Leonard Pitts

Commentary: Just another GOP echo chamber

Perhaps you are familiar with an old saying: Even a broken clock is right twice a day. I've found that maxim valuable as I wade through the recent hand-wringing and recrimination among journalists and their critics over the fact that most mainstream media were slow to pick up on the story of corruption at ACORN. | 10/06/09 06:05:15 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Lawsuit shows ACORN is failing to grasp reality

The issue for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now isn't a hidden camera sting. Rather, it is ACORN itself. If it is not the cabal of thugs some of its critics contend, it is an organization whose sloppiness and unreadiness for prime time become more manifest each passing day. | 10/01/09 06:02:48 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: In praise of Tom DeLay's dance moves

In shaking his 62-year-old backside before an audience of millions, Tom DeLay struck a blow for every Elaine Benes that ever was, one that made you want to stand and shout, "Yes I can!" As one of the rhythmically impaired, I'm here to tell you: It was a brave and inspiring sight. | 09/29/09 06:02:52 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Calling out the liars and their lies about health care reform

The art of the untruth is the life's blood of governance. As a brief spin through PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checking website will attest, no party, ideology or politician has a monopoly on lying. Lying is as bipartisan as it gets.

And yet, the lies that have characterized the debate over health care are in a class all their own — not simply because they are outrageous, but because they are designed specifically to inflame and terrorize. As such, those lies are deserving of special rebuke. Last week, they got it. | 09/24/09 06:03:37 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Where are the real rebels in today's music?

I blame Elvis.

With Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other icons from rock's first generation, he pioneered an incendiary idea: that music could be more than a medium of entertainment, that it could and should also be a tool of cultural revolution. It was not, after all, just music that moved town fathers to ban rock concerts and angry men with sledgehammers to smash jukeboxes containing rock records. | 09/22/09 06:13:29 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Hate crimes in all forms demand justice

I loathe bigotry in all its forms, but I have a special problem with bigotry as practiced by those who, by dint of their own history, should know better. When Jews hate Muslims for their religion, when gays scorn straights for their sexual orientation, when blacks beat a white teenager for the color of his skin, it suggests people too dense to understand the moral of their own story, the meaning of their own passages. The minority is no more righteous in its hate than the majority is. | 09/15/09 06:07:40 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: From what exactly are we protecting the children?

Well, that was close.

Surely, we are all relieved that at least some children were protected this week from the diabolical Barack Obama. It was touch and go there for awhile after the White House announced its plan for the president to give a back-to-school address to America's kids. They might have gotten away with it, too, but for conservative pundits and politicians who spent last week raising a ruckus about this scheme to indoctrinate our youth into the president's socialist cult. They were able to convince an untold number of schools to prohibit Tuesday's speech from being shown on campus and an untold number of parents to keep their children home. | 09/10/09 06:04:34 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Getting 'off the grid' isn't easy to do

Back in May, I flew to Los Angeles. My cellphone did not.

I left it in the car, a fact I only discovered as I was lining up at security. Had I found myself standing there in my underdrawers, I don't think I'd have felt more naked. There was this panicky sense of isolation, this disconcerting feeling of being cut off. Whenever I confessed my plight, I got looks of stark pity like you'd give someone with a terminal disease. It was a very long five days. | 09/08/09 08:23:16 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: We owe it to Jaycee Dugard to stop the monsters

And what should we do with our monsters?

That we have no answer to that question, that we lack consensus on what to do with sexual predators, is evident from the range of our responses to their crimes. From the Catholic church shielding pederastic priests to the profusion of databases that let you check if your neighbor is a sex offender, to the pseudo celebrity enjoyed by Mary Kay Letourneau when she married her former student Vili Fualaau, whom she raped when he was 12 and she was 34, our responses scream irresolution. | 09/03/09 06:00:37 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Obama's dented promise of no 'extraordinary renditions'

Barack Obama was elected president in large part on a promise to restore the nation's battered moral authority. He appealed to voters because he seemed to understand what his predecessor did not, i.e., that America must embody ideals bigger than the exigencies and expediencies of the moment.

Somebody should remind him of that. | 09/01/09 06:04:40 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Jackson was a study in privilege and tragedy

Long before he died, Michael Jackson's life was a cautionary tale of what can happen when you become too big and too famous for anyone to tell you no. | 08/27/09 06:10:37 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Change means strange politics and days ahead

Our story so far:

Last year, Barack Obama was elected president, the first American of African heritage ever to reach that office. If this was regarded as a new beginning by most Americans, it was regarded apocalyptically by others who promptly proceeded to lose both their minds and any pretense of enlightenment. | 08/25/09 06:04:53 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: It's time for a Nazi history lesson

I hope this column makes you sick.

See, we'll be talking about Nazis, something many of us are doing lately. It seems obvious the Nazis have invaded American political rhetoric in a big way. As in Rush Limbaugh declaring health care reform "a Hitler-like policy," swastikas popping up at protest rallies, a poster depicting Obama with Hitler's moustache and a pamphlet that says: "Act Now To Stop Obama's Nazi Health Plan!"

So I thought it would be good to spend a few minutes reminding some and teaching others what you invoke when you invoke the Nazi regime. | 08/20/09 06:02:33 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Health care debate and fearmongering at its finest

I have no opinion on H.R. 3200. Mainly because I haven't read it.

Pardon my presumption, but chances are beyond excellent that you haven't, either. The PDF file of the bill, otherwise known as the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, clocks in at 1,017 pages of often-dense legalese and jargon. I'd like to read it, but I'd also like to have a life, and the two are incompatible. | 08/18/09 06:01:16 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Ban texting-while-driving? Duh.

The amazing thing about the debate over the need for laws to ban texting while driving is that there is a debate over the need for laws to ban texting while driving. In the first place, you'd think you wouldn't need a law, that simple common sense would be enough to tell us it's unsafe to divert attention to a tiny keyboard and screen while simultaneously piloting two tons of metal, rubber, glass and, let us not forget, flesh, at freeway speeds — or even street speeds. In the second place, if common sense were insufficient, you'd think lawmakers would have rushed to back it up with tough laws. | 08/10/09 18:18:44 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Some slurs shouldn't be played with

"You are such a racist nigger." — reader e-mail To answer your questions: yes, the e-mail is quoted in its entirety. Yes, it's authentic; I received it a year or so ago. And, no, it is not unique in its sentiment, its coarseness or its deafness to irony. That note has always struck me as a stark benchmark of our slide into racial incoherence.

Here's another: Last week on Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck, the Fox News host, declared President Obama a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Bare seconds later, Beck turned around and said, "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. . . " | 08/05/09 17:15:15 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Obama: Born in the U.S.A

My daughter was born in Los Angeles County on Sept. 4, 1990. I know this because I was there. Should that not be proof enough, I also have her birth certificate. Barack Obama, you see, has a birth certificate much like my daughter's, documenting his birth in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961. | 08/04/09 16:31:48 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: I'll tell you why Obama said what he did

When he was asked last week about the racially-charged arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, the president could have — and as a political matter, should have — given a diplomatic non-answer.

So why did Obama, usually the smartest cookie in the jar, not do the politically-intelligent thing?

I think it's simple. I think he looked at Henry Louis Gates and saw his brother-in-law, his nephew, maybe himself if he were not who he is. | 07/30/09 00:06:00 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Police looked at Gates, but only saw their fears

Please take a good look at Dr. Henry Louis Gates. He is five feet, seven inches, weighs 150 pounds, wears glasses and uses a cane. His legs are of unequal length, his mustache and goatee are gray. He is 58 years old and looks it. It's important to see Gates — scholar, author, documentarian, Harvard University professor and African-American man — because that's what Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass. police department apparently did not do in the July 16 confrontation that has ignited debate about racial bias in the U.S. "justice'' system. | 07/27/09 14:02:55 By - Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Commentary: Walter Cronkite's loyalty was, above all, to the truth

Here's the way it was: If Uncle Walter said it, that meant it was true. You could take it to the bank and pay bills with it. Uncle Walter's word was gold. | 07/23/09 15:05:11 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Politicians should know a 'mistake' from a choice

Next time some politician goes before the cameras with his figurative pants down around his metaphoric ankles and says, "I made a mistake," let's form a mob and drag him from the podium. You bring the lanterns, I'll bring the pitchforks.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is, of course, the latest. Having bought plane tickets, told his staff he would be away hiking the Appalachian Trail, left his wife and kids behind and flown to Argentina to rendezvous with his paramour, he apologized by saying he'd made a mistake. | 07/07/09 06:00:35 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Michael Jackson was admired, scorned and now is mourned

Sometimes, death is a blindside hit.

Michael Jackson's death left those of us who grew up with him groping for resolution, words of summation in a moment when words of all kinds are elusive as smoke. What to say about Michael Jackson? | 07/02/09 06:03:14 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Exorcism and the 'homosexual demon'

To Manifested Glory Ministries of Bridgeport, Conn.: Perhaps you wouldn't mind telling me what a "homosexual demon" looks like.

I will confess that until last week, I had no idea demons even had sexual orientations. Or, for that matter, sex. Then I happened upon a video that is making the rounds online. It depicts members of your congregation conducting what can only be described as the "gay exorcism" of a 16-year-old boy. | 06/30/09 06:04:54 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Even at 21, Michael Jackson seemed tired

Leonard Pitts got to interview Michael Jackson only once, at the family home in Encino, Calif.: "This was on the occasion of his 21st birthday, and I remember thinking that for a guy approaching a milestone, he didn't seem very happy. Truth is, he seemed tired. Not from fatigue or exertion. It was an existential tired, as if he felt worn down by the simple act of being." | 06/26/09 10:40:17 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Neda's death was shared by all

Maybe you were there when Neda died.

If you were, you saw a tragedy, of course — a 26-year-old Iranian protester gunned down in the streets. But I am convinced you also saw the future — a profound change in the way you and I will henceforth comprehend the world. | 06/25/09 06:04:26 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Republican party doesn't see its race problem

The modern GOP was created in 1965 with a stroke of Lyndon Johnson's pen.

If that is an exaggeration, it is not much of one. When Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, he made a prediction: In committing the unpardonable sin of guaranteeing the ballot to all citizens regardless of race, he said, he would cause his party to lose the South "for a generation." | 06/23/09 06:03:43 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Conservatives aren't being persecuted

A reader wants to know why I didn't mention what David Letterman said.

John, from Monroe, Wash., wrote in response to a recent column on the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. I argued that high-profile media figures are filling the Zeitgeist with comments hateful of and demeaning to such marginalized minorities as Jews, blacks, Muslims and gays and that this validates people like accused shooter James von Brunn. John feels a column on racial and cultural hatred is incomplete because it fails to mention the "hatred" Letterman showed conservatives when he made his controversial joke about Sarah Palin's daughter. | 06/18/09 06:02:18 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Open hatred breeds ugly consequences

"Enjoy" is not a word one uses in connection with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, but I've always found a visit here conducive to contemplation and reflection. So it is even on a fog-shrouded morning when you can't get in, when yellow tape rings off the entrance, police vehicles sit with lights flashing and armed security stands watch. | 06/16/09 06:06:42 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: 'Racist' joke isn't funny anymore

So Newt Gingrich now says Sonia Sotomayor is not a "racist" after all. She must be trembling with relief.

Gingrich's backpedaling came last week in an article on HumanEvents.com. It leaves just two high-profile Republicans, former Rep. Tom Tancredo and radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh, still clinging to that absurd allegation. | 06/09/09 02:17:14 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Freedom is always worth the risks

Let's talk about the next terrorist attack.

We cannot know what form it will take, where it will occur or what the casualty count will be. But one thing we do know: We know we'll be told it happened because President Obama dismantled the policies of his predecessor.

Indeed, former Vice President Dick Cheney has been preemptively making that case ever since he was sprung from his undisclosed location. | 05/28/09 06:00:25 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Not yet sold on truth commission for Bush years

If incompetence were a crime, you might have a case. Heck, if arrogance were a felony, you could put them on Death Row.

But these things are not against the law, so forgive me if I'm not sold on the argument that we should launch investigations of the failures of the Bush years. It's a view advanced by many, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, who wants to empanel a "truth commission" and CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who wants a special prosecutor. | 05/27/09 06:09:15 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Liberty City convictions a sorry symptom of post-9-11 panic

Like the Mounties, they finally got their men.

And all it took was three years, three trials and millions of taxpayer dollars. At that price, you'd like to feel a certain satisfaction from last week's guilty verdict against five men from inner-city Miami who stood accused of conspiring with al-Qaeda to launch terrorist attacks in this country. You'd like to feel you'd seen justice done. | 05/21/09 06:02:56 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: A celebrity's right to die in peace

Our subject today: the end. It's a hell of a thing when you can't even die in peace.

Farrah Fawcett has been battling anal cancer for almost three years and is said to be in dire shape, confined to her bed, the cancer now in her liver. It's a hell of a thing when you can't contemplate your final days without having to worry about noses pressed to your window, hands digging through your garbage, enquiring minds wanting to know. | 05/14/09 06:00:00 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: African Americans must confront homophobia

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." — Martin Luther King, Jr.

That's for Marion Barry, who seems to need the reminder.

The former mayor and current city councilman of Washington, D.C. is a longtime supporter of gay rights. So observers were stunned last week when a bill committing the city to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere passed the council on a vote of 12-1.

The "one" was Barry. | 05/12/09 06:05:53 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: The difference between celebrity and notoriety

I define the words celebrity and notoriety because apparently, some of us don't understand the difference.

What former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has isn't celebrity, but its shady cousin, notoriety. Obviously, many of us can no longer tell the difference. Otherwise, there could be no Osbourne children, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith, Nicole Richie, Kato Kaelin or Kevin Federline. | 04/28/09 06:05:54 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Perry's word put ideology over country

Have you ever had one of those moments when you gazed across and did not recognize your fellow Americans?

I find myself in the middle of one. I felt it last week, that jolt of unrecognition, that instant of worry for the state and future of the Union. Not because of the so-called "teabag" protests on April 15. No, it was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaking after one such demonstration, who made the moment surreal. | 04/23/09 06:02:24 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Ten years later, evil done at Columbine unexplainable

Ten years ago Monday, two boys, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, walked into Columbine High in Littleton, Colo. and unleashed hell, killing 13 people, wounding 23 and then committing suicide. In the process, they also unleashed a firestorm of speculation from media-appointed experts, jostling to answer what was suddenly the most important question in the world: Why? Lord, why?

They told us video games did it. They said years of bullying did it. They said being ostracized did it. They said violent movies did it. They said bad parenting did it. I said evil did it. | 04/20/09 09:51:53 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: We've only just begun to judge Bush presidency

So apparently, we're not allowed to talk about George W. Bush anymore.

You had to take it with the proverbial granule of salt since, as you'll recall, some folks weren't particularly receptive to people criticizing Bush when he was in office, either. | 04/16/09 06:02:50 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Moral hypocrisy's effect on Johnston, Palin

In a better world, you and I would never have heard of Levi Johnston.

That would be good for you and me the campaign of 2008 produced few story lines more dreary than his fathering a child by Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol. But frankly, I think it would also be good for Johnston. | 04/14/09 06:05:58 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Michelle Obama is now a beloved first lady

Maybe you remember when Michelle Obama was scary.

Surely you do; it was just a few months ago. A fire-snorting amalgam of Angela Davis and Sister Souljah she was, a militant, terrorist fistbumping sister girl whose hatred of America was exceeded only by her hatred of "whitey." Or so we were told. | 04/09/09 06:01:44 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Chasing 'fool's gold' of national security

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, hundreds of men identified as members of alQaeda were captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There, they were subjected to sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dehydration, extreme temperatures, waterboarding, being chained to the floor for hours in their own waste, and other so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques even as the president was assuring the world that we don't torture because we are America and America doesn't do that sort of thing. | 04/07/09 06:01:38 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Time to start talking about legalizing drugs

Maybe we should legalize drugs.

I come neither eagerly nor easily to that maybe. Rather, I come by way of spiraling drug violence in Mexico that recently forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the role America's insatiable appetite for narcotics plays in the carnage. I come by way of watching Olympian Michael Phelps do the usual public relations song and dance after being outed smoking weed, and knowing the whole thing was a ritualized farce. Most of all, I come by way of personal antipathy: I don't like and have never used illegal drugs. | 04/02/09 10:18:21 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Reading Franklin's book would honor his memory

Dr. John Hope Franklin died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday at the age of 94.

BET marked his passing with a criminally brief obituary on its website, bet.com. There followed a posting on the message board from someone called "fefe" who asked: "Was this guy related to Areatha Franklin?" | 03/31/09 06:10:18 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: No 'cure' for hate

There are now 926 hate groups in this country.

Take a second and consider that number. It represents an increase of more than 50 percent since 2000. And by "hate groups," I don't mean guys in their bathrobes who go online and pretend their followers are legion. No, I mean actual Klan cells, Neo-Nazi sects, gay-bashing "churches," cliques of black separatists, white nationalists, nativists, racist skinheads and other merchants of venom who meet, plot and recruit in all 48 contiguous states (Alaska and Hawaii have no known hate groups). Nine hundred twenty-six of them. The number is a record. | 03/27/09 06:00:50 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Americans are losing their religion

We are losing our religion.

That, with apologies to R.E.M., is the startling conclusion of a new study, the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. The poll of over 54,000 American adults found a sharp erosion in the number of people claiming religious affiliation. | 03/16/09 11:30:42 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: A letter to Rihanna

Dear Robyn Rihanna Fenty:

I know you've got a lot of people in your business right now, all with an opinion about how you should run your life. I would not be surprised if you are fed up with it.

But the issue of domestic abuse strikes a resonant chord with me for obvious reasons. You deserve every man and woman deserves to be with someone you don't have to fear, someone who will not abuse, someone who will not resolve quarrels with his fists. | 03/12/09 06:01:06 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Saying sorry to Limbaugh seems to be GOP rite of passage

If you want to know what ails the elephant, you need look no further than the sight of its putative leader groveling before the throne of a radio talk show host and declaring his "enormous respect" for this "ugly" and "incendiary" fellow. | 03/09/09 10:13:36 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: You won't see a Twitter from me

Today, I make you a solemn promise: I will never Twitter you. Or is it tweet? I'm never sure.

And here, let me pause to help the technologically illiterate catch up. One uses Twitter to send tweets (no, I am not making that up!) i.e., electronic notes, to one's online friends, family and other subscribers. A tweet, which is limited to 140 characters, (i.e., shorter than this very sentence) is supposed to bring interested parties up to date on what you are doing, seeing, thinking, in that exact moment. | 03/05/09 06:02:55 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Here's why New York Post's cartoon is shameful

Just so we're all clear on why black folk tend to get annoyed when newspapers compare them to animals.

For all that, though, it was not the New York Post's now-notorious chimp cartoon that offended me. Rather, it was everything that came after. | 02/26/09 05:58:05 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Let's talk about race

It is not precisely true that Americans don't talk about race. We talk about race, all right. We are just really bad at it. Eric Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general, characterized the United States as "a nation of cowards" when it comes to discussing our tortured racial history. There is, however, more to it than that. | 02/22/09 08:00:00 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Maybe we'll finally see flag-draped coffins

Maybe now we'll see what we have not been allowed.

Meaning coffins draped in our national colors, filled with the remains of our honored dead. The military has banned media from photographing coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware since 1991. This, after a 1989 incident in which some TV news outlets used a split screen to juxtapose images of deceased Americans being returned home with images of President George H.W. Bush joking with reporters at a live press conference. It was a cheap shot that made the president seem insensitive to the somber ceremony and the sacrifice it commemorated. Hence, the ban. | 02/19/09 12:37:15 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Discrimination is even more painful in hospitals

One moment everything was fine. You were in your stateroom on the cruise ship unpacking your things. The kids were in the adjoining stateroom playing with your wife. Suddenly, they banged on the door crying that mom was hurt. So now you're in the hospital waiting for word, and it's not coming. | 02/15/09 17:23:10 By - Leonard Pitts

Commentary: A century of work from NAACP

It began before it began.

This was in 1905 when the great black scholar W.E.B. DuBois called a meeting of prominent black men. They met on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because hotels in their own country would not accommodate them and formed what became known as the Niagara Movement. | 02/12/09 06:19:51 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Stop snitching culture must change

The Rev. Al Sharpton is on a mission part of what he calls a national campaign against the so-called "stop snitching" culture within the African-American community.

This idea that we as black people owe some debt of silence to the corrupters and killers among us who shoot our babies and frighten our mothers and steal our sons is pardon my French bassackward, yet somehow, it has taken root in our community. | 02/04/09 10:02:22 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Limbaugh, e-mail and childish partisan politics

He was one of maybe 2,000 readers who fired off e-mails in response to a recent column criticizing that paragon of political analysis, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III. I excoriated Limbaugh for saying of Barack Obama's presidency, "I hope he fails." As is generally the case when you exact a pound of flesh from Brother Limbaugh's hide, his legions of listeners were vociferous and unstinting in his defense. | 02/02/09 11:02:33 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Shamsia's spirit an inspiration for Afghan girls

Shamsia was walking with her sister when a man on a motorcycle pulled abreast of them. "Are you going to school?" he asked.

She was. And this was, by definition, an incendiary act in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where the Taliban is making a comeback and posters on walls warn, "Don't Let Your Daughters Go to School."

What happened next was monstrous. As recounted Jan. 14 by The New York Times, the man lifted the girl's burqa, exposing her face. Then he sprayed it with acid. | 01/29/09 06:00:12 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Obama takes oath as America reinvents again

It begins before the sun does.

Not yet 5 a.m. and there is at a suburban Metro station a line of people going out of the station and up the escalator and around the corner and down to the far, far end of the parking lot. In town, it's worse. | 01/20/09 20:25:04 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts: Lincoln might not have welcomed Obama's election

When Obama was elected in November, every third political cartoonist seemed to use an image of a celebrating Lincoln to comment upon the milestone that had occurred. But Lincoln likely would have been appalled. He was a 19th century white man who famously said in 1858 that "there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which ... will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality.'' | 01/19/09 07:04:45 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: An open letter to George W. Bush

Dear President Bush:

I am glad you are, at 62, still a relatively young man. I am glad you are in robust health. This means there is a good likelihood of your being with us for decades yet to come, and I dearly want that. You see, history's verdict is on the way, and I want you to see it for yourself. | 01/15/09 06:05:23 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Avoid saying this if flying while Muslim

Today's column is presented as a public service for Muslim readers. Call it a list of Things Not To Say If You Are Muslim.

The need for such a list is illustrated by a New Year's Day incident at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. An AirTran Airways flight was delayed two hours and a group of nine Muslims eight family members and a friend was refused permission to fly after two teenage girls overheard a member of the group say that sitting near the engines would be particularly unsafe in the event of an accident. | 01/13/09 06:21:07 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Eastwood eschews oversensitivity

Clint Eastwood has had it up to here with sensitivity.

"A lot of people are bored of all the political correctness," he recently told The New York Times. ". . . The country has come a long way in race relations, but the pendulum swings so far back. Everyone wants to be so" and here, he gave a make-my-day grimace "sensitive." | 01/09/09 11:42:37 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Holocaust links unlikely pair

She says the only Jew she knew was Jesus.

There were no Jews around her in Bad Toetz, the West German village where she was born. No one talked about them. No one spoke about where they had gone or the war in which they disappeared, the war in which, she was told, her father died. | 12/08/08 10:17:20 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Consumerism becomes lethal

I like stuff as much as the next guy. My closet is stuffed with stuff, my shelves groan with stuff, boxes full of stuff jam my garage. I like stuff just fine. But I would not kill for it. | 12/03/08 15:12:18 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: The meaning of life

I was crammed into a middle seat. The guy in front was practically in my lap, and I had my arms drawn in tightly as I pecked furiously on the keyboard. God glanced over. "What are you working on?" He asked.

"A column," I said. "About you, in fact." He lifted an eyebrow. "Oh? What did I do now?" | 11/26/08 11:20:19 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: GOP shouldn't use fear as a strategy

They'll be back. Don't think for a minute that they won't.

These things run in cycles, and death in politics is about as permanent as death in Marvel Comics, which is to say, not very. Yes, Team Red had its butt kicked and its lunch money taken a few weeks back, yes Team Blue stands at the prow of the ship, arms wide, screaming "king of the world!," yes the GOP slinks off into the wilderness now amid grumbles of recrimination and remonstration. | 11/19/08 11:08:44 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Discrimination's sting forgotten by some

Sometimes, progress carries an asterisk.

That's as good a summary as any of a sad irony from last week's historic election. You will recall one of the major storylines of that day was the fact that, in helping make Barack Obama the nation's first black president, African Americans struck a blow against a history that has taught us all too well how it feels to be demeaned and denied. Unfortunately, while they were striking that blow, some black folks chose to demean and deny someone else. | 11/12/08 09:57:53 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Beginning of the end for newspapers?

Maybe I should revise my estimate. Lately, many people have asked me about the fate of the American newspaper in an era when circulation, advertising and staff size are all sharply down. I've told them what editors have told me: The next 18 to 24 months may well see the first major U.S. city without a daily paper. | 11/10/08 09:00:29 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: We the people should be proud

"For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change." - Michelle Obama, Feb. 18, 2008

I always thought I understood what Michelle Obama was trying to say. | 11/04/08 23:34:18 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Hope and Unity must conquer hate, division

The killers would have worn top hats. Having already murdered 102 African Americans, 14 by beheading, they would have driven at top speed toward Barack Obama, leaning from the windows of their vehicle, dressed in top hats and white tuxedoes, firing guns. | 11/03/08 16:09:09 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: The McCain fan who wasn't mugged

It smelled worse than rotting garbage in triple digit heat, but I'm not surprised some folks swallowed it anyway.

Meaning the story that was a mini-sensation for about 15 minutes last week: the McCain campaign worker supposedly mugged by a black man in Pittsburgh. For those who missed it, the details are as follows. Ashley Todd, 20, claimed she was accosted by a 6'4'' black man who demanded money. When said black man saw a John McCain bumpersticker on her car, he became enraged and, in an apparent effort to make her support Barack Obama, carved a ''B'' on her cheek. | 10/29/08 16:33:15 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Commentary: Capital punishment is wrong, unfair

This Leonard Pitts column was originally published in The Miami Herald on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008.

This is a rewrite.

In the column originally prepared for this space, I said that Troy Davis was scheduled to die Monday -- to be killed, actually, by an executioner for the state of Georgia. | 10/28/08 17:42:14 By - Leonard Pitts Jr.

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