The Chutzpah Awards winner of the year is...


IN TODAY'S COLUMN, I will finish up bestowing the 1996 Chutzpah Awards on the deserving winners. I believe I concluded Wednesday's column with the fifth runner-up award going to the National Association of Black Journalists.

Fourth runners-up: Mass Transit Administration officials, who socked it to bus, subway and light-rail riders with yet another fare increase. I understand that state law requires that 50 percent of the MTA's operating costs come from fares, but the MTA will make this list whenever they announce a hike. It wasn't very long ago when I was riding the buses and subway myself. I've seen how some -- a minority, I hope -- bus drivers and subway attendants treat passengers. It ain't a pretty sight. I still remember the bus driver who called a passenger a bitch, gave the woman her badge number and dared her to report the incident.

"I may get suspended," the bus driver sneered, "but I need the time off." With drivers like these, MTA officials should spend a year of sleepless nights whenever they increase fares.

Third runner-up: Newsday columnist Les Payne, who wrote a scurrilous column in the NABJ newsletter charging that by buying the freedom of two boys in the Sudan, Gil Lewthwaite and I had committed an act worse than murder or rape. It is not for his excellently written column that Payne appears on this list. It is for taking two full months to find his moral outrage on the matter and for his self-righteous posturing that would leave even the most zealous religious fanatic gasping incredulously.

Second runner-up: The good Revvum Jesse Jackson, who blew into town earlier this year pleading for the state of Maryland not to execute convicted murderer Flint Gregory Hunt. Hunt murdered police officer Vincent Adolfo back in 1985. The state has been trying to get him in the gas chamber ever since. But it's bleeding heart do-gooders like Jackson who are determined to see he never gets there. Jackson makes this list for visiting Baltimore on Hunt's behalf but not offering one word of condolence to the Adolfo family.

First runners-up: My good buddies in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who have been bragging via the Internet about how the commander of their Maryland chapter, G. Elliott Cummings, "beat" me in a debate on WCBM's Les Kinsolving show.

These guys are, like, oh so meshuga! What the Sons of Confederate Veterans forget is that I called not for one debate, but a series of debates, culminating perhaps in one on WOLB-AM, Baltimore's black talk radio station. Cummings said his work with the Sons of Confederate Veterans prevented him from participating in any future debates. The commander impressed me as a gentleman of integrity during the debate, so I have no reason to doubt his word. But it's revealing that none of these swaggering braggarts crowing about how I lost the debate has offered to pick up the rest of the challenge.

Because the fact is, I was only getting warmed up on the Les Kinsolving Show. I didn't have to say much, because Cummings and the listeners were in essence proving my points. They conceded that the Ku Klux Klan was started by Confederate veterans. They swear that South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks was right to club Sen. Charles Sumner almost to death for calling Brooks' cousin a bad name. In my mind, the admission proved everything I said about Confederate leadership being a bunch of "boorish, bilious buffoons."

But ain't it just like a Confederate to claim victory before the battle is even over? That's why their ancestors lost the war.

The winner: Central Intelligence Agency Director John M. Deutch, who went before residents of Watts back in November and gave a speech denying that his agency aided Nicaraguan contras in smuggling cocaine into South Central Los Angeles. His speech amounted to a torrent of revolting drivel. Not once did he mention the names Norwin Meneses or Danilo Blandon, the contras who sold the crack to L.A. drug dealer Freeway Rick Ross.

Danilo, Meneses and Ross were all mentioned in the San Jose Mercury News story that implied the CIA knew all along what these three yahoos were up to. The questions everyone wants answered is what the CIA knew about Danilo and Meneses smuggling cocaine into this country and when they knew it. And I don't think we should accept that "we didn't know" nonsense. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the CIA keeps files on God, which might include some suggestions on how to bump Him off if He gets out of line. I figure they know more about Meneses and Blandon than they're telling.

Pub Date: 1/05/97

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