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Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2002 / 24 Shevat, 5762

Tony Snow

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Consumer Reports

Musings -- WELL it had to happen. Enron employees are hawking company goods on ebay.

As I speak, more than 200 items have hit the auction block, with many more likely to follow. The items include Christmas Ornaments, golf balls, a toy touting Enron Values, a crystal paperweight listing the very values, a company ethics manual, a thermal mug exhorting the user to "ask why," a mouse pad giving the same advice -- something that evidently did not occur to company auditors -- and the company's risk management manual.

The manual tells how to quote "Attain Favorable Accounting Treatment" -- says: "re-categorize expenses in such a manner as to improve the perceived financial performance." The 223 page document also describes strategies for enhancing operating margins. Companies, it says, can "shift the realization of income and expense from period to period."

Obviously, the manual is rich with irony -- and at an offering price of nearly a thousand bucks, it may be worth more than the company.

Many wondrous things have happened since September 11th. We've recovered a sense of ourselves, and have begun putting away childish things -- including racial tension. With the exception of a hilarious battle at Harvard University, race-baiting has all but vanished.

Most of us, having heard activists trying to blame people's hard lives and tattered fortunes on race, rather than on such things as personal responsibility or mere bad luck, have learned to tune out race baiters of all colors.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson long ago exhausted their supply of noble sentiments -- and now, the public doesn't give a rip what they say. If they threaten a boycott, we yawn openly -- without disguising our boredom. And when klansmen rant, we sneer at the goofballs

. We have been reminded that we are one people, united in the quest for freedom and equality. If we remember that when times turn good again -- we won't have to worry about race hucksters anymore -- and we'll be better for it.

Jackson and Al Sharpton are protesting on behalf of Enron workers, but ignoring an outrage that could revive their careers.

At issue: Mike Tyson. The former heavyweight boxing champion went nuts the other day, setting off a melee during a press conference with his next opponent -- the present champion, Lennox Lewis.

Tyson and Lewis left the stage after the picturesque brawl, but Tyson returned to face reporters later. When one questioned his sanity, the pugilist fired off profanities and racial epithets that would make even the worst bigot redden with embarrassment.

Yet while the press reported the first fight, it primly ignored the racist comments, which would have made headlines had the offender been white. Such treatment is racist itself. It applies lower standards to a black man than to others -- and is exactly the sort of thing Jackson and Sharpton profitably could protest.

But they won't -- and their gutlessness accounts not only for their irrelevance -- but the irrelevance of the entire race-baiting industry.

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