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Rod Watson

Rod Watson has been a weekly columnist for The Buffalo News since 1992, writing most often about socioeconomic and political issues affecting minorities and/or the poor, as well as about local government. In addition, as urban affairs editor, Watson oversees coverage of the city school system, transportation and politics.


It would be a great public service if someone could come up with a few rules about when free expression -- particularly when it involves race -- is OK and when it's not.As things stand now, it's a little bit confusing. And the resulting hypocrisy and double standards are more threatening to social harmony than any of the venomous thoughts expressed by one angry group or …

During the Civil War, Union Gen. George McClellan was ignominiously relieved of his command. It seems McClellan liked to endlessly drill his troops; yet despite overwhelming numerical superiority, he didn't want to actually send them into battle.That didn't sit too well in Washington, where his superiors had a hard time figuring out why they had given him such a great army…

It's a source of constant amazement when people not in the underclass try to dissect and decipher those who are, as if their motivations are somehow so different from those of everyone else.The latest such effort comes courtesy of the May Atlantic Monthly.The cover depicts an eye-catching black man -- complete with menacing shades, cap turned backward, the requisite gold c…

Two experiences last year provide a neat summary of the gun-control debate and point out why, as with most contentious national issues, both extremes are wrong.They came to mind this week because of the assault weapon debate on Capitol Hill and the realization that a mandate for truth in advertising might make both sides get out of town before sundown.In one instance, I …

Anyone with any doubts at all about the injustice of caning as a form of social control should have had them erased last weekend with the leaking of a report on New York City police corruption.What does the conduct of Big Apple cops have to do with the bruising of an American teen's backside in Singapore?Everything, because it's a good bet that most Americans who support S…

Anyone ingesting the results of some of the latest polls cannot help but feel perplexed about the state of things.Pick a topic, just about any topic, and Americans -- via the good folks at Gallup, Roper, etc. -- will tell you that the country is racing downhill at speeds an Olympic skier would envy.But pick the same topic and ask them about local conditions, and you get q…

Confidential sources revealed that law enforcement officials from all over the country met here last week in a top-secret brainstorming session.They gathered on the eve of an unprecedented crackdown timed to coincide with tomorrow's tax-filing deadline. Erie County was picked in recognition of this area's recent success in employing a crime-fighting strategy whose real pot…

How much are values worth?It's a question the nation will have to answer pretty quickly, just as soon as Bill "end welfare as we know it" Clinton unveils the long-awaited reform plan expected soon.Like most things out of this White House, it will be less than first promised. But even a poor man's anti-poverty effort will cost money in the short run.That's not what was supp…

The University of Pennsylvaniasite of two well-publicized racial incidents last year -- is one of several now pondering how to stop "self-segregation" among minority students.It seems the schools -- which picture themselves as breeding grounds for tolerance and mutual respect -- aren't quite sure that letting students gather in racially-defined dormitories is the best way …

If the Clinton administration is really serious about efforts to force banks to help rebuild the inner cities they've abandoned, it will learn from the criticisms of its half-a-loaf attempt to stop discrimination against minority borrowers.When the period for public comment on the administration's proposed reforms ends today, the president should have his regulators lock…

When Buffalo officials go with hat in hand to Albany for help in bailing the city out of a $31 million budgetary hole, they should not go alone.If not in body, then at least in spirit, suburban residents should be cheering the city. Their fates are directly linked to what will happen in Erie County's largest municipality.That's the inescapable conclusion of "All in It To…

It seemed so logical at the time. The thinking was that health-care reform was so important that members of Congress wouldn't dare put their necks on the line in November without having done something to make all Americans feel better.It shouldn't have taken much ruminating to realize the fatal flaw in that bit of wishful thinking: No member of Congress has to get re-ele…

It was only one sentence, buried deep in a wire service story warning of rising drug use among high school students.But it was there, and it was important not only for what it said, but for the stereotypes it punctured: Amid the increase, black students reported the lowest rates of use for virtually all drugs.It is worth noting because it contradicts many misconceptions ab…

The next time the national media decide to crown a new villain in the rhetorical race war, I hope they do a better job than they did in elevating a disciple of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to Public Enemy No. 1.Not that Khalid Abdul Muhammad -- who was slated to bring his road show to Buffalo tonight -- didn't deserve castigation for the speech at New Jersey's Ke…

"Executives in industry have plenty of ideas . . . a television set equipped with a high speed printer could produce some kind of daily newspaper in the home. Correspondence courses could be given over television, for an extra charge . . .""(It) could provide set-side shopping and banking, dial-a-movie service, a burglar and fire watch, and facsimile print-outs of newspape…