Hate Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing and Other Un-American Activities

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WASHINGTON: Matthew Shepard probably didn't know much about the Kosovars, and it's doubtful any of them knew him. But the slain gay college student and the pawns in Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian power play were suddenly on the same side on Tuesday, all needless victims in Bill Clinton's eternally hopeful worldview. Call it kumbayapolitik. Clinton's address Tuesday touting the expansion of hate-crime legislation to include gays, says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan, was timed to follow the sentencing Monday of one of Shepard's killers. But with a war shambling along, Clinton needed no prodding to toss Shepard's murderer and the Serbs in the same villainous boat.

"When someone dies in a horrible incident in America -- or when we see slaughter or ethnic cleansing abroad -- we should remember that we defeat these things by teaching and by practicing a different way of life... That's why I think this hate-crimes issue is so important." Clinton used the speech to hawk not only legislation but a public-private partnership -- starring AT&T, Court TV, Cable in the Classroom, the National Middle Schools Association and the Anti-Defamation League, working with the Justice and Education departments -- that he said could help "change the mind, the heart and the habits of our people when they're young, to keep bad things from happening." Now, if only he'd start a sister program in the Balkans.