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Time wounds all heels
by Andrew Barbano
Jul 05, 2008 | 563 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A couple of years back, I got a call from an irritated reader who wondered why I had given a Tribune reporter respectful comments about someone who was my polar opposite politically and who had gone out of his way to personally insult me.

“We must be generous in death,” I replied.

While an objective journalist and obituary writer is obligated to present a balanced view of the life of the deceased, a commentator and advocate is under no such obligation.

I prefer not to trash someone recently deceased. Plenty of time to later evaluate that person’s contribution or dereliction.

So what can one say about the late Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina?

Only that his death may have metaphorical significance this year.

Good ole fashioned American racism has come out of the closet thanks to the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.

As the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

I liken this year’s racial follytix to a dandelion that’s just been hit with some serious weed killer. For a day or two, it puffs up like an athlete on steroids, then it crashes.

It won’t be quite that simple, but I think this year may prove the last hurrah for American racism as we know it. And not so much because of what you, me or anyone else tries to do about it.

The grim reaper of racism is time.

Mary Cheney, the openly lesbian daughter of the vice president, was once asked about her relationship with her parents, both of whom are notorious Republican queer bashers.

She gracefully sidestepped the question, noting that such prejudice is generational and will fade with time. She pointed to now-faded taboos against inter-racial marriage as an example.

Sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant. It also nourishes the lilies, daisies and columbine in the graveyards of old hatreds.

The fix is in

No matter the huge problems that seem to be afflicting the community, the state, the nation and the world, be of good heart. Nothing is so damaged that we can’t fix it if we combine the goodwill and political will to do it.

Will we have the leadership? Of course.

During times of crisis, great leaders rise up. They very probably will come from among the most unlikely. Often, they are artists of some sort. Witness playwright Vaclev Havel who became president of Czechoslovakia and led a bloodless transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

I wouldn’t worry too much about Barack Obama’s current flirtation with Bill Clinton-Dick Morris-style triangulation. Ralph Nader will be on the ballot in 45 states — including Nevada — to act as his conscience.

We just have to hope that Obama is doing what all pols at the top must do: try to be all things to all people, make every promise you can and hope you can deliver on the good ones and diminish the questionable calls should you be fortunate enough to win.

The senator from Illinois is walking a tightrope. He must keep in mind Harry Truman’s time-tested advice: If you give people a choice between two conservatives, they will always vote for the real thing.


Thanks to everyone who participated in the show last week. If you were watching Wednesday, you got the earliest reports of the breakdown of negotiations between the local bus system and the Teamsters Union. I was particularly gratified to get phone calls from drivers who had just gotten off work and were unaware of the current status.

The Barbwire broadcasts live on Charter cable channel 16 Monday through Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and streams on the Web at Barbwire.TV, part of the new community radio project.

Viewers may participate via live phone calls at 682-4144 and 682-4145 or by live chat through the Web site.

The revolution will be televised

Bastille Day is also my birthday. On July 15, my very special on-air guest will be veteran newsman Tad Dunbar, who on that date will be in his second day employed by KRNV TV-4. Tad will go on the air at the region’s NBC affiliate next month, expanding its early newscast by a half-hour at 6:30 p.m. Stay tuned to this column for additional details.

Tune in, turn on and tell a friend.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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Time wounds all heels by Andrew Barbano

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