Kathleen Parker

Speak incorrectly and ye shall be toast.

So might go our lesson for the day as three high-profile figures recently have been taken down - their jobs lost or at risk - for saying something others considered offensive.

Rush Limbaugh's sudden departure from ESPN is well known by now. He was slammed and quickly resigned after opining that the media were giving Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb undeserved credit for his team's success because he's black. Whoosh, bye-bye Rush.

A few days ago, ESPN fired commentator Gregg Easterbrook from his weekly football column. Easterbrook, a senior editor at The New Republic, wrote about the gratuitously violent movie "Kill Bill Vol. 1" on his online Web log. He described Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax, which distributed the movie, and Michael Eisner, chairman of parent company Disney, which also owns ESPN, as "Jewish executives" who "worship money above all else."

Here's the relevant paragraph:

"Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice."

Words Easterbrook no doubt wishes he'd let simmer a few hours and then not posted. But words to end a career?

Easterbrook has apologized. His colleagues at the magazine and in the blogosphere have come to his defense, pointing to his considerable and respected body of work, as well as a history devoid of anti-Semitism. Even so, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called Easterbrook's apology "insufficient."

In a recent third case, Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, an evangelical Christian military/intelligence officer, upset many in the Arab-American world when he told a church audience that his God was bigger than the God of the Muslim warlord he fought in Somalia 1993.

He also expressed the opinion that God put George W. Bush in office, that the reason Islamic extremists hate us is because "we're a Christian nation," and that our "spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

Off with his stripes! The Interfaith Alliance has urged Bush to issue a reprimand and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is demanding that Boykin be reassigned from his Pentagon position as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Boykin's job includes hunting, among others, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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