Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Boycott chicken

Woman's Club gets run over


In the past three days, the Woman's City Club of Greater Cincinnati has been slandered, bullied, intimidated, threatened and called "prostitutes" on the radio.

I think I will send them a check.

Because no matter what they do, they will get run over like road kill in the city's game of boycott chicken. They can't win.

If they cave in to boycott threats and move their fund-raiser to the 'burbs, they will be accused of betraying the city and siding with hate groups.

If they stay put at Plum Street Temple, their speaker, author Barbara Ehrenreich, won't come.

Immoral distortionists

Either way, it's picketers. Councilman John Cranley says, "I will personally picket the event if they move it out of downtown." He calls the boycotters dishonest, immoral, racist, anti-Semitic distortionists.

And he's just warming up: "There needs to be public shame for groups that kowtow. You are giving public legitimacy to hate groups.''

Leaders of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati "have used horribly racist language against white people,'' he said. Co-chair Amanda Mayes carried a sign on Fountain Square that said, "Jews killed Jesus, had black slaves, stole our black identities.''

Woman's City Club President Ruth Cronenberg said the board will reconsider the March 18 event at a meeting tonight. "We have already been threatened at our office," she said.

She said two people warned her to honor the boycott or be picketed. "But neither one can give me a reason why we were singled out."

Alice Schneider, a co-chair of the event, said Mayor Charlie Luken and others called Ehrenreich. "We did try to convince the speaker that these are third- and fourth-tier (boycotters) and they are not the leaders in Cincinnati."

She said the people who threatened to picket were very secretive. "They're all fractured and each one represents a different agenda."

Any crank can do it

No kidding. So fractured, any crank can pick up a phone, threaten to picket, and Cincinnati is embarrassed again.

Schneider said the club can get its fee back if they stay downtown and Ehrenreich doesn't come. But their nine-year tradition of speakers will be ruined.

"Why doesn't the city have a way to deal with this?" Cronenberg asked. "Where's the leadership? They know it will happen again and again."

Instead, Cincinnati seems to promote its own boycott, Schneider said. "As I got on the Web, all I saw was boycott stuff in the Enquirer. I couldn't find anything positive about other speakers who came in."

It's a good question: Where's the leadership to tell the truth about our city?

If Ehrenreich researches her books the way she studied up on Cincinnati's boycott, I wouldn't cross the street to hear her talk about poverty for $10,000. But the Woman's Club doesn't deserve to be pushed around by boycott bullies and beat up by everyone else.

So I'm sending them a donation - to find a speaker with a backbone.

E-mail or call 768-8301

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SMITH AMOS: What really matters
BRONSON: Boycott chicken
KORTE: City Hall
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