Floggings and Fire Hoses

This story — www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/world/asia/04swat.html?ref=todayspaper — raises interesting questions about the future of Pakistan, a country most experts, and President Obama and his Administration, see as a focal point of the global struggle against terrorism.

Occasionally a single incident, such as the horrible flogging video described in this article and the negative public reaction to it, can be a turning point. Many people think, for example, that the TV images of peaceful black protesters being attacked by dogs and knocked down by high-powered fire hoses were crucial to convincing Americans outside of the Jim Crow South that federal civil rights legislation like the Voting Rights Act was desperately needed. If the public revulsion within Pakistan to this flogging incident and other Taliban excesses grows, it could help to move Pakistan and its people away from religious extremism, intolerance, and the Taliban. On the other hand, if the government ignores the incident or proves powerless to address it, the Taliban may be seen as immune from punishment for such excesses, and it will in turn grow more powerful as the everyday citizens in the areas controlled by the Taliban decide that submission and compliance are more sensible than defiance. The whole story of this particular incident has not yet been told.

Let’s Go, Tribe!

I’m a Cleveland Indians fan and have been for as long as I can remember. Gramma and Grampa Neal took Jim and me to Bat Day doubleheaders back in the ’60s, I went to Opening Day in 1975 when Frank Robinson became the first black manager in Major League Baseball history, I attended many Indians games when I worked in Cleveland in the summer of 1979, and Jim, the kids and I have been to a number of games at Jacobs Field (now, unfortunately, Progressive Field) since it opened. Given the utter futility of many of those years and the lack of any World Series ring, it has not been easy, but it has been fun.

Opening Day 2009 is a few days away. There are many questions about the Tribe this year. Will Cliff Lee be able to duplicate his performance in 2008? Can Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez get and stay healthy? Will Grady Sizemore continue to develop? Unfortunately, the Indians have ended spring training with a whimper — lots of errors and crummy pitching. In baseball, though, hope springs eternal. Let’s go, Tribe!