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Jewish World Review April 5, 2002 / 24 Nisan, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings | OK: You've gotta hear this one.

Voters in Sausalito, California have rejected a proposal to build a $7.8 million police and fire facility in their town. Polls indicate the locals thought the structure, despite a tasteful and costly Mediterranean motif, would mar the architectural ambience.

But that's not the best part: Opponents also argued it would violate the town's feng shui -- referring to the ancient Chinese art of placing objects in such a way as to maximize harmonious energy flows.

This is interesting because the departments haven't had a permanent home since 1995, when a flood wiped out their 93-year old facility. For the past seven years, they have been stuck in what one official calls Sausalito's only official trailer park.

The good news: the trailers, tucked away somewhere or other, apparently don't offend the eyes or clog the arteries that convey feng shui.

The bad news is that if you suffer a fire or crime in Sausalito -- you're out to lunch.

A friend, New Republic editor Peter Beinart, complained recently that President Bush, with his constant invocations of faith, is ignoring nonbelievers.

Perhaps but if so he the only one guilty of the crime in this politically correct age. Consider a few stories: Officials at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Virginia, citing the need for tolerance, have ordered a student Christian club to strike the name Easter from its annual food drive.

Cindy Dunn of Springsville, Alabama, is suing Target Stores, claiming she was fired for refusing to hide a necklace that included a small cross. She says the store doesn't ban tongue rings, nose rings and other exotic jewelry forms.

The Orange County, California, Chapter of the American Red Cross prohibited the playing of patriotic songs that included the word God -- at a thank-you party for volunteers. It later apologized. And finally, Florida has reversed a decision not to grant a vanity license plate bearing the inscription: Atheist.

So nonbelievers are doing just fine thank you; believers are the ones under siege these days.

The world of politics and opinion would be a lot duller if not for periodic eruptions of actor Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, whose pronouncements on world affairs have become more heated as his acting career has grown more cold, has regaled us with some real lu-lus in recent months.

He once advocated the murder of genial House Republican Henry Hyde because Hyde ran the Clinton impeachment. Later, he compared the Bush inauguration to the September 11th attacks, calling the Supreme Court decision an act of terror. Well, now his mouth is costing him.

Baldwin has been forced to close the "guest book" section of his website because angry cyber-types have started pelting him with hate mail. The thespian's webmasters say they're going to reopen the feature, but under altered circumstances. They'll grant admission only to people who "leave their actual email address by virtue of a signature verification" whatever that means.

What it means, is the mailbox will be as empty as Baldwin's head.

Finally someone has done something smart about race relations.

Ryan White, John Messner and Charles Cuny ... students at Northern Colorado University ... decided to protest a local high school's designation as the Fightin' Reds not by getting mad, but by getting famous. "Our objective," they write on their website, "was to make a straightforward statement using humor." In that vein, they're calling their intramural basketball team the Fightin' Whites -- slogan: "Every thang's gonna be all white."

They've also produced a logo, cranked out t-shirts, set up a scholarship fund -- and gotten massive publicity. Good for them. Racial harmony isn't hard. It's a matter of common sense. Treat people like what they are ... people.

Don't discriminate on the basis of skin color. Don't obsess. And don't devote all your waking hours to made-up grievances and causes of action. The Fighting Whites have come up with the most potent elixir for human harmony -- one almost always absent from racial politics. That magic potion is laughter.

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