|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 17, No. 8||August 2006|
Dispatches from the Go-Slow Zone
When the office reaches the ‘tipping point.’
It’s a safe bet that for many whites, exposure to blacks and Hispanics comes in controlled doses. Their positive attitudes toward “diversity” are shaped by isolated experiences with small handfuls of non-whites, often in majority-white settings. Until some years ago, my own life followed this pattern. I was a “colorblind conservative” and liked Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp. Although I was beginning to lose my illusions, I thought all we needed to fix the race problem were free markets and “better values.”
That was about to change. After law school, I accepted a job with the civil division of a major metropolitan area’s legal office, which defends the city against lawsuits. If you were hit by a police car, for example, and decided to sue, we handled the case. Incoming lawyers were assigned to various locations around the city, and I landed in the least-white part of town — 29 percent and falling.
There were mutterings about past lawyers who had refused this assignment for “safety” reasons, but I thought of it as a gritty, world-expanding adventure. Like a British explorer, I would venture out where others feared. How bad could it be?
The subway ride to the office was one clue. As the train rolled away from the center of the city each morning, I was often the sole remaining white on an otherwise packed car. On more than one occasion, I sat frozen in my seat while a nearby black yelled things like “I’m-a kill-a white motha******!” The outbursts were probably aimed at me, but sometimes I wasn’t sure. Blacks who did not appear to have noticed me would sometimes mutter about killing white people.
One time in the subway, I watched as a full-grown black man wearing little more than a diaper and Nike flip-flops lit a crack pipe, introducing me to the sweetish smell of crack cocaine. The smoke was intense and acrid, and I was not alone in thinking him obviously unhinged and probably dangerous. Even the blacks went scurrying. “Dat fool be smokin’ crack, y’all!” someone yelled.
Another time, at about 8 o’clock in the morning, I watched a Hispanic woman slap her children as she sipped from an aluminum can in a brown paper bag. I was close enough to smell beer, and narrowed my eyes in disapproval. “Who da f*** are you, da police?” she shouted. I’m not sure it would have made any difference if I had been.
The walk from the station to the office could be just as harrowing. Chicken bones, the occasional used condom, and even used diapers littered the sidewalks. Sheltered areas stank of urine. Rap music blared from cars stopped at intersections. The rap was sometimes out-blasted by salsa and merengue music from Hispanics, who drove cars with impossibly large sound systems better suited to concert halls. To escape the din and reclaim a corner of civilization, I listened to Bach on my Walkman.
One would think a law office could seal out much of this, but it crept in, like jungle vines enveloping an abandoned building. The “support staff,” as they were called, were overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. Outside my office sat a black Haitian woman who spoke almost no English and would communicate in incomprehensible baby-like cries and moans. She was ostensibly in charge of office supplies, but rarely attended to her job. If you asked about the possibility of new pens, for example, she would say, “Nooooo. You no do dat. I yeah, see. Uh uh. Do dee.” I began buying my own supplies.
The noise was insufferable. Desktop radios in the office would blare syrupy R&B. The sound of sirens and car alarms outside never seemed to stop. Staffers would yell and chase each other like kindergartners on the playground. It was mostly in fun, but it was constant and loud and something I cannot imagine white people doing in an office.
Drinking was a favorite office activity. One support staffer, a black African I’ll call “Zeus,” drenched himself with cologne but could not hide the reek of alcohol. This fellow was legendary for avoiding work and acting bizarrely. Zeus wandered into my office one day with his shirt unbuttoned almost to his waist and smelling particularly vodka-soaked. The conversation began civilly, but as it wore on he became upset that I was, for some undetermined reason, not “respecting” him. He grew agitated and though he was small, I thought he might attack me.
Zeus, who was from someplace in Africa — I can’t remember which country, exactly — sometimes made clicking noises when he talked, reminding me of Africans in National Geographic documentaries who speak with mouth-clicks. He had been warned about “inappropriate” behavior toward women — though I never heard the specifics — and I believe one woman lawyer had asked that Zeus never be allowed in her office.
At the front desk sat a young Hispanic man who dressed in sleeveless T-shirts, sweatpants, and immaculate white athletic shoes. He loudly boasted, as I stood nearby, of “beating those freakin’ white boys” at handball. I wondered what would happen if a white staffer boasted of “beating those freakin’ brown boys.”
Once, as I stood at the copy machine, he approached me from behind and said, “Yo yo, hurry up.” When I turned to look at him he continued, “Yeah, you heard me. Dat’s how it is, yo.” Yes, Hispanics say “yo.” This is common in the crossover world of big-city non-whites, though not all Hispanics talked like blacks — only the ones who were trying to be “gangsta.” This man was probably expressing a kind of pan-minority solidarity: “Yo, I’m brown and I’m down. I know what blacks have to deal with, and I know who the enemy is.” It would not have been a good idea to try to teach him better manners.
People who were, themselves, rude could demand punctilious manners in others. Once, an older black woman punched me in the back after I brushed past her. I’m normally the type who says “Excuse me,” but her reaction came before I could say a word. She obviously saw me as a snobby white man who must be shown his place: “Cain’t you say ‘scuse me?”
One female Hispanic staffer, whom I understood to be Puerto Rican, almost never did any work. “Petunia” was unbearably loud, and would chatter in Spanish all day with other staffers. “Mira! Mira!” (Look!, or Hey!) was her constant cry, and she had alcohol on her breath. There were rumors of daytime hard drug use, and I could believe them.
Dress in the office was aggressively casual. Memos would occasionally go out telling the staff not to wear “do-rags,” but after a short period of reform, they’d be back, along with “African pride” T-shirts. One staffer assigned to the front desk wore Nation of Islam or black nationalist-style get-ups, including combat boots and the distinctive short-brimmed cap. One Hispanic regularly wore tank-top shirts.
As is common in many offices, staffers often called in sick, but this was particularly frequent for blacks and Hispanics. They also cut days short, despite efforts to make sure they didn’t. At the front door there was an electronic palm reader. This sophisticated device could distinguish handprints, and employees had to “hand in” when they came to work and “hand out” when they left. The reader recorded arrival and departure times, just like a punch clock, but with an important difference: It could not be fooled by having someone else punch in for an absent worker.
Employees got around this by skipping out the back door; they could “hand-in” and “hand-out” at the usual times, but be gone for part of the day. The back door had an alarm that was supposed to discourage this illicit coming and going, but the staff kept a rolled-up newspaper wedged in the jam to keep the door from closing all the way. Anyone using this door was supposed to “honor” the system by carefully replacing the door-holder. I did not want to face the considerable wrath of black and Hispanic staff, so I complied.
Other memos from the head of our office were about workplace cleanliness. Staffers liked to bring in breakfast and eat at their desks. This way, as far as the hand-print reader was concerned, breakfast counted as work time. Eating was also protection against work; staffers would ignore you or refuse a request if you approached them during a feeding, no matter how odd a time of day it was. However, after a huge styrofoam-plate meal there would be crumbs everywhere. This encouraged the mice, which were often spotted running about, and occasionally showed up dead under desks. In the morning, I sometimes found mouse droppings on my desk. They looked like bran cereal.
Office files were always in terrible shape. Open one, and out would spill crumpled fax cover sheets, but little else. I could tell the handwriting of one black male staffer because it looked like a child’s. I sometimes found vacation brochures or food wrappers in the files. The file room itself was a shambles, with files misplaced, mis-alphabetized or, more often than not, missing.
Staffers sometimes slept at their desks. They would just put their heads down and take a long, unapologetic snooze. One woman always put an open Bible under her head; maybe she thought she could claim she was deep in prayer.
The bathrooms did not have soap or hot water. To get water, you’d press a button on the sink top that would release a three-second burst of cold water that was never enough. You had to keep hitting the button to get your hands clean. Presumably, like the hand-print reader, this was a precautionary measure; the water might never be turned off if it came out of ordinary taps. Paper towels were only intermittently available. Some people brought soap and towels to the office, in little plastic containers, and would gather them up before heading to the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what caused the soap and towel shortage — whether the custodians were slacking off or whether the staff would take supplies home if they were plentiful.
Some of the lawyers were white but the attorney-in-charge was a black woman who, it was clear to me, held her position for racial reasons. It was said that she would fall asleep during settlement conferences with judges. She praised black lawyers lavishly, but sometimes could not remember the names of white lawyers — mine, for example. On the side, she was associated with a civil rights group that frequently sued the city, often claiming racism and discrimination. Despite an accent that sounded Caribbean, she took pains to remind us that she was “a black woman in America,” whatever that was supposed to mean.
One male lawyer, whom I understood to be a Dominican black/Hispanic mix, wore a Bob Marley-style head of braids that fell to his waist. He kept novels about “black power” on his desk and liked to talk about firearms. His fingernails were coated with clear polish on top and dirty underneath. I thought it was an odd combination.
As part of my job I often had to deal with other city agencies, usually by telephone. The contact person for one of these agencies, whom I’ll call “Opal,” was useless. She sounded inebriated on the phone, but that could have been her heavy — probably Jamaican — accent. Or maybe it was a combination of the two. In any event, I could not understand her. “Dizza-opa,” she would answer, which I eventually came to understand was how she said, “This is Opal.”
Opal’s dedication to avoiding any requests I might have for her was remarkable. Like so many black employees, she was on high alert for anything that could remotely be construed as beyond her duties. “Dat ain’t my job” was her refrain.
I could not help noticing, though, that when I overheard a black call her up the going was easier. “Hey, girl,” was how it started, followed by “Alright now, alright now,” knowing laughter, and probably a fulfilled request.
The slightest difficulty or obstacle was enough for black staffers to simply stop working on an assignment. For example, if they could not find a street name in a computer database, it would never occur to them to try a different spelling even if the one they were looking up was clearly a misspelling. If a contact at another agency did not return a phone call, they considered their duty done. A follow-up call would be too much to expect. This meant that a task you thought was underway would languish, and when you finally traced back to the source of the stoppage, they would shamelessly describe some trivial reason as if it were complete justification. It never seemed to occur to them that solving problems sometimes requires trying various approaches.
This, however, was assuming you could get them to agree to do something in the first place. Sometimes they would turn down a request point-blank, even when it was clearly part of their job. “Yo, man, look at dis,” Zeus would say, pointing to piles of files on his desk, when I asked him to do something. “Now what you want from me, man?” Zeus had a single decoration in his cubicle: an emaciated African child bent over in the dirt next to a vulture. The caption read: “I am a human being.” Zeus’ large head on his small body somewhat resembled the child’s.
Black women, meanwhile, were ready to bounce me before I even opened my mouth. I’d walk to their stations and wait politely while they chatted on the phone: “Girl, you didn’t!” When they noticed me trying to get their attention, they’d ice over and glower: “Wha-choo-wan?” Or “You gots some kinda problem?”
These people know they had little reason to worry about any complaint I might make to higher-ups. They knew their jobs were safe. Besides, it seemed to me that a frustrated white person simply delighted them. You were in their territory, and they knew it. For most of the blacks, work of any kind was an imposition to which they submitted as seldom as possible. They never took the slightest interest in it, and had no concept of taking pride in what they did. Their lack of concern for what might happen out in the “white man’s world” was breathtaking. They did just enough to stay out of trouble; an approaching white man was a bother and nothing more.
Telephone conversations with blacks and Hispanics could be surreal. I once called the schools division, an agency from which one would expect clear speech, proper grammar, and some understanding of purpose. A black-sounding woman answered after many rings. When I made a request, she replied with a telephone number. I had had bad experiences with being fobbed off this way, and asked what the number was for. “I don’t gots no idea,” she said. I inquired further. “I don’t know nuthin’,” she replied. “Can you find someone who does?” I asked. “Hol’ on,” she said.
I waited on hold for 10 minutes, after which a woman with a Hispanic accent came on the line and gave me the same number. I said something about having the impression that her office was an “auxiliary office,” but she did not know what that meant. She then went on to say she did not know the function of the office where she was answering the phone: “Nobody evah told us that, suh.”
At least that call was answered. Often, listed numbers went nowhere: they rang and rang, clicked off after a number of rings, or went to a voicemail labyrinth from which there was no escape. You knew that if a recorded black female voice told you to “have a blessed day” the call would never be returned.
If blacks were often hard to understand, Hispanics sometimes did not speak English at all. I met one who worked full-time as the driver for some agency official. I wondered how he could be a reliable driver if he couldn’t read street signs, to say nothing of why a minor official like his boss deserved a chauffeur. One Hispanic did speak some English, but with an astoundingly thick and unintelligible accent. He was a school principal. News stories about the city’s miserable schools invariably blamed “white racism.”
In a place like my office, one might have expected the whites to be drawn to each other like explorers meeting by chance in the jungle, but there were hardly enough whites even to begin to establish a sense of community. There was a Persian lawyer, an Indian, a Chinese, and a Lebanese. They were all dedicated to the job and were probably just as dismayed by what they saw as I was, but never made a racial remark. Other whites seemed to have a strong ethnic identification — Italian or Jewish, for example — that gave them some kind of identity, comfort or protection. Other whites seemed to crave “street cred:” One white woman prominently displayed a photo of herself with what looked like a black prom date; another was married to a Hispanic.
As for ordinary, non-ethnic whites like me, there were maybe two others in the whole office. None of us ever spoke about the situation we faced. It would have been too risky. Whites who worked elsewhere would say things like “It’s crazy there,” but would never mention race. It was much easier to communicate with the whites, and they could usually be counted on to do their jobs, but I never saw the slightest hint of commiseration, much less solidarity.
The blacks, of course, were “bruthah” and “sistah” to each other, but the office was a miscegenist mix that ran the gamut of skin colors, with many racially ambiguous staffers. I never detected racial tension between blacks and Hspanics; if anything there was brown-black solidarity against whites.
I lasted a year. This was a hell I’d never bargained for. For a man just out of law school, this was not even close to what I considered a good legal job or job, period. I had worked in fast food joints in the Midwest that were more professional. And it could not have been clearer that the white man was the enemy. I ruined a suit jacket with armpit sweat because of the pressures of that place.
The supervisors weren’t about to make the situation better. They mostly ignored the minority shenanigans, probably realizing it was useless to complain. If anyone had to respond to complaints about incompetence, it would be the lawyers, not the staff.
I wanted to quit, but the office required a commitment of three years. The only option was to ask for a transfer to another department or location. I did so, but was rejected. I appealed the rejection to a higher authority, who wanted to know why I wanted to leave so badly. I listed some of my experiences. She said they were serious accusations, and demanded details. I didn’t want to say any more, for fear it would come back to me. In the end, I got the transfer to a whiter area without having to go into details.
The new office still had non-whites — particularly black women who felt it was their God-given right not to work — but it was probably more than half white. The cleanliness and the competence were a relief. Having just enough whites to tip the balance made a striking difference. It made “the practice of law” a reality instead of a joke, as it had been at the other office.
Those two work places were a kind of parable for America. So long as there are enough whites to maintain standards and set the tone, we can continue to be a First-World country despite a certain number of non-whites. But past the tipping point the jungle rushes in.
My first job out of law school was an experience I’ll never forget. I think of it every time I hear whites dismiss concerns about becoming a minority in America as “racist paranoia.”
John Ingram, 33, eventually moved with his wife to the suburbs, where he continues to practice law.
The Irritating Success of Costa Rica
Guatemalans resent their successful neighbors.
Are you one of the Guatemalans who crossed his fingers last Friday so that the Costa Rican national team did not tie Germany? [At the World Cup, Guatemala had a strong start against the powerful German team and looked as though it might manage a tie, but eventually lost 4-2.] Perhaps you are one of those who suffer a sharp pain when you open a travel magazine and you note the ranking of that neighbor of ours as one of the world’s preferred tourist destinations.
At best you may have noted how irritating it is for that country to be considered fit for investments of the caliber of Intel, manufacturer of computer components, and that its coffee is recognized as one of the best and most competitive on the world market.
The success of Costa Rica makes us feel uncomfortable and her continuous accomplishments disconcert us (and the envy, that too). Confronted with the question, many Guatemalans, to justify their extreme hostility toward that country, allude to the presumed arrogance of the Costa Ricans, always disposed to make themselves different from their neighbors. However, it is certain that the explanation for such distaste goes deeper.
In the second half of the 20th century, a succession of Social Democratic and Christian Democratic governments, whose parties have now turned more liberal, have achieved a great deal while the rest of the nations of Central America, except Panama, continue in utter ruin to this day.
From the triumphant revolution of 1948 with Jose Figueres as leader, Costa Rica has constructed a viable country. Her institutions function, indeed her judicial system, imperfect as any other, is capable of handling such difficult undertakings as bringing to justice two former presidents for taking money from foreign governments and favoring enterprises that do business with the government in exchange for gifts.
There is no chronic hunger there to the degree that we are familiar with in the rest of Central America, nor are there serious abuses in the matter of human rights. The Costa Rican Forces of Public Safety do not kidnap anybody, and the government does not dismantle then reassemble itself every four years to reap the electoral harvest.
Almost a fifth part of her territory (this includes her major natural treasures and her most beautiful beaches) form part of the national park system instead of having been converted into exclusive, restricted suburban housing areas for the elite.
Although the argument between those who support liberalizing the economy more or less is the issue of the day there, the successful State Bank and the increasingly less competitive National Electricity and Telephone Company coexist. Nevertheless, Costa Rica does not pay her weight in gold for electricity to some favored entrepreneur who has managed to rob the government, nor does she depend on petroleum to generate electricity. Hydroelectric plants produce a little more than 90 percent of the energy that the Ticos [Costa Ricans] consume.
It certainly would be helpful for us to study in comparative terms what has produced such a prodigy in that nearby country, one very similar to ours. It would be good to study, without recourse to cheap racialistic arguments, why a nation with much less territory and natural resources achieves greater harmony and resounding successes at a global level.
Did you feel envious when you heard the national anthem of Costa Rica played in Munich? Look into your own feelings. Investigate them, finally reflect.
This article was originally published by Juan Luis Font in El Periódico of Guatemala City on June 12, 2006.
Race “is the key of history,” wrote Benjamin Disraeli famously, and there is no more telling proof than the juxtaposition of the largely-white nations of the Americas and their Mestizo neighbors. The successes of the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay are in sharp contrast with the rest.
Brazil is a universe of its own, and would require a separate study of its population that is 54 percent white and 39 percent mulatto. The 101 million Brazilians of European origin will nevertheless be valuable allies in the racial struggle. Brazil’s government, unlike the one in Washington, does not embrace Negritude, which means the country is not given to suicidal fantasies.
Haiti is not worth mentioning in an analysis of the Americas, since it is really the westernmost part of Africa. Cuba is a smaller version of Brazil, but with the proportions reversed: a 37 percent European and 51 percent mulatto mosaic.
The white proportions of the advanced European nations of Latin America range from 88 percent for Uruguay to 96 percent for Chile and Argentina. In Costa Rica, whites are about 94 percent of the population (though this figure includes a certain number of lighter Mestizos). Richard Lynn, in IQ and the Wealth of Nations reports that the average Costa Rican IQ is in the low 90s while Guatemala scores a resoundingly low 79. Guatemala is therefore not a candidate for the modern era. It would be harsh but fair to say that Costa Rica is an intelligent nation and Guatemala a stupid one.
Egalitarian voodoo artists always ignore racial percentages when they talk about the disparities in the Hemisphere. Mr. Font is an exception because he does mention it, if only to dismiss it. He is a courageous reporter who lives under constant death threats for his work in uncovering and reporting on the clandestine military cemeteries of the Guatemalan Civil War of 1960-1996 but he pales before the subject of race. What choice does he have in a Mestizo republic?
Mr. Font is a Guatemalan, albeit a very intelligent one, and a very fine expository writer. He is a good man who wants his nation to advance, but he must sidestep the uncomfortable truth about race. To give him credit, he does not try to claim the Costa Ricans are underhanded, criminals, or just plain lucky, as Mexicans do when they compare themselves to the United States.
In fact, there is almost a dream-like quality to Costa Rica compared to the eco-disasters elsewhere in Latin America. It is the only manicured nation in the Americas, so devoted is it to its environment. It is a popular retirement destination for Americans, and even worth a trip for expert, inexpensive dental work — many of its dentists trained in the United States. Reasonably-priced all-inclusive medical insurance is also available, and mandatory for the foreigners who come to retire.
Not everything is wonderful in Costa Rica. It has Nicaragua for a neighbor, and the immigration problem spiked in the years after the Sandinistas destroyed the national economy. Right now, there are about 340,000 Nicaraguan poachers and squatters in the country — eight percent of the population — so Costa Rica has her very own Mexico, though it is north of the border. The Costa Rican government has remained firm on immigration control, which has rechanneled Nicaraguans to other countries, notably El Salvador, where they do the jobs Salvadorans do not do because they are not there because they have gone to the United States.
Returning to Mr. Font, he is addressing himself to resentidos, or Guatemalans who resent Costa Rica the way Mexicans resent the United States. Resentment is so widespread in the Mestizo regions of Latin America that it is probably genetic in origin, a permanent animus that would exist even if the US or Costa Rica did not. Mr. Font notes that the envy, hostility, and distaste his countrymen feel is so deep, they blame it on “the presumed arrogance” of the Ticos, not their accomplishments.
Mr. Font concludes by calling for a study of “such a prodigy in that nearby country, one very similar to ours” but one “without recourse of cheap racial arguments.” Presumably this will clear up the mystery of why Guatemala is a corral and Costa Rica a castle, but he rules out the only real explanation. If Mr. Font were to rid himself of his mental block about race, he would have two options: He could write the truth and receive even more death threats, or he could emigrate to Costa Rica, which would welcome him — or both.
The great British architect Christopher Wren’s epitaph is Si monumentum requires circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around). One could write a variant that explains the great divide between European America and Mestizo America: Si monumenta gentium requiris circumspice, which means, if you seek the accomplishments of the peoples, look around — or better — open your eyes.
Mr. McClaren lives in San Salvador, where he is director of the Alliance for the American Union.
The Black-Jewish Alliance
Why it arose and why it fell apart.
Cheryl Greenberg, Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century, Princeton University Press, 2006, 351 pp., $29.95.
It is well known that Jews and Jewish organizations strongly supported blacks in their efforts to dismantle discriminatory laws and practices. It is equally well known that the black-Jewish coalition foundered in the 1960s. Cheryl Greenberg, professor of history at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, has used extensive access to the archives of many organizations to write a history of this relationship with an emphasis on trying to understand the motives, both for the alliance and its breakup. Like virtually all such studies, Troubling the Waters is aggressively liberal, nostalgic for the days when Jews and blacks marched shoulder to shoulder.
As Prof. Greenberg notes, there was no talk of a special relationship between blacks and Jews until the early decades of the 20th century. The small number of Jews living in the colonies and in the 19th-century United States had essentially no influence on public policy, and Jews in the antebellum South owned slaves at a slightly higher rate than gentiles. It was not until the arrival of some two million Jews during the waves of immigration that began in 1880 or so and the northern trek of large numbers of blacks during the Great Migration that the two groups began to discover common interests.
Blacks were outsiders, but many Jewish immigrants were, too. German Jews who had been in the United States longer, worried that newly-arrived Eastern European Jews gave them a bad name. In 1901, Rabbi Abram Isaacs described the established Jew’s view of the newcomer: “ignorant, superstitious, bigoted hypocritical, cunning, ungrateful, quarrelsome, unclean, and in many other ways abominable.” German Jews hoped for “more polish and less Polish.”
Jews, like blacks, faced discrimination. Many restrictive covenants excluded Jews along with non-whites, some employers would not hire Jews, and the Ivy League started restricting Jewish enrollment before the First World War.
Jews quickly established ethnic organizations. B’nai B’rith (Hebrew for ‘Sons of the Covenant’) had been in existence since 1843, and set up its activist wing, the Anti-Defamation League, in 1913. The National Council of Jewish Women was established in 1893, and 30 years later there were so many Jewish women’s groups they needed an umbrella organization: the Conference Group of National Jewish Women’s Organizations. Two of the most important Jewish groups were also established early in the century: the American Jewish Committee (1906) and the more activist American Jewish Congress (1916).
Why did these groups gradually ally themselves with blacks? Prof. Greenberg accepts the view that Jews were less inclined than gentiles to be “racist.” Many of the new immigrants, she writes, “never felt fully comfortable with a white identity because they rejected the ideology of racial superiority that usually accompanied an explicit self-definition of whiteness, because they resisted identifying with those who despised and persecuted them in Europe, and because many Jews continued to insist they were a people (even a race) apart.”
Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932), part-owner of Sears Roebuck and a substantial donor to black causes, probably made the public case for the alliance as well as anyone: “Whether it is because I belong to a people who have known centuries of persecution, or whether it is because naturally I am inclined to sympathize with the oppressed, I have always felt keenly for the colored races.”
Others traced the concern for blacks to Jewish morality and universalist values, but Prof. Greenberg points out that protecting blacks benefited Jews: “It allowed them to fight anti-Semitism by indirection; if racism could be eradicated, discrimination against Jews would also cease.” When Jews claimed to be fighting for the liberation of all men, she writes, it was “a sincere, if partial, claim of universalism that masked self-interest.” Martin Himmelfarb, who coined the expression “Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans,” called it “that Jewish particularism which likes to regard itself as universalism.” There was unquestionably a strong element of self-interest in Jewish advocacy of black causes, which became evident in the 1960s when black and Jewish interests diverged.
Whatever the motives, when the NAACP was founded in 1909, there was considerable — thought not dominant — support from Jewish groups, and many of its earliest advisors were prominent Jews: Franz Boas, Felix Frankfurter, Jacob Schiff, Herbert Lehman, Julius Rosenwald. The National Urban League, the other major black organization that survives to this day, was founded one year later, also with some Jewish help.
Prof. Greenberg reports that it was the Jewish women’s organizations that first adopted black causes, specifically demands for anti-lynching laws, voting rights, and abolition of the poll tax. However, cooperation was sporadic and restricted mainly to elite opinion. During the Depression, in particular, activist organizations devoted their efforts to helping the many needy members of their own groups. Prof. Greenberg writes that it was Nazism that really drew blacks and Jews together and gave birth to the “golden years” of cooperation that followed the Second World War. Jews felt the need for allies more than ever, and found it effective to couch their interests in general, brotherhood-of-man terms.
Merchants and Miscreants
However, even if Jews were or wanted to be seen as the white group most helpful to blacks, they were also the symbol of white oppression. There were many Jewish merchants in black neighborhoods, and it was not always easy to square universalist claims with a reputation for sharp practice. In 1938, Jews owned seven of the nine largest department stores in Baltimore. All nine refused to hire or serve blacks, and Jews justified this by saying they were simply following white practice. That was undoubtedly true, but from sheer force of numbers, they gave a Jewish face to practices blacks resented.
In Harlem in 1941, Jews owned approximately half of the buildings and about the same proportion of businesses. That same year, both the ADL and the American Jewish Committee concluded that many complaints against Jewish shopkeepers, landlords, and pawnbrokers were justified. Behind frequent Jewish denunciations of “black anti-Semitism” was the uncomfortable reality that some Jews did mistreat blacks. As an important part of consolidating alliances, Jewish groups started pressuring Jewish businessmen to change their ways.
It was not always easy. In a 1943 meeting with an ADL pressure group, Harlem-based Jewish merchant Joseph Greif explained that “stuff not bought in my store is returned and they raise hell if I won’t accept it. They steal it in the next store and return it in my store.” Eli Lazar added: “A landlord in Harlem has to charge more rent because he can’t get responsible tenants. They break the walls, etc.” One 38-year resident of Harlem argued that “the Negroes are a bad lot up here, stealing right and left. They have all the privileges they want — in fact too many.” Another businessman concluded that the only solution was to “get the hell out of Harlem. Leave Harlem to Harlem.”
In Chicago, blacks could patronize most white establishments but not work in them. A Jewish group tried to solve the problem from two directions by trying to persuade Jewish merchants to hire blacks but also by setting up what they called “a program to encourage the efficiency, punctuality, competency, and regularity of Negro workers on the job.” Likewise in Chicago, the Anti-Defamation League tried to get the city to set up an office to track black complaints, but went to considerable lengths to try to conceal its involvement. Prof. Greenberg notes that it was common for Jewish groups either to camouflage their actions or hide behind non-Jewish organizations to avoid giving the impression Jews and blacks were too closely aligned. Jews did not want gentiles to equate the two groups. In like manner, the American Jewish Committee’s Andhil Fineberg noted in 1939 that “if statements were to be made on behalf of Jews … Christian names were better” because they “had no obvious self-interest.”
Despite efforts to win their trust, blacks persisted in disliking Jews. A 1949 survey in Baltimore found that 71 percent of blacks and 51 percent of white gentiles agreed that “in general Jews are dishonest in their business dealings.” Even after tireless efforts to reform Jewish merchants and to ensure blacks of their good will, Jews sometimes got only grudging thanks. A 1947 editorial in the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier conceded that “we are fully aware that many scheming, grasping Jewish people are drawing the life blood out of our communities,” but “we are compelled to conclude that the Jews are the best friends that the colored man in America has.”
Many black leaders, however, understood the importance of Jewish support and, whether from calculation or sincere belief, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, Vernon Jordon, John Lewis, and others denounced anti-Semitism and promoted Jewish causes.
Bad relations between blacks and Jewish merchants persisted even during the “golden years.” After the 1967 race riots, a study by a prominent Jewish fund-raising and activist group called the National Community Relations Advisory Council (NCRAC) found that of the 36 black neighborhoods it studied, Jews owned at least 25 percent of the businesses. In four neighborhoods Jews owned 75 percent or more. By this time, most Jewish merchants were older people who had been unable to persuade their children to take over their businesses and were desperate to get out.
War against the Nazis was a powerful psychological rallying point for blacks and Jews. Both groups could appeal to the conscience of the world in the face of Nazi atrocities, and blacks could turn to anyone who sympathized with European Jews and ask, “and what about us, right here in America?” As Prof. Greenberg notes, “The coincidence of self-interest provided the real momentum for collaboration.”
At the same time, although the alliance had mostly involved Jews helping blacks, the NAACP had become an ally worth having, with more than 1,000 chapters and 450,000 members. Still, even during the war years, Jews wondered about the political cost of cooperation when a 1943 poll found that 90 percent of white Americans said they would rather lose the war than give full equality to blacks.
The story of Samuel Klein and Ruth Seals was a typical balancing act. Klein was a Jewish executive for the Chicago Urban League who had a back secretary. In 1944, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) printed up pamphlets about these two prodigies with the title He Practices Racial Tolerance. No doubt with the 90 percent in mind, the pamphlet added that:
“Miss Seals, understanding the instinctive prejudices some of her co-workers might feel, … always managed to be in the locker room when the other girls were not there. She had no thought of joining them when they had lunch together … Miss Seals, keenly aware that she had not only to prove her own ability but able to stand as a credit to her race, responded to friendliness with friendliness, but never with even a hint of aggressiveness.”
At the same time, blacks and Jews had different activist styles. Many blacks threatened to withhold support for the war if they did not get concessions, whereas Jews had such an emotional stake in defeating Nazism they avoided the slightest hint of disloyalty.
After the war, Jews fought alongside blacks at every step. It was the NAACP that won the 1948 Supreme Court decision banning restrictive covenants, but Jewish groups had drafted countless briefs and motions. The AJC and the Rosenwald Fund paid for Kenneth Clark’s doll “studies” that so impressed the Supreme Court in the Brown decision, and the improper backdoor machinations in that case between Justice Felix Frankfurter and Philip Elman of the Justice Department have been documented in the Harvard Law Review. The AJC funded the “Studies in Prejudice” book series that tried to portray racial discrimination as a form of mental illness.
By the time Congress imposed non-discrimination on the entire country with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black and Jewish groups had managed to get “fair employment” laws in 20 states and 40 cities, and some of Prof. Greenberg’s most useful writing is her descriptions of the alliance’s local efforts. These took many forms. In 1947 there was an across-the-board campaign in State College, Pennsylvania, that involved countless groups in countless discussions that led to lawsuits, individual persuasion, and newspaper ads. There were lengthy discussions of the merits and demerits of boycotts. The objective? To get white barbers to cut blacks’ hair.
Prof. Greenberg likewise describes the complex ordeal black and Jewish groups put the American Bowling Congress through in 1950 to make it accept black members, and how activists descended on Cicero, Illinois, in 1951 when whites rioted to keep blacks from moving into a white neighborhood. She tells us that the ADL contributed what it called “properly slanted books” to libraries and even offered a “potent message wrapped up as a jive tune” as a public service announcement to radio stations:
“You can get good milk from a brown-skinned cow;
“The color of the skin doesn’t matter nohow.
“Ho, ho, ho — haw, haw, haw,
“You can learn common sense at the groc’ry store.”
By the time of the major federal civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965, however, Prof. Greenberg says the grand alliance was fraying. Sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, which took off in 1960, were civil disobedience of a kind that made Jews nervous. Southern Jews wanted nothing to do with them, but brash northern Jews came South to take part.
At the same time, new, militant black organizations like CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) were booting out whites. Stokely Carmichael of SNCC paraded an exagerrated black consciousness, and spat on the idea of assimilation. Black power was the expression of a race-based identity, the very thing Jews thought they were fighting. Malcolm X called for armed Mau Mau-type uprisings in the United States, scaring many Jews.
As the white empires in Africa collapsed, blacks began to see Israel as a colonial power, lording it over brown-skinned Palestinians. During an argument with Jewish supporters in 1966, a black CORE member said “Hitler made a mistake when he didn’t kill enough of you.” Not all black-Jewish relations degenerated to that point by any means, but by 1969 even Time magazine ran a cover story on the deteriorating alliance.
Prof. Greenberg writes that the death knell was affirmative action. When the De Funis and Bakke cases were decided in 1974 and 1975, black and Jewish groups were, for the first time, on opposite sides of the question, with blacks demanding racial preferences and Jews opposing them. Prof. Greenberg goes on to describe other famous spats — Jesse Jackson calling New York City “Hymietown” in 1984, the Crown Heights riots in 1991, Khalid Muhammad of the Nation of Islam blasting Jews in 1993 &mdashmdash; but as she ruefully recognizes, blacks and Jews no longer had the same interests.
By the end of the ‘60s, Jews had everything they wanted. There faced no legal barriers and only a rapidly dissipating residue of private dislike. They were out-earning every other group and were vastly overrepresented in the American power structure. Blacks were still at the bottom, and had gone without a hiccough from demanding equal rights to insisting on special treatment. Jews, who had made it into college and the suburbs under their own steam, drew the line at equal outcomes. They now got nothing for backing black demands, so they stopped.
There is no mystery to that, but Prof. Greenberg invents one. She claims to believe Jewish success was due to “white skin privilege,” and wants blacks and Jews to reunite to eliminate it. There is no chance of that. The neo-conservatives have many faults but they do not fall for rubbish about “white skin privilege,” and ordinary Jews are as sick of endless, futile uplift programs as ordinary gentiles. No one promises to gild the ghetto anymore, because everyone secretly realizes it cannot be done. Today, it would be hard to think of two groups that have less in common than blacks and Jews, and the sooner Jews get over their liberal hangover the better.
Aside from the story of black-Jewish cooperation, there are several themes that stand out in this book. One is the sheer number of organizations Jews established to advance their interests. By the time the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights was set up in 1951, it had 52 different cooperating agencies. Many were black but even more were Jewish. Armies of activists, writers, speakers, and lawyers could overwhelm the opposition through numbers and persistence.
Another theme is the appropriation of the word “democracy.” Over and over, blacks and Jews insisted that racial egalitarianism was inherent in “democracy,” a word absent from the Constitution and scorned by the Founders. In a country that had made war to make the world safe for it, however, “democracy” was apparently the ultimate weapon. In the 1950s, the American Jewish Congress promoted the perfect riposte if a right-thinking American overheard a stranger say rude things about minorities: “Say, fellow, that’s not very democratic of you.” As the Athenians would have pointed out, “democracy” is not incompatible with a limited franchise — or with restrictive covenants, for that matter.
Yet another theme is Prof. Greenberg’s disappointment with Southern Jews, who were loyal to Southern traditions and refused to act like Northern Jews. She writes that there was so much opposition from Southern Jews to school integration that the ADL delayed filing its amicus brief in Brown because of it. Even after Brown was decided, B’nai B’rith lodges in the South urged the ADL to withdraw its support for integration. Prof. Greenberg is embarrassed by this, and offers the explanation that Southern Jews were so fearful of gentile neighbors that they dared not criticize segregation. It seems not to have occurred to her that Southern Jews had lived among blacks long enough to know very well what integration would bring.
The entire “civil rights” campaign by Jews and other whites assumed that people with no experience of blacks understood them better than people who had lived with them for generations. The manager of Cohen’s Hardware in Harlem must have felt like a Southern white man when slick ADL-types walked in and told him he could reform shoplifters by hiring them to work in the stockroom.
Books like this reflect the same self-righteous blindness. Prof. Greenberg takes it for granted that forcing whites to hire, live with, and go to school with blacks was a great achievement. Needless to say, whites clear out of “diverse” neighborhoods as soon as they can, and though they deal politely with blacks at work they go home to white surroundings, just as blacks go home to black. Racial differences and human nature continue to resist all the laws and brainwashing liberals can invent. Prof. Greenberg’s dreams of yet another grand alliance are dreams of yet more ways to boss us around.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Vinculo Hispano is a Hispanic uplift agency that caters to the burgeoning Hispanic population around Siler City, North Carolina. On April 1, 2006, it organized a pro-illegal immigration protest and encouraged local Hispanic schoolchildren to skip school to attend. Shortly thereafter the United Way, which helps fund the group, said it would reduce its annual contribution by $27,000.
Dina Reynolds, a United Way spokesman, says it cut the grant partly because Vinculo Hispano went over its operating budget by 10 percent, but added that United Way doesn’t like people telling children to skip school. Vinculo Hispano (vinculo means “tie” or “bond” in Spanish) says the cut is “racist and discriminatory,” and meant to intimidate. Director Ilana Dubester says the April 1 march was important to her people’s pride, and that the money helped recruit new members. Local Hispanic activist Nolo Martinez says Miss Reynolds is anti-Hispanic, and that he expects the United Way will restore the money when it meets in mid-July to review the decision. [Jose Cusicanqui, Guerra Politica Contra Organismo Hispano, QuePasaMedia. com, June 28, 2006.]
New England prides itself on education. Nearly half of all young workers in Massachusetts have college degrees, as do more than a third in Connecticut, but immigration is likely to change that. According to a new report commissioned by the Nellie May Education Foundation — ”New England 2020” — the number of college graduates in Massachusetts will fall to 40 percent by 2020, to 30 percent in Connecticut, and to 9.5 percent in Maine — less than half of the current level. “Should these losses materialize, the vaunted educational advantages of New England will have evaporated in the space of three decades,” says the study’s co-author, Stephen Coelen of the University of Connecticut. The silver lining, he says, is that the newcomers will help offset a drop in the white working-age population. [Mark Jewell, Study Sees Decline of Young, Educated Workers in N.E., AP, June 29, 2006.]
Refugees — overwhelmingly non-white — are a big part of the problem. Lewiston, Maine, has been particularly hard hit (see AR, Oct. and Nov. 2002). Nearly ten percent of its current population of 36,000 are Somalis. Refugees are also pouring into Manchester, New Hampshire. Although its 107,000 people are just 8.4 percent of the state’s population, it gets over 80 percent of New Hampshire’s refugees.
Two agencies resettle refugees in New Hampshire, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) and the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH), a subsidiary of the US Committee for Refugees. They like to put people in Manchester because it is the state’s largest city. Another reason the IINH likes Manchester is that director Anne Sanderson wants refugees within walking distance of her office. She says she doesn’t like them too far away because “those refugees will not get the service and the close, careful watch that they get here.”
LSS brought so many Somalis to Manchester in 2004 that the city announced a three-month moratorium. The influx has since stayed below 2004 levels, but Public Health Director Fred Rusczek, says refugees are draining the city’s budget. He points out that in 2004, Manchester accepted more refugees than 23 states, and doesn’t think the city needs more. Miss Sanderson is bewildered: “I just don’t understand it. It’s really discriminatory against the refugees,” she says.
If Manchester manages to reduce the flow, it will be at the expense of other cities in the state. LSS is now putting 90 percent of its refugee allotment in Concord (approximately 95 percent white) and Laconia (nearly 97 percent white). [Scott Brooks, City Works to Adapt after Decade-Long Boom in Refugees, Manchester Union-Leader, July 2, 2006. Scott Brooks, As a Refugee Destination, Manchester Isn’t Alone, Manchester Union-Leader, July 2, 2006.]
One Step Closer
The state of Kansas has not executed anyone in 40 years (among the last were Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, the 1950s killers Truman Capote made famous when he wrote In Cold Blood). There are just eight people on death row, two of whom should be as notorious as Smith and Hickock. In 2000, black brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr went on a week-long crime spree that culminated in the brutal sexual torture and murder of four young white people that has since been known as the Wichita Massacre (see AR, August 2002). A jury sentenced the Carrs to death in Nov. 2002, but in Dec. 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court declared the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional because it said that when there were equally balanced arguments for the death sentence and for life in prison, juries should choose death. This supposedly violated the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
On June 26, the US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturned the Kansas Supreme Court and reinstated the state’s death penalty. Some years will probably pass before the Carr brothers get what they deserve, but this decision brings that day a little closer. [Gina Holland, Splintered High Court Backs Death Penalty, AP, June 26, 2006.]
Black vs. Brown
A group calling itself Choose Black America is trying to gin up black support for the House enforcement-only approach to immigration reform. Choose Black America opposes amnesty and any form of guest worker program. Its chairman, Frank Morris, explains: “Mass illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. There are real people who lose their jobs or the chance to earn a better living. There are real children who are stuck in schools that cannot educate because they are overwhelmed by the children of illegal aliens. All too often, those victims are black.” Mr. Morris supports the House field hearings this summer. “We hope that they will come to black communities around the country so that they can hear the voices of black citizens,” he says. [Choose Black America Applauds House Leadership for Choosing to Listen to Americans on Immigration, PRNewswire, June 23, 2006.]
On June 28, federal prosecutors opened their case against four Hispanic gang members accused of a six-year campaign of terror and murder in Highland Park, California, to keep blacks out. Over defense objections that the federal government had no power to prosecute street crime, Asst. US Attorney Alex Bustamante brought hate crime charges based on the 13th Amendment. In his opening statement he noted: “They wanted all blacks out of that neighborhood, not just African American men, not just African American gang members but all African American women and children. Kenneth Wilson [one of the victims] was killed because he was black, because he was in Highland Park and because the Avenues gang members had promised each other, had agreed that they would drive African Americans out of the neighborhood, by threats, by force, by murder.” [John Spano, U.S. Accuses 4 Gang Members of Hate Crime in Black’s Killing, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2006.]
Prof. Fraser Fights Back
Australian law professor and 2006 AR conference speaker Andrew Fraser has been under attack for nearly a year from his employer, Macquarie University, for pointing out in a letter to his local newspaper, the Parramatta Sun, that black African immigration to Australia could “lead to increasing levels of crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems” (see “Adventures of an Academic Pariah,” AR, Nov. 2005). Vice-chancellor Di Yerbury first tried to buy out Prof. Fraser’s remaining contract, and when that failed, canceled his classes and suspended him from teaching. The dean of Prof. Fraser’s department assured him he could resume teaching in Feb. 2006, but the university again barred him. At the end of June, Prof. Fraser finally retired from Macquarie, but unlike other former professors will not get library privileges. Prof. Fraser had planned to use the Macquarie library to do research for his next book, Anglophobia: Its Causes and Cures.
On June 26, Prof. Fraser filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, accusing Macquarie University of political discrimination. He also filed a complaint against the Parramatta Sun for anti-white racial vilification for writing, in response to his letter, that whites had a notorious record of committing “murder and mayhem on a great scale.”
In a statement, Prof. Fraser says, “I look forward to finding out whether the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is, as advertised, a neutral and impartial investigative body. I hope that a double standard will not be applied by the Commission allowing white Europeans to be subjected to wholesale ‘racial vilification’ while suffering blatant political discrimination whenever they protest the loss of their freedoms and their ancestral homelands.” He adds, “I am, however, not at all confident that my hope will be fulfilled.” [Andrew Fraser, Macquarie Professor Lodges HREOC Complaints Alleging Political Discrimination and Anti-White Racial Vilification, Press Release, June 26, 2006.]
Kosovo Today, Texas Tomorrow?
Those who think the Reconquista movement is a joke should pay attention to Serbia, where the United Nations — with the support of the US — is working to grant autonomy or even full independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo, on the grounds that it has an ethnic Albanian majority.
According to the UN, “Independence and autonomy are among the options that have been mentioned for the province, where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1.” William Dorich of Accuracy in Media notes, however, that while the Albanians are a majority, “40 percent are illegal aliens who cross the border into Serbia as easily as Mexicans cross our borders each night in San Diego.” Serbs were the majority population in 1939. If Kosovo can be transferred to Albanians because illegal immigration has swelled their ranks, what is to prevent a Mexican claim on Texas or New Mexico? [Cliff Kincaid, Kosovo in America, AIM Media Monitor, May 8, 2006.]
‘She Had to Die’
On June 29, 2005, Philip Grant, who is black, stabbed Concetta Russo-Carriero to death in a mall parking lot in White Plains, New York. In a video-taped confession, the convicted triple-rapist, who spent 23 years in prison, explained why he murdered the 56-year-old woman. “I never saw her before, and I didn’t care,” he said. “All I knew was she had blond hair and blue eyes and she had to die. If I’d have had a gun [that day], there’d be a lot dead white people on the streets of White Plains.” Mr.Grant continued: “I was thinking that the first person I see this morning that looks white, I’m killing them. I wanted to kill someone who lived a lily-white lifestyle and was a closet bigot.” He added: “I have no remorse whatsoever because she was white.” He said he was fighting a race war, and explained that he hates whites because, he claims, whites raped his mother when he was a child, and that all of his white friends have turned out to be “racists.”
Mr. Grant is on trial in New York on hate-crime murder charges, but is unlikely to get what he wants: “I want the death penalty. I want to die. But I wanted to kill somebody white first.” [Jennifer Fermino and Andy Geller, Mall Killer ‘fessed Up Quick: Cop, New York Post, June 15, 2006. Suspect Killed Because She Was White, WorldNetDaily.com, July 6, 2005.]
Unity in Hatred
On June 14, Professor Leonard Jeffries of the City University of New York spoke at a “Unity in Diversity” forum at New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Wearing his hallmark African dress, and with a picture of Congressman Cynthia McKinney pinned to his robe, Prof. Jeffries told the 100 or so mostly black city workers that blacks have absorbed too much white thinking: “If every white person in the world dropped dead, the system [that oppresses you] would continue to go on, because it’s in you now.” To roars of approval, he explained how blacks should purge themselves of white thinking: “My basic rule of thumb is to stay away from things white. Take the whiteness out of your minds, or at least neutralize it with blackness.” Prof. Jeffries says blacks should avoid white milk, white bread and white sugar, and that coffee-drinkers should “take it black.” For more than an hour, he mocked and ridiculed whites, accusing them of all sorts of wickedness.
The Jeffries speech was the talk of the office, but annoyed many whites. “This has created some tensions,” says Evan Edwards, a white clerk. “This [black] person with whom you might have been getting along nicely, now they see you in a whole different light. This is creating a hostile work environment.” Another white says there are already anti-white feelings at HPD, and that allowing Prof. Jefrries to speak suggests HPD agrees with him. Others complained about the obvious double standard: If a white man railed against blacks on city property, he would be bounced.
After complaints to the mayor’s office, spokesman Stu Loeser explained that “the mayor vehemently disagrees with Professor Jeffries … but since independent and outside groups … have addressed these lunchtime sessions in the past, it’s not clear that the government can just pick and choose.” When asked if the Klan could speak, Mr. Loeser, seemed to suggest it could: “If you let one outside group in that legally has the right to exist, then the government can’t just pick and choose, no matter how reprehensible their viewpoint.” [Andrea Peyser, Spewing Racism on the City Dime, New York Post, June 15, 2006, p. 5. Andrea Peyser, Crackpot Has Staff in Fear & Loathing, New York Post, June 15, 2006, p. 5. Stephanie Gaskill, Hater a Hot Potato, New York Post, June 15, 2006, p. 5.]
French president Jacques Chirac fancies himself an expert on non-Western art. Since his election in 1995, he has been fluffing up his legacy by pushing for a museum of Third-World art. The Museum of the Quai Branley duly opened in June on prime real estate near the Eiffel Tower. “We want to show that this type of art is equivalent to European art,” says curator Patrice Junuel. “We want to place it on the same level.” Third World boosters say housing the collection separately from European art reinforces racist stereotypes of “exoticism.” They say the Vegetation Wall — an 800 square-meter garden of 15,000 Third World plants — is patronizing. It reinforces the idea that non-Western art is close to nature and therefore “primitive.” [Marina Bradbury, Chirac’s Museum of Exotic Art Panned for Being ‘Racist,’ The Independent, London, June 16, 2006.]
The Tragic Mulatto
Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Washington have found that mixed-race adolescents are more likely to smoke and drink than whites, blacks, or Asians who do not think of themselves as mixed. They are also more likely to be violent — though not by much more than blacks. The study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry cited “perceived racial discrimination” in schools and neighborhoods as a possible cause, and suggested that a “a strong, positive ethnic identity” could help. [Multiracial Youth More Prone to Violence, UPI, May 1, 2006.]
Dodzi Kpesse, a refugee from the African nation of Togo, came to Barre, Vermont, as a child five years ago with his family. In high school, classmates and teachers found him polite and hard-working. However, after graduation, Mr. Kpesse was still struggling with English and could get a job only as a dishwasher. In August, he walked out in the middle of his shift, went to the police station and announced, “I want to go back to Africa.” The police gave him the number for Immigration Control and Enforcement. Mr. Kpesse went home, drank five beers, and thought of a simple way to go home. He stuck up a local gas station with a pellet gun, sat down in the Burger King across the street, and waited for the police.
A felony had, indeed, put Mr. Kpesse on the path to deportation, but his friends would have none of it. Dozens of former teachers and employers lobbied the prosecutor to dismiss the case. He was depressed, explained his defense lawyer, Richard Rubin, and the felony was merely “a cry for help.” Mr. Rubin told the judge that courts all over America where allowing creative plea bargains to circumvent “draconian immigration standards.”
Mr. Rubin won over the judge, who gave Mr. Kpesse a nine-month suspended sentence after a plea of unlawful mischief, trespassing, and disorderly conduct. His friends gave the young African a place to stay, and the restaurant has even offered him his old job back. [Community Rallies Around African Refugee, AP, May 3, 2006.]
The Dragon’s Revenge
As recently as 1940, St. George, England’s patron saint, was invoked by King George VI to inspire patriotism, but he has fallen out of favor with the ruling class. The Church of England is considering a replacement for the legendary dragon-slayer, said to have been killed in the fourth century by Roman Emperor Diocletian because he professed Christianity. The clergy think St. George could offend Muslims because he became a hero to the English during the Crusades, when his spirit is said to have appeared to the army in 1098 at the Battle of Antioch. The church wants to replace him with St. Alban, a British Christian whom the Romans martyred in 304 AD. Another reason the church is keen on Alban is that there is no doubt he existed, whereas there is no historical evidence for George.
The replacement campaign comes at a time when St. George is making a comeback. His flag — which is the flag of England (Scotland, Wales, and Ireland also have flags) — was until recently associated mainly with “far-right” politics, but is back in the mainstream. Supporters of the England team at the World Cup flew oceans of St. George flags. [Steve Doughty, Will George be Slayed as England’s Patron Saint? Daily Mail, July 2, 2006.]
A new study claims native speakers of English and Chinese use different parts of the brain when they do simple math. Researchers at the Dalian University of Technology in China used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scanner on subjects solving math puzzles. Both English- and Chinese-speakers used the parietal cortex, which is associated with quantitative reasoning, but the English-speakers also used part of the brain that processes language, and the Chinese-speakers used a part that processes visual information.
Robert Nisbett, co-director of the University of Michigan’s Culture and Cognition Program, says the research “indicates that the reasoning differences that we find between Asians and Westerners are really quite deep.” Prof. Nisbett reported last year on differences in eye movements between Chinese and whites when they look at pictures. Chinese tended to study the background and take in the picture as a whole, while whites focus more on the foreground. Prof. Nisbett says his results show that the two groups “literally see the world differently.”
Reports on the math study dodged any racial implications by suggesting cultural differences, differences in teaching methods and writing systems, or the use of the abacus in Asian schools. New Scientist, however, mentioned in passing that “different teaching methods across cultures, or genes, may also have primed the brains of Chinese and English speakers to solve equations differently.” [Randolph E. Schmid, Chinese, English Speakers Vary at Math, AP, June 26, 2006.]
The Usual Suspects
In London, blacks are just 11 percent of the population but make up half the homicide suspects. In the first few months of 2006, of the 279 people wanted for homicide, 140 were black, 77 were white, and 23 were Asian. This means blacks are over 12 times more likely to be suspects than whites. Asians — in Britain this means Indians and Pakistanis — were 2.6 times more likely to be suspects than whites. The differences in likelihood of being a murder victim were not as great. Blacks were four times more likely than whites to be murder victims, and Asians twice as likely. Half of the 142 homicide victims during the period were whites. [Jason Bennetto, Black People are Four Times More Likely to be Murdered, Independent (London), April 27, 2006.]
Last fall, AR published an article by Chris Brand about new research on the evolution of brain development that may partially account for racial differences in intelligence. The research by Prof. Bruce Lahn of the University of Chicago was reported in the prestigious journal Science, and announced to great fanfare at a press conference. Prof. Lahn did his best to play down the racial angle, but Dr. Brand was not tricked. He described the findings as “the moment the anti-racists and egalitarians have dreaded” (see “Race Realism Takes a Step Forward,” AR, Dec. 2005). A recent Wall Street Journal article about Prof. Lahn quoted Dr. Brand but not by name, saying only that the lines had appeared in a “magazine that blames black and Hispanic people for social ills.”
Prof. Lahn, who grew up in China, seems not have realized that the United States does not encourage all forms of free inquiry. The anti-”racists” went right to work to set him straight. Pilar Ossorio, medical ethics and law professor at the University of Wisconsin, scolded Prof. Lahn for reaching conclusions like those in The Bell Curve. “It’s exactly what they were getting at … People said [Prof. Lahn] is doing damage to the whole field of genetics.” Troy Duster, a black sociologist at New York University, believes scientists who study race bring their own prejudices to the field: “Science doesn’t transcend the social milieu.”
Others maintain that any research into racial differences in intelligence simply lends credence to “racists.” Spencer Wells, head of a National Geographic project to catalogue DNA samples of 100,000 indigenous people around the world, thinks it’s okay to study physical differences between peoples in order to explain why Danes are tall and Pygmies short, but not intelligence. “I think there is very little evidence of IQ differences between races,” he says. Even one of Prof. Lahn’s co-authors, Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland, says she was disturbed by his suggestion that one particular genetic mutation in the brain occurred at about the time civilizations appeared, calling the idea “very simplistic.” She would not sign the letter Prof. Lahn sent to Science in response to the many critical letters it published.
His own university offered only tepid support for Prof. Lahn’s work. John Easton, head of Chicago’s media department says Prof. Lahn “makes us nervous.” When he was up for full tenure review last fall, his work and views on race became a subject of discussion. His department voted unanimously for promotion to full professor, but another tenure committee was split, with only a majority voting in favor. The university filed a patent application last year for a DNA-based intelligence test on the strength of Prof. Lahn’s work, but has since dropped the application. “We really don’t want to end up on the front page … for doing eugenics,” says Alan Thomas, director of the university’s patent office.
The attacks have taken their toll on Prof. Lahn. While he believes that genes give some population groups higher levels of intelligence, and that “society will have to grapple with some very difficult facts” as research bears that out, he has decided to drop the subject. “It’s getting too controversial,” he says. Prof. Lahn also says he is warming to the idea, suggested by one of his students, that some knowledge may not be worth having. [Antonio Regalado, Head Examined: Scientist’s Study of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash, Wall Street Journal (New York), June 16, 2006.)
State of the Schools
According to a recent study by Public Agenda, a non-partisan education think-tank, people of different races have quite different experiences in school. Thirty percent of blacks, for example, say teachers spend more time trying to keep order than teaching, compared to 14 percent of whites, and more than 50 percent of black students say lack of respect for teachers and use of bad language is a serious problem, versus fewer than a third of white students. Nearly 60 percent of black students believe they could try harder in schools, along with 53 percent of Hispanics and 46 percent of whites. Black and Hispanic parents are more than twice as likely as white parents to describe weapons and fighting as very serious problems in their children’s schools. Non-white students also say their schools suffer from low academic standards, high dropout rates, and lack of funding. Overall, the nation’s public schools are 59 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic, and 17 percent black. [Ben Feller, Black, Hispanic Pupils See School as Tough, AP, May 30, 2006.]
Paying for the Past
In 1898, majority-black Wilmington was the largest city in North Carolina. White Democrats were angry that even after Reconstruction ended, a coalition of blacks and Republicans still ran the city. They took matters into their own hands and burned the printing press of a black newspaper publisher, Alexander Manly. During the violence that followed, at least 60 people were killed and more than 2,100 blacks fled the city, which then became majority white. The riots were a catalyst for Democrats statewide, who regained control of the legislature and began restricting the black vote. Some historians say Wilmington marked the beginning of the Jim Crow era.
Now a state-appointed commission, led by state Rep. Thomas Wright — who is black — wants North Carolina to pay reparations to the descendents of the blacks who fled Wilmington in what he calls the nation’s only coup d’état. Besides reparations, which one expert says would “probably be in the billions of dollars,” the commission wants help for non-white businesses and home-owners. It also wants the incident taught in public schools. [Mike Baker, Panel: N.C. Should Pay for 1898 Race Riot, AP, June 1, 2006.]
For 118 years, the private Kamehameha schools in Hawaii have been run exclusively on money that Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop set aside in her estate before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The schools have admitted only native Hawaiians, though they sometimes fill vacant places with non-Hawaiians. A white who was denied admission in 2003 has filed a discrimination lawsuit but federal district judge Alan Kay upheld the schools’ admissions policy. He said it was necessary as compensation for past injustices, to preserve Hawaiian culture, and to remedy “current manifest imbalances resulting from the influx of Western civilization.” A three-judge panel of the Ninth US Court of Appeals has now overruled this opinion, but on June 20 the full court heard arguments. Whatever the outcome, the case is likely to go to the Supreme Court.
Critics of the Kamehameha schools say they are like the private, segregated academies that have been banned. One of the most famous was set up by Steven Girard of Philadelphia, who left most of his wealth in trust to establish a school for “poor, white orphan boys.” The school followed his instruction for 125 years before the Supreme Court struck down the racial criteria for admissions in 1957. The difference, say Kamehameha supporters, is that private schools for whites serve no “remedial” purpose. [Mark Niesse, Hawaiian School Admissions Questioned, AP, June 20, 2006.]
Eddie Jordan became New Orleans’ first black district attorney in 2003. In one of his first actions on the job, he fired 43 white support staff and replaced them with blacks. The whites sued, and last year a jury found Mr. Jordan violated their civil rights. On June 29, US District Court Judge Stanford Duval ordered the DA’s office to pay the white workers $3.58 million to cover lost wages, benefits, emotional damages and legal fees. Mr. Harris denies any racial motivation, and has appealed to the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who have reviewed the financial condition of Mr. Harris’ office, doubt anyone will be paid soon. [Gwen Filosa, D.A. Ordered to Pay $3.58 Million to Former Workers, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 6, 2006.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — Howard Stowe’s July cover story about the genetics of race was the kind of article that makes AR so valuable: a clear account by a scientist who not only understands the importance of race but is not afraid to write about it.
“The Genetics of Race” reminded me of the illuminating pieces Prof. Glayde Whitney of Florida State University used to write in his column, “The Galton Report.” Could you not urge Mr. Stowe to accept the position of Science Editor that Prof. Whitney held until his death in 2002? As I recall, Prof. Whitney was only 62 when he died. Sam Francis had not yet turned 58. Why must the good die young?
Stanley Carter, Paducah, Ky.
Sir — I belong to the “Du Bois Family Association,” which is made up of descendents of French Huguenots who settled in the Hudson Valley during the 1600s. A few years ago, the editor of the association newsletter wrote about “our namesake, W.E.B. Du Bois.” Needless to say, it caused an uproar, because we are not descended from W.E.B. and know that the name goes back much further than the 19th century. I was too lazy to research Du Bois, and was pleased to see AR’s review of Prof. Wolters’s Du Bois and His Rivals (see “The Man Who Invented White Guilt” in the July issue). I now understand the claim W.E.B. had on the name, and was interested to learn that his almost-white father traced the name back to the Normans. I will be clipping highlights from the review and sending it to the association for inclusion in the newsletter.
Bob Race, Portland, Ore.
Sir — I cannot say I was surprised to read the hateful things W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about whites. His sentiments are no doubt shared — sometimes openly — by many blacks. Human beings are complicated, however, and it would probably be a mistake to assume that Du Bois hated whites with the intensity of someone like Khalid Abdul Muhammad of the National of Islam. According to your review, he even fell in love with a Dutch girl but could not to marry her because a leader of blacks could not be married to a white.
I suspect that the hatred he sometimes felt for whites was more abstract than personal, that is to say, he may have felt a visceral hatred of some whites on some occasions but that his hatred fed on logic more than emotion. After all, his life’s work was based on the assumption that blacks were equal to whites. He pioneered the view that black degeneracy were therefore caused by white oppression rather than inherent defect. This logic cannot but lead to hatred, even if it is directed at the race as a whole rather than at individuals. It is, or course, the prevailing view, and many blacks today feel the same hatred for whites. For some, hatred is personal rather than abstract, and thus swells the figures for interracial crime.
Name Withheld, Albany, N.Y.
Sir — I think your reader, Clairese Lippencott of Richmond, Va., hit the nail on the head when she wrote in her July letter that “the heart of the problem” was “the refusal of the best-educated white women to have large families while the rest of the gene pool proliferates,” and that this may reflect their “perhaps unconscious contempt for white men.”
The decision to have small families would reflect civic-mindedness if everyone participated, but the lower orders don’t care. I’ve heard of a black man in my city who impregnated 27 different women, most of whom are presumably on public aid. This did not arouse particular concern.
There are some white men who do deserve contempt. The new breed of white drop-outs and drifter would benefit from greater self-respect, but whites are constantly told they are historic oppressors and “white-bread” losers. Racial pride might reconnect such men to the women of their race.
As a people, we need moral leadership. Life itself — our continuation as a people — should be our most basic value.
William McGaughey, Minneapolis, Minn.
Sir — How sad to read in the July issue about the black immigrant violence that has — in more ways than one — changed the complexion of Toronto. Canada was once safe and civil. Perhaps saddest of all, as with Europe, this is a self-inflicted wound. Liberal apologists for black shortcomings always blame segregation and the legacy of slavery. I do not recall that Canada ever had either.
Robert Michael, Fort Collins, Colo.
Sir — Is it really possible to buy a shirt for a baby that reads “My Mommy’s a M.I.L.F. (mother I’d like to f**k)”? In last month’s “O Tempora” section you claim that this is so, but it is hard to think of a parent dressing a child in anything more degrading. Whenever I think we have reached the nadir we manage to sink even deeper.
Shirley Towns, Mussel Shoals, Ala.
Sir — In a July “O Tempora” item you write of a European campaign to rid soccer of “racism.” The Europeans are smugly claiming that the campaign worked during the World Cup. No one threw bananas on the field, and only one or two African teams were greeted with monkey noises. However, the Africans were eliminated early. I suspect that if Ghana or Nigeria had made it to the quarter- or semi-finals there would have been plenty of bananas and monkey noises.
Pierre Dumortier, Quebec, Canada
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