Many newspapers thundered against the males-only membership policy of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, which is private, but remained silent about recent discriminatory policies at public institutions, such as a New York City public high school for gays and bisexuals, "Third World" student centers for nonwhites, and women-only lounges like the one at Boalt Hall, the law school of the University of California-Berkeley.
Liberals aren't the only double-dealers. Conservatives criticize liberals for "playing the race card" and reducing broad issues to narrow ones about race and gender. But conservatives do it too. Liberals opposed appeals-court nominee Miguel Estrada on philosophical grounds and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on grounds that he favored mistreatment of suspected terrorists. But some Republicans tried to sell that opposition as anti-Hispanic bias. Opposing Estrada, said Sen. Charles Grassley, "would be to shut the door on the American dream of Hispanic Americans everywhere." Not really.
Both left and right play games on federalism and states' rights. Liberals, generally contemptuous of states' rights, want to retain state tort and environmental laws, which they think are better than national laws under Republican dominance. Conservatives consider the states "laboratories of democracy," except when they want to trump a liberal state program. John Ashcroft's argument that Oregon's right-to-die law violated federal drug legislation comes under this heading.
Liberals have been severely critical of the Patriot Act and Ashcroft for the policy of seeking library records of suspected terrorists. Librarians were particularly incensed. However, the American Library Association declines to protest the serious mistreatment of librarians in Cuba. Some 75 dissidents, including 10 librarians, are subject to beatings, denied medical help, and kept in "medieval cages," according to human-rights advocates. The librarians' silence has to do with the lingering romantic attachment of the American left to communism in general and Fidel Castro in particular. The Motorcycle Diaries, the glowing movie about the young Che Guevara, is the current horrible example. The romantic left would never do a similar film about a young Nazi. Guevara killed a lot of people and dreamed of slaughtering more. How about On the Road With Adolf? Let's not dwell too much on what came after.