A U.S. military effort to recruit more Latinos as officers on American campuses is coming under fire from California activists who call the initiative racist, according to the Daily Sundial, the student newspaper at California State University in Northridge.

The Hispanic Access Initiative was established in the late 1990s with the intention of helping produce more Latino officers in the military so its leadership better reflects the gorgeous cultural mosaic that is America.

But Karina Ceja, a senior Chicano/a Studies major and member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan, is among those on campus who think it's unethical for the military to reach out to a particular minority group with special incentives or encouragement.

"They shouldn’t be recruiting one specific ethnic group if they consider themselves non-racist and non-discriminatory," she said.

Truth in Advertising

A California gardening company that advertised the fact that its employees speak English is being criticized as perpetuating racist stereotypes by activists in its community, according to KGET-TV.

The ad in question, published in the Bakersfield Californian, read: "having problems communicating with your current gardener?—Talk to us, we're English-speaking."

The man who ran the ad says he is just trying to compete. But Lou Gomez, the president of the Hispanic Chamber of commerce, called the ad racist.

Disrespectful Memories

The Detroit News reports that a song about picking cotton has been removed from a middle school band's folk song show following complaints from a local parent that it glorifies slavery and is insensitive.

The song, "Pick a Bale of Cotton," was to be played at the Berkley School District concert later in the week but was pulled after parent Greg Montgomery complained. Montgomery's daughter, a student at the school, said: "They were bringing back the memories of how African-Americans picked cotton, and it wasn't a good memory. It was disrespectful to African-Americans."

The offending lyrics go something like, "Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh, Lordie, pick a bale a day."

Make Someone Happy

The producers of this year's staging of the Vagina Monologues at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have said that white women need not apply for onstage roles because they want only women of color at center stage this year, according to the Michigan Daily.

But that's okay, because they are doing it only to "rectify biases of the show and reignite interest among the study body."

Critics have accused the play's writer, Eve Ensler, of putting minority women only in roles that highlight sexual violence, alienating potential actresses of color.

This year's director, Lauren Whitehead, says she can't change the script but she can change the faces of the women reading the script.

"The script is flawed in its attempt to give all women a voice because it seems to give certain women certain voices," she says. "I often wonder why angry vaginas can't be white and happy vaginas can't be Asian."

A Kazakh Scorned

The government of Kazakhstan is threatening to sue a British comedian who regularly plays a bufoonish citizen from the Central Asian republic on U.S., U.K. and Australian television, according to Reuters.

The foreign ministry of Kazakhstan says Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat," a Kazakh television reporter, is the epitome of bad taste and ill manners. It has said it reserves the right to take "any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind.

"We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way," Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev said.

The last straw apparently was Cohen's recent appearance at the MTV Awards show in Lisbon, when he showed up in an Air Kazakh propeller plane controlled by a one-eyed pilot clutching a vodka bottle.

Slanderous Silhouettes

School officials in California removed an artists' silhouettes of happy children on a playground from outside a public elementary school because the images look too much like what one critic called pickaninnies, described as a "derogatory image of little black girls with unkempt short braids sticking out all over their heads," according to the Oakland Tribune.

Artist Jeena Wolfe was commissioned for the work along a fence outside Washington School in Alameda. The images, she said, were intended to be just happy children going about their business. She modeled them after actual kids at the school.

But the school's principal says he removed them after learning of the hate and pain they caused some in the community.

The artist says his decision caused her great pain. "It signifies everything that is wrong with the world and how far we have to come," Wolfe said.

• For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over to the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Frank N. writes:

As I have read this column over the years, I am often reminded of the movie 1776. When the vote to discuss independence is tied 6-6 and it comes down to Rhode Island, the delegate (Stephen Hopkins, if memory serves) comments that he'd never heard of an idea "so dangerous it couldn't be TALKED about" and breaks the tie. It appears in 2005 that is no longer true.

Mike L. writes:

If the prefix "homo" is a no-no, then doesn't that strike down the usage "homophobe?" Please let us all know as soon as possible so we can start using the correct terminology.

John S. writes:

It should be brought to the attention of your readers that you completely misconstrued and spun an article relating to the art display at Harper College that you linked to in the most recent edition of Tongue Tied. It is amazing to me that you would place a link to an article that contradicts your own argument!

In the linked article, the only reason stated by the Harper College administration for taking down the controversial display in question was "the nudity in the art display" and that "the artist, Amir Normandi, misled them."

"The artist misrepresented the pictures to faculty members by showing one set of pictures, and then putting up another set of pictures," school spokesman Phil Burdick said.

Only later in the article, and with NO mention of its correlation to the Harper College administration's decision, does the story mention the reaction of one of the Muslim students of the college to the display. The focus of the article, and many of the student's concerns, is on the degredation of the women depicted, not its unfair portrayal of Islam.

Randy E. writes:

Re the person who wrote: "they want ID papers that match their true gender which is opposite that which was erroneously assigned to them at birth." People aren’t assigned a sex at birth. They are born with a set of genes that determine this. The idea that someone can be a female trapped in a male body (or vice versa) is hogwash. Someone may have more mental and emotional traits of the sex opposite their gender, but they were not born the "wrong" sex.

Jason S. writes:

Koontz comments and coorespondence may not make him a racist, but they certainly show him to be a first class jerk.

Respond to Writer