Back in the early 1950s when the ACLU had qualms about defending the rights of Communists or former Communists, Carey McWilliams, the editor of this magazine, joined two others in an open letter calling attention to the need to provide adequate legal defense to the political pariahs of the cold war. This initiative led to the formation of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (then called the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee), which from 1968 to 1998 was under the tender loving care and supercompetent direction of Edith Tiger, who died on October 22 at 83. There was not a year that Edith wasn’t on the phone proposing yet another project on which The Nation and ECLC could collaborate. Under Edith’s direction, the ECLC championed cases that other groups wouldn’t handle and had a win-loss record that George Steinbrenner would envy. She also made her office a haimish oasis, where visitors high and low, old left and new, received the same dose of warmth and humor, the occasional well-deserved scolding and all the benefits of a crackerjack mind when it came to the issue closest to her heart–civil liberties. The Bill of Rights never had a better champion.


Nation columnist Patricia J. Williams was recently presented with the 2002 Ida B. Wells Journalism Award. She is the first winner of this honor, which is given to a journalist “who exemplifies courage in reporting on racial inequity and injustice in the United States today.” The judges noted that Williams’s writings for this magazine and other publications, as well as in such books as The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor, “weave together elements of popular culture, memoir, political theory, social activism and traditional analysis of cases, statutes, and the Constitution.” At the same event Paula Giddings, who edited Burning All Illusions: Writings From The Nation on Race, 1866-2002 published by Thunder’s Mouth/Nation Books, delivered the Wells Memorial Lecture.


We previously reported (“Sheriff Sheila?” Oct. 28) that Sheila Prue could be elected the country’s first openly lesbian county sheriff. Turns out another already claims that distinction (see “Letters”). Nevertheless, on November 5, Prue was elected sheriff of Windham County, Vermont. And in case you were wondering, of 3,088 elected county sheriffs, 25, before this past election, were women, according to the National Sheriffs’ Association.


Dueling stories from Reuters: “Stocks Turn Positive on Hope. Stocks erased earlier losses and swung into positive territory on Friday as investors took in stride weak reports on jobs and manufacturing amid hopes that the worst was over for the anemic economy.” “Manufacturing Contracts Once Again. U.S. manufacturing contracted for a second straight month in October, a report said on Friday, stoking concerns the U.S. economy has stalled.”