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Jewish World Review Jan. 25, 2002 / 12 Shevat, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings -- A CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, jury recently pronounced sentence in a case that struck home with many parents.

Thomas Junta could spend up to 25 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter of youth hockey coach Michael Costin. Junta, a hockey father, accused Costin last spring of permitting too much violence in practices. They too traded punches and Costin died.

It's hardly novel to point out that some adults lose their minds when it comes to kids' sports, but the trend seems to be worsening. Parents are trying to program their children's lives -- from the selection of preschools through extracurricular activities, culminating in admission to a prestigious university, followed by wealth and comfort.

This is a cheap way to avoid tougher parental chores such as loving, teaching and sharing kids' growing pains. And it ignores the fact that you can't script life. Values help kids get through tough times -- and youngsters learn by watching. If mom and dad go bonkers over trivial matters -- the kids don't stand a chance.

The most thermonuclear controversy in Washington has nothing to do with terrorism, taxes or corporate bankruptcy. It concerns the name of the city's most beloved sports team, the Washington Redskins.

A group of self-described activists -- a nice term for moral exhibitionists -- wants to change the name, arguing that it demeans Indians. You can find similar attacks against the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and other sports teams named after indigenous Americans.

But even though Washington is a hive of political correctness, this crusade isn't going anywhere -- especially among capital city football fans. Some locals argue that the term Redskin is one of admiration and veneration. But the fact is, nobody on either side of this fight knows where the label came from -- or whether it was designed to exalt or mock the first permanent inhabitants of this continent.

One thing's for sure: activists ought to watch out for what they want -- for the one surely accurate name for those first inhabitants is -- aborigines.

Amnesty International wishes to inspect the tents and cages that house several dozen prisoners from Afghanistan. The organization fears Americans aren't treating detainees with proper kindness and solicitude.

My first reaction upon hearing the story was to sneer. What would Amnesty do if it concluded we weren't sufficiently accommodating to despots and mass murderers? Walk around the heavily mined fields outside the Guantanamo bay military facility, carrying placards and chanting?

But then another thought occurred. Why not let the protesters share quarters with the prisoners? According to operations commander General Michael Lehnert, "Several of the prisoners have publicly stated here their intent to kill an American before they leave Guantanamo Bay."

If Amnesty International really wants to perform a worthy service and show some courage, it ought stake out terrorist camps devoted to the ultimate in human rights violations the carefully planned murder of innocents.

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