In the midst of the Washington-area sniper attacks last fall, Montgomery County (Md.) Police Chief Charles Moose was forced to make an unusual televised appeal to immigrants. "Perhaps some of our immigrant community members feel like there would be some problem for them because of their status ... if they come forward," Moose said. "We hope that is not the case, but if that is the case, we want to stress that that is not our interest in this matter." He was responding to an incident the previous day in which two immigrants had been apprehended for questioning in the sniper case, cleared but then dumped in deportation proceedings. What was odd was that Moose had to make the appeal at all.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) may well be a racist, but it's time to put this controversy into perspective before Republicans wash their hands of him and end up looking tough on race. With Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), the party's minority whip, calling for new leadership, President Bush rebuking Lott publicly and conservative media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal asking for his resignation, you have to wonder if Republicans are trying to use Lott as a scapegoat to distract the public from their own sorry record on civil rights. You also have to wonder whether the Democrats will have the courage to turn a piece of political theater into a serious discussion of race and equality.
Standing in the lobby of the National Press Club around noon yesterday, one could hear the standard quantity of rapid-fire chatter and Capitol Hill buzz. Everyone wore suits, yammered into cell phones and smoked cigarettes with an impatience specific to Washington. The only deviation from the norm was that most of the people were speaking Portuguese: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was about to arrive for his first visit to the United States since being elected president of Brazil, and everyone was waiting to hear what the newly minted leader of Latin America's largest economy would say. This was an unprecedented visit -- never before had a Brazilian president-elect visited the United States.
Just when it was looking as if the Bush administration would stamp its economic model on the entire Western Hemisphere, a credible challenge has emerged. South America's largest and most self-reliant economy is very likely to elect a popular moderate leftist. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party in Brazil has campaigned vigorously against President George W. Bush's proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). First imagined by Ronald Reagan, it would essentially extend the North American Free Trade Agreement from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. With a crucial negotiating session co-chaired by the United States and Brazil in Quito, Ecuador, set for just after Brazil's Oct.