|Vol. 20, No. 3||April 2009|
The Dangers of Diversity, Part I
What actually happens when races mix.
Diversity has joined apple pie, motherhood, and the flag as a symbol of America. Many politicians cannot get through a stump speech without praising American diversity, and corporate CEOs boast of their diverse workforces. The idea that diversity is one of our country’s great strengths — even its greatest strength — now goes essentially unchallenged. And yet, even the most cursory examination of diversity’s effects on the United States shows that it is a terrible source of division and conflict, and that it brings no compensating advantages. How can anything so obviously untrue have gained mythic status?
When people praise diversity they may have different things in mind — diversity of language, religion, erotic orientation, culture — but diversity’s most important ingredient is race. A university could have 10 percent of its student body from ten different European countries, but it could not claim to be “diverse” because all the students would be white.
|What we are supposed to want for America.|
This country’s most agonizing conflicts revolve around race, and whatever they may claim to believe about integration, most Americans prefer not to cross racial lines (see “Integration Has Failed,” AR, February and March 2008). It is not hard to understand why. All that is required is a look at what happens when people, for whatever reason, find themselves in close contact with people unlike themselves.
Nevertheless, practically every American public figure from the president on down praises diversity. As George W. Bush noted when the US Supreme Court upheld the limited use of race in college admissions, “Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths.” In a 2007 statement about Hispanic heritage he called on Americans to “celebrate the diversity that makes America stronger.” In a joint American-Brazilian statement in 2003, Mr. Bush said both countries were “forged from diverse cultures, proving that diversity is our strength.”
|Practically every American public figure from the president on down praises diversity.|
Former president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary are tireless promoters of diversity. Mr. Clinton once invited black columnists to the White House and told them, “We want to become a multiracial, multiethnic society. This will arguably be the third great revolution … to prove that we literally can live without … having a dominant European culture.” When Mrs. Clinton spoke at her former high school in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge she said she was glad to see so many non-white faces in the audience. “We didn’t have the wonderful diversity of people that you have here today,” she said. “I’m sad we didn’t have it, because it would have been a great value, as I’m sure you will discover.”
State officials take the same view. Then-governor of California, Gray Davis, noted in 2003 with unintended humor that “my vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state.” In 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland said diversity is “our greatest strength as a people.” In 2003, Governor Gary Locke of Washington, who is Chinese-American, went farther: “In our diversity lies our humanity.” When Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York said, “Our city’s diversity is our greatest strength,” he was only repeating his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, who noted in his farewell address as mayor that “we’re a city in which our diversity is our greatest strength.”
The CIA values diversity. “At the Central Intelligence Agency, workforce diversity is a mission imperative,” the agency noted in a recruitment ad in Black Enterprise magazine. The even more secret National Security Agency has a website that explains, “Diversity gives us the power to conceive the inconceivable.” Chief of Naval Operations Michael Mullen, the top officer in the Navy from 2005 to 2007, explained, “Diversity is our strength. Let’s keep it strong.” In 2007, General George Casey, who was in command of American troops in Iraq from 2004 until 2007, announced, “I firmly believe the strength of our Army comes from our diversity.”
The private sector is equally committed. In 2008, no fewer than 352 companies vied to be included among the “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” selected by Diversity Inc magazine. JP Morgan Chase’s chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon sent a message explaining, “We’re committed to ensuring that diversity remains a key priority … our collective diversity is our strength.” Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon Communications said this: “What I want the company to be is relevant. If you’re not diverse you’re not relevant.” The top executives of all the competing companies sent similar statements.
| At the CIA, “workforce diversity
is a mission imperative.”
In its final press release the day before it went bankrupt in 2008, the huge banking conglomerate Washington Mutual boasted about coming in sixth in Hispanic Business’s annual Diversity Elite list. “Diversity is an integral part of cultivating a welcoming, innovative and dynamic workplace here at WaMu,” said president Steve Rotella.
Although most companies claim diversity offers business advantages (“What Science Says About Diversity,” AR, November and December 2007, demonstrates that there are no advantages) some companies treat diversity as an end in itself. In 2005, Wal-Mart’s General Counsel Tom Mars told the company’s top 100 outside law firms that they would be graded not just on price and performance, but also on the diversity of their lawyers. It is possible to outrank other firms on price and performance but lose Wal-Mart’s favor because of insufficient diversity. This is because Wal-Mart values diversity even if it has no tangible benefits.
Like other large companies such as General Motors and Ford, Wal-Mart insists on diversity from its suppliers and requires reports on the number of non-whites in their workforces and among executives. It does not require reports on such things as budgeting, materials handling, or computerization. It insists on diversity — and encourages suppliers to demand diversity from their own suppliers — as a goal that is wholly independent of any business advantage.
Actual advantage may even be sacrificed in the name of diversity. The city of North Miami used to require that its police officers know how to swim because they may have to rescue someone in the water. In 2004, the department dropped that requirement because it desperately wanted Haitian officers, and most Haitian applicants could not swim. “Our swimming requirement may give the false perception that we are not serious in our efforts to hire Haitian police applicants,” explained police chief Gwendolyn Boyd-Savage, who is black. It was more important that the force appear to be committed to diversity than that officers be capable of a water rescue.
Suzanne Bump, secretary of labor and workforce development for the state of Massachusetts, explained in 2007 why she wanted diversity: “I could fill my office with white lawyers. We’re choked with applications from them. But they’re not going to get the job done. A diversity of skills, perspective and cultural background is necessary for success in creating more and better jobs in this state.” She herself is white, but did not explain what skills and perspectives whites lack that prevent them from doing the job.
|“Diversity is as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare.”|
Universities promote diversity with the same ardor. On April 24, 1997, 62 research universities lead by Harvard bought a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that justified racial preferences in university admissions by explaining that diversity is a “value that is central to the very concept of education in our institutions.” Lee Bollinger, who has been president of University of Michigan and of Columbia, once insisted that “diversity is not merely a desirable addition to a well-run education. It is as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare.” In 2003, Mr. Bollinger’s successor at Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman, welcomed a US Supreme Court decision permitting race-based admissions with the following statement: “Year after year, our student body proves it and now the court has affirmed it: Our diversity is our strength.”
Many companies and universities now have a “chief diversity officer” who reports directly to the president. In 2006, Michael J. Tate was vice president for equity and diversity at Washington State University. He had an annual budget of three million dollars and a full-time staff of 55. His office was on the same floor as that of the president, and he took part in the highest levels of university decision-making. There were similarly powerful “chief diversity officers” at Harvard, Berkeley, the University of Virginia, Brown, and the University of Michigan. In 2006, the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse decided that diversity was so important that its presumed beneficiaries — students — should pay for it. It increased in-state tuition by 24 percent, from $5,555 to $6,875, to cover the costs of increasing diversity.
|The new American ideal.|
American law schools are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), which uses its power to promote diversity. Schools with too many white students risk losing accreditation, which would mean students would not qualify for federal financial aid and, in many jurisdictions, could not even take the bar exam.
In 2000, an ABA reaccreditation inspection discovered that at George Mason University Law School in northern Virginia 93.5 percent of first-year students were white. The ABA recognized that GMU had made a “very active effort to recruit minorities,” but complained that the school was unwilling “to engage in any significant preferential affirmative action admissions program.” With its accreditation at stake, GMU lowered standards for non-white applicants and admitted more: 10.98 percent in 2001 and 16.16 percent in 2002. That was not enough. In 2003, the ABA summoned GMU’s president and law school dean and threatened them to their faces with disaccreditation unless the law school admitted more non-whites. GMU lowered standards even further, and managed to raise its non-white admissions to 17.3 percent in 2003, and 19 percent in 2004. This was still not good enough. “Of the 99 minority students in 2003,” the ABA complained, “only 23 were African American; of 111 minority students in 2004, the number of African Americans held at 23.”
True diversity, in other words, could not be achieved without a certain number of blacks, but what of the blacks GMU did admit? From 2003 to 2005, fully 45 percent had grade-point averages below 2.15, which is defined as “academic failure.” For non-black students, the figure was 4 percent. GMU officials pointed out that the ABA’s own Standard 501(b) says that “a law school shall not admit applicants who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar.” As the school’s dean, Dan Polsby, explained, this requirement was the greatest obstacle to achieving diversity targets.
American institutions pursue diversity with such enthusiasm that it would be easy to misunderstand their goals. There is a kind of diversity that is essential for any group undertaking, and one might think this is what Americans are celebrating. A contractor, for example, cannot build houses if he hires only electricians. He needs carpenters, roofers, masons, etc. If the advantage of hiring people with different skills had only recently been discovered, it would make sense to promote it enthusiastically, but that is not the kind of diversity George Bush or Lee Bollinger are talking about. They would insist that an effective workforce must have the right mix of blacks, whites, Asians, handicapped people, Hispanics, and American Indians. It is not clear how such a group would build better houses.
Let us examine what actually happens when Americans encounter diversity.
|Los Angeles school students: How could they fail to get along?|
Los Angeles is often called the most diverse city in the United States — perhaps in the world. Whites have been a minority in Los Angeles County since 1990, and its inhabitants represent more than 140 nationalities and speak 130 different languages. It should be a showcase for diversity’s strengths. The schools, in particular, should be exemplary. As Hillary Clinton assured the students at her former high school, multi-racialism should be an experience of great value. Southern California also has a particular advantage in that the most salient racial mixes are not the historically freighted one of blacks and whites. Blacks and Hispanics, for example, came into contact with no past grievances — no real past at all. There is nothing like the specters of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, or segregation to poison their relations. If anything, two groups that share common experiences as minorities should find contact especially rewarding.
They do not. For decades, students in Los Angeles have stubbornly defied the expectations of those who praise diversity. Since at least 1990, calming racial tension — usually between blacks and Hispanics — has been one of the top goals of the school district. As the Los Angeles Times put it in a 1999 article:
“From Crenshaw to the San Fernando Valley, administrative offices to classrooms, the often-bitter emotions of racial strife plague the Los Angeles Unified School District. District officials have worked to defuse racial and ethnic tensions with everything from squads of mediators who can travel to troubled campuses to appointments of administrators with an eye toward racial balance — a Latino vice principal, for example, to complement a black principal.”
The article went on quote then-school superintendent Ruben Zacarias as saying that the school system was putting more effort into conflict resolution than any other organization in the city. It did not appear to be succeeding.
Racial violence in schools is a grinding, chronic problem that defies every effort to stamp it out. It can erupt at any time. For a great many students, conflict and tension are the most vivid consequence of the diversity that is said to be America’s strength. It would be scandalous if only a few students in America were trying to get an education in the shadow of the threat of racial violence. In fact, tension and violence touch hundreds of schools — perhaps thousands — and sear the lives of countless students.
There does not appear to be any central organization that monitors racial violence in schools, either at the state or national level, nor is it something that gets attention outside the neighborhoods in which it occurs. This makes it difficult to grasp the true dimensions of the problem or even to know whether it is getting better or worse. The only way to get a sense of the nature and scale of the problem is to describe specific incidents.
On November 20, 2004, a black-Hispanic brawl broke out at Jordan High School in South Los Angeles. Police estimated that as many as 1,000 people took part when a fight between two girls spread through the entire campus. Gang-members from adjoining neighborhoods joined the fighting, and it took about 60 policemen in riot gear to break up the fray. The school was locked down, as were two other schools in the area, for fear the violence might spread.
Just three days later, there was a fight between 100 blacks and Hispanics at Manual Arts High School, also in Los Angeles. It took dozens of officers, some in helicopters, to restore order. A week later, black students broke the jaw of a Hispanic student in front of Crenshaw High School. Police said the incidents were related: Fighting in one school can bring tensions to a head in an entire region.
The next year, there was a disturbing series of incidents at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. On April 14, more than 100 blacks and Hispanics fought each other in the cafeteria after Hispanics told blacks to “go back to Africa.” Police broke up the brawl, administrators locked down the school, and let students out early. “It’s like we’re fighting the neighbors next door just because we’re a different race,” said Michael Ortega, age 17.
The next day, the violence at Jefferson jumped directly to two other schools in the area, Norte Vista High School in Riverside, and Santa Monica High School. Norte Vista was locked down for an hour while police searched for instigators and made five arrests. The same day, blacks and Hispanics fought each other at Santa Monica High School, which was also locked down to let tensions cool. Students were dismissed methodically, building by building, to be sure they did not mix and start fighting again. “It was more racial tension than it was gang-related,” explained Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, in what was no doubt an attempt to be reassuring.
Back at Jefferson, no fewer than 16 school and city police officers were patrolling the campus to keep tensions under control, but three days later there was another cafeteria brawl involving 100 blacks and Hispanics. The police used pepper spray to defend themselves and stop the fighting. One student suffered a broken hip and several others were arrested. Jefferson administrators announced that the school would get a metal detector for the main entrance, and close off all other entrances. They also decided to close the cafeteria so that students could not congregate. Instead of hot meals, students would get bag lunches.
The next day, just to be sure there was no more violence, 29 police officers were assigned to the school, and 12 more patrolled the neighborhood. The school was careful to put nothing in the bag lunches that could be used as a projectile — just hamburgers and burritos. Even so, attendance was down by almost half because so many students were afraid. Those who did come to school were dismissed through a phalanx of teachers, administrators, and police in riot helmets. “We just have a lot of issues with race,” conceded Principal Norm Morrow.
As tensions continued during the succeeding weeks, the president of the school’s Black Student Union said that she, like some other black students, was thinking of transferring because she was afraid of being “jumped.” The Nation of Islam offered to escort outnumbered black students to school to protect them from Hispanics. Fifteen-year-old Stephanie Alonzo, who saw a friend knocked down and kicked during one of the brawls, said she thought the solution was to keep blacks and Hispanics apart whenever they were not in class.
Hispanic students started wearing brown T-shirts as a sign of racial solidarity. “It was saying that we’re here and that we have pride in each other and we’re not going to let nobody talk stuff about us,” explained 14-year-old Daniel Rios. Blacks started wearing black T-shirts in retaliation.
|“I felt good defending my race. I was hitting anybody I could get my hands on.”|
During the two months that followed, there were at least two more large-scale melees despite the stepped-up police presence. There were many small skirmishes, and a number of organized attacks in which a group from one race cornered and beat a student of another race. Twenty-five students were arrested, three had to be hospitalized, and dozens were suspended or transferred. An anonymous Hispanic student wrote about the fighting in the independent publication LA Youth. He said he had decided to “stand up for my family, my Mexican ancestors, and the people who worked hard so I could be here — my heritage that I’m really proud of.” “I felt good defending my race,” he added. “I was hitting anybody I could get my hands on …”
Ron Rubine, a counselor at Carver Middle School in South Los Angeles, which has had considerable black-Hispanic conflict of its own, as much as conceded that racial tension was intractable. It was all very well for outsiders to call the students at Jefferson “savages,” he said, but noted that “we all have onus in this thing,” adding: “Is it really that different with adults? If there was a fight among the staff, we’d align ourselves with the people we hang around with … We have our public face, but look at what we do in private.” If the chips were down the staff, too, would square off along racial lines.
Jefferson High School got a new Hispanic principal from East Los Angeles, and regular visits from human relations experts, ex-convicts, former gang members, and Justice Department officials, but racial tensions continued.
Jefferson was hardly the only Los Angeles School with racial tension in 2005. That spring, a rumor went around the district that Hispanic gang members were going to celebrate the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo by killing blacks. School administrators put on extra police patrols, and principals sent home letters saying the rumors were groundless. Some schools mounted mass telephone campaigns to tell parents it was safe to send children to school. Despite these efforts, 51,000 middle and high school students — 18 percent of total enrollment — stayed home. At Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, about 1,700 of 2,800 failed to appear — an absence rate five times greater than usual. “I’m devastated that a rumor can cause such fear,” said Randy Cornfield, assistant principal at Hamilton High School.
Channa Cook, a black teacher at the highly regarded Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, explained that even there, black students routinely skipped school on Cinco de Mayo for fear of violence. As she reported: “My first year here, I didn’t believe it, but the students told me, ‘No, Miss Cook, if you come to school you’re going to get shot.’ When I arrived at class, all the black kids had stayed home.”
State funding for Los Angeles schools depends on daily attendance figures, and the thousands of absences that day were estimated to have cost the district $600,000.
The next year saw more violence. On March 21, 2006, five fights broke out between black and Hispanic students at Fremont High School in Los Angeles. Others joined in and eventually 100 students were rioting. Police locked down the school and dismissed students in small groups to keep them from mixing and fighting again. The school hired extra security officers.
In neighboring San Bernardino County, police arrested five students and 80 more were suspended after a black/Hispanic brawl at Pacific High School. The October 13 fight involved 80 to 100 students, and was the third time in three weeks that dozens of students had fought each other. There were eight campus security men present, but they were unable to break up the riot. and police finally had to use pepper balls to separate blacks and Hispanics. The riot was a replay of the previous year’s racial violence that greeted the start of the school year.
On the same day in the same county, an estimated 500 blacks and Hispanics pitched into each other with bottles, rocks, and fists at Fontana High School. It took more than 100 officers, including the Fontana SWAT team, more than an hour and a half to restore order. Helicopters circled overhead as officers fired bean-bag rounds, sting balls, and hundreds of rubber pellets. Girls were fighting alongside boys. Officers arrested six students and charged two with assault with a deadly weapon.
“It all started with blacks versus Mexicans, as always,” explained sophomore Abigail Orozco. Sixteen-year-old Samantha Dorgey said there were fights about once a week, but this one just got out of hand. Police locked down Fontana as well as nearby Citrus Elementary and Truman Middle School to keep the violence from spreading. Journalists noted that within the previous four years police had had to quell racial violence at A.B. Miller High School, Redlands High School, Bloomington High School, Wilmer Amina Carter High School, and Silverado High School, all in San Bernardino County. The Fontana school district later installed an anonymous tip line, hired an intervention specialist, and started making students wear identification badges.
Early the next year, 2007, police had to fire pepper balls to break up a black-Hispanic riot that broke out at San Bernardino High School during a pep rally. Hispanics were 70 percent of the student body, and some black students resented being outnumbered. “This racial stuff has got to stop,” said Tami Manning, as she walked out of school with her daughter, who had been suspended for fighting a Hispanic girl. Darnic Comer said that the high school had become so dangerous for blacks that he would pull out his 10th-grade son. “This is why I took him out of Pacific [High School], too,” he added.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, police arrested a 16-year-old black student for stabbing to death a 17-year-old Hispanic student at Washington Preparatory High School. Other students said it was the culmination of persistent racial tension.
In 2008 it was Locke High School’s turn when as many as 600 black and Hispanics fought each other in a campus-wide brawl. There were only two officers on duty when the fighting started, but campus security brought in 60 more officers and the Los Angeles police sent a dozen patrol cars and 50 men. It took a half hour for the officers, many in riot gear, to stop the riot and lock down the school. The South Los Angeles campus had an enrollment of 2,600 that was 65 percent Hispanic and 35 percent black. One black student explained that the races do not mix at Locke — “Everybody usually just sticks to themselves” — and that violence on such a scale was unusual.
Locke High School has a long history of racial violence. In February 1996, 50 police officers had to be called in to break up a lunch-time riot involving hundreds of blacks and Hispanics. Boys and girls beat each other, and one boy jumped out of a second-story window to escape pursuers. After order was finally restored and school dismissed, police in riot gear had to keep students from rejoining battle in the streets. Tensions were particularly high because Hispanics resented the February celebrations of black history month.
|Things are no longer …|
The Los Angeles area may be the worst for black-Hispanic violence in schools, but the rest of the state is not immune. The Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento has conducted repeated meetings of something called the Task Force on Expectations for Student Unity to try to stop violence. Marjorie Beazer, a black mother with three students in the district, said that race was so close to the surface “it’s like breathing, almost.”
Some people are caught up in black-Hispanic violence by mistake. “I’m actually Kuwaiti,” explained Yuseff Esmail, who says a black mistook him for a Hispanic during a brawl at Silverado High School in Victorville. “Somebody I never met decided to punch me in the eye because of my skin color.” The attack left him with 20/60 vision in his right eye and a constant fear of blacks. His father, Jacob Esmail, was angry. “I came here to the San Fernando Valley looking for safety and now I have to leave because it’s dangerous for my kids,” he said. He said he would sell his house and move away, and was thinking of suing the school for not protecting his son.
Such suits have been successful. In 2005, the parents of four black students sued Valencia High School in the Santa Clarita Valley in northern Los Angeles County, saying it had not done enough to protect their children from attack. They received a $300,000 settlement.
Black-Hispanic school violence is concentrated in California because it is the state with the largest number of Hispanics, but other states also suffer. Patterson, New Jersey, is a city of about 149,000 that was half Hispanic and one-third black in 2001. Students at John F. Kennedy High School reflected this ethnic mix, and administrators tried to curb racial violence by implementing “conflict resolution” and “peer counseling” programs. On June 20, police had to break up a fight between young blacks and Hispanics near the school. Shortly afterwards, blacks went swarming through the streets and beat to death a 42-year-old homeless Hispanic man. Police arrested eleven blacks, ages 15 through 17.
|… quite what they used to be.|
On Nov. 12, 2007, at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, New Jersey, a fight that began between rival black and Hispanic gangs spread to 150 students. Seventy-five police officers in riot gear from five towns helped put down the violence. At the height of the melee, students were throwing tables and chairs and had pinned several officers to the ground. After officers finally gained control they locked down the school for an hour as they rounded up trouble-makers. Lakewood High School was 43 percent Hispanic, 36 percent black, and 19 percent white.
In Chicago in 2005, police made seven arrests after they broke up a brawl between black and Hispanic students at Washington High School. The teachers’ union reported that many teachers felt unsafe and were pressing the district to increase security. Likewise in Chicago, in 2006, blacks and Hispanics fought at Roberto Clemente High School, where Hispanics outnumber blacks. “They don’t want us here,” explained Stephen Flagg, a black student. “We don’t want to be here,” he added. “Everybody is different, and that’s why everybody is fighting.”
In late 2008, Hempstead High School on Long Island was wracked by two days of especially severe black-Hispanic fighting. The school suspended dozens of students, canceled the homecoming pep rally, and finally stopped the violence by blanketing the school with uniformed police and undercover officers. “They be groupin’ up, and I just had to defend my people and that’s what I do,” explained one of the combatants.
No state with substantial numbers of blacks and Hispanics is safe from violence. Five detectives and ten police officers set up a command post at Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin, after fighting broke out between blacks and Hispanics in October 2008. Officers followed school buses home to make sure the fighting would not continue after dismissal. A Hispanic girl who was beaten unconscious in one melee said the trouble started when a group of blacks called Hispanics “wetbacks.”
The consequences of racial tension can be heart-rending. In 1997, classes from two Chicago middle schools happened to book cruises on the same ship on the same day to celebrate eighth-grade graduation. The principal of Logandale Middle school, which is largely Hispanic, refused to let the students from Brown Elementary School, which is black, board the ship. The black children were left on the dock in tears as the Spirit of Chicago set sail. The Hispanic principal, Luis Molina, explained that the risk of violence was too great, even if the two schools were on different decks.
There is black-Hispanic tension in Texas. In 2001, Andress High School in El Paso was 55 percent Hispanic, 27 percent white, and 16 percent black. On March 1, a morning fistfight resumed at lunchtime as a full-scale riot involving 400 black and Hispanic students. Police came at 12:20 p.m., but could not control the situation. By 1:00 p.m., 100 officers were on the scene and closed a road to the school as part of their attempt to restore order. A police helicopter circled overhead as officers arrested 11 students. Terrel Tate, a 16-year-old white student who stayed out of the fighting, explained that “they [blacks and Hispanics] hate each other because of their skin.”
In 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona, three eighth-grade black girls from Maxine O. Bush Elementary School were convicted of assault for attacking a Hispanic girl. The parents of the Hispanic, who were convinced the attack was racially motivated, threatened to sue the school district for $25 million, and asked the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for help. LULAC demanded that the principal be fired for failing to protect Hispanics, and threatened a boycott if he were not removed.
Tension did not break into violence at Palo Verde High Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona, but there was so much simmering hostility that a half-dozen police cars were assigned to the area, and Principal Tina Isaac canceled a homecoming pep rally. “We know we have a lot of work to do in mending the relationships between these kids,” she said, “and that won’t happen overnight.”
Grown-ups can be drawn into the violence. On April 1, 2005, Mary Oliver, a Hispanic-Asian teacher at Travis Academy in Dallas, Texas, had to put down a disturbance outside her classroom. She told two black girls to get back to class, and then told a white girl to do the same, though the blacks may not have heard. One black girl called her mother, Paulette Baines, who was a teacher at North Dallas High School. Miss Baines left North Dallas High, marched into Miss Oliver’s class and attacked her right in front of her seventh-grade students. She dragged her across the floor, pulling out clumps of hair, and kicked her, breaking several ribs. She was reported to be incensed at what she considered unfair treatment of blacks at Travis Academy.
Blacks in Los Angeles do not see the arrival of Hispanics as an opportunity to celebrate diversity. They see it as a threat. By 1999, there were 26 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District in which Hispanics were the majority of the students but blacks were the majority of the staff. Hispanic parents demanded more Hispanic staff but blacks would not step down. As Celes King III, president of the Congress for Racial Equality, who once lead a demonstration against a white principal at Manual Arts High School, noted with no apparent sense of irony: “The situation has gone full circle. The Hispanics are using the same thoughts and practices we used 30 years ago. … We need to organize and maintain our positions in education because we worked so hard for them.”
Black-Hispanic conflict in the schools has almost been institutionalized. In 2007, one advisory council to the Los Angeles Unified School District that had black and Hispanic representation fought for months over whether to hold its meetings in Spanish or English. Hispanics stormed out of one meeting when the blacks voted to censure the Hispanic chairman. In desperation, the district brought in dispute-resolution experts and mental health counselors. One wonders what service such an “advisory” council can render the district.
Hispanics seem to take proportional representation by race for granted. In 1999, Burton Elementary School in Panorama, California, was 90 percent Hispanic, and parents sharply criticized its white principal, Norman Bernstein, when he tried to phase out bilingual education in accordance with the provisions of a 1998 ballot initiative. The parents’ hostility was so pointedly ethnic that Mr. Bernstein sought advice from the Anti-Defamation League. Not long afterwards, he said, two Hispanic men waylaid him on his way to work. “We don’t want you here, white principal,” they said and then beat him unconscious. The Los Angeles school board president condemned the beating but noted that Hispanic parents often ask for Hispanic principals at their schools adding, “I don’t think this is an unreasonable request.”
“The Dangers of Diversity” will continue in the following issue.
Next Step: Sainthood
Mania builds for Obama.
Every organ of cultural influence — the media, Hollywood, the music industry, churches, academia — is giddy over Barack Obama, whom they have made into a combination of Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, Elvis, and even a touch of Jesus Christ. Mr. Obama is the nation’s first super-star president, and his ascendancy has all the hallmarks of celebrity: cult-like followers, fawning media, and expert “brand management.” The adulation was bad enough when Mr. Obama won the election; it reached a climax on Inauguration Day.
|The “Obama action figure.”|
The entertainment industry flocked to Washington for the swearing-in. Musicians who would never let a Republican even play their music, much less perform for one, fought over slots in a free concert on the National Mall on Sunday, two days before the great event. Among the performers were Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Beyonce, Bon Jovi and Garth Brooks. Between sets, the audience heard “inspirational” readings by celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jack Black, and Tiger Woods.
Yet more celebrities had front row seats at the inauguration and gushed about the experience. Actress Susan Sarandon on Mr. Obama: “He is a community organizer like Jesus was. And now, we’re a community and he can organize us.” Actor Alan Cumming: “He’s like Gandhi or something. He’s got that powerful, soulful thing in him.” Actress Anne Hathaway: “I was there at the Mall. [It was] the feeling of millions of people all there sending positive energy and having hope together.” Actress Ellen Burstyn: “It’s the end of a shameful history of our relationship to African-Americans.” Black actress Alfre Woodard: “I think we might finally grow up as a nation.” Black PBS commentator John Ridley: “Obama is the more perfect union. He is a house united. … [J]ust by virtue of his being, Obama is America, and the first true American to lead our nation.” Black poet Maya Angelou, who recited doggerel at William Clinton’s inauguration: “We needed him. And out of that great need Barack Obama came.”
The White House did nothing to discourage any of this. On Inauguration Day, its home page ran a huge portrait of Mr. Obama, with the banner headline: “CHANGE HAS COME to AMERICA.”
The Washington, DC public schools announced well in advance that they would declare a holiday on Inauguration Day. The district hardly had a choice: Huge numbers of black teachers and students would have skipped school anyway. Not to be lacking in piety, schools in suburban Maryland and Virginia also closed to let students experience the event. Needless to say, there were no school closings for George Bush’s inauguration.
The University of Virginia managed to stay open but suspended classes for three hours during the ceremony and set up big-screen televisions in the basketball arena. Provost Arthur Garson, Jr. explained that it was to let students “participate in this exercise in democracy.” When it was pointed out that the university had never suspended classes for an “exercise in democracy” before, campus PR flack Carol Wood explained that there had been great interest in the election among young people and that “students told us they wanted to hear live — with their friends — what President-elect Obama would have to say in his inaugural address.”
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress announced an unprecedented project of collecting videos and recordings of sermons preached during inauguration week. The center is a public collection that includes interviews after such national turning points as the Pearl Harbor and September 11 attacks. The head of the Folklife Center explained that “if a historian asks ‘How did Americans react to Obama’s inauguration?’ we’ll have immediate responses to this powerful event.” Bishop Gregory Palmer was to preach at Foundry United Methodist Church, which President Clinton and his family attended. “It’s a moment of great adulation, joy and accomplishment for all persons in this nation, whether they voted for the president-elect or not,” he said.
Perhaps the most astonishing bit of adulation took place on January 6. Even before Mr. Obama had served a single day in the Oval Office, liberal New York Congressman Jose Serrano introduced a bill to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which limits the president to two terms.
The inauguration was distinguished by some things that did not happen. For 38 years, the city of Alexandria, just across the Potomac from Washington, has let the United Daughters of the Confederacy fly Confederate flags on January 19 in celebration of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. This year, city manager James Hartmann explained that Alexandria was too busy with “inaugural traffic and crowd control, access and security issues,” and would permit no Confederate flag-flying. The real reason, of course, was that pro-Obama sentiment had to be allowed to sweep all before it.
The Obama “brand” is now so strong that businesses have tied themselves to it. Corporations usually steer clear of appearing to favor a party or candidate for fear of losing customers whose politics differ, but businessmen are in full swoon, just like celebrities and academics. Given their liberal customer base, hippie Vermont ice cream makers Ben and Jerry probably lost no sales because of their Obama-themed offering, “Yes, Pecan.” The same is true for yuppie-oriented Ikea with its “Embrace Change” campaign, upscale soft-drink company Jones Soda and its “Orange You Glad for Change Cola,” and coffee giant Starbuck’s offer of free lattes to people who volunteered for Mr. Obama’s community service program. But Southwest Airlines may loose customers who don’t appreciate its “Yes you can” promotion, and donut maker Krispi Kreme could make enemies with its free inaugural donut giveaway. Pepsi has changed its logo to resemble the “O” logo from the Obama campaign, and is trying to piggyback on Obama mania with its “Refresh Our Nation” campaign. Its pre-inaugural ads called Mr. Obama “the man who is about to refresh our nation,” and like Southwest Airlines, it also is pushing a “Yes you can” theme.
|One superhero greets another.|
Madison Avenue is scrambling to find black models who look like First Daughters Sasha and Malia, and the maker of Beanie Baby toys is selling Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia dolls. The Obama Victory Plate went on sale shortly after the election. For $19.99, you could “own a piece of history” — a dinner plate with a color portrait of “our first African American commander in chief” that fully captured his “confident smile and kind eyes.” Something called the National Collector’s Mint was hawking the Official Obama Lincoln Coin for $19.95 (Lincoln on one side, Mr. Obama on the other). Clad in 71 mg of .999 fine silver, this “non-circulation Liberian legal tender” comes complete with serial numbered certificate of authenticity. Says one happy purchaser, “Barack has opened my eyes and made me believe that anything is possible. It’s a feeling I want to hold on to and the Obama coin is perfect.”
|We drink to Obama.|
There are Obama coffee mugs, ties, and T-shirts, Obama silk jackets and earrings, a commemorative Obama mantelpiece clock, and even a Napa Valley 2005 Merlot bottled as Obama Limited Special Reserve. Budweiser advertized its new American Ale as “Inuagur ale,” and the new president even has his own “action figure,” courtesy of the unfortunately named Jailbreak Toys.
Mr. Obama has risen to new heights as the guest star in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man Number 583, in which an evil villain tries to disrupt the inauguration. Spider-Man foils the plot and earns a “fist bump” from the grateful president. The first edition of the comic sold out within hours, and the company quickly ran through two more printings of what it expects to be the best-selling comic in decades. Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada, insists he would have produced a presidential comic book for a John McCain victory, if the Republican had been a Spider-Man fan like Mr. Obama.
Obama-huckstering has grown so intense that government lawyers are trying to contain it. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki says they want to “protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president.”
Viral marketing is a new advertising technique that broadcasts videos, images, and messages on Internet social networking sites. David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, used viral marketing very effectively during the campaign, and appears to have plans to use it to whoop the new administration. Shortly after the inauguration, a video began circulating of Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Cameron Diaz, and others pledging their devotion to the new president. Their puppy-dog adoration is eerie and cultish, and would be called “Nazi” if a Republican had inspired it.
All this prostration before the altar of Obama cries out for ridicule, but gag writers and comedians insist there isn’t anything funny about the man. He’s too cool and too wonderful to parody. In fact, the media are parodying themselves.
|The Obama logo that inspired Pepsi.|
In the Washington, DC radio market, there is one 24-hour FM news station, WTOP. After the election, it declared itself the “Inauguration Station” and breathlessly counted down the days to January 20. Almost every day it aired fawning interviews with officials from the inaugural committee and incoming administration. After the inauguration, WTOP started a new series, The First Hundred Days, which is a daily recap of what The Great Man did for us today. It sounds like Radio Pyongyang worshipping Kim Jong-il, whose birth is said to have been marked by the appearance of a new star.
Cable station MSNBC now acts like the broadcast arm of the Obama administration. One of its hosts, Chris Matthews, said he felt a “thrill going up” his leg after an Obama speech, and MSNBC joined Starbuck’s to broadcast inauguration coverage at 650 coffee shops. MSNBC also piped its feed to movie theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Washington, and 14 other major cities. NBC anchor Brian Williams told late-night talk-show host David Letterman that Mr. Obama was the first positive presidential choice “after a line of what the ordinary voter would maybe describe as bad choices or choices of evils, for years, generations.”
In March, both ABC and NBC will release special-edition collectors’ DVDs of their inauguration broadcasts. CBS will give away 50 camcorders — to a person in each state — so he can record how President Obama’s first 100 days are transforming his community. Clips from the videos will air on the CBS Evening News. CNN is hawking inauguration T-shirts it calls “some of the most historic shirts money can buy.” One reads: “Obama raises hand, lifts a nation.”
The New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers are selling commemorative copies of inauguration issues. Time and Newsweek also put out inauguration editions stuffed with puff and flattering photos. A sample sentiment from Newsweek: “Obama’s win has set the stage for a newly defined American masculinity — one based on reason and sanity.”
Writing in Vanity Fair, former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers crowned Barack Obama the “most famous living person in the history of the world.” She is probably right. Even before taking office, he had schools and streets named after him, and soon a mountain in the Caribbean island of Antigua will bear his name. This unprecedented idolatry is wholly out of place for a republic founded on laws, not men — and especially not celebrities.
The Impending Betrayal of Europe
Why Turkey must not join the European Union
Philip Claeys and Koen Dillen, A Bridge Too Far: Turkey in the European Union, Egmont Publishing, 2008, 222 pp., $15.95, (softcover).
In a sane world, certain books would not have to be written, and A Bridge Too Far is one of them. A joint effort by two Vlaams Belang members of the European Parliament (see “European Nationalism on the March, AR, July 2008), it patiently explains why it would be folly to admit Turkey as a member of the European Union. In a merely semi-sane world no one would have to explain why that is a bad idea, and in a genuinely sane world no one would even think of it. And yet, on October 6, 2004, the European Commission announced the beginning of official negotiations on admission, and many Europeans believe the process has now gone too far to be turned back. This book leaves no doubt that the process must be turned back.
As the authors point out, the most obvious reason Turkey should not join the EU is that it is not a European country. Only 4 percent of its territory, the area around the former Constantinople, is on the European side of the Dardanelles. That area became Turkish only because the Turks conquered it in 1453 and expelled, murdered, or forcibly converted the Greeks who lived there.
The authors also explain that the treaties that govern the European Union are explicit: only European nations may join. Morocco’s application was turned down for that reason. If Turkey were admitted, “Europe” would border on Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and there would be no reason not to admit Nigeria or Pakistan. The former prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, once tried to argue that Turkey is a European nation because it ruled the Balkans for 300 years. Never mind that it was an oppressive rule; by that standard France and Britain could be considered American and African countries.
Even if Turkey were fully within the geographical bounds of Europe, it could not be considered European because 99.8 percent of the population is Muslim. Although the modern nation of Turkey was founded by Kemel Ataturk in 1923 as a secular state, secularism has never taken root. Turkey is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was founded “to promote solidarity among all Islamic member states,” and the current secretary general of the conference is a Turk. In 2004 the organization repudiated the European Union’s condemnation of stoning as a punishment. In Turkey itself, religious minorities are not legal entities so cannot even own property. Fanatics occasionally hunt down and kill Christians, and the authorities are slow to pursue them.
|In sane world, certain books would not have to be written. This is one of them.|
During the 2006 controversy about the Danish Mohammed cartoons, the Turkish envoy to Denmark was one of a group of Islamic ambassadors who insisted that the Danish prime minister condemn the cartoons. Demonstrations in Turkish cities against the cartoons attracted tens of thousands of people, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said, “We cannot tolerate such an immoral assault on our prophet.” That same year he also told the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that incitement of hatred of Islam should be a crime in Europe.
Mr. Erdogan, who is still prime minister, has been tireless in his efforts to bring Islam back into public life. The veil had essentially disappeared in Turkey, but in his first public appearance after he was elected in 2002, he appeared with his wife and daughters — all of whom wore veils. His wife once refused, on religious grounds, to shake hands with the Italian prime minister. Mr. Erdogan himself has said that if a Turk is forced, by circumstances, to shake hands with a Western woman he must immediately ask Allah for forgiveness.
|Turks demonstrating in Germany.|
Since the 1920s, it has been against the law for women to wear headscarves in public buildings or universities, but Mr. Erdogan has led a mass movement to change the law. This is an immensely symbolic issue in Turkey, and he has not yet managed to get his way, so he sent his daughters to college in the United States, where they could attend classes with their heads covered. He has also tried to ban the public sale of alcohol and to separate men and women in public transportation.
Islam is clearly making a comeback in Turkey. Thirty-nine percent of married Turkish women say it is proper for men to beat their wives. The law forbids anyone under the age of 18 to have sexual intercourse, and although prosecutions are rare, the authorities have the right to conduct “virginity tests” on women to determine guilt. There are about 100 “honor killings” every year, in which men murder a family member because she has strayed from Islamic standards of purity. The authors of this book conclude that it is not possible to rule out an Iranian-style reestablishment of an Islamic state.
The European Union requires that its member nations be democracies, but Turkey’s politics are essentially Third World. It is still common to jail political opponents and to shut down newspapers that criticize the regime. There are laws against “denigrating Turkishness,” “insulting the president,” or “insulting Ataturk’s memory,” which are very useful tools for stifling dissent. It is taboo to write about the Kurdish independence movement or to criticize the official view that Turkey never committed genocide against Armenians, and the authorities frequently try to block Internet sites. There are hundreds of cases of political torture every year, and police routinely torture common criminals to get confessions. Even though the US promotes EU membership for Turkey, every year it issues a stinging report on Turkish human rights violations.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Turkish government waged war against the PKK, the Kurdish independence movement. The army destroyed hundreds of Kurdish villages, and there are still an estimated one to three million displaced Kurds. Kurdish activists can be arrested for speaking Kurdish or for distributing materials in Kurdish. Over the years, successive Turkish governments have essentially hounded all Greeks out of the country.
|Two of the Danish cartoons.|
Entirely aside from these deep cultural incompatibilities, it would be impossible to integrate Turkey into the EU. Its per capita GNP is only one fifth that of Europe, and 27 percent of the population still works in agriculture. Turkey’s primitive, small-sale farmers could not possibly fit into the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. There are EU structural funds that are supposed to help depressed parts of the union, but all of Turkey qualifies for help. The EU would either have to change its system or face crushing transfer payments.
Bureaucrats interfere at all levels of the Turkish economy, which is dominated by crony capitalism and abuse of power. As much as 40 percent of GNP may be outside the formal economy and therefore untaxed. Foreigners hesitate to invest because the commercial code is enforced haphazardly. Ten percent of grade-school-aged children are not in school, and Turkish students perform badly on international standardized tests.
If Turkey joined the EU it would soon have the largest population of any member state and thus the most representation in European institutions. Its citizens would demand proportional representation in all the European bureaucracies, and Turkey could logically demand that Turkish be made one of the official languages of Europe. Overnight, the Muslim population of the union would go from 5 to 15 percent.
The authors of this book note with alarm that Turkish membership would mean Turks could legally live anywhere in the European Union. Turkey has high unemployment and minimal social security programs, so Turks would swarm into Europe. Many would do so for nationalistic as well as economic reasons. As the Turkish-German Euro-MP Vural Oger has said, “What Suleyman started with the siege of Vienna in 1683 we will finish with out inhabitants, with our powerful men and women.” The already disaffected Turkish population of Germany would become even more isolated and chauvinistic, and similar enclaves would spring up in other countries. In 2008, when Prime Minister Erdogan visited Germany, he addressed a rally of 20,000 Turks from all over Europe. He was met with wild applause when he exhorted them to remain Turks through and through, saying that assimilation would be a “crime against humanity.”
Although one could argue that what the Turks say about their own history is their business, Europe has made it a semi-official requirement of membership that Turkey recognize and atone for the Armenian massacres of 1915 to 1917. A Bridge Too Far gives a good, brief account of how the Turkish government deported some 1.5 to 2.1 million Armenians to the East, where most died. The Armenians were objects of scorn because they were Christians, and the Turks accused them of collaborating with the Russians during the First World War. The Turks say they were merely relocating a hostile population during wartime, but they killed people hundreds of miles from the front and confiscated their belongings. The Turkish education system trivializes what was done to the Armenians, and the government has built a monument to Mehmet Talaat, the interior minister who organized the massacres.
|Prime Minister Erdogan.|
In 2001, when the French parliament officially recognized that what was done to the Armenians was genocide, the Turks reacted with fury, withdrawing their ambassador from Paris and canceling trade agreements. There were demonstrations outside the French embassy and consulates, and a major newspaper published French president Jacques Chirac’s personal e-mail address and urged readers to flood it with hate-mail.
If Europe were serious about its own rules, there is another reason categorically to reject Turkish membership: Turkey does not trade with or even recognize a current member state and has a part of that country under military occupation. That country is Cyprus. This book explains the background of the 1974 invasion of Cyprus, in which the Turks occupied the northern part of the island and proclaimed the independent government of North Cyprus. Only Turkey recognizes North Cyprus.
Who favors Turkish membership in the EU? Not surprisingly, the United States is a big fan, and not merely for the usual multi-culti reasons. The US government first expressed support for membership in 2002 when it wanted Turkish permission to invade Iraq from the north. Promoting membership did no good; the Turks were loyal to the faith and would not let infidels invade a fellow Muslim nation. Americans have gotten nothing in return for pandering. The percentage of Turks who call themselves favorable to the US has fallen from 52 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2006.
Within Europe, the most vocal proponents of Turkish membership are leftist political parties. The struggle for race/immigrant rights long ago replaced the class struggle, and European Turks who have the vote support the Left as consistently as blacks and Hispanics support it in the United States. Also, as they do everywhere, employers want cheap labor, and the media parade their ideological virtue by supporting membership.
The Turks themselves are demanding membership in an increasingly arrogant way. The head of the Turkish community in Germany, for example, has said that refusal would be “a kind of declaration of war against Turkey and the Turks living in Germany.” Turks have discovered that their most effective weapon is to accuse Europe of “racism,” and soft-headed European lefties have joyfully taken up the refrain. British Labour Euro-MPs have said it would be “institutional racism” if Turkey were not let in. Jacques Attali, a prominent advisor to socialist French president Francois Mitterand, unwittingly revealed the foolishness of his country’s past immigration policies when he explained why Turkey must be made a member: “If France and Europe decide to confirm themselves as a Christian club, they had best prepare themselves for a confrontation with a billion [Islamic] people, a real war of civilizations. But on top of this, France would also be confronted with a genuine civil war. Because of its earlier geopolitical choices, France is an Islamic nation: Islam is the religion of more than two million French citizens and of a third of the immigrants on its territory.”
|Turks invade Cyprus.|
The authors of this book point out that what was then the European Economic Community concluded a treaty “of association” with Turkey in 1963, which removed trade barriers and raised the possibility of eventual membership. At that time, Europe was not nearly as integrated as it is now, and membership would not have meant an onslaught of handout-hungry immigrants. Another former French president, Jacques Chirac, suspects that in those early days, Euro-bureaucrats assumed there was no real chance of membership, and jollied the Turks along with the expectation that a firm “no” could always come later. Now, the process of “accession,” as it is called, has progressed to the point where rejection will have to be very pointed. As A Bridge Too Far notes, formal accession negotiations have never failed to result in membership, and a firm rejection years ago would have been much easier than one now.
Not surprisingly, the staunchest opponents of Turkish membership are ordinary Europeans. There is not one EU country in which the majority of the people favor membership, and the numbers opposing it continue to grow. So far, decisions on Turkey have been taken by a handful of bureaucrats who, in the grand socialist tradition, claim to know better than the people.
One of the consistent demands of European nationalist parties is that Turkish membership be put to referendum. The pro-membership forces are terrified of this because they know they will lose, and that a single national “no” vote would blackball the Turks. The authors of this book warn, however, that it is entirely possible that not one of the current 27 member states will let its citizens speak, and that Turks will be crammed down their throats by a cabal of politicians. It would be hard to think of a more craven and contemptible betrayal, and no book better explains what is at stake than A Bridge Too Far.
This book is available from Amazon.com.
IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
Another Amy Biehl
Kirsten Brydum, 25, was a leftwing political activist from San Francisco. She rejected capitalism and hoped to replace it with something she called “collective autonomy,” a utopian, barter-based economy. Miss Brydum spent the summer of 2008 traveling the country by rail and bicycle, meeting anarchists, urban hippies, and “anti-racism” activists. She toured “guerrilla gardens” in New York and Philadelphia, and discovered that life was so bleak in Detroit that even lefty community organizers gave up on the city. In August, she was in St. Paul, Minnesota to protest the Republican convention. She eventually went south, and the last entry on her blog read: “Right now I’m rolling into New Orleans. I really don’t know what to expect. An old friend of a new friend offered to pick me up from the station and get me to the house of another friend of a friend. The sun is setting on the bayou-licked lands and I am truly fortunate.”
Miss Brydum took up with a bunch of young white lefties in a “punk-rock group house” in a black neighborhood in the flood-devastated Ninth Ward. They warned her about crime in New Orleans, but she didn’t listen. She spent her second night in the city at a nightclub a few blocks from the group house, and pedaled off on her bicycle at 1:30 a.m. on September 27. The next day, a church group gutting houses discovered her body lying face down on a sidewalk. Police say she had been shot four times in the face in an apparent robbery. They have no suspects. [Steve Rubenstein, S.F. Activist Slain in New Orleans Robbery, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 3, 2008. Richard Fausset, The Last Stop For a Young Utopian, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2009.]
Black rap singer Akon says he doesn’t know how old he is. In 2006, he claimed he was 25, but now says his birth certificate puts him at 31. He says the discrepancy results from his African upbringing. “In Africa … age is not important over there. They don’t care. People only focus on it here (America) and in Europe.” Akon was born in the US but grew up in his parents’ country, Senegal. [Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Akon Claims He Doesn’t Know His True Age, AP, Jan. 21, 2009.]
One of the supposed sins of comic books during their heyday was their failure to portray super heroes or even bit characters as anything but white. No black character appeared in a Superman comic, for example, until 1970, 32 years after the Man of Steel debuted. Until 1971, Superman’s fictional home planet, Krypton, was depicted with only white inhabitants. That year, DC Comics published a Superman issue with a two-page map of Krypton. The only non-whites were on “Vathlo Island, Home of a Highly Advanced Black Race.” Only in the mid-’70s did mixed neighborhoods appear on the planet. DC Comics’ defenders say this wasn’t malice, just a slipup.
Superman Comic Number 683, which went on sale in early January, sets the record straight. In this story, 100,000 Kryptonians follow Superman to Earth, and many are clearly black or Asian. [Matt Brady, Superman’s Planet is Racially Diverse — Finally, NewsaRama, Jan. 7, 2009.] It is not explained how blacks and Asians evolved on Krypton, just as they did on Earth.
Shortly after taking office as Massachusetts’ first black governor in 2007, Deval Patrick raised eyebrows when he spent $12,000 to redecorate his office, and hired a chief of staff for his wife, at a salary of $72,000. What won him a nickname among New England radio hosts, however, was turning in his official car — a pedestrian Ford Crown Victoria — for a flashy Cadillac DTS. Whenever they made fun of Coupe DeVal (after the Coupe DeVille, an earlier model Cadillac), talk radio and the Boston Herald usually described his car as “tricked out.”
Massachusetts First Lady Diane Patrick complained that “tricked out” was racist code for “black.” “It didn’t have boom boxes, speakers on the outside, but they called it tricked-out,” she said. Boston Herald editor Kevin Convey brushed off the charge. “We’re sorry that the first lady feels the way she does, but the term ‘tricked out’ as a synonym for decorated or adorned is over 100 years old and has no racial connotation whatsoever,” he explained. [Brian Maloney, Obamists Continue to Reinvent Racist Terminology, Radio Equalizer, Jan. 7, 2009.]
During the presidential election on November 4, 2008, white voters in Philadelphia reported that they were being intimidated by club-wielding black thugs claiming to be poll monitors for the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Fox News, CNN, and other broadcasters filmed party members swaggering around a polling station dressed in combat boots and fatigues and waving billy clubs. Surprisingly, the US Justice Department has been persuaded to take this seriously. In January, it announced a voter-intimidation lawsuit against the party and three of its members, Minister King Samir Shabazz, Jerry Jackson, and party chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz. The lawsuit alleges a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the department seeks an injunction preventing the Panthers from “any future deployment of, or display of weapons at the entrance to polling locations.” [Justice Department Seeks Injunction Against New Black Panther Party, Department of Justice Press Release, Jan. 7, 2009.]
|New Black Panthers.|
Obama No Better
As the NAACP prepared to celebrate its 100th birthday on February 12, its new chairman, 35-year-old Benjamin Todd Jealous, is complaining that “the president being black gives us no advantage.” He says the organization will put the screws to Barack Obama just as vigorously as it would any other president. This is what he expects from Mr. Obama during his first year in office: a “fair” share for blacks of government bailout money and public sector jobs, easy access to credit for blacks despite the role minority lending played in the subprime debacle; more money for anti-crime programs in black communities, and more money for black schools. Mr. Jealous hopes President Obama’s background as a “community organizer” will make him more sympathetic, but notes, “We will be the people at the end of the day who help make him do what he knows he should do.” [NAACP Chief Outlines New ‘Human Rights’ Focus, AP, Feb. 3, 2009.]
South Carolina was the first Southern state to leave the Union, seceding just four days after Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860. The Orders of Secession are engraved in marble in the statehouse lobby and the Confederate flag still flies on Capitol grounds, though no longer over the statehouse dome. Unlike Mississippi and Alabama, however, South Carolina does not recognize Confederate Memorial Day as an official holiday. That will change if state senator Robert Ford has his way. Sen. Ford, who is black, supported making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday and believes the Confederacy deserves recognition too. “Every municipality and every citizen of South Carolina, should be, well, forced to respect these two days and learn what they can about those two particular parts of our history,” he explains, adding, “I think we can bring our people together.” The bill, which won approval from a Senate subcommittee on February 2, would require that counties and municipalities give employees and students the day off or lose state funds.
Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina branch of the NAACP doesn’t want a new holiday. “Here Senator Ford is talking about the importance of race relations by forcing recognition of people who did everything they could to destroy another race — particularly those that look like I do,” he says. “You can’t make dishonor honorable. It’s impossible.” The next step for the bill is a hearing by the State Senate Judiciary Committee. [Jim Davenport, Bill Would Require Paid Confederate Holiday in SC, AP, Feb. 3, 2009.]
When Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s campaign to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate fell through because of her obvious shortcomings, New York Governor David Patterson turned to one-term upstate congresswoman Kirsten E. Gillibrand. Mrs. Gillibrand represented a largely rural district that, by New York standards, is conservative. Although she is liberal on abortion and homosexual rights, she won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and talked tough on immigration, sanctuary cities, and amnesty.
When news of her appointment got out, amnesty and gun control proponents screeched, and demanded she meet with them. Mrs. Gillibrand, who will need to face elections in both 2010 and 2012 if she wants to stay in the Senate, agreed. The meetings seem to have had the desired effect. On February 1, Mrs. Gillibrand said she no longer favors cutting off federal funds to sanctuary cities like New York, and, oh yes, the term “sanctuary city” shouldn’t even be used. On February 2, she said she no longer favored using local police to enforce federal immigration law. She explains her new views by saying “it’s not so much of changing my view as broadening.” The New York Times refused to believe her, complaining that “the new senator’s views are evolving at a speed sufficient to send Charles Darwin spinning back to his notebooks.” [Michael Powell, Political Lessons Taken on the Fly by Gillibrand, New York Times, Feb. 3, 2009.]
On its official website, Paris, Texas (population 26,000) bills itself as the “best small town in Texas,” but not many of the town’s 5,700 black residents agree. They say Paris is a hotbed of “racism,” and has been ever since whites lynched blacks on the Lamar County fairgrounds 100 years ago. Tensions flared last year, when two whites were charged with murdering a black man by dragging him to death behind a pickup truck.
In January, the US Department of Justice dispatched two “conciliation specialists” to Paris to organize a “dialogue” on race for townspeople. According to one account, it was blacks doing the talking with whites listening, “glaring back with arms crossed.” Brenda Cherry, who is black, explained the problem: “I’m here to talk about racism. I don’t see any sense in playing games, pretending it doesn’t exist.” She continued: “When you go in the schools and see mostly black kids sitting in detention — it’s racism. In court, we get high bonds, we get longer sentences. If that’s not racism, what is it?”
Black pastor Jason Rogers said the town is racist because it has a Confederate memorial. “When I take my 5-year-old son up to the courthouse, and he says, ‘Daddy, what’s that?’ the history I’m going to tell him is that those people fought to keep me a slave. It bothers my family that there’s a large Confederate soldier outside the courthouse. I don’t see the difference between a Confederate soldier and a Nazi soldier.”
One of the whites, Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, had a different view. “I think the black community in this town is suffering a great deal from poverty, broken homes, drugs,” he said. “Because a larger percentage of the black population is caught up in that, in their anguish they are perceiving they are the victims of discrimination. But white people are not the enemy. Poverty, illiteracy, drugs, absentee fathers — that’s the enemy. That’s not racism. That’s the breakdown of a community.”
The Paris meeting ended on a sour note, with people screaming at each other because three police cars showed up outside the meeting hall. Blacks demanded to know who called the police and why. Carmelita Pope Freeman, one of the DOJ’s “conciliation specialists,” tried in vain to restore order, shouting, “We are not going to end on a note like that! I’m getting tired of it!”
The Paris meeting was sponsored by the Justice Department’s little-known Community Relations Service. Modeled on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee, it offers mediation to cities and towns with “troubled racial histories.” It reportedly held a series of meetings in Jena, Louisiana after the phony “Jena 6” incident. [Howard Witt, Paris Texas Race Relations Dialogue Turns into Dispute, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 1, 2009.]
Warm Family Ties
|Just wanted to be with his family.|
Ali Majlat is a 35-year-old Romanian Gypsy and career criminal. Because Romania is a member of the European Union, Mr. Majlat was free to travel to Britain after he served time in Romania for theft and attempted robbery. Old habits die hard, and he was arrested for burglary and sentenced to six weeks in jail last September. Britain could not deport him because EU regulations permit removal only if a criminal is “highly likely” to commit other crimes, and poses a “sufficiently serious threat.” Mr. Majlat was not considered a high enough risk to justify the paperwork.
Ali Majlat happened to have a brother who had also fallen foul of British justice, and was serving time in Wakefield prison for rape and attempted murder. On October 12, shortly after Ali had finished his six weeks, he tried to visit his brother in Wakefield but was turned away became his papers were not filled out right. He then went to a railroad station where he punched, kicked, robbed, and raped a 21-year-old Englishwoman. When police tracked her cell phone and caught him five days later, he cheerfully confessed, explaining that “when I was at the railway station I thought I should rape this lady in order to get a place to eat and sleep and learn the English language.”
“All he seems concerned about is being in the same jail as his brother,” said an astonished officer. “When he was told that he would be deported after his sentence [this time], he seemed horrified.” [Arthur Martin and Chris Brooke, Romanian Immigrant Raped Girl So He Could Get English Lessons in Same Prison as His Brother, Daily Mail (London), Jan. 21, 2009.]
In early January, the US embassy in Brussels invited all members of the Belgian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration at the embassy. Among those invited were Senators Karim Van Overmeire and Freddy Van Gaever, both members of the Flemish nationalist party, the Vlaams Belang (VB). On the morning of the 20th, a secretary from the embassy phoned both men, saying that their invitations were “a mistake,” and politely asked them not to come. Sen. Van Gaever, whose daughter lives in the US and whose grandchildren are American citizens, showed up anyway. “Everything went fine,” he says, “but it was not nice of the Embassy to ask us not to come.”
Why did the embassy yank the invitations of the VB members, while allowing senators from the fervently anti-American Green Party to attend? Some believe the Belgian government asked that the invitations be withdrawn because the VB supports independence for Flanders and the dissolution of the Belgian state. Others, such as retired American diplomat Vincent Chiarello, think the decision was made in Washington. “Never in my tours of service have I ever heard of any political party’s representative … being ‘disinvited’ after a formal embassy invitation had been proffered; it flies in the face of diplomatic protocol and good judgment,” he writes. “The decision to ban the members of Vlaams Belang from the inaugural viewing had to have come from Washington. No ambassador — at least no perceptive one — wishes to burn his bridges to the legislative body of the nation to which he is accredited.” [Alexandra Colen, Not Welcome at the US Embassy, Brussels Journal, Jan. 26, 2009.]
LETTERS FROM READERS
Sir — In 1993 (“Light on the Dark Continent,” AR, Sept./Oct. 1993) you reviewed Racism, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Self-Deceit, the book by Gedhalia Braun, who wrote your February cover story. I read his book at that time but at first found his claims unbelievable. It seemed impossible that any race could be so — how should I put it — different. I have long known that blacks were, on average, less intelligent than whites, but thought they were otherwise essentially like us. However, over the years I have read news stories about Africa and about American blacks with Mr. Braun’s observations in mind, and have concluded that he is right: Africans do not see the world as we do. Why did I resist this conclusion? Clearly, despite my pretensions to clear-sightedness, I was influenced by egalitarian propaganda.
Our ancestors did not have to fight their way to the truth as we do. They encountered Africans without preconceptions and described them as they found them. Whites once knew and took for granted what Mr. Braun has so painstakingly learned and described. We have forgotten in our haste to make reality conform to ideology.
Sarah Wentworth, Richmond, Va.
Sir — Professor Steven Farron’s January letter about non-white abortion was most insightful, and his arguments suggest that at least a few good things will come out of the Obama administration. First, the US may get rid of the Hyde Act, which will allow more non-whites in the US to get abortions (albeit at taxpayer’s expense). Mr. Obama has already removed the foreign aid restrictions that made it impossible to provide abortion funding for poor countries. This is a very good form of foreign aid.
I understand that as a Catholic, my position puts me in conflict with my church and with Beltway conservatism. However, I feel more strongly about the survival of whites than I do about either the doctrines of Catholicism or “conservatism.”
Sir — As a former and disaffected employee of a high-profile abortion clinic in Boston during the 1990s, it was with the greatest interest that I read the letter from Professor Steven Farron in the January issue. Prof. Farron correctly observes that abortion has a relatively greater impact on blacks than on whites. However, there is another aspect to abortion that has a demographic effect that is the reverse of the one Prof. Farron describes. I am referring to adoption of Third-World babies by infertile white American couples who cannot adopt white babies because of the high number of white abortions.
What is the overall effect of limiting the availability of abortions? By making more white babies available for adoption does it decrease the number of Third-World adoptions by as much as it increases the number of non-white births? I do not have the figures, but as far as its impact on whites is concerned, easier abortions could be like chemotherapy for cancer: a remedy that hurts nearly as much as it helps.
R. J. Scone, Quincy, Mass.
Sir — In his review of White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America in the December 2008 issue, Thomas Jackson writes:
“The authors of this book cite a more exhaustive study of colonial indenture that concludes that only one in ten servants ever became ‘decently prosperous,’ and that another one in ten became artisans who could lead an independent life. The other eight in ten either died in service, went back to England, or ended up as white trash, no better than when they left England” (emphasis added).
Mr. Jackson must not have grown up in the South during segregation, as I did, because he does not appear to know the meaning of “white trash.” Without regard to social status, or poverty, or any other criteria, “white trash” means one thing only: a white person who runs with non-whites.
Dax Crockett Stewart, Energy, Texas
Sir — I just finished watching the DVD, “A Conversation About Race,” which was reviewed in your February issue. What a powerful and wonderfully subversive presentation! Very impressive! Copies should be sent to college groups all around the country. Mr. Bodeker clearly has a great deal of talent. I hope he will follow up this first effort with other documentaries on subjects that AR highlights.
Edward Wallace, Charleston, S.C.