|American Renaissance magazine
|Vol. 20, No. 6
A Breakthrough for the BNP?
The Euro-elections and resurgent nationalism.
We British like to think that our democracy has been a model for the whole world and that we enjoy full liberties and freedom of speech. In particular, we often claim that our legislative body at Westminster is the “Mother of Parliaments.”
It is therefore a great tragedy that our country, like many other supposedly democratic countries in Europe, is being transformed without consultation with its people. The massive changes to Britain, particularly those resulting from immigration, have been imposed on us by politicians without any mandate from the electorate. At the same time, anyone who objects to these changes or has even tried to debate them is exposed to abuse and insults.
Most journalists are circumspect in what they write. The National Union of Journalists forbids its members to portray nationalists or patriotic people in a favorable light; indeed it urges them to portray us as unfavorably as possible. When newspapers refer to the wonderful speech on immigration Enoch Powell gave in 1968 (see “No Representation,” AR, May 2001) they call it his “infamous” speech. It should more accurately be called the great speech, because that is what it was.
Nevertheless, a prominent parliamentary correspondent for the Daily Mail recently wrote:
Sunday, April 21, 1968, was the moment our country yielded to the sorry creed of multi-culturalism. That evening, Edward Heath, leader of the Conservative Party, telephoned Enoch Powell and sacked him from the Shadow Cabinet for making his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech about race relations. That decision made it almost impossible for British politicians to criticize immigration for the next 40 years. By slamming the desktop so hard on Powell’s fingers, Heath created a climate of political terror about immigration.
The desktop had been slammed before. In the general election of 1964, Conservative candidate Peter Griffiths criticized immigration and went on to an astonishing win in the previously safe Labour seat of Smethwick, Birmingham. When the new prime minister, Harold Wilson, went on to call him a “parliamentary leper,” the Conservative leadership did not even come to his defense. In fact, on election night, the then-chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Poole, expressed fury at his own party’s unexpected win, since it was due to having mentioned the taboo subject of immigration. The result of 40 years of near silence is that the ethnic, religious, and cultural problems have only grown worse.
The British National Party (BNP) was founded in 1982 to combat these trends but for some time it had little electoral impact. It held meetings for members but its candidates usually got no more than one or two per cent of the vote. It is always hard for a small party to break out of that range. Even people who agreed with us were often afraid they would be wasting their votes.
The BNP won its first council seat in 1993 in a by-election in the east of London (this is the equivalent of winning a seat on a city council in the United States). The Labour Party inadvertently helped us by reporting that its canvassing showed the possibility of a BNP victory. Presumably, Labour hoped to motivate its supporters by reporting this grim possibility, but the effect was to motivate ours. The BNP won by a margin of just seven votes, but a win is a win, no matter how narrow. Unfortunately, the next year the BNP candidate did not keep his seat despite receiving several hundred more votes, but this first victory gave the party much needed encouragement and publicity.
It was another seven years before the party again won a seat, and it is only in recent years, since Nick Griffin was elected chairman of the party, that we have begun to make real progress. We now have over 100 local council seats, and are the second largest party after Labour in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, where we hold 12 seats. In addition, since May 2008, BNP member Richard Barnbrook has served on the London Assembly (see “BNP Candidate Wins Seat on London Assembly,” AR, July 2008).
We are committed to saving our country through the political process, and we realize that a small party such as ours can generally best push ahead by concentrating on one area at a time. We began by standing in local elections, especially in local by-elections, in which there is just one race, rather than in a general election in which everyone is voting. This means our activists and supporters can concentrate on a single contest.
On June 4 of this year, when elections are held for the European Parliament, the BNP has a chance of appearing on a much larger stage. The Euro-Parliament sits in Strasbourg and in Brussels, and makes many of the laws that now apply to the United Kingdom. The elections are by proportional representation, which means we can win a seat in the Euro-Parliament with a much smaller percentage of the vote than would be necessary to win in our own House of Commons.
The United Kingdom, has been divided, by order of the European Union, into 12 regions, nine of which are in England. In each region, elections will follow what is known as the d’Hondt system of proportional representation, named after Victor d’Hondt, a Belgian lawyer who invented the system in the 1870s. Each party puts up a list of candidates, and people vote for the party, not for individual candidates. The system is so complicated that it is not possible to know in advance how many votes are necessary for representation, but it is likely that any party that gets as much as 8 percent or so of the vote in one of the larger regions could win a seat. If a party wins enough votes for two or more seats they go to the candidates that are second, third, etc., on the party list. This system gives more opportunity to small parties than does the traditional first-past-the-post system, in which a candidate in a district must win more votes than any other. That is the method used in British and American elections.
The largest Euro-election district by population in England is called the South East region, which includes the ancient English counties of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The South East will elect 10 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and it is my aim to be among them. Party chairman Nick Griffin is running in the region known as the North West, where our support has generally been good. In 2004, the party won 6.4 percent of the Euro-vote in that region, and we need only 2 or 3 percent more for Mr. Griffin to become an MEP. In April, our party came in second with 23 percent of the vote in a by-election in Manchester, so we would need less than half that level of support in the region as a whole to win a seat.
This election could therefore be our first chance to win parliamentary representation, even if only to the European Parliament. Of course, we expect some day to send members to the House of Commons, but the first-past-the-post system makes that much harder.
A seat or two in the Euro-Parliament would not just send the Left into a frenzy. It would increase our stature immensely. It would give us government funding, which would help us for future elections, and would force the media and public to take us more seriously. There would be less justification for leaving us out of the important political discussions that take place on television and radio.
Also, MEPs from the BNP would be in a position to join other nationalists to form what is known as a “parliamentary group.” At the Euro-Parliament, it takes at least 25 members from at least seven member states with a similar point of view to form a group, but once it is formed, it gains various advantages and privileges within the parliament. A nationalist group known as Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty was set up in 2007 but broke up just 10 months later.
And, finally, British nationalist MEPs could raise their voices in opposition to the increasingly oppressive laws and policies under which we are forced to live.
The prospect of a BNP breakthrough has terrified the establishment. As long ago as 2004, the Association of Chief Police Officers announced that police officers would be fired if they joined our party. This is, of course, outrageous, since everything we do is legal and we are recognized by the Electoral Commission as a legally constituted political party.
Recently a police officer in Liverpool was dismissed from the force because his name was on a membership list that had been stolen and posted on the Internet. In fact, we know that there is considerable support for us among the police, hardly surprising, since the police are often on the front lines in seeing what is really going on in our country. At least officers and their families can still vote for us, so long as voting remains secret.
In March, the Communications Workers Union, which covers mailmen, sent a notice to members, reminding them that there is a “conscience clause” in their contract that gives them the right to refuse to deliver election materials they consider “offensive.” Although there is little evidence our mailings are not getting through, we appear to be the direct target of this notice.
The hysteria is mounting because our prospects are better than ever. One Sunday newspaper, News of the World, recently fretted that we could win as many as seven seats. Part of its reasoning was that the non-mainstream, anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) managed to get 16 percent of the vote in the last Euro-elections five years ago. Since that time UKIP has crumbled and many of its votes could now go to the BNP.
Our opponents also like to say that the economic downturn plays into our hands. Peter Hain, who has been a Labour minister for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, warns that the country is now “very fertile territory” for the BNP. “When people are losing their jobs and there is an economic downturn . . . it’s heaven-made for them.”
Politicians are reading our monthly newspaper, Voice of Freedom. Some months ago the Conservative party leader, David Cameron, criticized the Prime Minister for using the phrase “British jobs for British Workers,” arguing that it was taken from our paper.
In April, the number two figure in the Labour Party herself, Harriet Harman, gave us a nice boost, admitting that in this election Labour is more than ever “focused on the BNP.” She said her party was even adjusting its message because of us. Where we are strong, they will use the slogan “fairness not fear” rather than their national slogan, “winning the fight for Britain’s future.”
It is a sign of our strength that they feel the need to shift their message to combat ours. They are admitting that we are a force to be reckoned with and, in effect, assuring our supporters that a vote for the BNP will not be wasted. It would be wonderful if we did as well as the Lefty scare-mongers predict. In the meanwhile the more they fret the better.
The political climate in Britain has never been more favorable to us, and many people would love to send a message of dissatisfaction to the three main political parties: Labour, which is now in power, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats. All three oppose any form of nationalism, they support large-scale third world immigration, and they favor a multi-ethnic Britain.
They also try to unite against BNP candidates, telling people they should vote for any party but the BNP. At least this is the official line from the top, especially at Labour. To them, keeping the BNP out is more important than winning. Therefore, if only the Conservative candidate can beat our candidate, Labour supporters are told to vote Conservative.
In April, Immigration Minister Phil Woolas wrote an astonishing article in the Mail on Sunday called “I Want You to Vote Tory — By a Labour Minister.” “You wouldn’t normally expect a Labour Minister to ask you to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat or even Green,” he wrote, “but this year I am doing just that . . . The threat of the BNP winning a seat in Europe is very real. So please, if you can’t vote for my party, get out and vote against me!”
Despite this anyone-but-the-BNP message, we know that at the local level, officials and candidates are delighted when we beat their rivals. Divisions of this kind between the big party leaders and their members are a sign of real weakness within the political establishment.
On to Strasbourg
I, myself, have run several times for the BNP. When I first stood for the European Parliament in 2004, a church group invited me to take part in a debate with all the other candidates. This was something of a breakthrough because the big parties had a “no platform policy,” refusing to appear at any function if we participated. Their aim, of course, was to cast us as untouchables.
I arrived at the church hall and took my place on the platform. The speakers from the three big parties did not go onto the platform and instead stood by the door. The chairman of the debate then announced that those parties would not take part if I participated, and asked the audience whether I should be made to leave.
A wag in the audience then asked, “If they refuse to share a platform with the BNP does that mean they refuse to share a ballot paper with the BNP?” The hall voted almost unanimously that I should stay, and the representatives of the big parties trooped out. The debate chairman announced that they were going to the pub across the road and that anyone who wanted could join them. To my great satisfaction, the audience stayed where it was, and I had a good debate with the representatives of the other, smaller parties.
I was again vindicated the next week when the local paper published its letters from readers, who were not at all impressed by the churlish behavior of the candidates who had walked out. My party won 2.9 percent of the vote in the South East region, more than several other small parties but well short of the 8 percent that would have been necessary for a seat in the Euro-parliament.
In 2005, in the General Election that year, I stood for the House of Commons from Maidenhead, which is a town on the Thames near Windsor. The other parties were the big three, as well as UKIP. The BNP had never campaigned in Maidenhead, whereas UKIP had, which meant that we had to work hard to make ourselves known.
In the first week the local papers wrote up the policies and published the photographs of all the candidates. This in itself was a step forward as, in some elections in the past, the press had completely ignored the BNP. I found all the journalists involved to be helpful and pleasant, and they treated me fairly. Each week they contacted me for comments on whatever was the issue of the week and gave the BNP equal coverage.
Local papers are almost always much more objective than the badly prejudiced national papers. Reporters at national papers tend to be members of the very leftist National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and to follow its dictates rigidly. Writers for local papers are less ideological, and tend to be fair.
I got an extra boost from the press when the local paper reported that the other candidates had all gotten together publicly to discuss how to “stop the BNP.” The British people still have a sense of fair play and do not like bullying of this kind. The next week I had an opportunity to write a reply, and there was a range of readers’ letters. Almost all writers were favorable to me, even if they did not plan to vote for me. By foolishly trying to gang up on me, my opponents gave me a further week of publicity and much sympathy.
This time, the other candidates did not make the mistake of trying to keep me out of debates. They appeared to have learned a lesson from the drubbing they got the previous year. There were two debates, both of which went well. Sometimes it even seemed that the other candidates felt obliged to move in my direction because of the clear approval I got from audiences.
There was one issue, however, on which they would concede nothing. They all spoke in favor of multiculturalism while I, of course, opposed it. Only ten weeks later I was vindicated when Islamic suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in the London transport system. Since that time, the big parties have cooled their ardor for multiculturalism, and some have had to face up to the fact that we were the first to get that policy right.
In the end, I received 1.54 percent of the vote. It was no surprise that we finished well behind the main parties, but it was an accomplishment to have beaten UKIP, which had already campaigned in the area. Many voters had a chance to see first hand that we are a sensible party with realistic policies.
My next campaign for Parliament was at Henley-on-Thames last summer. This was a by-election called after their MP, Boris Johnson, was elected mayor of London and had to resign from Parliament (this was the same election that put the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook on the London Assembly).
Ours is not a one-issue party, and I campaigned on many issues besides immigration control. The government is forcing local councils to permit a great deal of building even in towns and villages that do not want it. This is to provide for a population that is increasing because of uncontrolled immigration, not indigenous growth. This problem is of special concern in rural districts such as Henley, so I argued strongly that development decisions should be made locally.
I also took the position that we should leave the European Union. I pointed out that more than 70 percent of our new laws are now being made outside Britain, and that we must have this power returned to the House of Commons. Finally, I pointed out that abuses of human rights legislation have led to the coddling of criminals and illegal immigrants.
These were all strong issues, and led to respectable results. Henley has been a safe seat for the Conservatives since 1910, so it was no surprise that their candidate won nearly 57 percent of the vote. I was also beaten by the candidate for the Liberal Democrats and just barely by the Green candidate, but with 3.6 percent of the vote I finished fourth in a field of 12. Most important, I won more votes than the Labour candidate.
This was the first time the BNP had polled better than one of the three main parties in a parliamentary election, and it was a great humiliation for Gordon Brown’s Labour government. The next morning’s news was full of this story, and the media could not help but portray the BNP in a relatively decent light. At the same time, there were undoubtedly many Conservative voters who were delighted to see the BNP beating the Labour Party, no matter what their leaders might say.
In the upcoming Euro-Parliament elections we hope to win at least two or three seats, and the BNP candidate with the best prospects is Nick Griffin. My region, the South East, has not been seen as fertile ground for the BNP, but that is changing. Only in February we won our first local government seat south of the Thames, at Swanley in Kent, where we took what had long been a Labour seat with 41 percent of the vote.
Since that victory, we have stood in another South-of-the-Thames ward in West Sussex. It is a Conservative stronghold, and no one was surprised by a Conservative victory, with the Liberal Democrats in second place. We came in third with a respectable 13.7 percent, which was more than UKIP and Labour combined. If we can get figures like that for the South East as a whole, then a seat for me in the European Parliament would be a distinct possibility.
When we campaign, we make a huge effort to speak to people directly, and we find they are concerned about many things besides immigration. We talk about protecting British jobs for British workers, something the Prime Minister has also said but does not believe. We oppose involvement in foreign wars and favor improved health services and better policing. All these positions win support, as does our insistence that citizens should get priority over foreigners in public housing.
In the North West, Nick Griffin is campaigning very hard. He reports that people recognize him wherever he goes and that many want their photos taken with him. He has been on a month-long “Battle of Britain Tour,” based on the theme of 1940 when our country was last fighting for its survival. This time the enemy is within.
Our website www.bnp.org.uk plays a useful part in our campaign. Its political news and up-to-date reports have made it the most active political website in Britian, and this gives us a big lead over all the other parties.
One of our campaign slogans is: “People like you voting for the British National Party.” Increasingly there are people all over the country who want to vote for the BNP. In the forthcoming election we have every expectation of having a significant impact.
Tim Rait has worked in international trade and commerce. He speaks fluent French, and makes frequent trips to the Continent and the United States on behalf of the party.
Loonies on the Loose
Some of the opposition to the BNP has become nothing short of comical. There is a group known as Unite Against Fascism (UAF) that can’t tell the difference between Britain today and Germany in the 1930s. Its secretary Weyman Bennett, explicitly with the BNP in mind, warns that “Hitler used the economic crisis of the 1930s to gain a hearing for racists and murderous policies.” UAF is not nearly as unimportant as it should be. Not only Mr. Hain (see main story) but the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone spoke at one of their “anti-fascist” rallies in February.
The Church of England is living up to its reputation as haven for milquetoasts. In 2004, the General Synod affirmed that voting for a “racist” party was “incompatible with Christian discipleship,” though it did not mention the BNP by name. Since 2006, it has been screening candidates for the priesthood for “racist” attitudes. This February, the synod finally targeted the BNP explicitly, voting 322 to 13 with 20 abstentions to expel any priests, trainees, or lay staff who may be members. A “lay” member of the synod, Vasantha Gnanadoss, brought the motion, and the vicars tumbled over each other to make her happy. Church leaders explained that non-whites were “scandalously under-represented” in the clergy, and hoped that by stamping out “racist undertones” they could attract more minorities.
In April, it was nurses who went ’round the bend. Unison, a major medical workers’ union, unanimously passed a motion at its annual conference to ban BNP members from nursing. The motion had no legal effect, but Unison called on the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which qualifies and registers all nurses, to keep BNP members out. On its application form for the conference, Unison thoughtfully noted that any members who were in the process of changing sex could attend as the sex of their choice even if they had not officially made the change at work.
This sort of craziness will soon begin to backfire if it has not already. The millions of British voters who actually meet a BNP candidate or take the trouble to learn about the party will have no trouble figuring out who is beyond the pale and who is not.
— Jared Taylor
Signs of Spring come to Austria.
The European elections are generally favorable to movements that defend the concept of Europe for Europeans. Prospects are especially favorable in Eastern Europe but also in Austria, where the nationalist Right goes from strength to strength despite a recent split (see “What Happened in Austria,” AR, Dec. 2008). The Right came out the big winner in elections for two regional parliaments held on March 1 that forced a serious retreat on the ruling Social Democrats.
Despite the death in an automobile accident last October of its charismatic leader, Joerg Haider, the Alliance for the Future of Austria had great success in the province of Carinthia, where Mr. Haider was governor for 10 years. The Alliance got no less than 45.5 percent of the vote, or 4 percent more than in the previous election. The Austrian Freedom Party, Mr. Haider’s former party and still reliably nationalist, got 3.8 percent of the vote, which put the combined Right at very close to 50 percent. The Social Democrats dropped 10 points to just 28.6 percent.
The Social Democrats also faltered in the parliamentary elections in the province of Salzburg, but were still the number-one party with 39.5 percent, which ensured that their leader, Gabi Burgstaller, would continue as governor.
The traditional-conservative People’s Party, which shares power at the national level with the Social Democrats in a grand coalition, also lost votes in Salzburg, where the nationalist Right made clear gains. The Freedom Party took 13 percent of the vote, which was 4.3 percent better than at last balloting. The Alliance for the Future of Austria, which seems to be limited in its influence to Carinthia, did not manage to send a member to the regional parliament.
Austrian press accounts of these results slipped into bad taste, underscoring the posthumous success of Mr. Haider: “He polls better dead than alive,” was the predominant theme.
There was a sympathy vote, to be sure, but that does not explain everything. Mr. Haider’s colorful personality was rather in conflict with the electorate’s views of homosexuality, and that may help explain why a party with his platform does better without the man himself. On the other hand, one of the main architects of the Alliance’s impressive win in Carinthia was Stefan Petzner, the “spiritual son” and reputed lover of the dead leader. He was briefly Mr. Haider’s successor but was removed for speaking openly about their relationship. Mr. Petzner, who remained in the background but was very active in the Alliance’s landslide win in Carinthia in March, says he is very optimistic about the upcoming Euro-elections on June 7.
The results of the elections on Carinthia and Salzburg raise once again the question of the relations between the two nationalist parties. In Carinthia, the Alliance appears to be on its way to becoming the ultra-dominant party while the Freedom Party does not seem able to get past the 5 percent barrier required to get into the regional parliament. In Salzburg province, on the other hand, the Freedom Party is well positioned while it is the Alliance that is out in the cold.
On election night, after the returns were in, the national head of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, pronounced himself in favor of reunification of the two parties. The head of the Alliance in Carinthia, Uwe Scheuch, did not reject the idea out of hand, declaring:
During my eight years with Joerg Haider I learned that one must never completely rule out anything. . . . Reunification is not under discussion at the present time. I speak deliberately about ‘the present time’ because I have learned that political strategy makes no sense if taken in a time-frame of any less than 10 years.
In Austria, we can imagine the two parties coexisting in a way that allows each to do well. This is because the Alliance, which is so powerful in Carinthia, is more or less marginal in the other provinces. It may well be that the Alliance will be the vehicle of nationalism in Carinthia while the Freedom Party will represent the rest of the country. This could lead to a non-aggression pact within Austria and what would, in effect, be an alliance between the two parties within any nationalist group that may form within the European Parliament.
Springtime has arrived with much promise for the Austrians.
Translated from Rivarol (rivarol.com), March 13, 2009.
Le Pen Continues to Terrify
The Euro-Parliament has a tradition: After every election, the oldest member speaks at the inaugural session. The Euro-deputies are now in a stew because at age 80, none other than Jean-Marie Le Pen of the French National Front will be the senior member. As the French Socialist member Aurélie Filippetti explained, Mr. Le Pen is “a danger for democracy,” so must not be given the floor.
What to do? Since the Euro-elections operate according to proportional representation, it would be possible to drag someone out of retirement and put him at the head of a party list. Former Portuguese prime minister Mario Soares is 84 and ex-chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt is 90. There was some talk that one of them could be persuaded to preside over the opening session and then resign his seat.
After that idea went nowhere, it now appears that the Euro-parliament will rewrite the rules to make sure Mr. Le Pen cannot poison the air. The outgoing president will have the right to inaugurate the new session, and if he is not re-elected the former vice president may preside. Bruno Gollnisch, Mr. Le Pen’s deputy in the French National Front, poured scorn on this maneuvering. “The ones who want to change the rules are scoundrels and thugs,” he said.
It is not the first time the parliament has been disgraced by poor losers. After the 1989 elections, film-maker Claude Autant-Lara was the oldest deputy at age 88. Horrors! He was a National Front candidate. That year, he was at least allowed to speak, and give a well-regarded warning on the American threat to European culture, but the majority of the deputies ostentatiously walked out of the chamber when he took the podium.
Whitewashing Jack Johnson
A perfect hero for our times.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) have joined documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, a noted apologist for blacks, in a bid to get a posthumous pardon for the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson (1878-1946). Earlier efforts to arrange a pardon for Johnson’s conviction for violating the Mann Act have been unsuccessful, with one bill stalling in Congress just last year. However, Johnson is a hero to many blacks and to the most truckling sort of whites, so there is a good chance President Obama will grant a pardon. During his lifetime many Americans considered his a career a standing insult to whites — which makes him a particularly appealing candidate for amnesty.
Jack Johnson, who was born in Galveston, Texas, but later moved to Chicago, was the original loutish celebrity athlete. In the early 20th century, when white supremacy was still the norm, he taunted his opponents both in and out of the ring, and boasted about his endless fornications with white women. He was the first black man ever to be allowed to fight for the prestigious heavyweight championship, which he won from Tommy Burns in 1908 in Sydney, Australia. In a particularly cruel fight, he not only insulted his opponent, but held him up several times when he was about to go down so he could punish him some more.
Johnson’s claim to the title was disputed, however, because Burns had been declared heavyweight champion following the voluntary retirement of the undefeated champion, James Jefferies. Many people considered Burns something of a fake because he had never fought Jeffries.
The call went out for a “Great White Hope” to regain the title for the white race, and in 1910, former champion Jeffries came out of retirement for what was widely billed as “the fight of the century.” Jeffries said he accepted the challenge “for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro,” but he had not fought in six years and had to lose 100 pounds to get back to fighting weight. After Jeffries hit the canvas twice in the 15th round and conceded the match, there were race riots in more than 50 cities, in which 23 blacks and two whites were killed. Many riots started when angry whites attacked spontaneous public celebrations by blacks. Some whites were so upset by the outcome of the fight that in 1912 they persuaded Congress to ban the interstate distribution of boxing films that showed Johnson beating a series of white opponents. Southern detractors threatened to lynch the champion if he ever returned to Dixie.
This, then, was the background to Johnson’s prosecution under the Mann Act. The act, passed in 1910, got its name from its chief sponsor, Congressman James R. Mann (R-IL). The statute authorized federal prosecution of anyone who transported a woman across state lines “for immoral purposes.” Congress claimed that its authority to regulate interstate commerce could be used to stop the white slave trade.
The act was part of a series of religious and Progressive Era reforms aimed at civilizing American society, and the city of Chicago took part enthusiastically in this effort. Johnson, however, continued to flaunt his insatiable sexual appetite, especially in the aftermath of his victory in “the fight of the century.”
In an era when anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books in many states and firmly enforced in the South, Johnson scandalized the country by marrying not one, but two white women in rapid succession (all three of his wives were white). His first marriage was to New York socialite Etta Terry Duryea, who had divorced her first husband, an automobile manufacturer, before taking up with the boxer. The newlyweds’ turbulent relationship ended in less than two years when Etta committed suicide by shooting herself. Johnson had probably been beating her and she was said to be depressed by his infidelities.
By then, Johnson had already taken up with a 24-year-old white prostitute named Lucille Cameron, whom federal authorities hoped to recruit to testify against Johnson in the first-ever prosecution under the Mann Act. She refused to testify and Johnson married her — just three months after his first wife shot herself.
Johnson, who was paid $225,000 for his fight with Jeffries, traveled the country with his new bride and another prostitute, Belle Schreiber, who had left a brothel to join the entourage. This tour spurred federal prosecutors back into action, and they charged Johnson with transporting Schreiber from Pittsburgh to Chicago for immoral purposes. From the start there were claims the charges were trumped up and racially motivated, but a jury found Johnson guilty on seven separate counts, and he got the maximum sentence of a year and a day. Johnson fled the United States for Canada, disguised as a member of a barnstorming Negro baseball team, and later went to Paris. The outbreak of the First World War broke up the party and Johnson left France as a man without a country.
After traveling to various places, Johnson, who had by now run through all his money, agreed to defend his title against a challenger from Kansas, Jess Willard. The championship fight between Johnson and “the Pottawatomie Giant” took place on April 5, 1915 before a capacity crowd at a racetrack in Havana, Cuba. It was a brutally hot day with the temperature over 100 degrees. At six feet six inches, Willard was one of the tallest heavyweights, and he used his height and reach to great advantage, knocking out Johnson in the 26th round. Photographs show the defeated champ lying on his back on the canvas, shielding his eyes from the blazing sun with an outstretched, gloved hand. Although Johnson continued to box professionally, he never regained the title.
Johnson eventually tired of exile and turned himself in to the authorities in July 1920. He served a year in Leavenworth, and returned to Chicago on his release. Reduced to supporting himself by working at carnivals, he insisted he had thrown the fight with Willard. He claimed he had a deal with federal officials to drop the Mann Act charges if he took a dive, but that they had double crossed him.
A close examination of the film of the title match belies this myth. The fight was decided by a knockout after 26 punishing rounds. Johnson managed to stay even until the 20th round, but then he clearly began to tire. When Jess Willard was asked about the claim that the match was fixed, he replied, “If he was going to throw the fight, I wish he’d done it sooner. It was hotter than hell out there.” The knockout punch can be seen in a YouTube clip, and has every appearance of being a solid hit. Most experts agree that Willard won the title legitimately. Nevertheless, Johnson’s claim gained great currency among blacks, and was printed as fact in such black newspapers as The Chicago Defender.
The malicious-prosecution and fixed-fight myths were further legitimatized by a 1967 Tony-award-winning play, The Great White Hope, which was loosely based on Johnson’s life. James Earl Jones played “Jack Jefferson” on stage and in the screen adaptation made in 1970. Both versions took liberties with the facts and sanitized much of Johnson’s unsavory character. Unlike the belligerent Johnson, “Jefferson” is a largely sympathetic figure exploited by white society. Appearing at the height of the civil rights era, the story was a romanticized liberal indictment of state-sanctioned discrimination. Jefferson is a flawed protagonist, not unlike Othello, whereas the real life Johnson was a heel. The play won a Tony award and Mr. Jones received an Academy Award nomination for the movie performance, leading many people to accept the Hollywood moonshine as fact. It would be much simpler for President Obama to pardon the fictional character than the real man.
Johnson, who was often cited for speeding and reckless driving, died in an automobile accident in 1946. His apologists claim he had driven off in a fury after he was refused service at a segregated lunch counter in North Carolina, and ended up crashing his car. In April, in its report on the efforts to have Johnson pardoned, the Associated Press repeated the myth that he was buried in an anonymous grave. In fact, there is a large monument at the former champion’s grave in the Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. Two of his three wives, the tragic Etta Terry Duryea and, his last wife, Irene Pineau, are buried next to him. The prostitute Lucille Cameron divorced Johnson on grounds of adultery 22 years before his death and is not buried in the same plot.
I predict this most recent attempt to rehabilitate Johnson will succeed. After all, he is just the sort of black person we are supposed to admire: In his prime, he could beat any white man in the ring and he debauched untold numbers of white women. He was the prototype of today’s foul-mouthed athletes who laugh at the very idea of sportsmanship. If, on top of all this, we can be persuaded that vicious, envious white men sent him to jail on false charges we have the perfect hero for our times. Gestures like this cost nothing, and Mr. Obama will have a grand opportunity to lecture us all on racism again.
Mr. Sheffield is a retired teacher who holds a graduate degree in American Studies.
How Judges Wreck Schools
Raymond Wolters on the perils of integration.
Raymond Wolters, Race and Education, 1954-2007, University of Missouri Press, 2008, 313 pp., $44.95.
The integration of American schools is almost always presented as a glorious march to justice, with hallowed beginnings in the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education. Race and Education, by University of Delaware history professor Raymond Wolters, is a refreshingly clear-eyed account at what is better described as a mix of deceit and judicial arrogance, seasoned with naive idealism. Prof. Wolters explains the tortured reasoning of the most important school-integration decisions, and describes the staggering consequences they had on the lives of real Americans. His conclusion? “[D]esegregation was problematical from the start, and integration has been a failure.” This is an exhaustively researched, deeply thoughtful analysis of a historical process that is often described only in clichés.
An immense amount has been written about the Brown decision, and its unsavory background has gradually come to light. It is clear that Earl Warren and several other justices wanted to end segregation in schools and were determined to do it with or without legal justification. They naturally preferred to appear to be Constitutional scholars rather than legislators so they put out a request for a study of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause that could justify a finding that segregated schools were unconstitutional.
Liberal historians worked hard but could find no evidence that the framers of the Amendment ever thought it would require desegregation. In fact, the Congress that passed the Amendment established segregated schools in the District of Columbia, clearly expressing its view that equal protection did not require mixed-race schools. Historians twisted their research as best they could to make it look otherwise. Constitutional scholar Alfred H. Kelly later admitted he had “manipulated history” and “doctored all the evidence” so as to give the Justices grounds for a reasonable-sounding decision.
It was not enough. Even with doctored evidence there was no Constitutional basis for the Justices’ ambitions, so they skipped the Constitution entirely and based their ruling on social science (see “Brown v. Board: the Real Story,” AR, July 2004). This “science” was mainly black sociologist Kenneth Clark’s notorious doll studies.
Clark claimed that when black students in segregated schools were shown two dolls — one black, the other white — and asked which one they liked better, a substantial number chose the white doll. He claimed this meant segregation instilled feelings of inferiority. What he failed to say — but what was known to the lawyers arguing the case for segregation — was that his own research contradicted that claim. He had run the same experiment with children in integrated schools in Massachusetts and had found that even more of them preferred the white doll. If his research showed anything about feelings of inferiority, it was that integration made them worse. His evidence before the Supreme Court was deceitful.
The main lawyer arguing the case for segregation, John W. Davis, knew this. However, he believed the Supreme Court of the United States of America would never stoop so low as to base a ruling on whether a practice made people feel bad rather than on whether it was Constitutional. He did not even bother to reply to the doll study, noting, “I can only say that if that sort of ‘fluff’ can move any court, ‘God save the state.’ ”
“Fluff” prevailed. The justices struck down segregation because they found that it “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their [blacks’] status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Even the New York Times recognized the decision as a con job. Its sub-headline in the article announcing Brown read: “A Sociological Decision: Court Founded Its Segregation Ruling On Hearts and Minds Rather Than Laws.”
The decision caught the segregationists completely by surprise. Like Davis, they thought the court cared about the law, not “hearts and minds.”
Prof. Wolters notes the importance, however, of what the Brown court did not do. It required only that schools stop separating the races, and did not require that they force them together. And, indeed, the initial consequences of Brown were anti-climactic: a few ambitious black students transferred to formerly all-white schools, whereas no whites transferred to all-black schools. That was desegregation, or the end of official racial separation. Hardly anyone promoted integration, or forcible mixing, even though it would come with surprising speed.
Prof. Wolters finds it significant that shortly after Brown, the Supreme Court handed down a series of brief decisions forbidding segregation of public swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, etc. It did not give any reason for these rulings, noting only that they were rendered “in light of Brown.” These rulings meant no one was to be excluded from such facilities because of race, but cities were not obliged to cart people around town to make sure swimming pools were “integrated” rather than merely “desegregated.”
Prof. Wolters points out that during the late 1950s and early 1960s Americans had a traditional view of the role of schools. They took it for granted that children varied in ability and that it was logical to group them on that basis. They also took it for granted that the job of the schools was to teach academic subjects, not to instill self-esteem or promote “diversity.” When the Soviets beat us into space by orbiting Sputnik in 1957, it only encouraged the traditional view that school should be rigorous and science-oriented.
It was common even to complain that schools were not challenging the very best students; hardly anyone complained that they were neglecting the “downtrodden.” It was a time when James Conant, president of Harvard, scoffed at what he called “the dogma one often hears: that all the youth, irrespective of academic ability and interest, should complete grade twelve.” Only a few fanatics thought it was the job of the schools to mix the races.
It was in the 1960s that fashions changed. Americans put men on the moon (thereby proving we had caught up with the Soviets), blacks rioted, and people began to think schools should compensate for “disadvantage.” Schools were to become laboratories for liberalism as much as they were places of learning.
Absent from most histories is any but the most superficial and hostile treatment of the resistance to desegregation. Race and Education not only covers many neglected incidents in detail, it even notes that segregationist predictions were often correct.
On the legal front, the high-water mark of resistance was the now largely forgotten 1963 case of Stell v. Savannah. Dismayed that the Brown Court had based a decision on social science rather than law — and miserable social science at that — the segregationists decided to counter with social science of their own. They found a sympathetic South Carolina trial judge, Frank Scarlett, and sued to keep public schools separate. Prof. Wolters tells the story well.
The NAACP, which had lobbied the Supreme Court to admit sociological studies now took the opposite stance, insisting that science was irrelevant and that the legal precedent of Brown was all that mattered. Judge Scarlett, however, let an all-star lineup of race-realist scholars testify about everything from Kenneth Clark’s slanted doll studies to racial differences in IQ to reasons why whites and blacks were better off in separate schools. They predicted what actually happened: that blacks would not do better academically just because they went to white schools, that they would self-segregate just as they did in the North, and that there would be serious discipline problems. Full-scale integration, they predicted, would “ruin the white schools.” Professor Wolters writes that Wesley Critz George, emeritus professor of anatomy at the University of North Carolina medical school, reduced the NAACP lawyer Constance Motley to tears when he testified about mental differences between blacks and whites.
The NAACP did not even try to refute this evidence; it called no witnesses. Judge Scarlett duly ruled in favor of maintaining segregated schools but his decision was overturned. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the lower court’s job was to enforce desegregation as ordered by the Supreme Court, and that “no inferior court may refrain from acting as required . . . even if such a court should conclude that the Supreme Court erred.” Legally, it was the end of the road for segregated public education.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed just one year after the Stell case. Its provisions about employment and public accommodation are well known, but its provisions about schools are often overlooked. Prof. Wolters points out that the law ordered the attorney general to enforce desegregation of schools, but did not require integration: “ ‘desegregation,’ ” according to the law, “shall not mean the assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.” This was in accordance with the general understanding of Brown.
One of the most astonishing acts of judicial activism during this period was the 1967 case of Hobson v. Hanson, in which the famously liberal judge J. Skelly Wright found ability tracking itself to be unconstitutional. In a breath-taking ruling that fortunately did not affect any jurisdiction beyond the District of Columbia, he ruled that tests and grading themselves were culturally biased and “wholly inappropriate for making predictions about the academic potential of disadvantaged Negro children.”
Prof. Wolters points out that the end of ability grouping drove even the remaining middle-class blacks out of the DC system and concludes that Judge Wright single-handedly “destroyed an educational system that had been working reasonably well.” Wright was later honored with an endowed chair in his name at Yale Law School.
The decline in DC schools that followed was only made worse by a string of superintendants like Barbara Sizemore who threw out standardized tests and decided that students themselves should decide what they would study. Teachers would offer only “guidance.” By then, the tests were suspect in some circles because no district in the country could figure out how to get blacks to do as well on them as whites. Thus was born the enduring belief among liberals that this proved the tests were defective.
On to integration
During the 1960s, many education and civil rights bureaucrats decided that mere desegregation was not good enough because it did not produce wide-spread mixing. Despite the clear language of the Civil Rights Act and the accepted understanding of Brown, they worked diligently — but quietly — to push blacks and whites into the same schools. “Although the civil rights bureaucrats had a fundamental disagreement with the law they purported to enforce,” writes Prof. Wolters, “they were careful to avoid a candid discussion of their ideas.”
With the 1968 case of Green v. New Kent County, the Supreme Court handed the zealots exactly what they wanted. Prof. Wolters dryly points out the absurdities of the case that officially plunged the country into aggressive integration. New Kent County, Virginia, had two small school systems, one that served about 740 blacks and another that served about 560 whites. When the desegregation order came down, New Kent County stopped separating students by race and let them choose their schools. By 1967, 115 black children had gone to the white school and no whites had gone to the black school. There was no sign that any of the desegregated black children had been mistreated in any way.
The NAACP’s head lawyer, Jack Greenburg, told the court that although there appeared to be freedom of choice in New Kent County, it was as illusion. He insisted that most blacks avoided the white school only because they sensed whites did not want them there. Greenburg did not even consider the possibility that blacks could be proud of their school or prefer to study with other blacks.
Earl Warren seems to have been ever the sucker for bogus social theorizing. In his decision he wrote that the school system and its appearance of choice were “booby trapped” by “social and cultural influences that have existed for centuries there.” As an antidote to those benighted centuries, the school had to assign students by race and make sure they mixed. Warren, goaded on by Greenburg, clearly had the instincts of a Stalin. What people did when they had a choice was not a real choice unless he approved of their choice. Astonishingly, when it made this fateful ruling, the unanimous Court claimed merely to be enforcing the rules laid out in Brown 14 year earlier. As Prof. Wolters puts it, the justices “made a momentous wrong turn.”
Initially, the Supreme Court had limited its orders to school systems that practiced legal segregation. The Green decision laid the foundation for later decisions that spread forcible integration to the entire country, even to those areas where there had always been school choice but where neighborhood segregation led to generally segregated schools. Prof. Wolters deftly summarizes these decisions, as well as those of the 1990s and early 2000s that finally brought the Court back close to the original desegregationist thinking of Brown.
One of the most famous names associated with 1960s school integration is James S. Coleman, a professor of education at Johns Hopkins, and author of the famous 1966 paper known as “The Coleman Report.” He surprised liberals by finding that money alone did not seem to improve school performance. What mattered were parent involvement and a school atmosphere that reflected what were essentially white, middle-class values. He then reassured the liberals by explaining that if blacks were exposed to values of this kind they would pick up good habits and improve their grades while white children would be unaffected. Schools would take the place of the black family in shaping students’ minds. Coleman was so influential that he became known as “the scholar who inspired busing.”
Nine years later, in 1975, a sadder but wiser Coleman released a second report. He confessed that integration was “much more complicated than any of us ever realized,” and was honest enough to report what really happened. First, when blacks showed up, whites cleared out. On balance, he found that a five percent increase in the number of black students lead to a 10 percent drop in white enrollment — Coleman called this “an insoluble dilemma.” He also reported that black school performance did not improve after the move to white schools and that when teachers lowered standards for blacks many whites slacked off, too. Coleman wanted the races to mix but came to realize that aggressive integration of the kind he had promoted often served to drive the races apart. Needless to say, the second “Coleman report” had little influence, and some of Coleman’s erstwhile friends turned on him.
Many people, especially Southerners, knew what integration would bring long before Coleman figured it out, and Prof. Wolters describes Prince Edward County, Virginia’s remarkable campaign for segregation (see “Integration . . . Disintegration,” AR, July 1993). Rather than integrate, from 1959 to 1964, the county closed all public schools, slashed property taxes, and urged blacks and whites alike to build private schools. Robert T. Redd, who became the headmaster of a private school, explained, “We felt we understood black people as well as anybody because of our long interaction with them. We knew desegregation couldn’t work because of the inherent temperamental and intellectual differences.” Whites offered to set up private schools for blacks, but national leaders like Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King urged them to refuse. Black children without schools were too potent a symbol of white wickedness to be passed up.
In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the county had a legal duty to operate public, integrated schools, and ordered the county to levy taxes for that purposes. Even a few liberals worried that this was a usurpation of legislative, tax-raising power by the judiciary, but as was the case with Brown, principles could be sacrificed in the name of integration. This was a crucial decision because other districts would surely have followed Prince Edward’s example if the Court had not acted.
Many integrationists were convinced that once black and white children got to know each other they would fall into each others’ arms. Prof. Wolters reports that most studies found that the races seldom mixed and that children of neither race thought better of the other after integration. However, one psychologist, Walter G. Stephan, concluded that after integration black students’ views of whites improved while white students soured on blacks. What Prof. Stephan probably found was that students discovered that media portrayals are wrong: Whites are not inveterate “racists,” and blacks are not simply white people who happen to have black skin.
Today, how are we to view the tortured history of court-imposed school integration? Despite the failure of integration to achieve any of its goals, Prof. Wolters finds that it is now almost obligatory to criticize Brown because it required only desegregation and not integration. Furthermore, the decision is now hailed because it ignored the Constitution. As historian David Garrow wrote in 1997, the decision freed the Court from “the Constitution’s historical limitations.”
This is another way of saying we really do not have a Constitution. If judges can free it from its “historical limitations” they can make it say anything they like. After all, for 150 years, the Constitution permitted assignment of students by race, but it must have amended itself because it suddenly stopped permitting it in 1954. Just 14 years later, the Green Court discovered that the Constitution had amended itself again to require assignment by race, so long as the purpose was to mix the races. During the 1990s, the Constitution amended itself several more times, gradually working its way back to towards its 1954 condition. We are clearly not a nation of laws but a nation of judges, who rule us according to their fancy.
In Race and Education Prof. Wolters writes that we can expect a companion volume on the changing fashions of educational reform that have swept American schools. He appears to suspect that many doubtful theories arose because traditional approaches managed neither to raise blacks to white levels of achievement nor make children oblivious to race. If he dissects fads in education as remorselessly as he dissects fads in integration, we can look forward to a formidable work of scholarship.
|IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
According to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) agency, 1,046,539 people became naturalized US citizens in 2008 — a new record. Naturalizations by Hispanics doubled over 2007 to 461,317 and account for nearly half. CIS says they were trying to beat an increase in the citizenship application fee, which went from $330 to $595, but also notes “special efforts” of Spanish-language media, pressure groups, and immigrant-heavy unions to get Hispanics to naturalize. It also helps that many Hispanics can retain their original nationality even if they become US citizens.
There were 231,815 Mexican naturalizations in 2008, up almost 90 percent from 2007. In addition, 39,871 immigrants from Cuba became US citizens, up 160 percent, followed by 35,796 from El Salvador, up 109 percent; 17,954 from Nicaragua, up 120 percent; and 17,087 from Guatemala, a 109 percent increase. [Estados Unidos? Almost 1 of 2 New Americans in 2008 was Latino, AP, April 7, 2009.]
The Pew Hispanic Center in Washington says a record 12.7 million Mexicans were living in the US in 2008, a 17-fold increase since 1970. Mexicans make up one third of all immigrants to the US, and nearly 11 percent of all people born in Mexico now live here. Of the 11.9 million illegals Pew estimates are in the country, 60 percent are Mexicans.
The dominance of Mexican immigrants can be seen in the widespread acceptance of Cinco de Mayo as a de facto American holiday. May 5 is the anniversary of a Mexican military victory over French occupying forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is celebrated in the Mexican state where the battle took place, but is largely ignored elsewhere. Hispanic boosters, beer companies, and the media have made Cinco de Mayo a day for Americans to recognize and “celebrate” Hispanics.
“Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, but it also brings a lot of the Hispanic community together,” says Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, a Chicano studies senior at the University of Minnesota and a La Raza board member. Not all Hispanics agree. Dagoberto Reyes, a Salvadorian immigrant in Los Angeles, says the holiday is a reminder of the ascendancy of Mexicans. “Our kids go to this school system, and the school system is more preoccupied with Mexico’s history, and not the rest of Latin America’s, much less El Salvador’s,” he complains. “They came back celebrating Cinco de Mayo. That holiday means nothing to us.” [Jens Krogstad, University Community Celebrates Cinco de Mayo, Minnesota Daily (Minneapolis), May 5, 2009. On 5/5, Mexican Dominance Irks Other Latinos, AP, May 5, 2009.]
Zuma and the Afrikaners
On May 6, the South African parliament elected Jacob Zuma the fourth president of post-apartheid South Africa. Mr. Zuma’s election was a formality given his earlier election as president of the African National Congress, which has run the country since 1994. Who is Mr. Zuma and what can whites expect from him? Dan Roodt, an Afrikaner writer and activist (and 2006 AR conference speaker) has some insights. “Mr. Zuma” he writes, “is a colorful figure who probably could not become head of state anywhere but in Africa. He is a former anti-apartheid guerilla leader whose theme song is ‘Bring Me My Machine Gun.’ He was Thabo Mbeki’s deputy president until 2005, when he was fired because of alleged corruption. The case against him dragged on until April, when charges were finally dropped. Mr. Zuma, who had gotten revenge for his firing by toppling Mr. Mbeki as ANC party leader in 2007, argued that he had been framed by political enemies.
Mr. Zuma was also tried in 2005 on rape charges, but acquitted after the woman was unable to prove that the encounter was not consensual. There was considerable public derision over the fact that Mr. Zuma admitted that he knew the woman was HIV-positive but claimed he had taken necessary precautions after unprotected sex by showering. In a typical absurdist post-script to the case, the woman who brought the charges, Fezeka Kuzwayo, was granted asylum in the Netherlands in 2007. She convinced the Dutch she was in danger from Mr. Zuma’s supporters.
Mr. Roodt reports that Mr. Zuma has made overtures to Afrikaners, telling a group of Afrikaner leaders in April that “of all the white groups that are in South Africa, it is only the Afrikaners that are South Africans in the true sense of the word . . . They are here to stay.” What is driving the Afrikaners and Mr. Zuma into each other arms is “the age-old political logic of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’ Apart from Mr. Zuma’s strong following among Zulus and ordinary black South Africans, he enjoys almost no support or sympathy from local and international elites. As a Zulu, he is also something of an odd man out in a party now dominated by Nelson Mandela’s Xhosa tribe. Afrikaner support would be very useful to him.”
Mr. Roodt believes Mr. Zuma hopes for Afrikaner backing against the English-speaking elites, both black and white, in the bureaucracy and media. Also, if he is serious about fighting corruption and bolstering a collapsing infrastructure, Mr. Zuma will need Afrikaner technical expertise and dedication. [Dan Roodt, He Wears Skins; We Wear Veldskoens, AR News, April 14, 2009. Jonathan Clayton, Jacob Zuma Elected President of South Africa, Times (London), May 7, 2009.]
Africa on the Mall
On December 19, 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum — “the first national museum to be devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life” — will stand on the National Mall, just across the street from the Washington Monument. According to its mission statement, the museum will “help all Americans see just how central African American history is for all of us.” It will “use African American history and culture as a lens into what it means to be an American.”
In April, the Smithsonian announced the winning design for the building: a bronze crown meant to “evoke historical imagery of African-Americans.” Lead designer David Adjaye of the architectural firm Freelon Adjaye Bond is a Tanzanian immigrant who works in New York and London. He says the building is supposed to evoke “traditional headdresses worn by African-American women, as well as the colonial crown from Africa and the idea that a hat-wearing person is a free person . . . who doesn’t have to carry a load but could wear a hat.”
Construction is to begin in 2012, with completion scheduled for 2015. Taxpayers will pick up half of the estimated $500 million price tag. There is already a museum of African art on the Mall. [Smithsonian Picks Black History Museum Designer, AP, April 14, 2009.]
Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) is a new campus group that calls itself “the West’s right wing youth movement.” It seeks to “inspire Western youth to organize on the basis of identity . . . and counter radical multiculturalism on campus.” It says it hopes to “counter and ultimately defeat leftism on campus” and “create a social movement on campus where a right wing subculture . . . will provide a healthy alternative to a poisonous and bigoted left wing campus climate.”
College left-wingers accuse it of being a “hate” group. “‘Western’ is a veiled term that means ‘white,’” says University of North Carolina graduate student Tyler Oakley. “YWC’s message is essentially a negative one, an assault on not being white or non-Western, and is therefore hateful, if not blatant hate speech.”
Mr. Oakley was one of the organizers of a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)-led disruption of a YWC-sponsored speech on immigration that former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo tried to deliver at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 14. Hundreds of protestors screamed obscenities and tried to shout down Mr. Tancredo, while university administrators stood by silently. Minutes into the speech a protestor smashed a window, leading campus police to cancel the event.
Police had to use pepper spray to clear the crowd, and arrested one student on charges of disorderly conduct. The university, which prides itself as a bastion of free speech, was embarrassed — university officials later called Mr. Tancredo to apologize — but the protesters were unrepentant. Mr. Oakley, the SDS radical, is pleased that the congressman “was not able to practice his hate speech.”
The incident raised the profile of YWC, which has chapters at Vanderbilt University, American University, Elon University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut-Storrs, and Bentley University, besides UNC. Founder Kevin DeAnna says the group is growing rapidly. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has taken notice, calling YWC “suspect.” “We’re definitely monitoring them,” says SPLC spokesman Heidi Beirich. “We will look at them for hate group status.” [Jesse James DeConto, Furious Protest Stops Tancredo’s UNC Speech, News & Observer (Raleigh), April 14, 2009. Jesse James DeConto and Eric Ferreri, UNC Leaders Apologize for Speech Fiasco, News & Observer (Raleigh), April 16, 2009. Joshua Rhett Miller, Right-Wing College Group Riles Students on Campuses Nationwide, Fox News, April 29, 2009.]
Kwame Kenyatta is a Detroit city councilman who wants to be mayor, but his political aspirations suffered when it became known that he walked away from his mortgage last December. Mr. Kenyatta, who makes $81,000 a year as a councilman, bought the house for $225,000 before the real estate market collapsed. His monthly payment of $2,600 was set to increase by $1,000, while the value of the house had dropped to $100,000. Mr. Kenyatta defended his actions: “It’s not like I’m making out like a fat rat here. The credit is now going to be shot.” The councilman is not the only local politician with mortgage problems. The county District Attorney’s Detroit house is already in foreclosure.
Mr. Kenyatta’s hopes to be mayor are undimmed. “History will show that some of the greatest leaders who did great work for the public may not have done so good by themselves,” he says. “In most cases, they neglect themselves to take care of the people’s business.”
The median sales price for homes in Detroit is an astonishing $5,800, down from $66,000 seven years ago. There are 16,000 foreclosed houses on the market. [Detroit Councilman Walks Away from Mortgage, AP, April 20, 2009.]
Ricci v. DeStafano
Frank Ricci is a white veteran fireman in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2003, the city offered an exam for promotion to lieutenant and captain. Mr. Ricci took the test and finished sixth among the 77 candidates. New Haven spent $100,000 on a test that was supposed to be free of “racial bias” but no blacks passed, putting the city in a bind. It could accept the results, which meant it would be sued by blacks claiming the test was biased, or it could ignore the results, hoping the whites would keep quiet. It threw out the results, but the whites did not keep quiet. Frank Ricci and his fellow whites (and one Hispanic) sued. When a federal court ruled against them in 2006, they appealed to the US Supreme Court, and on April 22, the justices heard oral arguments in what could be a landmark case.
New Haven claimed, and the lower court agreed, that there was no discrimination because no one was promoted. The firemen argue that the city was bound by its own civil service rules to promote the highest scorers without regard to race. The Obama administration waffled, saying the case should be sent back to the lower court to see if the city really discriminated against whites.
The case reveals what happens when “civil rights” laws ignore race and IQ. The law requires color-blind promotions but bans job tests that whites are more likely than blacks to pass. There is virtually no meaningful job test on which blacks score as high as whites, so most job tests are invalidated because of “disparate impact.” Disparate impact is said to be proof that the test was biased, not that blacks (or Hispanics) were less capable or did not study as hard.
Observers expect the Court to split along ideological lines, with the conservatives ruling to enforce the test results, and the liberals upholding discrimination against whites. Justice Anthony Kennedy is likely to cast the deciding vote. Judging from his reaction to oral arguments, Mr. Kennedy appears to be sympathetic to the plaintiffs. A decision is expected in June. [Warren Richey, Reverse-Discrimination Case Splits Supreme Court, Christian Science Monitor, April 22, 2009. Steve Sailer, Playing With Fire: The Obama Administration Backs Anti-White Discrimination in Ricci, Vdare.com, April 19, 2009. Adam Liptak, Justices to Hear White Firefighters’ Bias Claims, New York Times, April 9, 2009.]
Sioux Fight On
In 2005, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which sets the rules for college sports, banned the use of Indian mascots and names in post-season tournaments. The NCAA does not make teams change their names or ban them from the post-season; they just can’t wear jerseys that say “Indians” or “Braves” or have a mascot who wears a head dress or carries a tomahawk.
The NCAA also urges members not to compete against schools that use “Native American nicknames, imagery or mascots.” A school such as the University of North Dakota (UND), which uses the nickname “Fighting Sioux” and an Indian-head logo, may have trouble raising its athletic profile if other colleges won’t play against it.
The NCAA may allow an exception to the ban if an Indian tribe agrees to let a college team use its name, and the association worked out a deal with UND under which it could keep its name and logo if two Sioux tribes agreed. On April 21, the Spirit Lake Sioux voted 764 to 371 to let UND use the nickname and logo, so now the decision rests with the Standing Rock Sioux. Standing Rock tribal leaders oppose the nickname. The tribe as a whole may be more receptive but its leaders have refused to schedule a vote. [James MacPherson, UND’s Fighting Sioux Nickname Gets 1 Tribe’s OK, AP, April 22, 2009.]
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says Africa needs its own space program to keep tabs on other nations. “The Americans have gone to the moon. And the Russians. The Chinese and Indians will go there soon. Africans are the only ones who are stuck here. We must also go there and say: ‘What are you people doing up here?’”
Mr. Museveni believes an African moonshot will bring African nations closer together. “Uganda alone cannot go to the moon. We are too small. But East Africa united can. That is what East African integration is all about. Then we can say to the Americans: ‘What are you doing here all alone?’” [Africans Must Travel to the Moon: Uganda President, AFP, May 3, 2009.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS
Sir — Prison authorities disallowed the April and May issues of American Renaissance, claiming they were “advocating racial hatred in such a way as to create a serious danger of violence in the facility.” Kind of makes your point, doesn’t it?
I’ve received every issue of AR here since 1999-2000. No incident has ever arisen, so I don’t know what has caused the sudden turnaround. I’m appealing the decision to the warden, and, if necessary, to the Department of Corrections.
Eric Schroeder, Lawrenceville Correctional Center, Lawrenceville, Va.
Sir — There is a pattern that arises from your impressive collection of examples of the tensions inherent in diversity: blacks can’t get along with anyone. They are the group most often involved in your catalogue of racial violence, whether in schools, prisons, or on the streets. They can’t even get along with other blacks; your examples include attacks by American blacks on Somalis and Jamaicans. You include only scattered examples of white/Hmong, Hispanic/American Indian, and white/Hispanic violence, and North Asians hardly appear to be involved in racial violence at all. Does this mean that if blacks were removed from the mix, the problems of racial violence associated with diversity would be drastically reduced?
The example of Hawaii suggests this may be so. Hawaii has never had a white majority, but the mix is mainly white/Asian. The native Hawaiians are a mess, as are other Pacific islanders, but the Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and whites seem to rub along reasonably well.
Carl Landers, Truro, Mass.
Sir — I was glad to read in your third installment about “The Dangers of Diversity” that whites are suing successfully on grounds of racial discrimination, but the entire situation is outrageous. America was founded by whites — we are the “posterity” mentioned in the Constitution — and it should not be possible for government agencies, businesses, and the odd black supervisor to “discriminate” against us, not because of some silly legal theory that anti-discrimination law shouldn’t apply to us, but rather because they shouldn’t even have the ability. We gave them that power and we must take it back. We need to get rid of the EEOC, diversity bureaucrats, discrimination law — the whole shebang. Come up with objective standards and let everybody sink or swim on his own merits.
Fred Froelich, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sir — I enjoyed your May review of The 10,000 Year Explosion but have a comment on one sentence: “Zulus and Danes presumably had a common ancestor about the time humans left Africa [50,000-60,000 years ago], but are now so different from each other that standard taxonomies might well classify them as a separate species.”
The common ancestor may be considerably more remote in time. I quote from Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade:
Before people left for the world beyond, the human population in Africa had apparently fragmented, doubtless by geographical distance, into several different populations. As already noted, those who left Africa belonged to just one of these populations, those descended from the L3 branch of the mitochondrial DNA tree. They carried away in their genes only a subset of the African genetic diversity, meaning only some alleles of each gene. That fact alone set them on a potentially different evolutionary path. (p. 186.)
Tom Shuford, Lenoir, N. C.
Sir — I was intrigued by the theory in The 10,000 Year Explosion that agriculture selects for a different kind of personality than hunting. It makes sense: farming is a low-testosterone job that requires patience and deferred gratification while hunting is a high-testosterone activity that requires violence and encourages gorging. By this standard the people of the Fertile Crescent should be the tamest on earth. Why do its current inhabitants continue to behave like hunter-gatherers?
Caroline Connelly, Evansville, Ind.
Sir — Thank you for your review of Gregory Cochrane and Henry Harpending’s The 10,000 Year Explosion. I had not heard of this book before, and I bought a copy on Amazon. It is every bit as good as you suggest, and very readable. I will buy copies for my high-school-aged grandchildren.
Neither my local paper nor the Boston Globe nor Time magazine has reviewed this book. According to the Internet, it doesn’t look like the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or Chicago Tribune has reviewed it either. Alas, this is typical of the liberal press. They would rather ignore the facts and hope they go away.
Joanne Smalley, Portland, Me.
Sir — Courthouses in the State of New York Unified Court System have wireless Internet access in their public law libraries. It may interest you to know that your website, amren.com, is blocked as “inappropriate” and “offensive.” The websites of the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are, of course, not blocked.
Anonymous, New York City