|American Renaissance magazine
|Vol. 21, No. 3
A Post-Racial President . . .
. . . or a man with an agenda?
Ever since he caught the nation’s eye, Barack Obama has been careful not to be too black. At the risk of alienating the pushier segment of his natural constituency, he has tried to cultivate a “post-racial” image that does not scare off too many whites. It was a balancing act that worked well during the presidential election campaign, and culminated in an almost Second Coming-like atmosphere for the inauguration. However, after a year in office, Mr. Obama’s post-racial pose is wearing thin. Both his actions and his appointments reveal a leftist and implicitly racial agenda that is awakening whites to the fact that he does not stand for them. If he does not shore up his rapidly crumbling white support — and it is not clear how he could do that without repudiating much of his record so far — 2012 could be the end of the road for Barack Obama.
Sam Francis saw it first
Shortly before his death in February 2005, frequent American Renaissance contributor Sam Francis predicted Mr. Obama’s ascension to the presidency and explained the dangers of his post-racial façade:
“Moreover, while openly racial candidates like Mr. Sharpton or Jesse Jackson helped instigate white racial consciousness — if they can be black, why can’t whites be white? — Mr. Obama works against it: If he’s neither white nor black, why should you be white? Mr. Obama, in other words, is both a living testament to the power of black racial consciousness and identity and at the very same time a living renunciation of white racial identity.”
During the early part of his career, Mr. Obama plowed the same anti-white ground as Rev. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson, but by the time he came to prominence at the 2004 Democratic Convention as a state senator running for the US Senate, he had changed his tune. He criticized black ghetto behavior and proclaimed, “There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”
Political observers immediately hailed him as the new breed of black politician. In one of the first major profiles of Mr. Obama, Ryan Lizza wrote in The Atlantic:
Mr. Obama’s ability to appeal to inner-city blacks, suburban moms, Republican dentists, and, well, me suggests that he’ll be able to venture further than most black politicians — further even than Carol Moseley Braun. ‘I’m rooted in the African-American community,’ he frequently says, ‘but I’m not limited by it.’ Indeed, charisma, intelligence, and ambition, tempered by a self-deprecating wit, are the particular hallmarks not so much of a great black politician as of any great one.
In 2004, Al Sharpton sought the Democratic nomination but failed miserably. Many could not help but notice how different Mr. Obama was from Mr. Sharpton. University of Michigan African American Studies professor Angela Dillard said, “I think this is really the end of an era of race and politics. Something’s shifting and changing and people like Sharpton can’t change with it, and something new and different is being created and it is about people like Obama.”
Yet the difference was in style rather than substance. Jonathan Tilove, then the race and immigration correspondent for Newhouse News, observed that Mr. Obama “can argue for policies virtually indistinguishable from Sharpton’s in cooler, non-racial terms, while still affirming a message of racial identity and uplift implicit in his very being.”
Mr. Obama won the Senate election in a landslide, in large part because Republicans thought they could counter his post-racial blackness by running buffoonish black conservative and non-Illinois resident, Alan Keyes. Among Keyes’s absurd and allegedly conservative stances was a proposal to exempt blacks from the Income Tax as a form of reparations.
Mr. Obama was being groomed as the Great Non-White Hope for the Democrats as soon as he arrived in the Senate. He made little effort as a legislator, and focused on 2008. Post-racial platitudes in speeches aside, he voted like a typical black politician, winning a “100 Percent” report card from the NAACP for 2005-2006. He received an “Incomplete” for 2006-2007 only because he was so busy campaigning he missed a lot of votes. Still, when he bothered to show up in Washington, he never voted against the NAACP’s wishes.
In his book The Audacity of Hope, Mr. Obama explained the importance of disguising an anti-white stance in universalistic blather. Because of “the success of conservatives in fanning the politics of resentment — by wildly overstating, for example, the adverse effects of affirmative action on white workers,” America had become a place where:
Rightly or wrongly [clearly, in his view, wrongly], white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America; even the most fair-minded of whites, those who would genuinely like to see racial inequality ended and poverty relieved, tend to push back against suggestions of racial victimization — or race-specific claims based on the history of race discrimination in this country.
Rather than suggest that blacks should abandon their racial grievances, he urges them to promote them in universal terms. Whites will still vote against their interests if the alternatives are presented in terms of the general welfare. Mr. Obama hinted at this in a speech in 2007:
[Those who worked on civil rights in the past realized that] to achieve racial equality was not simply good for African-Americans, but it was good for America as a whole; that we could not be what we might be as a nation unless we healed the brutal wounds of slavery and Jim Crow. Now, we have made enormous progress, but the progress we have made is not good enough. As many have already mentioned, we live in a society that remains separated in terms of life opportunities for African-Americans, for Latinos, and the rest of the nation.
What better way for the nation to heal “the brutal wounds of slavery and Jim Crow” for the good of both whites and blacks than to elect a biracial president? By the time Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign went into full swing, the idea that his election would end American racism had become conventional wisdom for many liberals and even for conservatives.
One of Mr. Obama’s supporters told MSNBC prior to the Iowa Caucuses that she planned to support him partly “to prove that America has overcome racism.” Writing in Slate, Jack Schaffer said that Mr. Obama represented “the fulfillment of the American ideal, and by casting their ballot for him, voters can participate in that transcendent moment.” The favorite word journalists used to describe his potential was “transformational.”
When it began to seem likely that Mr. Obama would receive the Democratic nomination, cracks appeared in his race-transcending window dressing. A few commentators, such as Steve Sailer, had called attention to Mr. Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Rev. Wright is a proponent of militantly anti-white black liberation theology, and Mr. Obama named his book The Audacity of Hope after the title of one of Rev. Wright’s sermons. He also performed Mr. Obama’s marriage ceremony and baptized his children. Mr. Obama called Rev. Wright “a family member” and his “sounding board.” All this was largely ignored until Rev. Wright gave a lifetime achievement award to Louis Farrakhan. Minister Farrakhan, of course, has a long record of anti-white and anti-Jewish statements that would make even Al Sharpton blush.
In the ensuing weeks, more and more facts about Rev. Wright came to light. After September 11, he said that blacks should not sing “God Bless America” but “God Damn America.” Not anticipating his protégé’s ascension to the Oval Office, he told students at Howard University in 2006 that “racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president.” For good measure, he accused the US government of inventing AIDS in order to exterminate blacks.
In an April 2008 appearance at the National Press Club, Rev. Wright said he did not “in any way disagree” with the originator of black liberation theology, Dr. James Cone, adding that “Jim” was a “personal friend.” This went over the reporters’ heads because they were unaware of Dr. Cone’s lurid views, just one sample of which is the following:
Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.
Mr. Obama tried to control the damage with his famous speech in Philadelphia that liberals have since compared to the Gettysburg Address and the “I Have a Dream” speech. In fact, it was more of his usual combination of giving whites a few empty concessions about the need for blacks to take “full responsibility for their own lives” and acknowledging that whites have “legitimate concerns” about affirmative action and immigration, while still blaming the problems facing blacks on discrimination and white “resentments.”
He tried to portray Rev. Wright as a crazy uncle rather than a mentor, comparing him to his supposedly racist grandmother:
I can no more disown him [Rev. Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
It turns out that his grandmother’s “ethnic stereotypes” were nothing more than her fear of an aggressive black beggar at a bus stop. She gave him a dollar but was afraid that if the bus had not come he would have attacked her. When Mr. Obama learned that the beggar’s blackness probably added to her fear, “The words were like a fist in my stomach.” Mr. Obama tells this story in his memoir of what amounts to a life of racial obsession. The book is essentially the tale of how a half white/half Kenyan raised by whites in Hawaii eventually succeeded in identifying as black.
During the campaign, while whites thought they saw a post-racial candidate, many blacks supported Mr. Obama solely because of his race. Radio shock jock Howard Stern sent a correspondent to Harlem who attributed several of John McCain’s positions to Mr. Obama and asked blacks if they supported them. For example, he asked, “Are you more for Obama’s policy because he’s pro-life or because he thinks our troops should stay in Iraq and finish this war?” He even asked, “Do you support Mr. Obama’s choice of Sarah Palin to be his VP?” One after another, blacks expressed their support for the black candidate and their ignorance of his positions.
Although they were better informed, even prominent black conservatives put race before ideology. Talk show host Armstrong Williams said, “I don’t necessarily like his policies; I don’t like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about [voting Democratic].” As he explained to Fox News, “Among black conservatives, they tell me privately, it would be very hard to vote against him in November.”
Republican candidate John McCain refused to attack Mr. Obama for anything remotely racial. He denounced his own supporter, talk show host Bill Cunningham, merely for mentioning Mr. Obama’s middle name “Hussein” at a rally, and told the North Carolina GOP to kill a television ad that reminded voters of Rev. Wright. If this strategy was supposed to woo blacks, it failed utterly: Only 4 percent voted for him — fewer than for any Republican candidate since blacks got the vote.
In fact, Mr. McCain probably realized all along that he would get little black support. As Election Day approached, it was clear that only a radical shift in the campaign climate could save him. He might have been able to achieve that shift with a sustained television campaign hammering home how close Mr. Obama had been to Rev. Wright, and repeating the pastor’s most vitriolic anti-white diatribes. The media would have been scandalized but Mr. McCain might have won. Perhaps his fear of being accused of “playing the race card” was greater than his desire to be president.
Because Mr. McCain never challenged him on his association with Rev. Wright, Mr. Obama never had to justify it. Nor, did not bother to moderate his anti-white policies. He opposed black conservative Ward Connerly’s ballot initiatives to ban racial preferences in Colorado and Kansas, and at a debate in South Carolina he stated, “I think that the Confederate flag should be put in a museum” rather than displayed in public. He even hinted at support for reparations for slavery when he told a gathering of minority journalists, “I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the US government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”
On immigration, Mr. Obama followed his leftist instincts and adopted the full anti-white position. The immigration-control group Numbers USA gave him an F for his record in the Senate. During the presidential campaign, blacks might have appreciated some expression of concern about Hispanic immigration — they oppose immigration even more strongly than whites do — but Mr. Obama already had their support. At the same time, Mr. McCain again made things easy for him by promoting essentially the same pro-immigration positions, thus driving away Republicans and whites who might have supported him.
Mr. Obama cultivated groups like the National Council of La Raza and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, whom he told, “I’ve been working with Latino leaders ever since I entered public service more than 20 years ago . . . We stood together when I was a civil rights attorney, working to ensure that Latinos were being well represented. And we marched together to fix our broken immigration system. That’s why you can trust me when I say that I’ll be your partner in the White House.” He even blamed proponents of “xenophobia” for an imaginary crime surge, stating, “There’s a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic people doubled last year. If you have people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh ginning things up, it’s not surprising that would happen.”
The pandering worked. Although McCain was the most vocal Republican supporter of amnesty, he received only one third of the Hispanic vote.
Mr. Obama ended up winning over 95 percent of the black vote — the highest figure for any Democratic candidate — but he received only 43 percent of the white vote. Mr. McCain’s 55 percent of the white vote would have been enough to hand him the election back in 1976 when whites were 89 percent of the electorate. Since then, mass immigration has cut that figure to 74 percent, so Mr. Obama won by a comfortable margin.
Liberals gloated over both the victory and the dispossession of whites. “The face of America is changing,” said CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “And that face doesn’t look like Joe the Plumber.” In his concession speech, even John McCain congratulated Mr. Obama on overcoming “the old injustices that stained our nation” and “the cruel and painful bigotry” of the past.
When Mr. Obama took office, commentator David Horowitz gushed that “whatever happens in the Obama presidency, this Inauguration Day is a watershed moment in the history of America and a remarkable event in the history of nations, and thus a cause for all of us who love this country” because it symbolized victory over a racially divided past. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went further: “If the election of our first African-American president didn’t stir you, if it didn’t leave you teary-eyed and proud of your country, there’s something wrong with you.”
So how has America’s first non-white president acted in office? He is the first to appoint white men to fewer than half — 42 percent to be precise — of cabinet positions. Although whites are 66 percent of the total population and closer to 75 percent of Americans aged 42 to 60, they make up only 53 percent of all Senate-confirmed Obama appointments.
The most notable diversity appointment has been the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, who believes that “wise Latinas” make better judges than white men. Even the New York Times recognized that her entire career has been one of racial activism: “[She] has championed the importance of considering ethnicity in admissions, hiring, and even judicial selection at almost every stage of her career.” At Princeton she headed Accion Puertorriquena and at Yale Law School she joined the National Council of La Raza and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF), where she became a board member. She filed complaints at both Yale and Princeton to hire more minority professors, protested the Bakke decision that limited outright quotas, and then ruled against white firefighters in the Ricci case.
Another “first” for Mr. Obama is black Attorney General Eric Holder. Two weeks after his Senate Confirmation, Mr. Holder gave a speech in which he called America “essentially a nation of cowards” because “we average Americans simply do not talk enough with each other about race.” He also noted that despite forced integration of schools and other institutions, the country remains “voluntarily socially segregated.”
In other words, even though we elected a black president and our media and political discourse are dominated by race, at a personal level, (white) Americans are not sufficiently concerned about blacks. This should have dispelled any idea that the election of Mr. Obama would heal America’s racial soul.
Neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg pointed out the obvious:
[T]o the extent we don’t talk about race in this country the primary reason is that liberals and racial activists have an annoying habit of attacking anyone who doesn’t read from a liberal script as ‘racist’ or, if they’re lucky, ‘insensitive.’ Thus, ‘cowardice’ is defined as refusal to do as you’re told when that would in fact be the cowardly thing to do.
Mr. Holder has focused the Justice Department even more sharply on race cases, and says beefing up the civil rights division is his number-one priority. He says hiring an additional 50 civil rights lawyers is “really only a start” because President Bush inflicted terrible wounds on the civil rights effort “and it will take some time for them to fully heal.”
One way to “heal” is to use the Justice Department to ensure the election of black Democrats. Kingston, North Carolina, is two-thirds black. When the voters switched city council elections to a non-partisan ballot without party affiliations, the Justice Department blocked the change, claiming that party affiliation was “the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office.”
Mr. Holder doesn’t seem nearly so worried about voting rights for whites. During the 2008 election, the New Black Panther Party were videotaped intimidating white voters in Philadelphia. Liberal poll watcher Bartle Bull, who had monitored elections during the Civil Rights movement for the Kennedy administration, called it “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I have encountered in my life in political campaigns in many states, even going back to the work I did in Mississippi in the 1960s.”
This didn’t seem to bother Mr. Holder. Just before leaving office, the Bush administration had initiated an investigation, but four months later, just as a judge was about to enforce a default settlement against the party, Mr. Holder’s office dropped the case. “[T]he facts and the law did not support pursuing” it, a spokesman claimed.
Fortunately, a few Congressional Republicans, along with the US Commission on Civil Rights — which is independent from the Obama administration — are pursuing the matter (see page 15) but Mr. Holder’s office is ignoring subpoenas by the commission and requests from Congress to turn over internal memos.
Mr. Holder’s support for “hate crimes” legislation is also racially selective. He and Mr. Obama both urged passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which adds homosexuals as a new class of victims, but during Congressional hearings, the attorney general explained his views on hate-crimes bills in general. The new law would cover “crimes that have a historic basis,” meaning those against “people who are African-American, Hispanic, people who are Jewish, people who are gay, who have been targeted over — over the many years,” but not whites or Christians.
There have been other colorful appointments. Mr. Obama’s Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, became a self-professed communist after joining protests in the Rodney King case. After he abandoned communism, he organized rallies for Black Panther cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, and attended political events wearing T-Shirts saying “Kanye was Right” (referring to the rapper who said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”). Mr. Jones withdrew his nomination after his radical views were exposed.
Another disquieting black appointment was Mr. Obama’s chief diversity officer for the Federal Communications Commission, Mark Lloyd. “There are few things I think more frightening in the American mind than dark-skinned black men,” he gloated. “Here I am.” There may be reasons to be afraid. He says that there are a limited number of important positions and they are filled with whites, “and unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem.”
Because Mr. Obama’s first year has been dominated by the health care debate, his legislative agenda has been relatively free of specifically racial issues. Still, his medical reorganization plan has a number of anti-white aspects that have undoubtedly encouraged opposition. The bill is full of loopholes that make government-funded medicine available to illegal aliens, and Rep. Joe Wilson’s cry of “You lie” when Mr. Obama denied this is widely considered a watershed moment in opposition to the bill.
Mr. Obama’s proposed cuts in Medicare also have a racial angle. Many liberals accuse conservatives of hypocrisy for opposing government expansion into health care while insisting on keeping Medicare. Yet the larger truth is that whites are less than half of the uninsured but over 90 percent of Medicare Plan B recipients, whose benefits would be taxed.
The president has not had much time for the “comprehensive immigration reform” he promised Hispanics, but his fiscal year 2011 budget request points the way: He wants to slash funding for the Secure Border Initiative (which includes the “virtual fence”) and cut 180 agents from the Border Patrol.
Mr. Obama’s most publicized racial comments came when he said white Cambridge police officer James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested black Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. This was the well-known incident in which the professor had broken into his own house and became belligerent when Sergeant Crowley investigated what appeared to be a crime.
Mr. Obama’s comments polarized the nation. Seventy-eight percent of blacks approved of the way the president handled the incident, while only 23 percent of whites did. In the following week, his approval rating among whites fell from 53 percent to 47 percent. This started a long dive in ratings as whites began to realize that Mr. Obama is not post racial, but an advocate for blacks. Mr. Obama’s white approval rate has dropped from 61 percent at the time of his inauguration to the mid-30s as this article goes to press. His approval ratings among blacks remain over 95 percent. As the prominent liberal commentator Thomas Edsall notes, “White, middle-class voters ceased to think of Mr. Obama as a protector of their interests.” Perhaps they have begun to notice that, as black New York Times editorial board member Brent Staples likes to point out, Mr. Obama uses the pronoun “we” when he talks about blacks.
Americans are not falling for this bait and switch. Whites were gulled into thinking they had elected a post-racial president and do not want one who ignores the concerns of whites. Unfortunately, few Republicans are willing to challenge Mr. Obama on racial terms. In fact, they nearly universally denounced Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a racist for noting the obvious: that it was a campaign advantage for Mr. Obama that he was not a typical black politician, but “light skinned” and without a “Negro dialect.”
One of the few Republicans to recognize the racial dimensions of Mr. Obama’s fall from grace is Patrick Buchanan. In a column entitled “Has Mr. Obama Lost White America?” he attributed growing white disapproval to the Sotomayor nomination, the Gates affair, and the racial-transfer aspects of the health-care bill. His advice for Republicans:
An end to affirmative action and ethnic preferences, an end to bailouts of Wall Street bankers, a moratorium on immigration until unemployment falls to 6 percent, an industrial policy that creates jobs here and stops shipping them to China . . .
The Republicans are probably too stupid and too paralyzed by racial angst to take this advice. However, if Mr. Obama continues to show his hand on race there could be enough white resentment against him to elect a stupid, paralyzed Republican in 2012 anyway. In the meantime, Mr. Obama will try to play a cagey reelection game of hiding his anti-white agenda and occasionally reining in subordinates who get too frisky. Like all politicians, his top policy priority is to stay in office, and he still needs a lot of whites votes. It will be only if he manages to squeak in for a second term that we are likely to see in full flower the Barack Obama who nursed his grievances for 20 years in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church.
Mr. Lodge is a political commentator who works on Capitol Hill.
Did Jefferson Sleep With His Slave?
Verdict: Probably Not.
William G. Hyland, In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal, Thomas Dunne Books, 2009, 292 pp., $26.95.
Nearly every American “knows” that Thomas Jefferson had several children with his slave, Sally Hemings. Nearly everyone “knows” that this has been confirmed by DNA evidence. Lefties even claim that Jefferson raped his slave. In fact, no one “knows” any of this; the evidence for a Hemings affair is unconvincing. If it were not for the ferocious joy the Left takes in believing the worst of the Founding Fathers, the allegations of an affair at Monticello would be a historical footnote.
William Hyland, a practicing lawyer and board member of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, has written an important book that summarizes the evidence on both sides and argues convincingly that Jefferson was not the father of Sally’s children and probably never slept with her. His book is a welcome antidote to the mountains of nonsense that paint the third president as a lecherous old miscegenator.
It was a contemporary of Jefferson’s, a transplanted Scotsman named James Callender, who first spread the accusations about Sally. Callender was a journalist and propagandist who had written so insultingly about British politicians and even the crown that he abandoned his wife and child and escaped to the United States in 1793, one step ahead of the sedition police. He practiced the same vituperative brand of journalism in America, and was convicted in 1800 under the Sedition Act for attacks on President John Adams. Jefferson, who opposed the Federalist sedition laws, defended Callender, and pardoned him on becoming president in 1801. However, when Callender sought the position of postmaster general of Richmond, Virginia, Jefferson found him unfit for office and turned him down.
Callender turned on his benefactor, and in 1802 started writing about Jefferson’s sex life. He claimed Jefferson had sired a son with “dusky Sally,” a “wooly-headed concubine,” who was part of his “Congo harem.” Callender wrote that Sally was a “slut common as the pavement,” who was “romping with half a dozen black fellows,” and had serviced “fifteen or thirty gallants of all colours.” Federalist papers opposed to Jefferson’s policies circulated these stories with some effect, and Callender may have been right to claim that he had done more harm to Jefferson’s reputation in five months than all his other critics had done in ten years.
Callender never claimed to have met “dusky Sally” or any of her children, nor did he ever explain how he got his information. Naturally, many people thought he made it up. John Adams — whom Callender called a “hideous hermaphroditical character who has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman” — wrote of him: “I believe nothing Callender said. . . . I would not convict a dog of killing sheep upon the testimony of two such witnesses.” Abigail Adams called him “a libeler whom you could not but detest and despise.” James Madison distrusted him, writing that “it is impossible to reason concerning a man, whose imagination and passions have been so fermented.” In 1803, Callender drowned in two or three feet of water in the James River, reportedly too drunk to fish himself out.
The only other source for the Jefferson paternity allegations is a sketchy set of claims made by Hemings’ descendants. In 1872, 37 years after Sally’s death and 46 years after Jefferson’s, one of Sally’s younger sons, Madison Hemings, gave an interview to a newspaper editor named S. F. Wetmore, in which he claimed that Jefferson was the father of all six of Sally’s known children. The interview, which is presented as a verbatim transcription, is in flowery language that seems entirely out of keeping with the vocabulary of an ex-slave, and closely follows the Callender version, even including the mistaken spelling of Jefferson’s father-in-law’s name that Callender used in his own account. Mr. Hyland notes that there is no other record of Madison ever having claimed to be descended from Jefferson. Wetmore had a political interest in besmirching Jefferson’s reputation and may well have sought Madison out and encouraged him to claim he had an illustrious father.
The other paternity claim was by Thomas Woodson, a somewhat mysterious black who claimed to be the son that resulted when Jefferson impregnated Sally when she was only 15 or so. This is a particularly improbable claim, since Jefferson kept detailed records of all births to his slaves, and there is no record of a child named Thomas or of a birth to Sally at about that time. Woodson’s claim has also been disproven by DNA evidence, but this has not stopped his descendants from claiming to this day that Jefferson was the father.
In the late 1990s, DNA testing was carried out to see if the paternity of the Hemings children could be proven. The study was based on the fact that the Y chromosome, carried by all men, is passed intact along the male line, and is detectably different in different families. If Jefferson had fathered Sally’s children, the male-line descendants of her sons would have the Jefferson Y chromosome.
Male-line descendants of the dubious Thomas Woodson and of Sally’s last child, Eston Hemings, agreed to be tested. Interestingly, the descendants of Madison Hemings, the son who gave the Wetmore interview, refused to be tested. The results were announced with great fanfare in the November 5, 1998 issue of the British magazine Nature. First, as noted above, Thomas Woodson’s claim was bogus: There was no Jefferson Y in his male line.
It was the other finding that got all the attention: Eston Hemings carried the Jefferson Y chromosome. On the strength of this, Nature titled its article “Jefferson Fathered Slave’s Last Child,” but the editors knew this was deceptive. They knew that all male-line Jeffersons, including Thomas’s brothers and their sons, carried the Jefferson Y and were equally likely, from a genetic point of view, to be the father. It was only deep into the article — farther than journalists were likely to go — that Nature conceded this. Subtleties like this, of course, mean nothing to crazed lefties, who have cackled with joy ever since at the idea that Monticello was a miscegenist love-nest.
In fact, there were no fewer than 26 Jefferson men of reproductive age living in Virginia at the time of Eston’s conception, who could theoretically have been the father. As we will see, Thomas is not the most likely candidate.
There are a few other circumstantial arguments that can be made in favor of the love-nest claim. One is that Sally was reportedly light-skinned and attractive. She came to Jefferson as part of his wife’s property, and there were even rumors that his wife’s father was Sally’s father. If that were true, it would mean Sally was Jefferson’s wife’s half-sister.
Another argument is that Jefferson seldom freed slaves, yet he freed Madison and Eston Hemings in his will. Jefferson’s policy was to free slaves whom he thought could support themselves, and the Hemings men had learned trades. One would also note that Jefferson did not free Sally, either during his life or in his will.
Finally, it appears that Jefferson was at Monticello at the times when Sally’s children were conceived. However, Monticello was Jefferson’s home, and it stands to reason he was there often. Also, no one knows where Sally was most of the time, and there are notes that indicate she was sometimes living away from Monticello.
So much for the case for paternity. What are the opposing arguments?
First, despite the lefty derision they evoke, there are Jefferson’s views and character. He detested miscegenation, which he considered bad for both races. He also was greatly disturbed by slavery, and abhorred the sexual power masters held over female slaves. These well-publicized views add to the lefties’ glee: They can call Jefferson a hypocrite. However, he was probably the most self-controlled of all American presidents. His motto of conduct was, “When tempted to do anything in secret, ask yourself if you would do it in public; if you would not, be sure it is wrong.” To a remarkable extent, he lived by this standard.
The most lurid tale of fornication — and one Callender promoted — is that Jefferson took up with Sally while he was in Paris as Minister to France, and the 1995 movie Jefferson in Paris is full of amorous sport. This is deliberate provocation. Jefferson lost his wife Martha shortly before leaving for Paris, and was devastated by the loss. He promised on her deathbed that he would never remarry, and left for Paris by himself. Later he sent for his children, and someone in his household chose Sally — only 14 at the time — to be a maid for his nine-year-old daughter Mary. Along with Jefferson’s 15-year-old daughter Martha, the girls traveled to Paris and stopped on the way in London, where they met Abigail Adams. Mrs. Adams wrote that Sally was more child than adult and therefore not a good choice for a maid. Jefferson’s daughters, along with Sally, probably boarded at their school rather than under Jefferson’s roof. Wherever they were living, it is unlikely that Jefferson was carrying on an affair with a 14-year-old slave girl under the noses of his daughters. All the evidence suggests that he was not a very sexual man, and there is no real record that he ever took a lover after his wife’s death.
The charge that Jefferson fathered Eston — the son who did carry the Jefferson Y chromosome — is implausible for different reasons. Eston was born in 1808 and would have been conceived while Jefferson was in his second term. The Callender accusations had been circulating since 1802 and had been repeated with some damaging effect by Jefferson’s enemies. Is it likely that Jefferson would risk justifying those accusations while still in office?
Furthermore, Jefferson would have been 64 at the time of Eston’s conception, and his letters from that period are full of complaints about migraine headaches, arthritis, and intestinal infections. Jefferson lived another 19 years after that but his health was poor. Moreover, after retiring from the presidency in 1809, Jefferson moved back permanently to Monticello, where he would have access to Sally at any time, yet Eston was her last child. In the very unlikely case that Jefferson, as a sickly, often-absent, 64-year-old Chief Executive had fathered Eston, he would presumably have had more children with Sally after he retired. Mr. Hyland notes that Sally survived Jefferson by nine years, but there is no record of her ever claiming that the president was her lover.
As for Madison Hemings, whose descendants refused DNA testing, his conception would have occurred in April 1805. Again, Jefferson was still president and therefore unlikely to do anything to justify accusations of miscegenation. He was present at Monticello for several weeks that month during the final illness and funeral of his daughter Mary. He was grief-stricken by her death, and the house was full of guests and mourners. Would Jefferson have been sporting with a slave concubine at such a time?
As she grew older, Jefferson’s eldest daughter Martha became the de facto mistress of Monticello. Her father always liked to have her and her seven children close, and she would have been at Monticello when Sally’s later children were conceived. She was familiar with everything that happened on the plantation and always vehemently denied the remotest possibility of any kind of impropriety between her father and any slave woman.
Jefferson himself never explicitly denied the Sally rumors, but during his career he faced many accusations, and adopted the policy of not dignifying them with replies. Late in life, however, he did write that of all the many scurrilous things said about him only one was true: that when he was a young bachelor he had made improper advances to the wife of an acquaintance, John Walker. This is an implicit denial of the Sally affair.
Finally, there is the account of a contemporary eye-witness, Jefferson’s plantation overseer, Edmund Bacon. Bacon probably knew better than anyone what went on at Monticello. In an account of his years as Jefferson’s overseer he briefly mentioned the paternity allegations but denied them. He wrote that instead of Jefferson he saw — and here the name is rubbed out of the original manuscript — someone else leaving Sally’s quarters “many a morning” when Bacon “went up to Monticello very early.” His account is difficult to dismiss.
The likely suspect
Who, then, fathered Eston? Like many careful scholars, Mr. Hyland has a prime suspect: the president’s younger brother, Randolph.
Randolph lived only 20 miles away, was often at Monticello, and was probably there at the right time. There still exists a letter from the president inviting Randolph for a visit that would have taken place exactly nine months before Eston was born. At that time he would have been a 51-year-old widower, a far more likely father than the older and ailing president.
Years later, a former Jefferson slave, Isaac, wrote an account of life in the slave quarters. Of Randolph, he wrote, “Old Master’s brother, Mass Randall, was a mighty simple man: used to come out among black people, play the fiddle and dance half the night” — circumstances that could easily lead to dalliance. Isaac’s account says nothing about Thomas taking an interest in slave women, and he was never known to spend his leisure time with slaves.
It is worth noting that at the time of Eston’s conception Randolph had four sons, ages 18 to 26, who would also have carried the Jefferson Y. There is no record of their presence at Monticello at that time, but given the fraternizing habits of their father, it seems unlikely that they always held themselves aloof from slaves either.
Randolph remarried after Eston’s birth and had several sons, so it is clear that he was potent. His new wife is said to have been a domineering woman who did not often let him go back to Monticello. Perhaps she did not want him near Sally.
Finally, the Eston family tradition was that he was descended from a Jefferson “uncle.” Eston would have been of Jefferson’s children’s generation, all of whom referred to Randolph as “Uncle.” This tradition fits the view that the younger brother rather than Thomas was the father.
There are suspected fathers of the other Hemings children. One of Jefferson’s sisters married a man who died at age 30, leaving two sons, Sam and Peter Carr. Jefferson was very fond of the Carr brothers and treated them like his own children. Peter later admitted that both he and Sam had slept with Sally, adding that “the old gentleman had to bear the blame” for their misbehavior. Jefferson’s oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, believed that Jefferson was so indulgent towards the Carr brothers that he would never have suspected them of fornication.
There are a few other arguments and counterarguments to be made on the paternity question, and Mr. Hyland summarizes them well. It should be clear, however, that the case against Jefferson is hardly air-tight, and one would think that the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, which runs Monticello, would defend the president. Not so. The foundation drew up a committee to look into the allegations and appointed a woman named Dianne Swann-Wright to head it. She is black, and a specialist in slave oral traditions. Not surprisingly, she chose to believe the slave accounts. As one white committee member later complained, Miss Swann-Wright and at least one other member clearly reached their conclusions before they examined the evidence. Guides at Monticello are instructed to say that Jefferson was the father, and the foundation web site says all six of Sally’s known children “are now believed to have been Thomas Jefferson’s.”
Mr. Hyland notes that aside from the fashion for mocking dead white men, the foundation may have another reason for kicking Jefferson’s corpse: money. Promoting Monticello as a secret sex nest is good for business. In the years before the controversy, Monticello was getting about $2 million in contributions every year. After the DNA test, contributions jumped to more than $10 million a year — a sad commentary on how Americans approach their own history.
Journalists and academics took reckless joy in writing Jefferson off as a miscegenating hypocrite. There could be no greater contrast to the exquisite sensitivity with which they protect Martin Luther King, Jr. American newspapers would not mention his record of flagrant plagiarism until the British broke the story, and they have largely kept mum on King’s well-documented philanderings and Communist associations (see “The Unknown Martin Luther King, Jr.,” AR, Jan. 2009). Some day, whites will be able to look at the past without seeing it through a haze of guilt. Mr. Hyland’s book is an important step in that direction.
Mixed Martial Arts
Whites are among the best in the world.
It is already one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and shows every sign of growing around the world. Its top promoter says it will rival the National Football League within a decade or two — and few disagree. While athletes of all races participate in this sport, a majority of the best are white.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) combines aspects of all combat techniques into one sport. Originally designed as a “who would win?” competition between boxers, wrestlers, and other types of martial artists, its top athletes are now skilled in almost every kind of combat. To win, participants combine speed, strength, stamina, and mental toughness. But intelligence and strategy are also important, as there are hundreds of moves and countermoves the top fighters must master and apply at any given moment.
The ancient Greeks actually had something similar to MMA, the popular Olympic sport called pankration, which means “all powers.” Competitors used any fighting style they wanted to and were limited by only two rules: no biting and no eye-gouging.
What is MMA?
There are now more rules than in the days of pankration and more have been added since the early days of MMA. Participants use four-ounce fingerless gloves to protect their hands and reduce cuts to their opponents. There are now weight classes, so fights are usually between men of equal size. Low blows, head butts and eye-gouging are not allowed and when they happen — usually by accident — the victim gets time to recover. Knees and kicks to the head of a downed opponent are forbidden as are certain types of elbows to a downed opponent. A referee enforces the rules and ensures safety.
What it Takes to Win
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is an offshoot of judo. It originated in Brazil in the early 20th century with Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and judo champion who opened a martial arts school in Rio de Janeiro. There he taught what became BJJ to various members of the Scottish immigrant Gracie family. The Gracies then spread BJJ throughout Brazil by staging vale tudo (anything goes) matches against practitioners of other martial arts.
In what became known as “The Gracie Challenge,” Carlos Gracie would place provocative ads in newspapers: “If you want to get your face beaten and well smashed, your ass kicked, and your arms broken, Contact Carlos Gracie at this address . . .” The Gracies and their growing number of students would almost always win these challenges, and their success spurred the growth of BJJ.
BJJ is primarily a ground-fighting system designed to help smaller fighters overcome larger, stronger opponents. A common technique is to take an opponent to the mat and then apply a submission technique, such as a choke hold or joint lock. In a sports competition this leads to a submission victory; in a real fight the opponent is disabled or choked unconscious. Unlike wrestlers, BJJ practitioners don’t mind being on their backs, since there are still many ways to control a fight from the bottom or “guard position.”
Also unlike some other martial arts, BJJ does not hesitate to adopt effective moves from other disciplines. For example, the kimura is a painful shoulder lock and popular BJJ submission move named after a judo master, Masahiko Kimura. Kimura was one of the few men to defeat Helio Gracie in a vale tudo match.
One of the earliest accounts of the art is in a 1905 letter from President Theodore Roosevelt to this son Kermit, written after Roosevelt watched an early demonstration by Maeda and Maeda’s teacher, Yoshitsugu Yamashita. The essential characteristics we see in BJJ today are clearly evident:
Matches are usually held in a four- to eight-sided cage — this has given rise to the term “cage fighting” — but some organizations still use a standard boxing ring. Non-championship matches go for three five-minute rounds and championship bouts go for five rounds.
Fighters win by knocking out opponents or getting a “submission,” that is, causing so much pain — usually with a choke hold or a joint lock — that the other fighter gives up. He can surrender either by yelling “tap” or by tapping the mat or his opponent. The referee looks for these signs and will stop the fight immediately if he sees a submission. There are rare cases when a fighter will not tap and goes unconscious, if he is being choked, or has an arm broken. The referee or the fighter’s corner then stops the fight. The referee can call a technical knockout if a man is still conscious but badly injured. Fights that don’t end in these ways go to judges’ scorecards just as in boxing. Occasionally a match will end in a disqualification if a competitor repeatedly violates the rules.
Fighting techniques can generally be divided into three types. Striking refers to punches, knees, and kicks from a standing position, and strikers most often use boxing and kickboxing techniques. Grappling refers to ground fighting. Almost all submissions happen on the ground, where Brazilian jiu jitsu and wrestling moves are most common. When the fighters are on their feet but locked up, and one is trying to take the other down it is called a clinch. Judo and wrestling throws are used in clinches, though the fighter trying to stay on his feet may use close-in strikes to hurt his opponent and stop a takedown.
Top fighters tend to be good at all three types of fighting but every competitor has strengths and weaknesses. Strikers try to keep the fight standing up so they can knock out their opponents. Grapplers and fighters who are good at wrestling or Brazilian jiu jitsu usually try to take their opponents to the mat, where they are more likely to get a submission and avoid the blows of a striker. Despite the brutal sounding nature of MMA, there has been only one death in mainstream competition. Boxing typically has a death or two each year. MMA also does less long-term damage. Interestingly, the human brain suffers much more from the steady pounding common in boxing than from the less frequent but decisive knock-out blows that often end MMA fights.
Although MMA is growing in popularity and purses are going up, many fighters must still hold a regular job. Only the top fighters make enough to support themselves. For example, at the Ultimate Fighting Championship 106 event last November, the headliners — Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz — each earned $250,000. Yet, in one of the main supporting bouts, Ben Saunders made just $20,000 for defeating Marcus Davis, who pocketed $27,000. (The men get a fixed amount per bout, but can receive a significant bonus for scoring the best KO or submission of the night.) Keep in mind that injuries in matches and training are common, and few fighters at the top levels fight more than three times a year.
MMA first came to the U.S. in the early 1990s. Inspired by Brazilian matches in a sport called vale tudo (anything goes), the first pay-per-view (PPV) competition was held in 1993, and was a novelty event to determine the best martial art. The PPV numbers were so good that the promoters decided to do more events, and that is how MMA was launched in the United States. At roughly the same time, MMA became popular in Japan, where it remains a top attraction, with some shows drawing as many as 70,000 spectators.
The answer to what was the most effective martial art was answered conclusively when a lanky, 175-pound Brazilian named Royce Gracie (see sidebar) tore through his much larger opponents (including one who weighed 400 lbs) to win three of the first four championships. Mr. Gracie practiced Brazilian jiu jitsu, which was almost unheard of in the US at the time.
American and other fighters soon started studying the art and were able to close the gap with the Brazilians. Over the next several years, many white fighters became legendary in MMA circles, including Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Don Frye and Guy Mezger. In the mid1990s, a new generation of MMA athletes appeared. Unlike the first generation, men like Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes were often skilled at both striking and grappling. In a culture that glorifies black athletes, many young whites were pleased to cheer on athletes who looked like them, and the sport got an exaggerated reputation as a magnet for skinheads.
Many fans refer to MMA as UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). However, UFC is to MMA what Coca Cola is to soda or Kleenex is to tissues: It is the best known of several promoters or brands that put on MMA fights. While there are other organizations, such as Strikeforce, DREAM, Sengoku, and others, the UFC is by far the most popular and most prestigious. Indeed, with a few exceptions, the other organizations might be considered minor leagues for the UFC. The UFC also owns World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), which sponsors matches for fighters 155 pounds and below.
So who are the champions? The UFC has five weight classes: heavyweight (not over 265 lbs) light heavyweight (205 lbs), middleweight (185 lbs) welterweight (170 lbs) and lightweight (155 lbs). Whites are champions at heavyweight (Brock Lesnar) and welterweight (Georges St. Pierre). Two white-Asian hybrids reign at light heavyweight (Lyoto Machida) and lightweight (B.J. Penn). A black Brazilian, Anderson Silva, is the top guy at middleweight.
There are a few elite fighters outside of the UFC-WEC axis, and by far the most important is Fedor Emelianenko. A heavyweight from Russia, many consider him the dominant fighter in MMA. Formerly the champion of the now-defunct Pride and Affliction promotions, he recently signed with Strikeforce and will fight for — and no doubt win — their heavyweight title later this year. The UFC has tried desperately to sign up Mr. Emelianenko but has not been able to lure him away from his Russian promoter, Vadim Finkelstein, to whom he is very loyal.
Some might argue that since the top fighters are in the UFC, someone who doesn’t fight their men can hardly have been tested against the best. However, Mr. Emelianenko recently dispatched two former UFC champions — Tim Sylvia and Andre Arlovski — both in the first round. Moreover, when he was fighting for the now defunct Pride organization in Japan, he defeated elite heavyweights, such as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mark Coleman — all currently in the UFC. There is no doubting his ability.
Still, the welter of different sanctioning organizations and weight classes means that there is endless debate about who are the top fighters. The most common discussions are about who is best, pound-for-pound, and Yahoo and Sherdog.com publish the two most respected polls of experts. Three athletes stand out: two white (Emelianenko and St. Pierre) and one black (Silva). Sherdog lists five whites among the top 10 fighters and Yahoo rates eleven whites among the top 20. Brian Bowles, Mike Brown and Brock Lesnar are yet more whites in the top ranks, and other highly rated whites include Jon Fitch, Dan Henderson, Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, Nate Marquardt, Frank Mir, Jake Shields and Gegard Mousasi. Men at the top are champion athletes.
One notable competitor is Randy Couture. A former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, he is almost 47 years old and still competes with the best fighters. He may well earn one more title shot before he is finished. Should he win another championship as a middle-aged man in this grueling sport, he will surely go down as one of the most amazing athletes who ever lived.
There are female MMA fighters but they are not nearly as popular or numerous as men. Since there are fewer competitors, it is harder for women to find good opponents or training partners. In 2009, the two best women squared off. Brazil’s Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos easily defeated American Gina Carano in a match that attracted almost a million viewers on Showtime. Unfortunately, the talent level drops significantly after these two — both are white.
Overt displays of racial identity are rare in MMA but they do happen. Hispanic heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez sports a “Brown Pride” tattoo prominently across his chest. Of course, a fighter with a “White Pride” tattoo would be banned.
Lithuanian welterweight Marius Zaromskis campaigned in Japan under the nickname “The Whitemare.” After he won the DREAM championship in 2009 he was signed by the US-based Strikeforce and, surprisingly, was allowed to keep his nickname. Black UFC fighter Quenton “Rampage” Jackson often makes racial comments but says them in a joking manner, so few people take him seriously.
In December, the UFC banned its athletes from wearing shirts from the Hoelzer Reich clothing company because they use the Iron Cross and some apparently SS-themed symbols on their T-shirts. A few white fighters had worn Hoelzer Reich clothes into the ring, though it is not clear they were promoting white identity.
In 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) produced an article titled “Racists Active in Mixed Martial Arts” that lived up to the center’s usual standards for truth and accuracy. The SPLC could name only one active MMA fighter — Melvin Costa of the relatively minor King of the Cage promotion — who is an open white nationalist. The pressure group seemed particularly upset about a swastika tattoo Mr. Costa wears. Strangely enough, the SPLC had nothing to say about Mr. Velasquez’s “Brown Pride” tattoo.
Race comes up at online MMA websites, such as Sherdog.com and MMA Junkie. Many whites note the double standard represented by the “Brown Pride” tattoo, though others argue that racial pride is fine for non-whites but would be hatred for whites. When these discussions get too heated the posters are banned.
Perhaps a better indicator of the importance of race in MMA is the reaction of crowds at sports bars. I have watched many UFC matches in these establishments, and have been pleased to see the overwhelmingly white patrons cheering for white fighters. Often the few blacks make no secret of cheering for their fighters. Crowds at UFC events tend to be young, male and still mostly white, but other races are beginning to follow the sport. The UFC, in particular, wants to attract the growing Hispanic market.
As for fighting styles, there do seem to be race-based differences. The best whites often started out as wrestlers, and win fights by controlling their opponents on the ground. Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, and Georges St. Pierre tend to win fights this way. The best blacks, such as Rampage Jackson, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva tend to be powerful strikers who often win by knockout.
The top Asians fight mostly in Japan and are not as well known in the US. Not surprisingly, they are respected for great technique and strategy. Shinya Aoki is perhaps the best Asian MMA fighter and has lethal submission holds.
Why is white success in MMA important? The sports media are even more politically correct than the news media, and never tire of glorifying black athletes. White MMA fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, Randy Couture, and others give young white athletes sound role models who look like them. Most white mixed martial artists, especially the ones listed above, are also gentleman inside and outside the ring. They show that whites can succeed — and often dominate — in what is perhaps the most demanding sport in the world.
Joe Kowalski writes for Caste Football.
|IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
Bob Kellar, a Republican, has been on the Santa Clarita, California city council for the past ten years. On January 16, Mr. Kellar spoke at a rally against illegal immigration and quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s remarks that the United States has room for only one flag and one language. He recounted what happened when he used that quote at a city council meeting: “The only thing I heard back from a couple of people was ‘Bob, you sound like a racist.’ I said, ‘That’s good. If that’s what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, then I’m a proud racist. You’re darn right I am.’ ”
The usual suspects reacted in the usual way. “I think it’s a metaphor for California’s Republican Party that is so out of touch with people in this state,” said Eric Bauman, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. “Santa Clarita, even though it’s a conservative community, is diverse. I think I’m surprised that Republicans have not stood up and spoken.” Another Democrat, community organizer Carole Lutness, says, “[Bob Keller’s] attitude is whites-only, and the rest need not apply.” She puts anti-illegal immigration rallies “just above the Aryan Nation.” Protestors have started picketing Santa Clarita city council meetings, demanding a vote of censure.
Mr. Kellar, an Army veteran who spent 25 years with the LAPD, isn’t backing down: “I’m a conservative,” he says. “I have a big problem with illegals. When are we going to stop all this foolishness? I stand by everything I said.”
Santa Clarita is 70 percent white, and most of Mr. Kellar’s constituents are with him. “Illegals are here at the expense of our community,” says local businessman Larry Rasmussen. “I agree with Bob. Our nation is a nation of laws.”
One of the people joining Mr. Kellar at the rally was Jamiel Shaw, a black man whose 17-year-old son was killed two years ago. “My son was murdered by an illegal alien that was released from LA County jail on a Saturday night and on Sunday night, he had murdered my son,” he told the crowd. “No one called ICE. No one cared. If this makes me a racist, then hey, I’m going to be the best one I can. It’s not racist to be pissed off, and I’m a pissed-off dad. I miss my son.” [Susan Abram, Santa Clarita Councilman Calls Himself ‘Proud Racist,’ Daily News (Los Angeles), Jan. 24, 2010. Ann M. Simmons, ‘Proud Racist’ Comment Roils Santa Clarita, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 28, 2010.]
Panthers vs. ‘Crackers’
The New Black Panther Party, accused of voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the 2008 election, has said little about the dismissal of the charges last May by President Obama’s Justice Department. Now that two Republican congressman — Frank Wolf of Virginia and Lamar Smith of Texas — are calling for a Congressional investigation of the dismissal, New Black Panther Party president Malik Zulu Shabazz is silent no more. “These right-wing, white, red-faced, red-neck Republicans are attacking the hell out of the New Black Panther Party, and we’re organizing now to fight back,” he told an interviewer named “Brother Gary” in a radio podcast in January. “We gearing up for a showdown with this cracker. He keep talking — we going to Capitol Hill, we’re just gearing up right now, we’ll go to Capitol Hill.” Mr. Shabazz is also critical of GOP chairman Michael Steele, who is black, describing him as an “Uncle Tom” and “the black Negro who heads the Republican National Committee.”
The Republican congressmen, as well as the US Commission on Civil Rights, want to know whether politics played in a role in the dismissal of the charges, which came just as a judge was about to issue a default judgment against the New Black Panther Party. Mr. Shabazz denies any special treatment from the Obama administration. “People know that’s crazy as hell; they don’t owe us no favors. If the Obama people thought we were their political allies, they would run in the other direction because we don’t give them no political help.”
Of the incident in Philadelphia, Mr. Shabazz says that the Panther poll watchers “just happened to be a little too black or too strong” and “made a mistake” by carrying billy clubs. [Ryan J. Reilly, ‘Red-Neck Republicans’ Out To Get Them, New Black Panther Says, MainJustice.com, Jan. 13, 2010.]
Black to White
Liberals are upset that the next US senator from Illinois, who will fill what’s left of Barack Obama’s term, will be white. On February 2, Illinois voters chose Congressman Mark Kirk to be the Republican candidate, while Democrats chose state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Both are white. After Barack Obama became president, Illinois blacks were confident they could keep the seat in black hands, where it has been for 11 of the past 17 years (Carol Moseley Braun held the seat between 1993 and 1999. Mr. Obama occupied it from 2004 to 2008, and Roland Burris has served since last year). Their efforts were derailed by disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the seat to the highest bidder. Front runner Jesse Jackson, Jr. was ensnared in the scandal, which also tainted Mr. Burris, whom Mr. Blogojevich appointed to hold the seat until the election.
The Senate will have no black members unless Harold Ford, Jr., succeeds in a long-shot bid to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Since the end of Reconstruction, only four blacks have served in the Senate: Miss Moseley Braun, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Burris. The fourth, Edward William Brooke of Massachusetts, served one term in the 1970s. [Andrew Greiner, Illinois Loses African-American Senate Seat, NBCChicago.com, Feb. 2, 2010.]
According to an old joke, on the eve of Earth’s destruction, the Washington Post’s headline will read, “World to End Tomorrow; Minorities to be Hardest Hit.” Now that Illinois voters will replace Barack Obama with a white man, a similar headline could read, “Nation Elects Black President; Setback for Senate Diversity.”
Meal Not Fit For a King
A recent controversy in Denver demonstrates the challenges faced by purveyors of diversity. In January, Denver Public Schools honored the legacy of Martin Luther King with a special meal: “Southern-style” (fried) chicken and collard greens. Jennifer Holladay, a white woman married to a black, was among the first to complain. She is a former director of Teaching Tolerance — a propaganda project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the mother of a kindergartener. “Denver Public Schools are great because they are so diverse,” she says “but this sort of thing undermines the positive things that kids can get in school. These caricatures can slip in without any malicious intent.”
Lecia Brooks, a director at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama, says, “For me, it’s heartbreaking for Dr. King and all he did and what he is about is now reduced to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and now chicken. It’s very upsetting. If that is the message young people are receiving, then why have a holiday?”
The Denver public schools apologized, calling the meal “well-intentioned but highly insensitive in light of certain hurtful cultural stereotypes still harbored in parts of our society.” [Jeremy P. Meyer, DPS Menu for MLK Birthday Hard for Some to Digest, Denver Post, Jan. 13, 2010.]
Lifting the AIDS Ban
In 1987, the Department of Health and Human Services added HIV and AIDS to the list of communicable diseases that disqualified a person from entering the United States. The department tried to lift the ban in 1991, but Congress kept it. In 1993, other diseases came off the list and AIDS became the only medical bar to admission. Applicants for permanent residency had to test negative for the disease.
President Barack Obama has long opposed the ban, describing it as “rooted in fear rather than fact.” As he explained, “We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic — yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering our own country.” He removed the ban, and HIV-infected foreigners started coming in January. Among the first was Clemens Ruland, 45, of the Netherlands, who arrived in New York for a week-long vacation. “For the first time, in a legal way, without lying about my HIV status, I’m very proud to be here as myself,” he said. “People with HIV are not a threat to anybody, so there is no reason to exclude them.”
The ban went into effect 22 years ago, so why the urgency to lift it now? In 2012, the US is scheduled to hold the World AIDS Conference and many activists were demanding that it be held elsewhere because of the ban. [US Lifts HIV/AIDS Immigration Ban, BBC News, Jan. 4, 2010. Marcus Franklin, HIV-positive Foreigners Enter US After Ban Lifted, AP, Jan. 7, 2010.]
During his reelection campaign in 2006, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin rallied the black vote by proclaiming New Orleans a “chocolate city” and promising to keep it that way. Since then, even blacks have grown tired of his antics, and many were looking forward to 2010, when term limits would force him out.
Elections in Louisiana are non-partisan, meaning all candidates run in a primary, regardless of political affiliation. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two face each other in a runoff. The New Orleans primary took place on February 6, with a victory for a white man, Mitch Landrieu, the current Louisiana lieutenant governor, who is the brother of US senator Mary Landrieu, and a son of New Orleans’s last white mayor, Moon Landrieu. Mr. Landrieu won in a landslide, with 65 percent of the vote, despite running against 10 other candidates. Troy Henry, the great black hope, was a distant second, with just 14 percent of the vote.
State senator Edwin Murray would have been a more promising black candidate, but he unexpectedly pulled out of the race in January, reportedly because polls showed he would lose badly to Mr. Landrieu. The New Orleans Tribune, a black news magazine, called Mr. Murray’s withdrawal “a betrayal of the black community.”
For New Orleans blacks, the mayor’s office is “the franchise,” which delivers political appointments and city contracts. “The mayor has always been the citadel of strength for the black community in this town,” says Bernard L. Charbonnet Jr., a lawyer who is active in black political circles. “It has always been the prize.” Mr. Charbonnet says it is unfortunate that Hurricane Katrina weakened black political power and sees the racial switch as “an earth-shaking event.”
Mr. Landrieu, the first white mayor in more than 30 years, acknowledged the importance of race. “People that say that race isn’t an issue are either blind or deaf,” he said. “But you can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You have to go through it and deal with it.” [Campbell Robertson, Race Assumes Central Role in New Orleans Vote, New York Times, Jan. 12, 2010. Chris Herring, Landrieu Elected Mayor of New Orleans, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 7, 2010.]
A recent analysis of Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2009 shows just how far the displacement of whites has gone. White children — those under 18 years of age — are now a minority in seven states, including two of the nation’s most populous: California, Texas, Hawaii, Maryland, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. And white children are on the verge of becoming minorities in five more: Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York.
America is also aging. Even with immigration and the higher birthrates of immigrants, especially Hispanics, no state had a higher percentage of children in 2009 than it did in 2000. Experts say the changing demographics may lead to political strife between an older, whiter electorate and a younger population that is more Hispanic, black, and Asian. These different segments will have very different political and social priorities. [Sam Roberts, Half of States See Dip in Under-18 Population, New York Times, Jan. 2, 2010.]
California’s San Fernando Valley — part of Los Angeles that once tried to secede from the rest of the city — used to be the ultimate middle-class, all-American suburb: tranquil, affluent and white. It is still affluent, but no longer white. By 2009, the Valley was 42.4 percent Hispanic, 41.8 percent white, 10 percent Asian, and 3.6 percent black. In comparison, Los Angeles as a whole is 49.1 percent Hispanic, 28.9 percent white, 10.2 percent Asian and 9.5 percent black. Forty point six percent of the Valley’s population is foreign born, and only 40.4 percent of the households are exclusively English speaking. [Zach Behrens, Census Report Shows Valley Residents are More Educated, but Spend More Time in Traffic, LAist.com, Jan. 5, 2010.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS
Sir — I enjoyed Stephen Webster’s review of We Are Doomed, since I consider it the best book I have read in a while. I agree that it holds no surprises for race-realists, but thanks to Mr. Derbyshire’s wit and writing style, it is a pleasure to cover familiar ground.
A criticism: On page 43, Mr. Derbyshire implies that Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were the first presidents to usurp authority, noting that Woodrow Wilson took the “opportunity offered by war to aggrandize his office.” Of course, the first president to do that was Abraham Lincoln, who took advantage of Congress’s being out of session to maneuver the South into firing the first shot and then went on to suspend habeas corpus, arrest state legislators, and commit many other unconstitutional acts.
D. Tyrone Crowley, Prattville, Alabama
Sir — So John Derbyshire thinks it was a mistake to give women the vote? I say, “Bravo.” I say further that it takes more courage to take that position than to put out 20 year’s worth of American Renaissance! There are dozens of race-realist or white-nationalist websites but how many urge the repeal of the 19th Amendment?
Mr. Derbysire is right, of course. Women are natural-born socialists. They have evolved to function best within the one group that actually does operate on the principle of “from each according to his ability to each according to his need:” the family. They think they can apply that principle to public policy, and that “compassion” solves social problems. Now that women make up more than half the electorate, all politicians must cater to these delusions.
There are exceptions, to be sure; some women are as stout as the best men. However, their numbers are so small and their influence so slight that those I know would gladly give up the franchise if it meant their sisters could be kept from meddling in things they don’t understand. But we will have a sensible immigration policy before we take the vote from women.
Carl Schultz, Salt Lake City, Utah
Sir — The photograph taken at Abu Ghraib that you reproduced on page 13 of the February issue reminds me of yet another terrible price we pay for waging wars not in our interests. The cost in lives, money, and world-wide ill will is well documented and often criticized. Less often pointed out is that some of our soldiers will inevitably behave like brutes. Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan must live among people who would be alien and frustrating in the best of times. Today, our soldiers live among them as occupiers and infidels. Even Iraqis and Afghans who are not actively trying to kill them resent and hate them. It is a tragedy but hardly surprising that some of our soldiers react cruelly.
Those who brutalize Iraqis and Afghans must be punished, and the ones who committed serious crimes such as murder or rape have ruined their lives. Yet they, too, are in some respects victims of circumstance. Some are probably deviants who would be in jail whether they had gone to war or not, but others are men and women who would not have gone badly wrong if they had never done battle among inscrutable people who could turn on them any time.
We rightly mourn the dead and maimed. But others bear different stigmata for which they get little sympathy but are the consequences of senseless wars they did not choose and should not have had to fight.
Paul Halberg, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Sir — I enjoyed James Schneider’s article about the sloppy racial classifications that will be used in the 2010 census. I suspect most Laotians or Tongans, for example, will be surprised to learn that the Census Bureau thinks they are separate races. And calling Egyptians and Tunisians “white” is comical.
We are all accustomed to government idiocy when it comes to race. From No Child Left Behind to “disparate impact” to calling diversity a strength — the government can be counted on to get it wrong. But it almost always takes pains not to hurt the feelings of non-whites. That is why some blacks have been shocked to learn that they are supposed to check the box that says “Black or African Am., or Negro.” Negro?
Shelly Lowe of the Census Bureau has been reported as saying that a lot of thought went into “Negro.” She says many blacks like the term and will write in “Negro” rather than agree to be called “black” or “African American.” So, after much deliberation and many focus group sessions, the bureau decided the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.
We are supposed to think all blacks are deeply insulted by the word “Negro,” yet it appears this is just another example of elite opinion circulating so widely that we forget it does not reflect reality.
Sam Henderson, Ossining, N. Y.
Sir — I noted with interest your February “O Tempora” item about how Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California, plans to improve the performance of blacks and Hispanics. Since mostly whites use the science labs they can be junked. The savings will be spent on pet minorities.
Face it: This was news only because the Berkeley people admitted what they were doing. Gifted programs are disappearing everywhere and colleges teach remedial English and math to freshmen. It’s for the same reason.
Sarah Wentworth, Richmond, Va.