A New Century

1996–2005: from Aids in Africa to 9-11, Clinton's blowjob to Cindy Sheehan

For all those well-placed fears, however, I hold on to the notion that this dramatic move may yield positive results . . . I have friends who've bought the Voice less often since the price went up to $1.25. Not destitute friends, merely busy people who already have too much to read and took the price hike as one more reason not to pick up the Voice. I'd like to believe that some or most of those people will become weekly readers again, and that they symbolize a broader potential readership that has never experienced the barbs of Barrett, the pop dialectics of Powers, the soul erudition of Tate.

Father of the Movement
How Al Sharpton rose from 'racial arsonist' to racial healer, and changed New York City

By Peter Noel

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  • April 6, 1999

    It has been six hours since the Reverend Al Sharpton orchestrated the largest multi-ethnic sit-in of his 15-day campaign of civil disobedience in front of the New York Police Department headquarters.

    On this evening of March 26, Sharpton's mentor, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and 215 other people have been arrested protesting the police killing of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, and booked and released. The throng of New Yorkers—choked with rage built up from the antiapartheid movement of the 1980s—pushed the number of demonstrators who already have been charged with blocking the building's entrance over the 1000 mark.

    Sharpton, wide-eyed and restless, is on an emotional high, pacing the second-floor office of his Harlem-based National Action Network, flipping channels and pumping his fists at reports highlighting the NYPD's double standard for blacks and whites. The news is all good; it is beyond anything the man who is being propelled to the leadership of a growing civil disobedience movement had imagined could be possible.

    There, on NY1, is the somber-faced Police Commissioner Howard Safir, grudgingly conceding that his predominantly white Street Crime Unit—four of whose members were expected to be arraigned this week on charges that they murdered Diallo in a hail of gunfire last month—perhaps had become a law unto itself and had to be corralled.
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    Making the Cut
    Kara Walker

    By Jerry Saltz

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  • November 24, 1998

    No one gets out of Kara Walker's world alive, not even the artist. In one of her characteristic, nearly life-size black silhouettes in cut paper, a naked black girl kneels to suck the cock of a white slaver. We're already in deep water. He has the claws and paws of Satan, the jaw of an ape. His cock goes into her mouth and out her ass. The image is titled Successes.

    A lot of people hate Kara Walker's work and her successes. In certain circles, there is a veritable fatwa on her head. She's too black for some, not enough for others. The African American sculptor Betye Saar sent out hundreds of letters warning that Walker's "images may be in your city next," and signing herself "an artist against negative black images." Last spring, at a two-day Harvard symposium convened to address issues of stereotypical imagery in art, Walker (absent) and her work were attacked as being especially reprehensible. To these people, Kara Walker is a demon: the black girl in Successes who stoops to accommodate the white art world. Funny thing is, Walker would probably find these readings somewhat on the mark. . . .

    A generational abyss of metaphysical proportions comes into high relief around Walker. Older blacks feel that images of mammies, pickaninnies, and Sambos are irredeemably evil—that they cannot speak except with malice and hate. Younger people assume all images are unstable projections, subject to change. As always, both camps ignore how good art can lift you above the problem and change lives.
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    Bin Laden 3 years before 9-11
    One Man's Private Jihad

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  • Osama Bin Ladin, the main suspect in the East Africa embassy bombings, has been linked to the World Trade Center explosion and other terrorist acts aimed at Americans. The Voice looks at the man with the motive and the means for carrying out an international holy war.

    By Frank Smyth & Jason Vest

    August 25, 1998

    Though the government and the fourth estate have a notorious history of jumping the gun when it comes to blaming "Middle East radicals" for big explosions (recall Oklahoma City and TWA Flight 800), fingering Bin Ladin for a role in the [East Africa] embassy bombings is by no means unreasonable—and not just because one of the reportedly confessed bombers has admitted to being a follower. Not only does Bin Ladin have the motive, means, and opportunity, but in light of his personal jihad, the bombings are thoroughly understandable. While Bin Ladin is neither a mainstream Muslim nor the paragon of sanity (one consulting CIA psychologist's assessment holds that he is a "malignant narcissist" who views people as objects either to be killed or protected), if he is responsible for the bombings, it's imperative, Middle East experts say, that his actions and motivations be examined not just in terms of a terrorist threat, but in the context of current Arabian politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Islamic theology.

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