FOR A GLIMPSE of multiculturalism run amok, take a look at India.
The world's largest democracy elected a new Parliament last week. The ruling Congress Party was crushed, while the lion's share of seats went to the Hindu supremacists of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP's menacing motto -- "One nation, one people, one culture" -- matches its behavior. A few years back, BJP leaders provoked a Hindu mob into smashing the ancient Muslim shrine at Ayodhya, igniting sectarian riots that killed thousands. Its Kristallnacht tactics obviously haven't dimmed the BJP's political star, which gives an idea of what India is turning into.
It was, as always, a bloody election. This year's death toll: 90. Last time around, more than 400 died, including Rajiv Gandhi, the former prime minister. Gandhi was murdered by Tamil extremists; in 1984, his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was gunned down by Sikhs. Hindu, Muslim, Tamil, Sikh -- separatist lunacy bubbles everywhere. Now the closest thing India had to a unifying political force, the Congress Party, is in tatters.
Indians glare suspiciously at each other across lines of religion, caste and ethnicity. "The world's largest democracy" India may be. But its fractured and violent politics prove that it takes more than democracy to hold a nation together.
A DIFFERENT SORT of election was just held in Nashville, where voters agreed to spend tax dollars on a new stadium in order to lure the Houston Oilers to relocate from Texas. Big mistake.
Taxpayer-funded stadiums are pure corporate welfare, a subsidy for super-rich team owners and players that buys little benefit for the community. As Nashville will learn, bribing sports teams with new facilities does not generate economic growth. At best, it merely redirects dollars that would have been spent on other forms of recreation. At worst, it forces taxpayers to throw away money that could have gone into genuinely productive investments.
Government financing of stadiums transforms teams from owners to renters. The difference? Owners are loyal to their hometowns; renters move when they get a better deal. Cleveland has been abandoned by the Browns; the Rams and Raiders spurned Los Angeles; the Seahawks are trying to leave Seattle. Don't get too fond of the Oilers, Nashville. They may not stick around.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS has claimed another victim. One of the most esteemed philanthropies of the 20th century is now ashamed to use its own name.
The fund-raising letter I was sent still uses the famous slogan -- "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." But the letterhead identifies the organization only as "The College Fund/UNCF." Neither the text nor the envelope offers any hint of what UNCF stands for. Why so bashful? For more than half a century, the words "United Negro College Fund" have meant access to higher education for hundreds of thousands of young black Americans. What could be embarrassing about those words?
Granted, "Negro" is a term no longer in fashion. So what? The good works of the United Negro College Fund matter far more than any shift in terminological taste. A good name is also a terrible thing to waste.
MOST SUCCESSFUL hoax of the month gone by: The "changing" of the Palestine National Covenant.
Yasser Arafat and the PLO have gotten lavish credit for voting on April 24 to revoke the clauses in their basic charter that call for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of its Jews. Shimon Peres, Israel's pushover prime minister, slathered on the praise, calling the vote "the most important development in the last 100 years." In Washington on May 1, President Clinton rolled out a red carpet for Arafat, applauding him for having "kept that commitment" to revoke the charter's obnoxious clauses.
But Arafat did nothing of the sort.
The PLO Covenant hasn't been amended. All that was approved on April 24 was a statement authorizing a committee to propose changes to the existing language. Those changes may (or may not) be discussed at the Palestine National Council's next meeting in six months. In the words of Yigal Carmon, an adviser to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, "The PLO made a historic decision: to postpone it again."
The PLO has changed neither charter nor stripes. When Arafat was asked, during his White House visit, whether the PLO still hopes to conquer all of Israel, he called it "an unfair question" and angrily refused to answer. Some peacemaker.
To wed? Britain's Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones
"If you shut up, mind your own business, and let me do it when I want," he told a reporter, "it is much more likely. The more people second-guess, the less likely it is."
A member of the royal family who thinks private matters should be kept private. Well! Maybe there is something new under the sun.