American Renaissance archives
|Vol. 13 No. 5||May 2002|
The Case Against Reparations
The demands are coming and must be refused.
The events of Sept. 11 temporarily pushed reparations for slavery back from their position halfway into the mainstream. At a time of national crisis it would have seemed piggish to demand even justified entitlements. Still, reparations were hardly gone for good, and as normalcy returns, blacks and their allies are renewing their demands for vast sums to compensate for misdeeds real and imaginary. In March, chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights, Mary Francis Berry, said reparations are the “unfinished business of the civil rights movement,” and even the New York City Council recently voted to “study” the reparations question. Blacks will soon be back demanding payment, and whites must be prepared to respond.
To be sure, to judge from polls, most whites oppose reparations. But they must oppose them for the right reasons, not because they are inopportune or overblown, but because they are an outrageous expression of ingratitude and gall. Unless whites can articulate the right case against reparations, they will end up watching in bewildered impotence the adoption of measures they know to be wrong, just as they did in the case of affirmative action.
Replies to the demand for reparations may be graded by their power to shock. Some might be heard on 60 Minutes, some would raise eyebrows, and others would call down execration as racist. Unfortunately, all the publicly permitted arguments concede too much, which means only the forbidden ones are worth raising.
Let us divide objections into the polite, the impolite, the rude and the shocking. The commonest polite argument is that reparations would cost too much — a sound enough point as far as it goes, given the rapacity of the civil rights lobby. Some claimants put the debt to American and African blacks at several trillion dollars. One ever-handy yardstick that yields these remarkable figures are race differences in economic outcomes — there are many — which are automatically ascribed to “discrimination” rather than differences in ability. Thus Ebony bases reparations on “A study out of the University of California at Berkeley [that] showed that the value of the income lost as a consequence of racial discrimination between 1929 and 1969 alone comes to about $1.6 trillion.” (Whites of course beg for such finger-pointing by obsessively rehearsing their past sins.) A second type of estimate looks to precedents, notably the $20,000 paid by the US government to each Japanese relocated during the Second World War. That amount paid to 40 million blacks — and they would certainly want far more — would come to $800 billion. Similar calculations cite German payments to Jewish Holocaust survivors, whose dominance in the victim sweepstakes irks many blacks greatly.
A third formula treats the average price of a slave 200 years ago — about $14,000 in current dollars — as stolen human capital on which interest has steadily been compounding. Given a modest three percent average annual interest rate corresponding to economic growth — in this one case reparationists will doubtless be generous in their estimates of the productive capacity of capitalism — each slave’s estate is $2.8 million short. For every million Africans enslaved, their current descendents are thereby collectively owed $2.8 trillion.
|Perhaps each white could work for blacks two weeks annually for 25 years, in shifts.|
The alleged debt to the continent of Africa runs higher still, and must cover not only the labor of an estimated fifteen to a wildly exaggerated one hundred million abductees, but the removal of natural resources. People making this calculation never mention the involvement of Africans in the slave trade who, to be consistent, should also be asked to pay, or the fact that natural resources like oil and diamonds were of no use to Africans and could not be extracted by technology indigenous to Africa. Notwithstanding these objections, white depredations are said to have cost Africa $7 trillion, for a total bill typically greater than $10 trillion.
Bear in mind that all the goods produced in the US last year were worth roughly $9 trillion, which in turn represented nearly one fourth of total world output. Reparationists thus in effect demand that American whites work solely for blacks for a year or more, or that the whole white race carry that burden for a good part of a year. My wife once proposed this bargain: Whites should give blacks a large lump sum in exchange for a promise never to ask for more or say one more word about whites, racism, slavery or all the rest. I explain below why the black end of this deal would be hard to keep, and anyway no society could survive the diversion of so much energy at one go.
Of course, to object to reparations only because of the cost prompts an obvious question: What if whites could afford it? If whites insist on citing poverty as their excuse, then if future productivity some day makes it possible to pay, pay they must. To plead only poverty admits the debt, and once the reparations principle is granted, all that remains to be discussed is the payment schedule. Perhaps each white could work for blacks two weeks annually for 25 years, in shifts so as to minimize the economic shock. Perhaps blacks could be exempted from taxation for a few centuries. Clearly, whites simply disarm themselves by whining that they are short on cash, although respectable white opinion may be counted on to fall into this trap, for fear of saying anything more offensive. We had better turn to less polite objections.
Under this heading fall requests for specifics where reparationists are vague — chiefly about who is going to pay, and for what. Is it to be the federal government, state governments, corporations, individuals, or someone else? There are vast problems with assessing individuals, particularly those whose ancestors owned no slaves. How have blacks been harmed by a New Englander whose family had always promoted “civil rights,” or by anyone whose grandparents didn’t come to America until 1930?
It is impossible to calculate the gains even of indirect beneficiaries of slavery. Take a man whose great-grandfather clerked in a store that sold shirts made with cotton harvested by slaves; surely he owes less than descendents of the people who owned the slaves, but how much less? Suppose it were somehow determined that half of great-grandpa’s salary was tainted by slavery, but that wise investments increased his wealth twenty-fold. Do his heirs owe half their holdings to blacks, or just one-fortieth?
Reparationists must answer these difficult questions because the damages they demand are compensatory, not punitive. Slaveholders and other wrongdoers are no longer alive to be punished; a present-day white, having harmed no one, owes at most what he has gained from wrongs done by others, so tallying his debt demands detailed knowledge of what he actually gained. No one has this information, and the further in the past the wrongs were done, the less accessible it becomes.
|Black slums receive a “Marshal Plan” about once every three years, a rate that every few decades amounts to another trillion dollars.|
Because individual fault is incalculable, reparationists tend to look to “government” to pay. But which government(s)? The states seem the natural targets, since their laws regulated slavery and, subsequently, segregation. Indeed, the federal government ended slavery, overrode state segregation, and eventually came to require favoritism for blacks, so it hardly seems fair to foist a bill for damages on the party that tried hardest to stop them. To be sure there were federal fugitive slave laws, and the federal judiciary upheld slavery in Dred Scott. Still, on balance, the national government was instrumental in relieving the conditions reparationists decry. But if the states are to pay, then which states? Surely not those that banned slavery or entered the Union after it ended. (Further complications are raised by territories that became states: Are states responsible for their territorial history, or are they new entities? Reparationists must make this clear.) The best candidates are the members of the old Confederacy, but, apart from the shallowness of their pockets, once again, many of their current residents — the taxpayers who would foot the bill — have no connection to past wrongs. For these reasons, one may expect the claimants to discover sooner or later that the debt is a “national” problem, which “all Americans” have to solve together.
But however the scope issue is resolved, there is a second: Is a government — local, state or federal — responsible only for what it does, or also for what it merely permits by failing to outlaw? The distinction is important because most of the practices for which repayment is demanded, particularly slavery and discrimination in jobs and housing, were private. Antebellum governments neither owned slaves nor forced anyone to buy them; they simply allowed ownership. Likewise, while some states did segregate some of their own institutions (schools, for example) and require some private segregation (on trains, for example) much of the discrimination reparationists complain of was undertaken by private individuals using their property in ways consistent with but not required by law.
One might defend a wider view of government responsibility on the grounds that government must protect rights actively, not only by respecting them itself but by preventing others from breaching them. There is something to the idea that permitting great wrongs is state negligence, but it can be taken too far.
To begin with, there is a general presumption against post facto judgment. Normally, no entity is held to account for something that was legal when it was done, as were slavery and discrimination. What would reparationists say if states a century from now were fined for once having allowed private corporations to discriminate against whites via quotas? Likewise, if blacks are entitled to post facto compensation for acts that were legal when committed, why not everyone else? Should women sue because, in the past, they could not vote? Should workers sue because their ancestors had to work more than 40 hours a week and did not get maternity leave?
Even waiving the general case against post facto guilt, not every private misdeed can be laid at the feet of government: Vandals, not the city, are responsible for defacing a neighbor’s wall, although stationing police on every corner would have stopped them. A line must be drawn somewhere, beyond which governments are innocent of the abuses of the freedoms they allow.
Finally, even if states are held to absurdly strict standards today for what happened in the past, they may still be innocent of many acts for which they are retrospectively scolded, because these acts themselves were innocent. Slavery, discrimination in jobs, housing and service, and social stigma are usually lumped together in one ugly pile to which “government” turned a blind eye, but they are quite different. Slavery does infringe rights that any government should protect (although, to repeat, back pay for manumitted slaves would be owed only by former owners). But it is hard to see the right violated by, say, refusing to hire blacks. An employer’s hiring choices are covered by his right to free association. The blacks he refuses to hire are no worse off than they would have been had he never existed, so how does he harm them? Since laws against private discrimination may well themselves be wrong, governments were hardly to blame for not passing them sooner.
Still another precept reparationists ignore is that not every beneficiary of an injury must help repair the victim. Let us grant for now — lest we be rude — that today’s whites are richer than today’s blacks because of slavery. It still does not follow that all of today’s whites owe today’s blacks anything. Suppose Smith and Jones own the only two restaurants in town; a firebug burns down Smith’s place, causing Jones’s business to improve. So long as Jones had no hand in the arson, he owes Smith nothing. The recent terrorist attack on New York prompted some businesses to move to New Jersey, yet no one thinks New Jersey owes New York reparations even though New Jersey is now richer. As far as Jones is concerned, Smith’s fire might as well have been a kitchen accident. Note that the arsonist’s motives do not matter: Whether he did it from psychosis, a desire for gain, admiration of Jones, hatred of Smith, or hatred of Smith’s race, Jones is not guilty. Assuming that contemporary whites have benefited from racial wrongs, white beneficiaries, to be liable, must have abetted these wrongs, failed to stop them, or at least culpably ignored them. It is impossible to show this since the disputed wrongs, particularly slavery, took place before any whites living today were born.
|If blacks are entitled to post facto compensation for acts that were legal when committed, why not everyone else?|
A propos whites’ supposed enjoyment of the un-or undercompensated fruits of black labor, reparationists frequently claim that “blacks built America.” This is patently untrue. At no time have blacks been a substantial part of the US population, and until the Second World War they lived largely in the rural South; they were a part of southern agriculture but played virtually no role in the development of the large cities, industrial complexes, universities and public projects that support American prosperity. In fact, it is precisely those parts of the country with the largest proportion of blacks that have traditionally been the poorest, which is the reverse of what we would expect if blacks were the source of American prosperity. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were English colonies that developed during the same period as the United States. If slavery was the basis of American prosperity, how did these countries achieve comparable levels of prosperity without it? Blacks did not contribute significantly to science, medicine or technology. America would have been different without blacks, but not poorer.
There is a final point about compensatory justice that sounds abstruse but is worth mentioning. If not for slavery, blacks living in America today, the ones who supposedly deserve reparations, would not exist. Their great-great-grandparents would never have met, and they would never have been born. It is obvious that a person cannot be harmed by an action that accounts for his existence. You harm Smith by making him worse off than he would have been had you not done whatever you did; if what you did helped bring Smith into existence (for instance if it involved introducing his parents to each other), he can hardly say he would have been better off if you had not done it, since in that case there would have been no Smith at all. (This is why “wrongful birth” suits brought by unhappy children against their parents seem ludicrous.) A committed black reparationist might say his life in America is so dreadful he would prefer never to have been born at all, but otherwise he has no reply.
Aside from these historical and philosophical points, the demand for payments to blacks calls to mind a larger issue that arose about quotas: It seemed unfair to pass over young whites in favor of less-qualified blacks who allegedly would have been more qualified in a just world, when the whites were not themselves to blame for the black’s substandard abilities. Indeed the whole reparations debate recapitulates the affirmative action debate. And this leads to rude questions: Weren’t quotas supposed to be reparations? Didn’t Jimmy Carter call affirmative action “compensatory discrimination” back in 1975? Wasn’t that what quotas were all about? Didn’t we have this conversation almost forty years ago?
Reparationists suffer from convenient historical myopia. Compare these words of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 …
“You do not take a person who has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race and then say: ‘You are free to compete with all the others.’”
… with these of Randall Robinson in 2000:
“No nation can enslave a group of people for hundreds of years, set them free — bedraggled and penniless — pit them, without assistance, in a hostile environment against privileged victimizers, and then reasonably expect the gap between the heirs of the two groups to narrow.”
Verbosity aside, Mr. Robinson’s metaphor is the same. Affirmative action was to make blacks whole by restoring the position they should have had at life’s starting line — just what reparations are supposed to do now.
|Reparationists will present whites with a stark choice: Agree that black poverty is caused by white sin (and pay up) or find a better explanation. Biology is the better explanation that whites must learn to deploy.|
Because quotas became the order of the day, blacks have largely gotten whatever compensation they might have been owed. Peter Brimelow, writing in Forbes on Feb. 15, 1993, estimated that by the early 1990s racial preferences cost $350 billion a year, and they have no doubt become more expensive with further entrenchment. Some portion of this cost is the sheer inefficiency of finding, training and tolerating the errors of inept blacks, but much income is transferred. For instance, there are more than one million blacks enrolled in American colleges, and to judge by data that have emerged from reverse discrimination cases at the University of Texas, the University of Michigan, and elsewhere, virtually all black students hold places that were denied to abler whites. In this way, the life prospects of whites forced to attend inferior institutions have been exchanged for those of the blacks admitted ahead of them (although one must adjust for the probable failure of blacks to exploit these opportunities as well as the abler whites would have). Giving a black a better job than any equally-qualified white could obtain has a similar effect. Reasonable assumptions about the value of a college degree and the relative value of degrees from more and less prestigious institutions suggest that quotas could be transferring as much as billions of dollars annually. There have been quotas for more than thirty years, so if estimates of the cost of affirmative action are correct, it has already accounted for a good chunk of any reparations that might be owed.
Growing ruder still, one may also subtract from any debt the cost to whites of black crime. Blacks commit about two thirds of all robberies in the US — half of which, or about 300,000 at current rates — victimize whites (white-on-black crime is rare). These crimes give blacks resources properly belonging to whites. Blacks commit felonies of all kinds at three to ten times the white rate, and even when their victims are not white, their crimes are a burden that would be considerably lighter in an all-white society.
Public relief or “welfare” can be seen in the same light. Blacks fall below the threshold that triggers it three to four times more often than whites. White taxpayers therefore give blacks tens of billions of dollars every year; in my book Why Race Matters I note that black slums receive a “Marshal Plan” about once every three years, a rate that every few decades amounts to another trillion dollars. For reasons explained below, however, the case for counting this expenditure as paying off “debt” is more complex than I earlier thought.
First, though, we should deal with a bad reason for arguing that welfare and robbery are not forms of redress, namely that they were never intended as such. This is true, but insofar as they shrink the gap between whatever blacks presumably deserve and what they actually have, they tend to balance the scales of justice. Suppose I smash your Ming vase. Soon after, but out of generosity rather than a desire to make you whole, I give you an equally valuable Ming vase for your birthday. Surely you could not demand another one, on the grounds that I still hadn’t paid for the one I broke. This resolution of my debt may be emotionally unsatisfying, since the thought counts in personal relations, and you would like an admission of fault; nonetheless, I owe you nothing more. You are as you were at the outset, and I am relieved of any debt.
There is a difficulty, however, in describing welfare as compensation. One might argue, for example, that once society decides (perhaps unwisely) that everyone deserves an education, and thereupon creates public schools, education ceases to be a gift to those who could not otherwise afford it. Given a right to education, American blacks deserve it independently of any debt or of the fact that they come from societies unable to provide public education.
Likewise for welfare: By promising (perhaps unwisely) to help any citizen in danger of starving, our largely white society obligates itself to help blacks disproportionately if disproportionately more blacks need help. On the other hand, white society is certainly not obliged to create a legal right to welfare for anybody so the creation of universal legal welfare entitlements may still be thought of as indirect debt-canceling gifts to blacks. And whatever the rights of the case, reparationists should have the decency to acknowledge the great luck of American blacks to be living among inventive, productive whites. At the least, it is incumbent on reparationists to make the case that welfare isn’t a counterweight to slavery, and this they have never done.
Although rude, these reminders of the obscurity of who did what to whom, the difference between good luck and compensatory liability, and the flow of wealth from whites to blacks — even the fact that today’s blacks wouldn’t exist but for slavery, a fact somebody is sure to find “insensitive” — are likely to fall on deaf ears. Reparations, as noted, cover the same ground as quotas and racial preferences, and none of the arguments so far raised, apt though they were and remain, has had the appropriate impact. Why? Because they seem mere quibbles in the face of stark, overwhelming race difference in wealth. Blacks here and in Africa are so thoroughly behind whites anywhere that there must be a reason, and what can that reason be but white theft? So many people find this inference obvious — or say they do — that the fact of white guilt usually goes without saying. And once white guilt is assumed, the only open question is how whites should expunge it — via quotas, monetary payments or both.
The Essential Question of IQ
The issue of black poverty must be faced squarely, for given whites’ strong sense of duty, no subtleties about fault or responsibility will save whites from themselves if they believe themselves to be in the wrong. Hence the need to shock, by bringing up the race differences that were likewise verboten in the quota debate. We must make it clear that blacks are known to be on average less intelligent than whites, and that this almost certainly explains why they are on average poorer. As Richard Lynn has recently documented in IQ and The Wealth of Nations,national wealth tracks national IQ just as individual wealth tracks individual IQ. There is no mystery here. Things people want sometimes occur naturally, but most wealth is created by transforming nature. The ability to transform nature requires insight into how it works, and a higher IQ affords greater insight. That is why whites’ higher IQs allow them to produce a greater quantity and variety of more desirable things.
As all AR readers know, the evidence is now overwhelming that racial IQ differences are primarily genetic in origin. Even people who don’t read AR have an uneasy sense of this. The key point is to bring this fact to bear on the reparations debate. This is why David Horowitz’s celebrated anti-reparations ad, trenchant enough to rouse the left on campuses everywhere, did not go far enough because it failed to mention biological race differences. Reparationists will continue to wave the bloody shirt of poverty, presenting whites with a stark intellectual choice: Agree that black poverty is caused by white sin (and pay up), or find a better explanation. Biology is the better explanation, and whites must learn to deploy it without hesitation.
That whites will do anything to deny home truths about race is not news. But I believe that a desire to avoid these same truths about race difference also plays an important but ill-understood role in the minds of reparationists themselves, who will be misunderstood if glibly dismissed as mere “racial racketeers.”
I suspect reparationists and other racial partisans invert the order of injury and compensation so as to avoid accepting responsibility for their own failings. In the real world injury is the basis, the cause, of liability. B hurts A; as a consequence B owes A compensation. Now imagine long-suffering Jones in an ambiguous situation. He is not doing well. He is not sure why, but he fears the cause may be an intrinsic defect. In this state of mind he may try to shift the blame, and claim someone owes him reparations as evidence that he was harmed, and therefore not defective. He reasons: “I’m owed compensation, so someone must have hurt me; my sorry state is someone else’s fault, so I’m OK.” I suggest this may be the mechanism behind the odd intensification of blacks demands in the face of constant white concessions. To avoid the unpleasant conclusion that there is something wrong with them, blacks keep convincing themselves their failures are someone else’s fault; and to convince themselves their failures are someone else’s fault, they convince themselves that someone owes them compensation for past wrongs.
This is why concessions are never enough. If every racial claim were met and every grievance were satisfied, what excuse would black apologists have for the fact that blacks still did not do as was well as whites? Unpleasant conclusions about inferior abilities would be unavoidable. To allay this fearful possibility, racial apologists invent ever-new grievances, ever-new unmet claims, whose existence proves that the plight of blacks is due to the wickedness of others and cannot be due to internal defects.
This is why the facts about race and IQ must be part of the reparations debate. Until whites are prepared to make tough arguments about IQ, they will not fully convince either themselves or the reparationists that blacks have no claim on them. Ironically, an open airing of the IQ question would be an essential part of any decision to pay reparations, because no level of payments will eliminate black/white differences in outcomes. Even if whites handed over trillions of dollars in the name of compensation, the mechanism I have described — the need to blame whites for black failure — would bring blacks back to the table with yet more unmet grievances and unpaid debts. This process will not end until enough people of both races recognize the biological basis for racial differences in achievement.
The demand for reparations is only the latest hedge. Opposition to it will be ineffective unless it takes into account the powerful symbolic and rationalizing purpose of all black demands on white society.
Prof. Levin teaches philosophy at the City University of New York. This article is adapted from his speech at the 2002 AR conference.
New Wrinkle to the Shakedown
Blacks have thought of a new approach to reparations, and are suing companies that did not even own slaves but may have profited in some way from the existence of slavery. In March, black activist Deadria Farmer-Paellmann brought a class action suit in a Brooklyn federal court naming three defendants — Aetna Inc., CSX Corp. and FleetBoston Financial — and promises to go after many more in the future.
Miss Farmer-Paellmann charges that one of the predecessor companies of Aetna, the largest insurer in the country, wrote policies on slaves against accidental death, just as it wrote policies on freemen. She says the profits from this business were immoral, and the successor company must pay punitive damages. The claims against the other companies are similar. FleetBoston is the successor to Providence Bank, founded by a Rhode Island businessman who reportedly trafficked in slaves. Providence Bank financed the slave-trading business and presumably profited from it. CSX, a railroad conglomerate that was established in 1980, had a predecessor company that reportedly used slaves to help build and perhaps run one of its rail lines. The company itself probably never owned slaves; it rented them from owners.
Although all the companies say the alleged wrongs took place so long ago they cannot be settled in court, Aetna announced in early March that it was considering making a public apology for insuring slaves, and might make restitution payments from the profits. Of all the reparationist charges, those against Aetna would appear to be the most preposterous. Slave owners took out insurance policies on people and property they valued: houses, cargo ships, and loved ones. Aetna was doing business with owners who were unlikely to mistreat the property whose value they clearly recognized.
If the three companies Miss Farmer-Paellmann has sued “profited from slavery,” it would probably be hard to find many that did not. Any company that manufactured anything used or consumed by slaves — clothes, tools, food, etc. — ”profited from slavery.” Printers who printed handbills for slave auctions, companies that provided transportation for slaves, doctors who treated them, publishers that printed books about slaves — all are guilty of the crime that actually motivates these suits: the crime of being white.
Reparations and the Law
It will not be easy to win in court.
Claims for reparations raise several legal issues. Given that slavery ended in 1865, there is some question as to whether such claims are allowed by the statute of limitations, which limits the period during which a suit may be brought. In New York, where activists recently filed a class-action suit against companies that allegedly profited from slavery, the statute of limitations depends on the type of suit. In this case, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ predecessor companies misappropriated the value of slave labor and the profits that resulted from it. Any reparations suit is also likely to claim that forced labor, torture, rape, starvation, etc. were part of a system from which whites knowingly benefited.
If a suit is for replevin (the return of personal property wrongfully taken) then New York has a three-year statute of limitations that begins when the owner demands that the property be returned. If a suit is for wrongful death the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of death. If the suit is brought for an intentional tort, such as assault, battery, or false imprisonment, the statute of limitations is one year. The statute of limitations would appear to have expired on reparations claims of this kind, though a plaintiff may appeal for suspension of the statute, claiming that time was needed to research family or corporate records.
As Prof. Levin has pointed out in the main article, today’s blacks do not have standing to sue for compensation because they were not, themselves, harmed by slavery. A person has a compensatory-justice claim only if he has been unjustly harmed. The notion of harm involves a comparison of the claimant’s condition in the actual world in which the injustice occurred, with what his condition would have been had the injustice not occurred. No such comparison can be made in the case of the descendants of slaves, because if there had never been slavery, the reproduction pattern among blacks would have been far different, and today’s descendants would not exist. They can hardly claim to be harmed by slavery, since it caused them to exist.
There is another obstacle to reparations suits, in that redress is sought not for slaves themselves but for descendants many generations removed. The descendants might claim to have inherited slaves’ claims to compensation, but claims do not automatically pass from one generation to another. They have to be recognized to exist, and must be formally passed on just like an uncollected debt. If slaves or their children thought they had a valid claim for compensation they could have sold it at a discount like a bond in default, donated it to the Baptist Church, or used it to pay rent. The current descendants have no substantiated claims in a legal sense, so inheritance is a weak basis on which to ask for compensation years later. In any case, while these inherited claims could conceivably give rise to a moral obligation to pay damages, it is doubtful they could be a legal obligation. This is why claims of this kind should be thrown out of court and handled — if at all — in the political arena.
These legal claims are likely to fail. They probably run afoul of statute-of-limitations requirements. More important, the descendents lack standing by which to bring suit since they were not harmed by slavery, and were probably not denied their inheritance. Their case ought to fare no better in the political arena, but given the widespread black support for reparations (55 percent support it according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken in February) and the importance of blacks to the Democratic Party, reparations proposals are likely to reappear in Congress and state legislatures.
Stephen Kershnar is a philosophy professor at SUNY-Fredonia and an attorney.
The Reparations Battle
A combat report from the front line.
David Horowitz, Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery, Encounter Books, 2002, $21.95, 147 pp.
David Horowitz, the former-Marxist-turned-neoconservative, has emerged as one of the leading critics of political correctness and left-wing dominance in academia. He is probably best known for taking unfashionable positions on race. Books like The Race Card and Hating Whitey focused on racial double standards and persistent black hatred of whites. In Uncivil Wars, Mr. Horowitz describes what happened when he tried to place an advertisement in college newspapers listing ten reasons why blacks do not deserve reparations for slavery. This book actually deals with two subjects — the reparations issue itself and left-wing censorship of racial dissent on campus.
Mr. Horowitz decided to buy the ads in response to the growing momentum of the movement to have the US government pay damages to the descendents of black slaves — 137 years after abolition. While many whites dismiss the demand for reparations as a fringe movement, Mr. Horowitz points to signs of growing support. In 2000, the Chicago City Council voted 46-1 in favor of a resolution calling for reparations, and after the vote Chicago Mayor Richard Daley publicly apologized for slavery. In 2001, the University of Chicago hosted a pro-reparations conference. Also in 2001 the University of California, Northridge, and other campuses held reparations rallies. The Congressional Black Caucus supports reparations and (though Mr. Horowitz does not mention it) before the September 11 attacks, Jesse Jackson planned to make reparations the number-one issue for black activists. By June, 2001, Randall Robinson, the guru of the reparations movement, could plausibly claim, “there is no major black organization that does not support reparations.”
Mr. Horowitz’s ad was officially titled “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea — and Racist Too.” Most of the reasons are simple statements of fact. Slavery was a universal institution ended by whites. Blacks who came to America were already slaves of Arabs or other blacks, and most Americans have no connection to slavery. He also pointed out that blacks today have benefited from slavery, to the extent that they live better in the United States than anywhere in Africa, and that reparations have already been paid in the form of transfers from whites to blacks through welfare, special programs, and affirmative action preferences.
In February and March of 2001, Mr. Horowitz sent the ad to 71 college papers of which 43 rejected it outright. Those that did print it often came under intense pressure from blacks and left-wingers. Uncivil Wars focuses on three schools — the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, and Brown — to illustrate the controversy.
Reaction on Campus
Berkeley is the author’s alma mater and the home of the so-called “Free Speech” movement of the 1960s. In choosing what is perhaps the most liberal campus in America, Mr. Horowitz tried to highlight leftist intolerance of dissenting views. The students swallowed the bait. The day the ad appeared in The Daily Californian, a mob of over forty black students led by a professor of African-American studies stormed the office of student editor Daniel Hernandez. They bullied Mr. Hernandez, tore up copies of the newspaper, and demanded a printed apology in the next issue. A terrified Mr. Hernandez did as he was told, and even wrote he was sorry his paper had become “an inadvertent vehicle for bigotry.”
The University of Wisconsin’s newspaper, The Badger Herald also ran the ad and faced similar harassment. Tshaka Barrows, son of the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs and leader of the Multicultural Student Coalition, led over 100 screaming protesters in a rally outside the paper’s offices. They demanded that the chancellor’s office bar the paper from campus newsstands and that it publish a statement by the Multicultural Student Coalition, denouncing the paper as a “perpetrator of racist propaganda.” When asked if his position wasn’t against the principles of free speech Mr. Barrows explained: “Free speech has been used against African-Americans for a long time. Free speech has meant freedom for white folks to say pretty much whatever they want about African Americans … Free speech does not exist for everybody.” Another protester, junior Becky Wasserman, agreed: “Freedom of speech does not mean you can infringe on other people’s freedom, right? We’re dealing with hate speech, and that doesn’t fall under freedom.”
Unlike her counterpart at Berkeley, Badger Herald editor Julie Bosman refused to grovel. The editors even wrote a stiff response to the protesters saying: “…we only regret that the editors of the Daily Californian allowed themselves to give in to pressure in a manner that unfortunately violated their professional integrity and journalistic duty to protect speech with which they disagree.”
The Brown campus newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald, also ran the ad, and its editors came under heavy fire. The leaders of the Brown mob were a Nigerian immigrant named Asmara Ghebremichael, and a black professor named Lewis Gordon, head of Brown’s Afro-American studies department. Miss Ghebremichael promptly organized a “Coalition of Concerned Brown Students,” which included the Black Student Union, Third World Action, the Young Communist League, and the International Socialist Organization. The coalition demanded that the Daily Herald give the money from the ad to the school’s Third World Center, and that the paper give the coalition a free page “for the purpose of educating the greater Brown community on related issues and other issues important in the minority community in order to protect ourselves in the future from irrational publications like this one authored by David Horowitz.”
The editors refused Miss Ghebremichael’s demands but did print an op-ed piece by her called “Free Speech Is Only for Those Who Can Afford to Pay.” Despite the fact that Brown is considered to be a selective university, the article contained sentences like this: “Dare us to even ask ourselves to distinguish between right and wrong. Naw, you all like to hide behind the code words like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ and the most nefarious of all, ‘paid advertisement.’” She concluded by demanding, “we want one free page of advertisement space to print whatever the hell we want to print.”
|The Berkeley campus newspaper apologized for becoming “an inadvertent vehicle for bigotry.”|
The Daily Herald refused this demand, so students stole the entire run — 4,000 copies — of the next issue. Coalition members admitted to the theft but Brown administrators did nothing to punish them. Prof. Gordon defended the thieves saying, “If something is free, you can take as many copies as you like. This is not a free speech issue. It is a hate speech issue.” It was apparently also a medical concern. Another member of the Afro-American studies department declared, “I have talked to students who told me that they can’t perform basic functions like walking or sleeping because of this ad.” Because of threats of violence, the Brown College Republicans were forced to cancel a speech by Mr. Horowitz. The university did, however, sponsor an anti-reparations rally that featured members of the Nation of Islam, former Black Panthers, and members of the Afro-American studies department.
Lost in all the commotion over the ads was the fact that almost none of the protesters attempted to refute their arguments. The radicals did nothing but accuse Mr. Horowitz — and anyone who defended his right to express his views — of “racism.” A few older blacks did write confused replies. One was John Hope Franklin, a Duke professor whom former President Clinton chose to lead his “Dialogue on Race” in 1997. Prof. Franklin started by proclaiming, “all whites and no slaves benefited from American slavery,” and went on to accuse Mr. Horowitz of being “pro-slavery.” Another response, by the editor of The Black Scholar, argued that leaders of slave rebellions such as Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner were the real force behind the abolition movement.
All the major media picked up the story about the reparations ad, and their slant was generally favorable to Mr. Horowitz — on the free speech issue. At the same time, most reporters scorned his arguments against reparations. Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, for example, wrote, “… the ad reminds me of one of those tiresome rants supporting a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People).”
The Reparations Claim
The last part of the book contains a detailed look at reparations claims and the men who peddle them. Chief among them is black activist Randall Robinson, whose 2000 book, The Debt, (see AR May, 2000) galvanized the pro-reparations crowd. His point of view is clearly explained in his 1998 autobiography, Defending the Spirit, in which he writes, “I am obsessively black … race is an overarching aspect of my identity.” He also wrote: “In the autumn of my life, I am left regarding white people, before knowing them individually, with irreducible mistrust and dull dislike.” He says his dying father slapped a white nurse, telling her not “to put her white hands on him.” “His illness had afforded him a final brief honesty,” writes Mr. Robinson. “I was perversely pleased when told the story.” Not surprisingly, Mr. Robinson’s work was praised by reviewers as “gasp-out-loud frank,” “brutally frank,” and — by the Washington Post — as “an unfiltered, uncensored, smart black voice in your ear.”
Mr. Robinson and the reparationists claim African slavery was benign compared to American slavery, which was the “greatest crime against humanity in the last 500 years.” Mr. Horowitz replies:
|“Students … can’t perform basic functions like walking or sleeping because of this ad.”|
“In fact Africa’s internal slave trade, which did not involve the United States or any European power, not only extended over the entire 500 years mentioned by Robinson, but also preceded it by nearly 1,000 years. In the period between 650 and 1600, before any Western involvement, somewhere between 3 million and 10 million Africans were bought by Muslim slavers for use in Saharan societies and in the trade in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. By contrast, the enslavement of blacks in the United States lasted 89 years, from 1776 until 1865. The combined slave trade to the British colonies in North America and later to the United States accounted for less than 3 percent of the global trade in African slaves. The total number of slaves imported to North America was 800,000, less than the slave trade to the island of Cuba alone. If the internal African slave trade — which began in the seventh century and persists to this day in the Sudan, Mauritania and other sub-Saharan states — is taken into account, the responsibility of American traders shrinks to a fraction of 1 percent of the slavery problem.”
Another central reparationist tenet is that all whites benefited from unpaid black labor and thus accumulated the material advantages they now enjoy over blacks. Mr. Horowitz notes that most whites who owned slaves lost everything in the Civil War, and adds that black labor was hardly free:
“During the nineteenth century, most work — even of the labor force that was free — was subsistence labor. Almost the entire income of a nineteenth century worker was spent on keeping himself and his family sheltered and alive. Slaves were housed, clothed and fed by their owners. Since owners viewed their slaves as capital, they had a vested interest in their health and well-being, and not in keeping them in the concentration camps fantasized by reparations advocates.”
Ultimately, Mr. Horowitz recognizes the claim for reparations as the racial shakedown that it is:
“The racial perspective of the reparations movement can be seen even more clearly in the claims advanced by African nations themselves. These claims are supported by the reparations movement in the United States. While African nations clamor for reparations from the western nations, which abolished slavery more than a century ago, there are still tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of slaves in African nations — the Sudan, Ghana, Mauritania, Benin, Gabon, Mali and the Ivory Coast. By making no claims against African governments that participated in the slave trade (and still do) reparations proponents make clear that their grievance is not against an institution — slavery — and those that benefited from it; but that slavery is a means for them to formulate an indictment against Europeans and their descendents — in a word, against whites.”
Mr. Horowitz deserves credit for almost single-handedly trying to nip the reparations movement in the bud. Given the leftist domination of our educational institutions, there is no telling how many people do not know that slavery was a universal institution stopped by whites and still practiced by Africans. Few probably think of welfare and affirmative action as de facto reparations.
| Randall Robinson: dislikes
you and wants your money.
The historical facts about slavery need to be spread to as wide an audience as possible. Still, Mr. Horowitz is short on solutions. He closes the book by endorsing the “American ideal” of colorblind justice and equal opportunity. He cites black conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, Ward Connerly and Shelby Steele as proof that this ideal can appeal to American blacks. Still, there are far more Randall Robinsons than Thomas Sowells, and they are unlikely to stop blaming whites for their problems — especially if they are rewarded and praised for this by a weak and pathetic white establishment.
Indeed, the whole question of reparations has revolved around the alleged sufferings of American blacks. Blacks take it for granted that whites have benefited tremendously from their presence. In fact, many of America’s founders thought blacks were a tremendous burden, and worried about placing this burden on their posterity. It was none other than Abraham Lincoln who referred to blacks as “a troublesome presence.” The American Colonization Society, which sought to persuade free blacks to go back to Africa claimed some of America’s leading minds as members: James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, James Monroe, Stephen Douglas, John Randolph, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, Winfield Scott, John Marshall and Roger Taney. It is significant that even during the slavery era very few free blacks wanted to leave the United States.
The founders’ foreboding about the presence of blacks was fully justified. Today, whites are burdened by affirmative action, income redistribution through welfare and other programs for blacks, black crime, pervasive black-on-white violence, the destruction of our inner cities, and the distortion of history. Blacks should be deeply grateful for the historical circumstances that permit them to live in America rather than Africa. To ask whites to pay reparations to blacks is insulting. Indeed, as Prof. Michael Levin has written, “a proper balancing of the books would have blacks owing whites.”
James Lubinskas is a former assistant editor of American Renaissance.
IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
Slaves in America
In January, we reported that a couple from the Cameroon living in suburban Detroit were sentenced for keeping a teenage girl, also from the Cameroon, as a slave in their house for three years. Evelyn and Joseph Djoumessi brought Pridine Fru over from Africa when she was 14, and Mr. Djoumessi liked to rape her when she wasn’t doing forced labor around the house.
It appears that slavery of this kind is fairly common in the United States, and it almost always involves enslavement of foreigners by foreigners. A case almost identical to that of the Djoumessis has come to light in Silver Spring, Maryland. In March, a federal judge sentenced Louisa Satia, 36, and Kevin Nanji, 41, to nine years in prison for holding a Cameroonian teenager, now 19, for three years as a slave. The girl worked ‘round the clock, cooking and cleaning and looking after the couple’s three children. Mrs. Satia beat the girl regularly and sometimes sprayed cleaning liquid in her eyes. Her name was not released because Mr. Nanji also liked to rape his slave. The girl confessed she had entered the United States illegally on a false passport, and testified she and her family thought she would get an American education in return for housework. In addition to prison time, US District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. ordered the couple to pay the girl $105,306, which would work out to about $12.00 per hour for the time she is estimated to have worked.
Neither adult took the stand at the trial, but they got several people to testify the girl was treated like a family member rather than a slave. Judge Williams dismissed this as put-up perjury, and increased their sentences accordingly. He also found the woman guilty of passport and marriage fraud, noting that she had arranged fake marriages for Cameroonian women with American men. The girl is now in foster care and has applied for legal residency.
When police arrested Mrs. Satia and her husband in December, they also picked up Mrs. Satia’s sister Vivian and her husband, Etiondem Achamorfaw, of Germantown, Maryland. This couple had also brought a teenager from Cameroon and forced her to work without pay. They pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal alien and were ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution. [Phuong Ly, Pair Convicted of Enslaving Housekeeper, Washington Post, Dec. 21, 2001, p. B1. Ruben Castaneda, Couple Sentenced For Enslaving Illegal Immigrant, Washington Post, March 27, 2002.]
As it happens, just two years earlier, the same federal court sentenced a Brazilian man living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for keeping an illiterate Brazilian woman captive in his house for nearly 20 years. Rene Bonetti and his wife brought Hilda Dos Santos to America in 1979 on a domestic-worker visa and since the INS pays hardly any attention to visa overstays, no one came looking for her. The Bonettis took her passport, and kept her in a windowless basement room. They would not let her use the shower, and made her carry water to the basement where she washed in a tin tub. They beat her frequently and would not give her medical treatment. Neighbors finally took her to the hospital when she developed a cantaloupe-sized tumor in her stomach.
Mrs. Bonetti fled to Brazil, where she remains on the loose, but Mr. Bonetti was sentenced to 61/2 years in prison and ordered to pay Miss Dos Santos $210,000. An appeals court upheld Mr. Bonetti’s sentence early this year. [Candia Dames, Court Orders Back Pay for Domestic Kept in ‘Slavery-Like’ Conditions by Couple, Capital News Service, Jan. 11, 2002.]
This sort of thing is so common that in 1998 the US Attorney General established something called the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force, which has no fewer than 15 regional task forces. The task force has a toll-free number (888) 428-7581 that offers translation service in just about every language. The Justice Department has designed a poster to promote the number, though there are not likely to be many posted in places domestic slaves can see them. In 2000, Congress passed new laws to make it easier to enforce laws prohibiting involuntary servitude and peonage, and established the principle of restitution to victims. The guilty can be forced to forfeit assets to pay judgments.
It is impossible to know how many cases of domestic slavery go unreported, but during the 1990s, the INS issued more than 30,000 special visas to let foreign embassy staff and officials at international organizations bring live-in domestic workers to the United States. They are supposed to follow American employment laws but it is an open secret that many do not. An unknown number of foreigners are smuggled in illegally for domestic work and prostitution. [Stephanie Armour, Going Backwards, USA Today, Nov. 20, 2001.]
Looking for Mr. Right
Winnfred Wright is a 45-year-old California black man who came up with an unusual way to make a living: He persuaded white women that the only way they could work off the “bad karma” of being white was to support him and have sex with him. He has been doing this successfully since the mid-1980s, and is not content to sponge off white women one at a time. One of his early successes, 44-year-old Carol Bremner, recruited new additions to the harem by hanging around San Francisco street corners, inviting women to be photographed for an imaginary feminist mural. Once she got them home, a combination of drugs and Mr. Wright’s charm appears to have done the trick — sometimes. One failed recruit told police she smoked a cigarette that made her pass out. When she woke up, she was surrounded by women, who told her she was Eve and Mr. Wright was Adam. She ran away when he tried to have sex with her.
Mr. Wright had children with his harem, and this brought him to the attention of the police. In 1992 the group was living in San Francisco. A three-month-old daughter named ‘She’ died, and Mr. Wright kept her in a swinging hammock for three days to let her spirit depart in peace. Young She was eventually determined to have died of natural causes, but her mother, who cleared out shortly afterward, reported Mr. Wright had five women living with him at the time. She said he preached a weird, Rastafarian religion that included preparations for the end of the world: Mr. Wright would send the women into the streets of San Francisco for target practice with water pistols so they would be ready for “the fall of Babylon.”
Mr. Wright later moved his women to San Rafael in Marin County, and lived in a quiet neighborhood of $600,000 houses. Mr. Wright continued to help white women with their bad karma until last year, when his unusual child-rearing practices attracted attention. At that time, the harem was down to four, but there were 13 children. Nineteen-month-old Ndigo Wright was on a diet of tea and food supplements, and not doing well. One evening he had trouble breathing, so his parents put him in front of the television to stimulate his brain. This appears not to have worked, so they took Ndigo to the hospital where he promptly died of malnutrition.
When police called at San Rafael, they discovered that the children were home schooled, and rarely left the house. They had to live by a Book of Rules that required they be more or less starved, and included such punishments as ceremonial whippings, force-feeding of hot peppers, and taping their mouths shut. One girl was tied to a playpen every night for two weeks because she stole food. The other 12 children, ages eight months to 16 years, were all in various stages of malnutrition, and some were “obviously deformed.”
Surprisingly, Mr. Wright’s women were not all losers or obviously deranged. His faithful Carol Bremner, had been an anti-apartheid activist, whom her friends used to call “Saint Carol.” His latest acquisition, 20-year-old Kali Polk-Matthews, organized food and clothing drives for battered women. One of the women was the granddaughter of the founder of the Xerox company. Except for the 20-year-old, who is out on bail, they are now all in jail on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. [John Johnson, Tragedy Leaves Troubling Questions, LA Times, March 17, 2002.]
Too Dangerous for Gringos
Speedy Gonzales is a cartoon-character mouse who was a Warner Brothers favorite for nearly 50 years. He wore a sombrero, spoke in a heavy Mexican accent, and outwitted foes like Sylvester, “the Greengo Pussygato.” He sometimes got help from his friends: his lazy cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez and a band of drunken Mexican mice. Speedy was highly acclaimed in his day. The 1955 animated short “Speedy Gonzales” won an Academy Award, and two other Speedy cartoons, “Tabasco Road” and “The Pied Piper of Guadalupe,” were nominated for Oscars in 1957 and 1961.
However, in 1999, when the Cartoon Network became the sole broadcaster of old Warner Brothers material the Speedy character disappeared. “It hasn’t been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes,” explains network spokesman Laurie Goldberg. Speedy has joined the “Censored 11,” which are old Warner Brothers shorts that depict blacks as fat-lipped boobs or savage cannibals. Despite a campaign from die-hard cartoon fans — many of them Hispanic — Speedy is not likely to reappear, at least not in the United States. Ironically, Miss Goldberg concedes that the mouse is “hugely popular” on The Cartoon Network Latin America, whose viewers are presumably superior to Americans and immune to stereotypes. [Michael Y. Park, Speedy Gonzales Caged by Cartoon Network, AP, March 28, 2002.]
The March elections in Zimbabwe produced their inevitable result, and Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for another six-year term as president of his battered country. His governing ZANU-PF party called the elections “a triumph over imperialist forces led by Britain.”
Africans rushed to congratulate Mr. Mugabe. South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, for example, flew to Harare to embrace Mr. Mugabe, and pronounce the election free and fair. It was, after all, unobjectionable by African standards, and current office-holders on the continent would not care to have to hold real elections of their own. White countries unanimously denounced the ballot for the fraud that it was. After a rancorous debate that split starkly on racial lines, the Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from some of its activities. Switzerland and Japan announced they would review their aid programs, Denmark closed its embassy, and Switzerland imposed travel restrictions on Zimbabwean government officials.
Until 1979, when whites ran the place and it was called Rhodesia, the country exported food. Now, even the authorities admit half a million people need food aid, and relief organizations warn that the real number is many times higher. Despite bluster in Europe and the United States about possible economic sanctions, there will soon be free food to distribute, which will give Mr. Mugabe and his pals another opportunity for profiteering.
Shortly after the election, Mr. Mugabe issued a new decree to prevent foreign newspapers from stationing correspondents in the country, and to require government accreditation for local newsmen. Police even locked up a 57-year-old woman, Peta Thornycroft, who is a correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph, but released her after a few days.
The dispossession of whites continues. In the immediate aftermath of the election, blacks rampaged through a dozen commercial farms, smashing and looting. They also killed their tenth white farmer. On March 18, Terry Ford found his homestead surrounded by hostiles, and telephoned police for help which, of course, never came. He tried to drive through a fence to get away, but could not break through. Blacks dragged him from his vehicle, tied him to a tree, and beat him mercilessly. When they got tired of that they shot him in the head.
The unpunished expulsion and murder of whites is, of course, the real story in Zimbabwe, even if Europeans and Americans are either too stupid to notice or too afraid to say so. Africans understand exactly what is happening. As a Namibian is reported to have said of the election: “This is a great victory against the white colonialists. Soon we will cleanse Namibia and then South Africa of all Europeans and whites.” [Nicholas Kotch, Commonwealth Blasts Mugabe but Africans Back Him, Reuters, March 14, 2002. Cris Chinaka and Emelia Sithole, West Piles Pressure on Africa over Mugabe, Reuters, March 15, 2002. Emilia Sithole, White Farmer Killed as Leaders, Mugabe Start Talks, Reuters, March 18, 2002. Anthony LoBaido, Zimbabwe Falls Further Into Anarchy, WorldNetDaily.com, March 30, 2002.]
Connie Leung, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was 17 when she started an affair with Eric Louissaint, a 20-year-old black with neither home nor job. When Miss Leung’s parents objected to the romance, the lovers strangled them. Mr. Louissaint alone went to jail for the crime, but about a year later, as part of a plea bargain to avoid a life sentence, he told prosecutors Miss Leung was in on the killings too. He will serve at least 30 years in jail, and she has yet to decide whether to cop a plea or face trial. [Laura Italiano, Lover: Teen & I Killed Her Folks, New York Post, March 19, 2002.]
Whites who work at “traditionally black” universities say they face discrimination. No one systematically tracks the problem, but discrimination suits appear to be on the rise.
Consider Delaware State University, which was established in 1891 as State College for Colored Students. In the past year, it has settled two discrimination suits for undisclosed sums, brought by women who said they were mistreated because they are white. Kathleen Carter, a white who chaired the education department, says blacks told her she was usurping their right to govern themselves, and that whites in the department were trying to make blacks look bad. She says one colleague called her a “white bitch.”
Another woman, Jane Buck, who used to teach psychology at the school, has described the tremendous pressure she was under to hire blacks. A search committee once got 100 applications for a position but did not fill it because none of the candidates was black. When the search was reopened, the lone black applicant got the job.
|Stung by hornets.|
At Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, one of three white plaintiffs in a case that should go to trial this fall says, “It’s the white professors who can’t get tenure for hook or crook, but the black professors get hired as full professors with tenure.” Bob Russ adds that Livingstone has set out systematically to remove whites from positions of responsibility. He says an internal review carried out in the early 1990s urged the college to hire more blacks and replace several white department heads. Notations in the margins said “bring in black Ph.D chair,” “hire black chemist” and “build up science and math (black).” These notations were reportedly made by Barbara Brown, a black woman who was vice president for academic affairs at the time and is now at “historically black” Albany State University in Georgia. During the 1980s and 1990s, whites sued Albany State more than 20 times for discrimination.
Some whites have fared well from adversity. In 1998, a federal jury awarded $2.2 million to two tenured whites who were forced out of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania for opposing appointments for blacks they thought were unqualified. Others have fared worse. In 1997, blacks attacked the white dean of Albany State’s business school and sent him to the hospital for complaining on television about racial discrimination. [White Professors Say Black Universities Discriminate in Advancement, Fox News, March 22, 2002.]
No one should be surprised by this. When US Supreme Court Justice William Douglas once asked black justice Thurgood Marshall how he could defend racial preferences for blacks, Marshall replied, “You guys have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it is our turn.”
Stop ‘Stop the Violence’
The Port Arthur, Texas, school district has celebrated something called Peace Week ever since 1996, when a teacher had to break up a fight in a parking lot. Peace Week is supposed to teach students how to work out disagreements, but it doesn’t always have the desired effect. Part of this year’s program was a play called “Stop the Violence,” put on by students of Thomas Jefferson High School, that was performed before an audience of 500 schoolmates. The play included a reenactment of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, and at that point students began to get excited. One young man punched another, and then a series of fights broke out, which resulted in no arrests, but had to be broken up by police. The school district has cancelled plans to stage “Stop the Violence” at other schools in the area. [Diana Reinhart, Violence Stops PA ‘Stop the Violence’ Program, Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, March 7, 2002.]
Camp of the Saints
Italy is going through one of its periodic crises over immigration. In March, a decrepit ship carrying 928 Iraqi Kurds staggered into Italian waters and was met by the Italian navy. As is now the custom, when the Italians approached to turn the ship away, adults threatened to throw children overboard. The navy let the ship dock in Sicily, where it disgorged the largest number of illegals to arrive in Italy in five years. They were transferred to a refugee camp on the mainland, where they are expected to apply for political asylum.
Government reactions were mixed. Interior Minister Claudio Scajola asked for the emergency release of funds for more shelters for illegals, saying more ships were likely to follow. He says tensions in the Middle East mean “more people will decide to set off in search of a better life” and “Italy is the natural entry point for the West.” The Italian president Carlo Ciampi agreed, saying “the human spirit should prevail” in welcoming immigrants.
Umberto Bossi, the head of the Northern League, retorted that Mr. Ciami’s words “continue to give messages that we are accepting the problem when what’s needed is stopping it.” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also understands: “In no time we’ll be thrown out of our own country by masses of immigrants,” he said. “It will be a dramatic situation, with a pressure that will lead to war and September 11-type situations with the re-emergence of terrorism. Italy can’t accept entire masses of immigrants, thousands at a time. It is not in a position to receive them.”
He urged the Italian parliament to pass new legislation that would jail illegals without giving them a chance to apply for asylum. [Sheila Pierce, Italy Admits Shipload of Iraqi Kurds, Washington Post, March 20, 2002, p. A20. Immigrants Threaten to ‘Outnumber Italians,’ Daily Telegraph (London), March 28, 2002.]
Too Sensible to Last
Like all schools, T.R. Smedberg Middle School in Sacramento, California, must deal with the persistent problem of Asians and whites doing better than blacks and Hispanics. The principal, Philip Moore, has decided the best way to encourage parents to help their children is to meet with them in racially segregated groups. This way, parents can be comfortable with each other, and discuss common ways to improve performance.
Mary Perry of EdSource, a nonprofit group that studies education issues in California, explains it is not uncommon for schools to invite parents of low-achieving minority students to school to talk about school work, and it is helpful to segregate them. “Sometimes it’s more difficult to have a productive discussion when people’s perspectives are so far apart,” she explains. Mr. Moore says he talked with parents of various races before deciding on the segregated sessions, and decided they would be best. He says he will not shirk from talking about racial differences in grades, test scores, and expulsion rates. “They need to know the information and what the data looks like,” he says, and explains sessions will be more productive if they are segregated. [Sandy Louey, Test Forums Divided by Ethnicity, Bee (Sacramento), April 2, 2002.]
What Do You Expect?
Students at largely-black Southside High School in Selma, Alabama, must pass an examination in order to graduate, but about half fail. The black principal, James Parker, explains why this happens: “I think there are two major problems. The first is basically that students forget what they have learned the previous semester when they take the exam.” He says the other problem is that students take each course for only one semester, and that may not be enough time to absorb the material. [Sajit Abraham, Parker, May Optimistic Seniors Will Pass Exam, Times Herald (Selma), March 10, 2002, p. 8A.]
Brits Go Barmy
British police will henceforth have to give written explanations to every suspect they they stop and search. Home Secretary David Blunkett explained that the new rules were proposed in the “McPherson Report” on institutional racism among the police [see “Whites as Kulaks,” AR, Jan. 2002], and will help counter accusations that officers target non-whites unfairly. There will also be “community panels” that will monitor police actions and make sure all races are treated fairly. [British Police to Explain Searches, AP, March 12, 2002.]
We reproduce the following item, verbatim and in toto, from the March 26, 2002, Santa Barbara News-Press:
MIAMI — Workers at Mount Sinai-St. Francis Nursing and Rehabilitation Center asked that a union vote be thrown out Monday, saying a series of voodoo signs may have spooked the facility’s large Haitian-American workforce into voting to organize. Workers testified they saw lines of pennies, half-empty water cups and a union supporter twisting black beads in her hands before the Feb. 28 vote.
“If there was a group of people afraid of voodoo, your mind could be swayed,” dietary aide Barbra White Bynum testified during the National Labor Relations Board hearing. [Voodoo Blamed in Vote to Unionize, News-Press (Santa Barbara, Calif.), March 26, 2002.]
The Cruelest Cut
A recent survey found widespread domestic violence against women in Uganda. In mid-March, the country’s vice president Specioza Kazibwe ended her 23-year marriage because her husband continued to beat her even after she took office. He says he beat her only twice. The vice president’s husband should consider himself lucky. On March 20, Ugandan police arrested 30-year-old Annet Minduru, charging her with causing grievous bodily harm to her husband after he slapped her during an argument. “Because I was so drunk,” explained John Ndekeezi, “she overpowered me and by the time my neighbor came to my rescue, she had bitten off both my testicles and the penis.” Just a few days earlier, another Ugandan man died after his wife cut off his testicles. She thought he was doing a poor job caring for her and their two children. [Woman Bites Off Husband’s Genitals, Reuters, March 20, 2002.]
It’s a Shame, Mon
Many television viewers have seen Miss Cleo’s commercials for psychic readings on her 900 number. Sporting colorful island garb and speaking Caribbean patois, Miss Cleo, who claims to be a Jamaican shaman, has become something of pop culture icon. The Florida Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission are suing Miss Cleo and the company she works for, Access Resource Services, for fraud, saying her real name is Youree Dell Harris, and that she was born in Los Angeles to American parents in 1962. A psychic should have seen it coming. [State: Miss Cleo is from California, not Jamaica, AP, March 13, 2002.]
The Death of the East
|Not many left.|
In The Death of the West (reviewed in AR, March 2002), Patrick Buchanan argues that declining birthrates and immigration may spell the end of the nations of the West. Mr. Buchanan points out that Japan does not have an immigration problem, but it does have a low birthrate and aging population. Japan will “die” first because it has more old people than any other nation (about 17.7 percent of Japanese are 65 or older, compared to 12.6 percent in the United States) and one of the lowest birthrates — 1.35 births per woman. According to current projections its population will peak in 2005 and then decline.
On March 26, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s office issued a “Lifestyle White Paper” that discusses the problem. It says 52 percent of young Japanese women and 40 percent of young Japanese men do not consider marriage and child-rearing to be sources of fulfillment. With the economy in a decade-long recession, young people want money and careers, and an increasing number see marriage as “limiting their freedom” and children as a “burden.” Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Japanese women who are full-time housewives declined from 37 to 26 percent.
The report says Japan’s corporate culture, with its 16-hour days and mandatory after-hours drinks with the boss, must change. It recommends fewer working hours, more free time for the family, and more child care. [Hans Griemel, ‘Work Less, Have More Babies,’ Japanese Government Says, AP, March 26, 2002.]
Luther Crawford is blind in one eye, nearly blind in the other and takes medication for a heart problem and high blood pressure, none of which keeps the 49-year-old black Louisvillian from charming the ladies. Over the years, he has fathered a dozen children by 11 different women. Mr. Crawford is now in trouble for failing to support them. He owes $33,000 in child-support for two of his children, and is in jail waiting trial in another case in which he owes $21,000. On March 12, Mr. Crawford signed a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to two counts of flagrant nonsupport, and got one year in prison instead of a possible five years. He also agreed never to have sex again.
Mr. Crawford now says he thought the abstinence clause was a joke and is asking a judge to throw it out. His lawyer says it violates Mr. Crawford’s constitutional rights and is impossible to enforce. Prosecutor Allan Cobb says Mr. Crawford acknowledged the no-sex clause when he signed it, and notes that similar plea conditions have been upheld in two cases in other states. A judge will render a ruling in May. [Man Accused of Being Deadbeat Dad Challenges Required Celibacy in Plea Agreement, AP, March 26, 2002.]
Limits of Diversity
On March 14, Virginia’s new governor, Democrat Mark Warner, refused a request by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to sign a proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month. “Over the past few years,” he said, “the issuance of a Confederate history month proclamation has been a lightning rod. My belief is that signing such a proclamation would not advance the healing process.”
Curtis Milteer, the black mayor of Suffolk, Virginia, and the great-grandson of slaves, thinks otherwise. On March 25, he proclaimed April Confederate History Month. “We have rendered proclamations for other groups,” he says. “It’s a matter of recognizing and respecting everyone’s heritage, even if it is not the same as our own.” Suffolk is one of only nine Virginia towns or counties to sign the proclamation this year.
The NAACP is outraged. Charles Christian, president of the local chapter hints at reprisals but adds, “Right now, I can’t say what they will be.” Two black Suffolk city councilmen are looking into whether they can rescind the mayor’s proclamation. [Black Mayor OKs Confederate History, AP, March 31, 2002.]
Special Forces Too White
The usual people are upset because so many of the special forces soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are white. Although blacks are 20 percent of the military, they are fewer than four percent of special forces — and only 2.5 percent of Navy SEALs.
Jake Zweig, a black former SEAL officer, says the real problem is the attitude of the whites. “It was like being the only black in a Harley Davidson gang, as out of place as you can be,” he says. He adds that when he suggested recruiting more non-white sailors, a white officer asked him “What … do you want us to do, lower the standards, so more of y’all can make it in?”
Special Operations Command has hoisted the white flag. It is sending “motivator” teams of black and Hispanic special forces men into minority neighborhoods, and is printing recruiting pamphlets that prominently feature non-whites. Rear Adm. Eric Olson, top SEAL commander, has hired a diversity consultant, Warren Lockette, who has the authority to veto any SEAL candidate he thinks might be prejudiced. Recruiting non-whites is not enough; whites must make them feel welcome.
The Navy insists it won’t lower standards. Nevertheless, the SEALs now accept as provisional candidates men who have failed a requirement and would ordinarily be washed out. For example, SEAL candidates must swim 500 yards in 121/2 minutes. Since some blacks have trouble doing this, they will get extra training if the Navy decides they would otherwise qualify.
This doesn’t sit well with retired Army Green Beret Major Andy Messing. “I wouldn’t want to be next to a guy who’s ‘not sure’ he knows how to swim across a flowing jungle river,” he says. Maj. Messing actually says homogeneity is good for special forces units. He says differences — being black, Hispanic, Jewish or even overtly religious — add to the tensions in the grinding training regimen. [Ron Kampeas, Special Forces Lack Diversity, AP, April 1, 2002.]
As we reported last month, black groups in Cincinnati are still protesting the police shooting of black criminal Timothy Thomas on April 7 last year. Protests have now taken the form of persuading blacks to boycott the city. “Police are killing, raping, planting false evidence, and along with the prosecutor and courts are destroying the general sense of self-respect for black citizens,” reads one of the appeals. This sort of thing has been enough to persuade such performers as Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Wynton Marsalis, the Temptations, the O’Jays, and Smokey Robinson to cancel appearances. The purpose of the boycotts is to cause so much hardship for the city it will give in to demands for handouts to blacks and amnesty for the criminals who rioted after last year’s shooting.
The boycotters latest success has been to keep out the national convention of a black denomination, the Progressive National Baptist Convention. The denomination, founded in Cincinnati in 1961, had booked space four years ago in the city’s Millennium Hotel, and its 8,000 conventioners were expected to bring the hotel $750,000 worth of business. Now, some of its many black employees will be laid off.
The boycotters have their sights on preacher Billy Graham. Rev. Al Sharpton was in town recently, urging his fellow minister to stay away. “He can see what kind of controversy is going on here,” he says. A local black divine, Rev. Clarence Wallace said that if Rev. Graham comes, he must “make a statement on the issues here.” Rev. Graham says he will come, and duly agreed to “address” the racial climate.
One city group is fighting back against the boycotts. The Cincinnati Arts Association, which had been angling for big-name black performers for some of its programs only to see them scared away by the boycott, has sued boycott organizers for $600,000 for interfering with its business. [Steve Miller, Cincinnati Boycotters Target Billy Graham, Washington Times, March 19, 2002, p. A1. Robert Pierre, Racial Strife Flares in Cincinnati Over Downtown Business Boycott, Washington Post, April 2, 2002, p. A3.]
‘What You White Bitches Need’
On March 20, 2001, a Chattanooga, Tenn., woman pulled into the drive-thru lane of a local Krystal fast food restaurant to order a Coke. A black man, Ralph Williams, jumped into the car, and beat her and strangled her until she lost consciousness. He drove off with her, and when she came to, Mr. Williams was standing over her, ordering her to take off her clothes.
“I was shocked,” she says. “It was like waking up in a dream. I realized he was going to rape me.” The woman said Mr. Williams, who raped and beat her for 13 hours, took frequent breaks to smoke crack. “He enjoyed the thought of the pain,” she says. “Every time I would scream, he would hit me again. But I couldn’t keep from screaming.”
The woman tried to fight back with a box-cutter in her purse, and tried to stab Mr. Williams in the eyes with her car keys. He only beat and stomped her the more. When she heard Mr. Williams handling a wire, she thought he was going to strangle her with it. Instead, he took the cardboard off of a wire coat hanger and rammed it into her repeatedly, shouting “This is what you white bitches need.” The victim twice tried to escape, and once managed to get outside the house before Mr. Williams dragged her back by the hair. Police later found a clump of her hair at the scene. Mr. Williams eventually passed out, and the woman got away. Mr. Williams had fled by the time police arrived, but she picked him out of a police lineup.
At trial, Mr. Williams got two consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole. Mr. Williams had committed a similar rape in December 2000, but the victim disappeared before police finished their investigation. He had also served eight years in prison for rape. District Attorney Bill Cox says “Our community will be a lot safer because he will never see the light of day again.” [Repeat Rapist Gets Life without Parole, Chattanoogan.com, March 21, 2002.]
TB in VA
In 1993, the World Health Organization declared tuberculosis an international emergency. Worldwide, eight million people get the disease, and two million die. TB is coming to America, thanks to Third-World immigration. The state of Virginia saw a five percent increase in new cases from 2000-2001, with 57 percent of the total — 174 of 306 — occurring in the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia. The region as a whole has seen a 22 percent increase in TB cases since 1999. State health officials admit that immigrants bring the disease, and two-thirds of the TB cases come from just three countries: Mexico, the Philippines and Vietnam. People who apply for asylum or proper immigration visas are tested for TB, so the culprits are illegal immigrants. [Leef Smith, TB Still on Rise in N. Va., Washington Post, March 18, 2002, p. A1.]
Costly Federal Failure
Some of the poorest counties in the country have stiff expenses because of illegal immigration. Imperial County, California, which has the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the state, spent $5.4 million out of a tight 1999 budget on law enforcement and emergency medical treatment for illegals. Pima County, Arizona, has had to build more jail cells because of illegals. “Because we’ve had to keep up with jails, we don’t have enough left over for transportation,” says a county spokesman. All told, during 1999, counties along the Mexico border spent $108 million on law enforcement and medical treatment for illegals. Counties get a little federal money to cover the costs of incarcerating illegals. The ones along the border got $12.4 million in 1999, or less than one eighth of the amount they spent on illegals. [Ken Ellingwood, Study Tallies Cost of Illegal Immigration, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6, 2001.]
Mexicans Want Amnesty
Although the idea was pushed off the national agenda by the Sept. 11 attacks, Mexicans are back baying for amnesty. The 1.5 million-member Service Employees International Union, which represents janitors, orderlies, home care help, and other unskilled workers, has started a post-card campaign for amnesty, free passage across the Mexican border, and eventual citizenship for illegals. The union, which has many Mexican members, says it is only reminding the country of goals President George Bush set forth before he was distracted by terrorism. [August Gribbin, Alien Amnesty Urged But Unlikely, Washington Post, March 11, 2002, p. A8.]
Mr. Bush, who has learned nothing from the events of Sept. 11, managed to push an amnesty bill through the House, but wiser heads prevailed in the Senate, and passage now looks uncertain.
LETTERS FROM READERS
Sir — Twenty years ago I was in the Virginia prison system, for two years, at four different prisons. The terminology of rape apparently has changed, but it sounds basically as it was then.
Honestly, though, I have some differences with the story. It’s not true, for example, that whites never stick up for each other, except for the Aryan Brotherhood. A lot of us made deals to watch each other’s backs, and it worked. The point is not to fight blacks alone. If two of you agree to look out for each other your chances of not being raped increase 100 fold. If there are three of you together, even against 20 blacks, you’ll get busted up — but only once — and not raped. You just can’t pretend to be Rambo.
It really wasn’t difficult to avoid becoming a “boy.” My first day in one prison, about eight blacks had a mind to come after me, but all I had to do was show I was ready to fight, and they backed down. I weighed only about 160.
A lot of the “boys” were faggots to begin with. Others were drug addicts, and went along willingly for the drugs they received. To be honest, I saw more blacks who were “boys” than whites.
Of course, that was my experience in Virginia, twenty years ago, ending in 1982. Some states may be worse. In Virginia, I keep tabs on what is going on, and things seem tighter, more secure, less dangerous than they were.
One thing I found out toward the end of my term was that in a minimum security place there is much less violence. You can call a black a “nigger” to his face and if he hits you both of you will be “busted back” to high security, and they dread that more than anything. Blacks would glare a lot but never tried to retaliate.
Tim Minium, Norfolk, Va.
Sir — I read with interest your review of the book about prison rape. On HBO there is a series called OZ which is about a fictional prison. In the program, the Aryan Brotherhood are the only people who practice sex slavery of whites. They are also the most despicable people in the prison. The only other rapist in the program is a black who raped a white after the black was attacked — a rape committed in self-defense. The most honorable people in this fictional prison are, of course, the black Muslims.
Frank Davie, Florida
Sir — You describe Human Rights Watch, the organization that sponsored the study on prison rape as “a lefty organization.” Your readers should know that Human Rights Watch was established and funded by George Soros, one of the most unhelpful people on the planet. He became a billionaire, in part by massive speculation in the currency markets, in which he enriched himself as governments spent money trying to defend their currencies. He is an out-and-out one-worlder, and sworn enemy of every kind of national and ethnic difference — with one exception. He is a big supporter of ethno-state Israel.
Fred Hooper, Mussel Shoals, Ala.
Sir — When the Enron Corporation declared bankruptcy, it was a good example of what happens when corporate greed gets out of control. Now the nation is faced with an example of political greed — the recent amnesty vote in the House of Representatives — by Republicans who want to legalize millions of illegal Mexicans in the (probably vain) hope of getting their votes. How much longer will voters put up with the stupidity and cupidity of “leaders” whose only interest is themselves. Will the insanity ever end?
Harlan Hamilton, New York City
Sir — Last week, I started a new job at a book store. It is downtown, heavily trafficked by blacks, and has a large African-American section. The other day, a black man and woman came in with their daughter. The girl, no older than four, walked straight to a book with a cover picture of Martin Luther King on it, and asked her father, “Who was the white man who shot him?”
Name Withheld, Buffalo, N. Y.
Sir — In the April issue, in the item called “Bill Clinton — Black Superstar,” you write that the National Guard “enforced integration” at Central High School in the 1950s.
In 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus mobilized the state’s National Guard to help resist a federal judge’s order to integrate public schools in Little Rock. President Eisenhower not only federalized the Arkansas National Guard but sent in 1,000 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to make sure nine black children could attend Central High School. To have deployed an elite airborne unit to enforce Washington’s control over a municipal school system is one of the most absurd episodes in American history.
Name Withheld, Washington, D.C.
Sir — I was glad to see the report on the AR conference in the last issue. I was even more pleased to see a reasonably balanced Newhouse News story about the conference in my local paper!
Your organization must do more outreach. Subscribers already know what is happening; it is the millions who don’t read AR who must have their eyes opened. Any conference you put on that gets press coverage is invaluable in that it lets others know about the work you are doing.
Burt Schrag, Louisiville, Ky.
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