricatures in a special issue. Suppose one caricature showed a black man being lynched. Would this be shrugged off as a youthful indiscretion? Would apologists say, "everyone did that back then"?

Since Mrs. Clinton is the one who registered the complaint about vilifying officers of the law, she ought to explain whether her own views have changed.

Or has she just changed her stripes to match political realities -- like Bobby Seale, the graying Black Panther who now explains, "I'm not going around saying, 'Off the pig.' You got to meet the climate of the times, man."

JWR contributor Evan Gahr writes for The American Enterprise Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2000, Evan Gahr