of the top Republicans being financed by Waste Control Specialists, Andrews County is in for a rough time. Bill Medaille Austin THE SPEED OF EVOLUTION I admire the Observer’s style and content and eagerly await its arrival as a chance to read about important issues not covered in the mainstream press. Naturally then, my first letter to the Observer is about sports. Both John Hoberman, in his book on blacks and sports and Robert Bryce, in his review of that book have made some debatable assertions in trying to frame race relations through a sporting lens. The superiority of Africans as well as American and Canadian blacks in track and field is undeniable, given recent performances. How else to explain the remarkable dominance of eastern African men in distance running? Kevin Little’s victory in the 1997 World Indoor Championships aside, North American blacks dominate men’s sprints. By the way, Little’s victory, while notable, hardly \(in notion that on the athletic field, blacks are superior to whites.” For one, Little did not qualify for the Atlanta Olympics and did not make the finals in the more prestigious World Outdoor meet this past summer. Further, to ascribe such meaning to a single victory in the face of longstanding black dominance is flawed. Evolution being what it is, humans are not equal in all respects. Whites have performed better in strength sports; were American popular sports dominated by weight lifting and shot putting, black sporting dominance would not be an issue. Why the fear of stating the obvious superiority of Africans and their black brethren in sports involving speed and jumping ability? One thought is that it allows racists to diminish the hard work of black athletes in attaining great performances. Sadly, such people exist, but trying to keep them at bay with false arguments is perverse. In fact, if there are no biological reasons for black dominance, black athletes must be training harder and better. Such a notion has its own set of problems. Ask Bob Kennedy, the leading American distance runner, if maybe he needs to try just a little harder to win that elusive Olympic medal. lary” to recognizing black physical superiority is that white economic dominance will be ascribed by certain nasty people to white intellectual superiority. By even airing that argument, Hoberman has fallen into a trap that ties the economic and physical “playing fields” together. To do so is intellectually dishonest, no matter what argument you are trying to make or refute. Hoberman, Bryce and I all know that generations of oppression and denial of opportunity have created the socioeconomic black/white gulf throughout the world. Obviously, such a gap cannot be bridged with the speed that blacks have become ascendant in certain glamour sports. If sports is an important takeoff point in analyzing American race relations, it is necessary to deal honestly with differences between the races; denial of these cannot lead to improved discourse. Fred Lazare Houston DEATH OF A PILGRIM I was surprised not to see in Karen Olsany mention of the bizarre reason for John Wayne’s death from cancer, the atomic curse of The Conqueror. The terrible human cost of this misbegotten epic was revealed by authors Harry and Michael Medved in their 1984 book, The Hollywood Hall of Shame. John Wayne’s ridiculous miscasting of himself as Genghis Khan resulted in his spending thirteen weeks on location in scenic Snow Canyon, Utah, which served as a natural catch-basin for radioactive fallout from the Yucca Flat, Nevada atomic test range, only 137 miles away. So the cast and crew of The Conqueror were inadvertently given a lengthy exposure to high doses of radiation. The Medveds include a publicity photo of Wayne posing on location while testing a geiger counter, with the grim caption: “Back in 1955, rumors of radioactivity on the Utah location were treated as a joke; twenty years later, after ninety-one mem Molly Ivins Eats Lunch! The Winner of the Lunch with Molly Ivins Observer Sweepstakes is Roy Stanley of Tyler, Texas, a loyal subscriber since 1980, who renewed his sub in order to win. Thanks to Roy and to all who entered. Watch this space for another Observer Sweepstakes! bers of The Conqueror cast and crew developed cancer, no one was laughing.” The incredible casualty statistics among the 220 movie personnel mirror those of the hapless residents of the nearby town of St. George; 41 percent developed cancer, of It’s ironic that John Wayne, with all his wealth and status, couldn’t escape becoming a “downwinder,” simply because he believed the government’s lies that what it was doing was safe. For no matter what he pretended to be while he was alive, his greatest legacy remains the criminal stupidity of his death. Earl Divoky Fresno ALMOST MAINE The lead of Molly Ivins’ October 24 column \(“Trent Lott Saves Campaign Finamed Senator Bob Smith of Maine. The last time I was in Maine, which was two months ago, the state of Maine had the good fortune to be represented by two women: Senator Susan Collins and Senator Olympia Snow. Who then is Molly referring to? Molly should be paying a little more attention to Mainethere’s some very progressive political happenings up there and we down here in Texas could surely benefit by knowing about some of them. J. Cockroft Bryan The Editors respond; Senator Bob Smith is indeed from New Hampshire, not Maine,’a distinction undoubtedly of some significance in New England, the source of much progressive wisdom and radioactivity. Nevertheless, we apologize for the error. NOVEMBER 7, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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