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Jimmy 'the Greek' Tells Us There's Work to Do

January 23, 1988

Speaking in crude and insensitive terms, Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder made, on substance, the following claims: first, the blacks are numerically well represented in professional athletics; second, that the athletic talents of blacks may derive from their slave ancestry. Snyder may be right, or he may be wrong. Certainly, by trying to establish basic differences between the races, he engaged in a discourse that can only divide us.

Snyder's statements, however, are examples of protected speech, over which reasonable people should be able to disagree if we are to have a free and democratic society. His firing can only have a chilling effect on the unshackled expression of ideas and opinions.

What may emerge is a tyranny of reverse racism in which white public figures, held to a self-censoring double standard, will be pressured to avoid frank and realistic language when discussing issues involving blacks. Such a climate would serve neither the interests of the black community, nor American society at large.

We must recall the spirit of Voltaire who would violently disagree with what Snyder said while passionately defending his right to say it.

ANDREW D. BASIAGO

Chatsworth

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