Norman Siegel v. Park Safety

Experience and common sense would suggest that one can never be too careful when putting on a rock concert. Such concerts, particularly those open-air events where admission is free, can, and have, ended in violence. So when private promoters began using metal detectors to screen concert goers in city parks, most people were reassured.

But not Norman Siegel. The publicity-hungry executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union is outraged. The use of metal detectors, he says, is a grave violation of civil liberties and an invitation to all kinds of malfeasance. To prove his point, he invited the press to accompany him to a salsa concert in the Bronx, where he demanded entry without submitting himself to metal detection or allowing a bag to be inspected. Of course he was turned away. His publicity ploy had worked. But the joke is on him. Most concert goers were more than happy to submit to a metal detector, since they had no metal on them and preferred not to share public space with anybody who did. This attitude stunned Mr. Siegel, and he complained that the sheep-like masses were complicit in their own repression. “People lose their civil liberties in this incremental way,” he whined.

No, Mr. Siegel, but people lose their lives when attention is not paid to detail. At the concert in question, security personnel confiscated six knives. Who can say that a life or two wasn’t saved? But Mr. Siegel is simply beside himself because the city no longer treats parks as a refuge for the criminal class. And what are mere knives to a staunch civil libertarian? Principle, you see, trumps vigilance! An acceptable level of mayhem is the price we must pay for an open society!

Fortunately, this kind of hogwash is out of fashion these days. And so is Norman Siegel and his civil liberties union.

Wilbert Tatum, Anti-Semite

Once again, the man who runs The Amsterdam News , New York City’s oldest newspaper serving the black community, has revealed himself to be an anti-Semite who uses his newspaper to inflame ethnic tensions. In the paper’s Aug. 10-16 issue, Wilbert Tatum, the paper’s publisher emeritus, wrote an editorial about Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore’s selection of Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate. “Gore and his minions did it for the money,” wrote Mr. Tatum, with the apparent blessing of his daughter, Elinor Tatum, who is The Amsterdam News’ publisher and editor. “The reasoning in the Gore camp went out all over the world to Jews of means: You’ve got to show me the money. When you do, one of yours will be given the second spot on the ticket. The word went out all over the world to Jews in every pocket of civilization and near-civilization, that the major protector of Jews in this world, the American government, is now available. But in order to get it, you’ve got to buy it.… Jews from all over the world, especially in Europe, Africa, Israel and South America, will be sending bundles of money.”

Many New Yorkers will dismiss Mr. Tatum’s rantings as the twisted passions of a man who, if he didn’t control a newspaper, might be found muttering to himself in some forgotten alley. And it is true that The Amsterdam News has seen its circulation plunge to about 20,000 readers from a readership of about 60,000 in the 1970′s. But the paper maintains influence with the city’s black population and with national figures such as Jesse Jackson. Indeed, Mr. Jackson, who for years has been trying to convince New Yorkers that he is not an anti-Semite even though he referred to New York City as “Hymietown,” has revealed just the opposite with his repeated refusal to denounce the contents of the loathsome editorial.

When challenged, Mr. Tatum replied that he could not be an anti-Semite because his wife and daughter are Jewish. But his family affiliations, of course, have nothing to do with the fact that he is a purveyor of hate.

He is not peddling his filth in a vacuum, but in the world’s most combustible media market. With a Jewish candidate on the Presidential ticket for the first time in history, bigots such as Mr. Tatum deserve unanimous condemnation by all thinking people.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

In winning the Professional Golfers Association championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville on Aug. 20, Tiger Woods put the finishing touches on one of the greatest seasons any professional athlete has ever had. He won three of golf’s four major titles; only Ben Hogan, in 1953, accomplished such a feat. And today’s competition, with millions of dollars in prize money and endorsements at stake, makes for a far tougher field than Hogan faced in his day. With Mr. Woods’ victories in this year’s United States Open, British Open and P.G.A., combined with his Masters championship in 1997, he now holds the scoring record in three of those tournaments and shares it in the fourth. At age 24.

Unlike his runaway victories in the two Opens this year, Mr. Woods faced a real challenge at the P.G.A. An obscure fellow Californian, Bob May, matched him shot for shot, birdie for birdie, during a final round made for the ages. Mr. Woods demonstrated that he was up to the unexpected challenge. Though some of his play was spotty-a pushed drive on the second playoff hole, a hooked drive a hole later-he recovered with great long putts and brilliant sand saves. Mr. May played with great skill and courage, but this is Mr. Woods’ year. This is Tiger Woods’ game.

Of the images that golfers will take from this Year of the Tiger, one deserves special mention: the sight of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus paired together and walking down the 18th fairway at the end of the second round on Aug. 18. As they approached the green, Mr. Woods backed off so the aging Mr. Nicklaus could receive the gallery’s affectionate salute. It was a classy gesture from someone who has become a classy champion.