|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 14, No. 5||May 2003|
My Racial Education (Part I)
Personal accounts of what led AR readers to racial consciousness
The White Children Were Totally Unprepared
I grew up in a white neighborhood in Akron, Ohio. I watched “The Little Rascals” on TV, and the black child on this program was my only exposure to blacks. In 1961, I graduated from grade school and was happy to be going to Jennings Junior High School, which also served a small section of a black neighborhood. Finally, I was going to have black friends.
I don’t remember my parents having any opinion about the school, or about blacks. They told me that when I was a baby, Mom had a black lady who helped with chores. They also told me the lady got into a fight with her husband and bit off one of his fingers, but they told this story in a way that did not degrade blacks.
So here I am, walking to school, excited at the thought of new adventure. I was also a little shy and nervous. As I got near the school, which was located just inside the black neighborhood, I started seeing blacks. Then I heard screams and yelling like I had never heard before. I could see a group of agitated blacks swarming like bees. I was uneasy and moved to the opposite side of the street.
There were white children watching at a distance, and I asked what the blacks were doing. Someone said this group of 15 to 20 blacks was attacking a white child. There were so many blacks I could not see the person they were attacking. I had never seen such a frenzy, and was quick to get into the safety of the school. I never heard what happened to that white child; maybe he is an AR subscriber now.
The school turned out to be anything but safe. Although only 20 percent of the students were black, they all stuck together as a race, and they had control. All of them had flunked at least once, some twice, and one was reported to be 19 years old. Lunch time was pure hell. Blacks would get in the lunch line and intimidate the whites into buying them lunch. Some blacks would simply wait until a white child sat down to eat, and then take his lunch from him. When you left the lunch room you had to walk down a hall that was flanked by blacks on both sides. The intimidation was so great that many whites gave up money and other valuables without objection. The white children had come from completely different backgrounds, and were totally unprepared for this kind of treatment.
Several times a year all the students were sent to stand by their lockers while teachers patted you down and searched your locker. My teacher told me they couldn’t search and take weapons from blacks without searching us, too.
One day, a black kid named Roger was tormenting a white kid. I was hearing it all and was so fed up with it! Without thinking, I got up and attacked Roger, beating him only as well as a 7th grader could. I survived the rest of the day without being mobbed, but I went home and made some crude weapons. I found a steel bar in my dad’s shop to use as a club, and shaped one end of it into a handle. I also cut a piece of chain in case I needed to extend my reach. I went to school the next day and waited for the attack, since blacks had a history of ganging up on whites. The weapons would not save me, but I wasn’t going to go down without doing as much damage as possible.
To my surprise, the blacks slapped me on the back, and called me “Roger’s Man.” All the blacks knew me, and I got their protection. This came as quite a surprise, and saved a lot of money. The other white kids had to pay for protection. Apparently, the blacks were so stunned that a white would fight, that they gave me free protection.
I was the oldest of five children, and my parents were not going to let us all go through three years of this school, so we moved to the country. What amazes me to this day is that in 1960 a 20-percent black population could terrorize the whole school. All the school officials were white. They must have been in as much fear as we were. It was my experience with blacks at Jennings Junior High that formed my racial views.
Jack Minick, Mt.Vernon, Ind.
A Genuine Lefty
I began as a genuine lefty: member of the ACLU and People for the American Way, contributor to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a subscriber to the Washington Post Weekly Edition, The New Republic, The Nation, etc.
My conversion to reality was incremental, though not all increments were equal. Three events remain strongly in my memory, so I will credit them with my conversion, although they may only be representative of many similar events.
(1) Decades ago I read in the Washington Post Weekly Edition a story written by a woman on the editorial staff. It described how a group of young blacks had invaded her “fashionable Georgetown home,” burgled the place, beat up and hog-tied her husband, and gang-raped her. She wrote of how, during the oral-sex phase of the gang-rape, she told her attackers her mouth was too dry to continue. They brought her a glass of water and “touchingly” waited for her to drink it so she could continue. Her view was that these were poor, oppressed victims of white villainy, striking out in the only way they knew how, and she refused to cooperate in their apprehension and prosecution. Such idiocy led me to believe there was something sick about American liberalism.
(2) In 1993 I was living in South Texas. I worked late one evening, and as I was driving home in the dark a carload of Mexican kids forced me off the road and attacked me with baseball bats. They nearly killed me. Of the many cars that drove by, one elderly couple stopped, and with flashing lights and honking horn, scared the Mexicans away. The couple was, of course, white. They were apologetic for having wisely stayed in their car with the doors locked, but since they probably saved my life I felt extremely grateful to them.
The Mexican cop who arrived found my situation humorous, and chuckled and spoke Spanish with the emergency medical technicians (Mexican also) who treated me. At the hospital, X-rays showed that, amazingly, my skull was not fractured. I had a concussion, a lacerated cornea, and needed 30-odd stitches to resecure my scalp, but I lived.
To follow up on my case I was to contact “Sgt. Rodriguez.” I called a dozen times, but he was never there and never returned my calls. A friend from work knew a former Texas Ranger, then a private investigator. The PI laughed at me for going through channels. The police report had pretty well described the perpetrators (thanks to the elderly couple — I was a little foggy) and the car, including license number. He suggested that for $500 he could get another Mexican gang to kill my assailants. I didn’t care to end up in front of a Mexican jury, so I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. It cost me about $1,000 in medical expenses after my insurance paid its share.
(3) Growing up among the historical markers in Middle Tennessee, I became an amateur War Between the States historian at the age of seven (when I bought R. S. Henry’s Story of the Confederacy). I have continued to collect books and artifacts of the Confederacy ever since. Many of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy. While browsing the Internet one day in the late 1990s, I stumbled across the story of the vandalization of Robert E. Lee’s portrait in Richmond. I have read a great deal about Lee, and was outraged. Via the Internet I found American Renaissance, the Council of Conservative Citizens, Nationalist Times, Southern Patriot, etc. and have not turned back.
My older brother and father are cowards. They live in the hills, isolated (for the time being) from the real world. When I bring up, even obliquely, what is happening to our country their ears fold forward and they tremble in horror, as if the FBI had bugged every space in America and will throw people into jail just for listening to non-PC opinions. I am afraid most white Americans share the mentality of my brother and father. I am not hopeful. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.
What Pushed Me Over the Edge
My racial consciousness had been quietly forming for years before I became fully aware of the fallacy of egalitarianism and the folly of integration. What pushed me over the edge were the differing reactions of blacks and whites to the O. J. Simpson verdict.
Terrence Silva, Columbus, Ohio
Assumptions Put to the Test
Like most white Americans, I was taught to believe in assimilation. I felt a certain sympathy for blacks because I thought many were treated badly. I sincerely believed integration and civil rights would let blacks compete successfully in American society, and that the only thing holding them back was racism.
These assumptions were put to the test when I moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and on three different occasions was subject to criminal attacks or harassment by blacks. Once I was almost raped by a young black man. Another time I got into a physical confrontation with one. I was also held up at gun point by a black man and his Hispanic girlfriend. Later I moved from the Bay Area to a safer part of the state, and tried to put those incidents behind me, but I was reminded once again of the incompatibility of blacks and whites by two pivotal events: the riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict, and the O.J. Simpson trial.
The riots in LA stunned me as I watched a cowardly white-run government cave in to arson, looting, and the wanton murder of whites. It was also instructive to see that the only people who had the sense to defend themselves were Koreans who — unhindered by white guilt — armed themselves and stood guard over their businesses. They did not apologize for wanting to survive nor did they scurry off like rats when the riots were over. This is what whites have been reduced to: A population in a constant state of flight.
Even more enlightening was the O.J. Simpson trial and its aftermath. I watched much of the much of the trial on television. Mr. Simpson was obviously guilty but he got away with it because he was black, rich, and could afford to hire the best lawyers who blatantly used race to deflect attention from the evidence. As I watched blacks cheer the verdict, I realized that these people hate us. And they hate us because we are white. Who planted that hatred and nourishes it even today via the media, academia, and the government? That would be America’s ruling class. One can only conclude that, white or not, America’s ruling class hates white people nearly as much as any minority group does. Some of them may look like us, but they are not us.
There are calls for breaking away and forming a new country, and that may be our last hope. Barring that, I see whites disappearing as they interbreed, are killed off by minorities, or are reduced to a state of servitude by our ruling class. Many whites are so blinded by guilt that they can hardly wait to sign up for their own destruction. What do I have in common with these people even if they are white? Nothing.
Dawn H., Ventura, Calif.
‘What a Bunch of Weirdo Nazis!’
I am the child of two professors, who are, like most of their profession, dogmatically multiculturalist. From 1993 to 2002, I was a graduate student in comparative literature, and when I started out, I agreed with the Marxist, deconstructionist, multiculturalist intellectual orientation of the field. Although I soon began to be irritated by the mindless celebration of diversity, the lack of intellectual rigor, and the obscurantism of my field, it was not until much later that I started seriously to doubt the orthodox view of race that is at the basis of all contemporary work in literary studies.
Race is a major preoccupation of today’s literary critics. Look at any one of the countless introductions to literary theory, and you will find at least one chapter devoted to work on the representation of race in literature. Such literary criticism, whose premises are unchallenged within the field, is devoted to exposing the ways in which whites have misrepresented people of other races in the interests of dominating them. For literary critics, racial differences are entirely the result of our cultural history, and they see it as their duty to change our culture in ways that will make these differences disappear.
My shift away from racial orthodoxy began when I became familiar with evolutionary psychology, the field that argues that all aspects of human behavior have an innate cause and that culture merely influences the unfolding of our innate nature. I began to go to conferences and read Internet discussion groups that dealt with evolutionary psychology. J. P. Rushton, Glayde Whitney, and Charles Murray regularly posted on Ian Pitchford’s evolutionary psychology listserv, where other research on human racial differences, such as that of Richard Lynn, was discussed. I read some of the books of these thinkers. Although I felt a bemused revulsion for them at first, I soon came to realize how plausible they were. I read other books about the links between genetics and behavior, and learned that all human personality traits show substantial heritability; even how we hold our hands, how often we laugh, and the strength of our religious beliefs appear to be heritable.
So, when you see that there is an average difference of 15 points between the IQs of American whites and American blacks, and of 25 points between American whites and African blacks, the conclusion that at least some of this variance must be due to biology naturally follows. The same conclusion follows from the large and well-documented variances between whites and blacks in criminal behavior. I started to realize that my culture is founded on a massive denial of the truth that is sustained by what must be the most pervasive and successful propaganda campaign in history.
I began to notice confirmations of the ideas of the “racist scientists” in the world around me. For example, as J. P. Rushton shows, blacks are higher in self-esteem than whites and willing to deny the most obvious facts about the world in order to maintain their high opinions of themselves. I witnessed a striking instance of this trait. I taught an English composition class, and I had many black students. A few were decent, and a very few even outstanding students, but most were not. About half were abysmally dull and unteachable, but they had no problems finding ways to blame me for their troubles.
Slowly, I came to realize the true meaning of black culture. Although I live in a neighborhood of downtown Buffalo that is still majority-white, the ghettoes are very close, and one feels their influence everywhere. Blacks had heckled me many times, had bullied me once, and even mugged me once. But I had not reflected on these experiences before I started reading about race. I now became fully conscious of the insecurity and disgust that my neighborhood inspired in me. Blacks were the primary reasons for these feelings, but I found the Hispanics and Arabs who also congregated in my neighborhood scarcely better.
I also began to notice the genetic deterioration in our society. My neighborhood thronged with the retarded, alcoholics, drug addicts, and the homeless, who were housed in downtown “group homes.” It added to the offense that rich bureaucrats who lived in upper-class neighborhoods would put these people in my midst and keep them away from their own homes. It horrified me that these people might be reproducing. I am amazed that people consider eugenic sterilization inhumane, but don’t consider it inhumane to subject residents of downtown neighborhoods to a parade of freaks.
Were these people — the blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, the handicapped, and the homeless — making my life richer and more vibrant, as liberal propaganda claimed they were? I had been inclined to think so before. I had thought it rather romantic to live in such a cosmopolitan environment, and I had even taken a sort of pleasure in the presence of freaks. But I came to realize that I had never genuinely enjoyed the daily sight of these people; they were offensive, discouraging, and alienating. The vibrancy and richness that remained came from the white people who were still clinging to their downtown neighborhoods.
The consequence of the American racial problem that was most personally relevant to me was its utter desolation of the humanities. When I started graduate school, I thought multiculturalist activism in literary studies was a peripheral phenomenon. Surely, underneath it all, I thought, remained some of the great intelligence that one sees in the classic works of literary scholarship written before the 1970s.
For nine long years, I persisted in the belief that there was something at the core of my field that was worthwhile. But when I finally finished my Ph.D., after having written a 350-page dissertation on Scott and Byron, published three research papers in scholarly journals, and gained the respect and friendship of the most intelligent people in the field, I realized I had been wrong. In fact, it was the intelligent people who were at the periphery of the field; the core was rotten.
People in my field have, by and large, ceased to be interested in producing interesting and challenging readings of texts. Rather, literary studies boils down to a competition among whites in which each tries to prove that he loves blacks more than his colleagues do. After reading hundreds of vapid books and articles in academic journals, I concluded that the only way to get ahead in today’s academy was to argue that some classic literary text was even more racist than previous critics had believed. I had no interest in spending any more time in such an abominably trivial community.
Like a few other people in literary studies, I had tried to integrate the interpretation of literature with evolutionary psychology. I found that evolutionary psychology had the potential to bring about a sea-change in the interpretation of literature because it offers theories of sexual behavior, social relations, perception, and language that are vastly more interesting and well-grounded than the established ones. As an example, I wrote an article that examined the way in which innate aggressive impulses were reconciled with modern norms forbidding violence in the historical novels of Scott. The evolutionary psychologists that I talked to took such interpretations to be obviously plausible, but I could never get most of my colleagues to grant my premise that a biological human nature existed, no matter how much hard evidence I gave them.
There are many reasons why people reject evolutionary psychology, but surely the primary reason is that multiculturalists believe that once people start thinking seriously about the biology of human behavior, they will start to have subversive ideas about the causes of racial differences. They are right about this; that had, in fact, been my own experience. I came to realize that I was in a field that had effectively barred the way against any progress in the understanding of its subject matter, because of its practitioners’ need to uphold the dogma of racial equality.
I found that, in order to be accepted in literary studies today, one must not only tolerate the fallacious view of race that inspires so much of the work in the field, but one must actively affirm it. The academy is pervaded by a nasty, policing atmosphere. My colleagues were always prying to make sure that I held the correct view of race. A conversational gambit they frequently use is asking someone how his ideas relate to racial issues. A propos of nothing, literary critics say things like, “Well, I think we should bring race into this discussion” or “We should look at that argument from a post-colonial perspective.”
I became aware of AR’s website in 2001, late in my graduate career. I learned of it through one of my evolutionary psychology listservs. At that time, even though I had come to accept the reality of racial differences in behavior, I had not yet accepted the idea of a political project based on these ideas. My initial reaction to AR was therefore the same as my initial reaction to so-called “racist science” — bemused revulsion.
The first thing I remember reading on the website was an article called “Rearing Honorable White Children.” It was about families that had entirely seceded from American culture because they could no longer recognize it as having anything to do with themselves. They discouraged their children from watching television and blocked out most of the programming that came in through it because they didn’t want their children to be exposed to our culture’s massively distorted values. Instead, during the evening they played chess, watched classic films, and read and listened to classic Western literature and music. They home-schooled their children because they hated the anti-white atmosphere of our schools, and did not want their children to consort with the children of criminals.
My initial reaction, which had been programmed into me by years of multiculturalist propaganda, was, “What a bunch of weirdo Nazis!” But my impulse as an intellectual, an impulse that is so rarely in evidence in the academy today, is to get past the obvious and ready-made reaction, and to consider problems with some objectivity, to try to see things from a different perspective. And I realized that I couldn’t stand most of what was on TV either, that I disliked the version of history taught at American schools, and that what these parents enjoyed — playing chess, reading 19th century literature, listening to Beethoven — was exactly what I enjoyed doing myself. These people were, in fact, very much like me.
Not only that, they were like many of the white intellectuals I knew who had never doubted the orthodox view of race. My father, for example, is a professor of religious studies who is always going off to Africa or the Caribbean to teach blacks “liberation theology,” a sort of commingling of Marxism and Christianity. But what does he do in the evening? Listen to rap music? Watch Martin Lawrence movies? No, he reads Dickens, plays chess, and listens to the great 19th century German composers. Without knowing it, he too acts according to a spirit of racial loyalty, and while the expressed purpose of his life is to liberate blacks, he has no real sympathy with their lives and culture.
After I finished my Ph.D. last summer, I took a job doing low-level office work. I don’t like the pay, and I don’t like the tedium, but I do like the anonymity. No one cares what I think, so no one pressures me to engage in ritualistic affirmations of multicultural dogma, as I was forced to do in the academy. So I bide my time, wondering whether I am just a disappointed and bewildered crank approaching middle age or the harbinger of a coming Renaissance.
Ian Jobling, Buffalo, New York
Yggdrasil Caught My Attention
I am from a small town in the Pacific Northwest and had almost no contact with people of other races until after age 21. I am in my forties now. I was completely “liberal” about race until my early thirties. I was aware since my teens that the average IQ score of blacks is 15 points lower than that of whites, but I thought the cause was cultural factors. I remember thinking that there are different subspecies (races) of birds, but they all fly well even if they have distinctive colors, and that it was therefore unlikely that different races of people would have a significant difference in the most essential characteristic of humans: intelligence. In my upbringing race was never mentioned at all. My family hardly ever spoke about politics, either, but I am sure they were Democrats.
When I was a child I remember seeing television footage of black protesters being pushed back with fire hoses, and hearing that they were excluded from Southern “whites-only” restaurants. I remember thinking that we Yankees were morally superior, since it was obvious that all you had to do to get along with black people was treat them courteously and fairly.
I learned Spanish and went to live in Mexico for a year after dropping out of college. I was amazed at the corruption. I had to pay many bribes to police despite having done nothing wrong. Ordinary people were very dishonest, too. I don’t remember thinking about immigration at all. This was the early 1980s, before immigration became really massive. I was still “liberal” on race but I wasn’t afraid to recognize negative cultural differences between us and Mexicans. When I returned to the US I found people were uncomfortable if I told them about my experiences with corruption, even though I refrained from making any racial or cultural generalizations.
I moved to the Southwest and attended a trade school that was about 40 percent black. That was the first time I had been around large numbers of black people. I dated black women and even wound up living with one for three years. Race was not a factor in our eventual break up and (thank goodness!) we had no children. At that time I worked in a company where 50 percent of the workers were black. My opinion of black people was starting to erode but I still clung to the idea that blacks are culturally deprived. Ebonics and cursing grated on me, but I attributed all “differences” to social class and deprivation.
I can remember a few incidents that roused the first traces of race-consciousness. I remember telling a dirty joke to one of my black co-workers, which included the word “prostitute,” and it dawned on me that he didn’t know the meaning of the word! I know he understood the concept because he once invited me to go look for “hos” after work, which I found repugnant.
I once told another black co-worker I had lived in Mexico and spoke Spanish, and it became clear he didn’t know where Mexico was, and didn’t know that Mexican-Americans speak Spanish rather than “Mexican.” He also didn’t know the locations of any of the states in the Pacific Northwest. The change in my thinking was taking place on a more or less unconscious level.
I was still living with my black girlfriend. She had an IQ of 105 and spoke Standard English, so gave me no reasons to re-examine my thinking, but I do remember something that made me wonder whether our relationship was a good idea. I was watching a television talk show about racially-mixed people, and a woman in the audience said she was mixed because some slave master raped one of his female slaves. It occurred to me that she probably knew nothing about her ancestors, and that it was just as likely she had an ancestor who was a prostitute impregnated by a white customer. It was striking to me that even mixed-race people demonize whites. I could imagine my great-great-grandchildren with this black woman being just as anti-white, and saying they were mixed because I had raped her.
Some time after I broke up with her I got a new job in a place with full-blown affirmative action. The workforce was 80 percent black, in an area that was about 20 percent black. Management was 80 percent black, too, and blacks seemed to feel freer to be themselves in such an environment. Every day I would hear the word “mother-f*r” shouted out within 30 seconds of coming to work. I once saw a middle-aged black man pantomime anal rape, saying “Ah’m gonna be oooon yo’ ass, m*f*r, Ah’m gonna be f*ing on yo’ mother-f*ing ass!!” I had been making allowances for blacks but now I began to see an unmistakable, dramatic difference between blacks and whites of the same socioeconomic class.
Affirmative action completed my mental transformation. I had uncritically accepted the media view that it was an extra effort to search for qualified minorities, but at this new job it was obviously about lowering standards. I saw a white man with a BA passed over for a promotion that went to a black nincompoop who must have had an IQ of 75. I was enraged at how the mass media insist whites are not hurt by affirmative action. My first full-blown heretical thought was: “They really are as stupid as they sound!!”
I started looking for information — on the Internet because I didn’t want to have to explain ordering a “racist” book in a bookstore. I started lurking in the Usenet group alt.politics.nationalism.white. The posts of someone calling himself Yggdrasil caught my attention and I started collecting them. I had been thinking of getting some of the books he mentioned, and by chance I came across a couple of them in a used book store. The first racialist book I read was Jared Taylor’s Paved with Good Intentions and the next was America Balkanized by Brent Nelson. Since that time, almost ten years ago, my interest in ethnic conflict has prompted me to read about 200 books, though many of them are on broader subjects, like general political science.
I haven’t had much success in changing anybody’s mind. I’ve tried talking with relatives about immigration but it just makes them uncomfortable. Most people are committed to conformity. I did get one person to read about a dozen carefully selected books, but his reaction was very odd. He started babbling about how at one time the Irish weren’t even considered white, which was hilarious because none of the books said anything about the Irish. It was like trying to deprogram a cult member.
I have moved back to the Pacific Northwest.
I Was a Red-Diaper-Baby
If the definition of a liberal is someone who has never been mugged, then to know my history is to understand my political journey.
I was a red-diaper-baby. That is, my father was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA. Years later, he came partly to his senses, but remained a liberal on all issues, including race. Predictably, my parents encouraged their children to go forth and enjoy the multi-racial joys of New York City. I even marched with Martin Luther King when he made his famous speech, but his dream became our nightmare. Multi-racialism resulted in a private, and on some level deserved, holocaust for my family and me.
I am the eldest of five. One of my sisters, who was 13 at the time, was raped when she attended a party on our block. One of the blacks repeatedly asked her to go upstairs to see his apartment. After several rejections, he accused my sister of racism. As a well-indoctrinated, guilt-ridden liberal, she had no choice but to go with him. Out of fear and shame, my sister did not share her story with us until she landed in a mental ward a couple of years later.
Another sister was raped by a black open-enrollment “student” at City College in a locker room after she attended a co-ed swim class. The prosecuting attorney told my sister it was an open-and-shut case because she did everything she was supposed to do: She reported the event immediately, gave a detailed description of the accused (including a bizarrely shaped goatee), and then went directly to the hospital. However, after all the evidence was given, when the jury was polled, the whites voted to convict, but the tribe hung together and hung the jury.
Ironically, before her trial even began, another black tried to rape her in the elevator of her own building. He entered the elevator after her, and sent it down to the basement. There he cut her neck and was about to have his way with her, when someone luckily brought the elevator back up.
The following term, when my sister attended her first political science class, she found that the black who had raped her after the swim class was to be her classmate. She marched off to the administration office in a fury, where she loudly threatened to sue the school for its lack of security. They settled then and there by agreeing to pay for her to complete her education in Israel.
My mother’s wrist was broken when an African American relieved her of her pocketbook. I, myself, had a gun at my head twice on the streets of New York when blacks mugged me.
During the period of my family’s holocaust in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I was starting my career as a teacher at George W. Wingate High School in Brooklyn. It had recently opened as the city’s first deliberately-integrated high school. At first, it offered a good education, but I was struck by the differences in the abilities, work ethic, and behavior of the races. I also noticed that the students segregated themselves in the cafeteria.
Integration can be defined as the period from when the first black moves in until the last white moves out. As the school began to tip in the expected direction, there was racial violence and several race riots. This festering condition culminated in the infamous Day of Knives. On the last day of the school year, as the students were going home, many blacks menaced their white classmates with knives, and warned them not to come back. The whites got the message and stayed away.
I served as dean of boys during the last of my eight years at that school. We averaged five arrests a day out of a student body of about 3,000. One of my duties was to convince fearful parents of victims to press charges. Every day a paddy wagon came from the local precinct to process the day’s catch. Sometimes we ran out of handcuffs.
There were junkies nodding out in the cafeteria, and the aroma of pot was everywhere. It seemed as if more students roamed the halls than attended class. Every six weeks or so, a teacher could be expected to be sent to the hospital. I remember one young handicapped woman who walked with a cane. Someone pushed her down the stairs, and she did not come back until the following year. After only a few days someone pushed her down the stairs again. She never came back.
I also recall the day a substitute cop was assigned to my office. At first, he put his feet up on the desk and expressed pleasure with such an easy assignment. By the end of the day he was complaining he was working harder than a desk sergeant.
One Senior Day started with water pistol battles, graduated to entire waste baskets full of water, and then fire extinguishers. The school had to be evacuated because the water was ankle deep. In one five month period, five of our students had either committed murder or had been murdered. One teacher who was assigned to the school left for lunch on his first day and never came back.
By the 1980s I had developed an interest in the race question. My family and former friends would call it an obsession. They typically dealt with The Problem by running away from it. To me, how liberal a person is on the topic is usually a function of his geographic distance from it.
I have always been interested in statistics, and my first exposure to racial stats came when I was watching a television program about the Bernie Goetz case. [Mr. Goetz was a white New Yorker who shot several young blacks who were trying to mug him.] I was stunned when the announcer said blacks were ten times more likely to commit a violent crime than whites — stunned not by the number, but to learn that this information was available and being discussed. I sent for the transcript, and found myself compiling a collection of articles on crime. My next great discovery was Charles Murray’s Losing Ground. In 1992, I learned about Jared Taylor’s Paved with Good Intentions from the Bob Grant radio program. The rest, as they say, is history.
It has not been easy for me as a New York Jew, embracing the views that I do. I am regarded as a pariah when I express myself. Mostly by choice, I am estranged from my family. My comrades are my gentile wife and retired former colleagues who have shared my professional experiences and who have drawn similar conclusions from their observations.
Mike Berman, New York, NY
More accounts by readers will appear in a forthcoming issue.
Heart of Darkness
A portrait of the African mind.
Heike Behrend, Alice Lakwena & the Holy Spirits Translated by Mitch Cohen, Ohio University Press, 1999, 210 pp., $19.95 (softcover)
Africa is a great repository of what could be called archeology of the human mind. Beliefs and superstitions that have largely disappeared elsewhere are still common, and occasionally make their way into brief newspaper accounts of witches being burned in South Africa, “penis snatchers” in Nigeria, and magical cures for AIDS in Ivory Coast. Only rarely does this sort of thing get serious book-length treatment, which makes Heike Behrend’s account of the Holy Spirit movement in Uganda so welcome. Prof. Behrend, who teaches anthropology at the University of Cologne in Germany, writes in a disjointed, jargon-bound way, but she has given us as full a picture as we are likely to get of a fascinating contemporary example of mass delusion.
In brief, this is the story of Alice Auma, a perfectly ordinary Ugandan peasant woman, who became possessed by spirits, raised a rebel army of some 10,000 soldiers, and came close to overthrowing the government of Yowri Museveni. Miss Auma’s story moves from one fantastic episode to another, like an opera plot, but as Prof. Behrend makes clear, Miss Auma is just one especially piquant character in Africa’s continuing saga of the weird and outlandish.
Miss Auma was at the height of her powers from 1987 to 1988, at a time when northern Uganda was rife with war and banditry. Prof. Behrend explains that tribal warfare had been endemic in this part of Africa until the British established order. After independence, tribal warfare resumed under a different guise, with whichever tribe holding government power using it to enrich itself and persecute enemy tribes. The Acholi people of northern Uganda, of whom Miss Auma was one, were constant targets of persecution under Idi Amin, Milton Obote, and most recently Yowri Museveni. In 1985, one of their own, Tito Okello, took over in a coup, and the Acholi had a six-month go at doing the persecuting before Mr. Museveni drove out Mr. Okello. The 1980s were a thoroughly awful time for northern Uganda, with war, rebellion, banditry, and routine mass killings.
Miss Auma’s story begins with that of her father, Severino Lukoya, a colorful figure in his own right. In 1958, according to one version of the story, Mr. Lukoya fell from his roof and blacked out. According to another, his wife beat him into a stupor. In any case, his soul thereupon went to heaven, where it met Moses and Abraham, had various adventures, and learned that one of Mr. Lukoya’s several children had been chosen to receive messages from spirits. When he came to, Mr. Lukoya looked his children over but could not tell which was the chosen one. Alice Auma was then two years old. Mr. Lukoya’s curiosity remained unsatisfied until Jan. 2, 1985, when Alice, now almost 30, began to preach the word of God. In April, Mr. Lukoya invited all the people in the village to witness this revelation of the chosen child, but they laughed at him.
On May 27, 1985, Miss Auma was possessed by a spirit called Lakwena (meaning “messenger” in the Acholi language), which spoke through her. Lakwena claimed to be the soul of a Christian Italian who had died near Murchison Falls about the time of the Second World War, and spoke 74 languages “including Latin.” He ordered Miss Auma to take up healing , to which he gave the name Holy Spirit. Although she managed a few cures, she was not a great success. About a year later, Lakwena changed his mind and told her to go to war, explaining that it did no good to heal people if government soldiers were just going to shoot them up anyway. A few days later, Miss Auma, now known as Alice Lakwena, performed her first military miracle.
Some time before this, an Acholi named Odong Latek had put together a group known as the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA). It was supposed to fight government depredation, but its several hundred men soon took to brigandage. On August 17, 1986, a few UPDA men were chasing a man who took refuge in Miss Auma’s house. They took a few shots at her, but the bullets bounced off her body and turned into clouds of smoke. The men were much impressed. On the strength of this incident, she asked Odong Latek to turn over his command. Mr. Latek declined, but did not object when 150 of his men voluntarily joined Miss Auma. Thus began her command over what became known as the Holy Spirit Mobile Forces.
On Nov. 12, 1986, just a few days later, government soldiers attacked her camp but her men routed them. On Dec. 25, the Mobile Forces overran a fairly strong government position. Miss Auma’s reputation soared and men flocked to join her.
As Prof. Behrend explains, the Holy Spirit movement, with its Christian coloration, was a considerable departure from traditional witchcraft. According to Acholi tradition, all misfortunes are caused by evildoers using witchcraft. If someone died fighting the government, it was because someone had bewitched the enemy’s bullets and steered them into the victim. If someone died of AIDS, it was because someone cast a spell. When the dead were buried, a witchdoctor would ask the corpse who caused his death, and the corpse would give a full report. This was good business for witchdoctors because the deceased would invariably finger some malefactor against whom a witchdoctor had to be hired to seek revenge. This vicious cycle terrified everyone.
Lakwena, speaking through Miss Auma, ordered a full-scale fight against witchcraft. His was a Christian movement, and all Holy Spirit fighters were to renounce witchcraft and seek purification through initiation. The men sat on the ground, praying and singing Catholic hymns. They then spat in the mouth of a pig, which was supposed to absorb evil just as the Gadarene swine did in the Book of Mark. The pig was then killed and burned. There were similar purification rituals before battle, which were supposed to protect the men from enemy bullets. In like manner, the war against the government was elevated into a fight against the forces of witchcraft, which were said to be the source of the government’s strength.
All Holy Spirit members had to memorize and abide by a set of 20 Holy Spirit Precautions, which were modeled on The Ten Commandments. These included prohibitions against cigarettes, alcohol, murder, theft, and quarreling. HS members were not to kill snakes, eat pork or mutton, or argue with a military commander. They were also to abstain from adultery and fornication, a prohibition which, as Prof. Behrend explains, “presented many soldiers with great difficulties.” The 20th Precaution was “Thou shalt have two testicles, neither more nor less,” since among the Acholi a man with only one testicle was thought to bring misfortune. Lakwena stressed that men who kept the rules could not be killed in battle, and that the genuinely pure would be rewarded with a car and a pretty house.
Prof. Behrend says both the Holy Spirit soldiers and government men liked to watch cheap American action movies and Taiwanese karate films, and got some of their ideas from them. However, the Holy Spirit’s military tactics have a heavy African overlay, and were perhaps the weirdest in the history of warfare. First of all, soldiers were never to take cover, but to advance towards the enemy erect, with torso bare. Before engagements, soldiers sang hymns for a set period of time, sometimes for as long as 45 minutes. After a time-keeper blew a whistle, they marched toward the enemy shouting “James Bond, James Bond!” (one of Miss Auma’s top assistants called himself James Bond).
Each commander carried a rock wrapped in a cloth, and on signal, threw it toward the enemy. An invisible protective screen would spring up where the rocks landed, and kept out enemy bullets. HS soldiers were not to advance past that point until commanders retrieved their rocks and threw them again.
At first, the Mobile Forces tried to fight without violating the Precaution against killing. Before a battle, Lakwena would order rifles issued to perhaps only half the men, and would specify the number of rounds to fire. He also had the soldiers make wire models of the enemy’s weapons and cook them in a stove to disable them. In an engagement, on signal from commanders, men with rifles would fire the specified number of rounds but were ordered not to aim at the enemy, since 140,000 friendly spirits would guide the bullets to their targets. The mobile forces were also helped by bees that would sting the enemy, and snakes that would bite him. Some men also threw special stones, which were supposed to explode like grenades, killing 25 enemies apiece. So long as the men were pure and did not violate the Holy Spirit Precautions, these tactics would ensure victory. Any man who was killed or wounded had, by definition, failed to abide by the Precautions. Prof. Behrend points out that this was a great improvement over previous explanations for casualties, since it required no witchcraft-in-revenge.
In the early days of the movement, these methods reportedly brought repeated victory. Prof. Behrend does not try very hard to explain just how they worked, but notes that government soldiers believed in witchcraft, and sometimes ran away when they heard the Mobile Forces singing. Holy Spirit soldiers were under strict orders not to loot or kill civilians, and were careful to offer receipts and promises of repayment for anything they requisitioned. This won the movement a certain amount of local support.
The locals also adopted some Holy Spirit practices. Lakwena had a recipe for medicine made of honey from his allies, the bees. It had to be shaken for half an hour, and cured gunshot wounds and other troubles. Prof. Behrend writes that as late as 1990, Holy Spirit medicine was widely made and used throughout northern Uganda.
Lakwena was not the only spirit that spoke through Miss Auma. There was also Wrong Element, a bossy American, who spoke loudly in an American accent, and was greatly feared by the troops. Ching Po was either Korean or Chinese — no one is quite sure — and was in charge of replenishing supplies and making the stone grenades explode. There were other spirits as well, and sometimes several would speak through Miss Auma in the same session. Ordinarily, she was possessed by spirits at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and before battles.
The Holy Spirit movement kept detailed records in English, many of which survived and provided Prof. Behrend with much useful information. HS bureaucrats carved wooden stamps with which they authenticated some of the documents. Wrong Element’s stamp is shown on this page.
Miss Auma insisted that she and the spirits were entirely separate entities. She was much admired, and surrounded by retainers and bodyguards, but if anyone asked her advice on military matters she would say she was a simple woman who knew nothing of such things, and that Lakwena had the answers. To underline this separateness, the spirits would occasionally berate her for lapses in discipline, and order that she be beaten.
Victory attracts recruits, and at one point Miss Auma had nearly 10,000 men under her command. Many Acholis left local Christian churches to join the Holy Spirit movement, and even men from other tribes signed up. Lakwena decided to send the Mobile Forces against the capital Kampala itself, and root out witchcraft at the source. The prohibition against killing appears to have faded into the background, and Lakwena started issuing rifles to all the men. Still, national insurrection appears to have been more than the movement could handle, and the Mobile Forces were decisively beaten in several major battles. Many men were killed, and in December 1987 Miss Auma fled with a handful of loyalists to Kenya, where she received refugee status under the UN High Commissioner. The spirits left her and, according to Prof. Behrend, she was last sighted in a Kenyan bar, wearing a white blouse and a blue skirt, drinking gin and Pepsi. Her career as a military leader lasted a little over a year.
Prof. Behrend writes that many former Holy Spirit soldiers are convinced that the only reason they could not take Kampala was that the soldiers and even Miss Auma herself did not follow all the rules. They say that as time went on, Miss Auma became dictatorial, and assumed authority that was rightly that of the spirits.
The Lakwena story did not end with Miss Auma. Her father, Severino Lukoya, had tried to step in and take over the movement when his daughter began to get a following, but she sent him packing. After she fled to Kenya, Lakwena started speaking through Mr. Lukoya, and he collected many of Miss Auma’s scattered soldiers. Wrong Element and several other of her spirits rallied to Mr. Lukoya, but Ching Po did not. Mr. Lukoya claimed the new Holy Spirit movement was going to be a non-military, healing mission, but he dabbled in soldiering, too. In an unsuccessful attempt to capture Kitgum City on March 18, 1988, his forces are said to have lost more than 400 soldiers.
That August, Mr. Lukoya announced he was going to expand the healing business into the Gulu District. This was a mistake. Gulu was the preserve of yet another Acholi chieftain, Joseph Kony, who claims to be a nephew of Miss Auma (and therefore grand-nephew of Mr. Lukoya). He was running something known as The Lord’s Resistance Army, and did not want competition. In August 1988, his men kidnapped Mr. Lukoya, and beat him whenever spirits took hold of him. A year later, Mr. Lukoya escaped and reportedly went on a praying mission, but this time government soldiers caught up with him. Prof. Behrend writes that last he was heard of, Mr. Lukoya was still in their hands.
Mr. Kony has generally had little tolerance for rivals. Earlier in the 1980s, a man known only as O became a healer, and immersed people in the manner of John the Baptist. In 1984 and 1985 he was so popular people had to wait up to two weeks for a cure, and his followers built a hotel to house the crowds. Later the spirits left O, and Mr. Kony kidnapped him. He held him for two years, after which O fell into government hands. Soldiers tried to shoot him, but he wouldn’t die, so they had to cut him in pieces with machetes.
Joseph Kony now claims to wear Miss Auma’s mantle, such as it is, and a good many survivors of Miss Auma’s movement have joined him. At least until mid-1988, his men fought according to Holy Spirit Tactics and followed the Precautions. They sang before battle, threw stone grenades, and did not take cover. However, Mr. Kony has no truck with Lakwena, and communes with other spirits. He also lets some of his men deal with spirits; one claims to speak for John the Baptist, and another for the apostle Paul. His army reportedly has five brigades named Stocree, Sinia, Gilva, Shila and Control Altar. Each has a three-man command structure composed of men known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Mr. Kony is ostensibly fighting the Museveni regime, and has received support from neighboring Sudan to destabilize Uganda, but Prof. Behrend says he is no better than a pirate. He now has a reputation for atrocity well beyond that of the government. His men rampage through villages, press-ganging boys and kidnapping women. Mr. Kony is said to have a harem of anywhere from 33 to 88 women, and he doles out sex slaves to lieutenants. Boys who have escaped from The Lord’s Resistance Army say they are forced to mutilate and kill fellow youngsters who are insubordinate or try to escape. Mr. Kony occasionally breaks into the Western press as he did in April 2002, when his men attacked a funeral party, and made the mourners eat the corpse before slaughtering them. Whenever President Museveni’s men close in on him he reportedly slips across the border into Sudan. However, last year, after Mr. Kony’s men started killing and raping Sudanese civilians, the Sudanese announced they would join the hunt for him.
Prof. Behrend has provided us with a fascinating glimpse of all this, but her book is a frustrating, confusing piece of work. First of all, she is an out-and-out lefty who laces her book with observations like: “Today, wars take place because the enormous war economy necessitates the testing of new and the scrapping of old weapons technologies.” This book is translated from German, so it is hard to know exactly whom to blame, but she appears to love jargon. Every idea, explanation, thought process, or discussion is a “discourse,” and when she really hits her stride, it may even be a “semantic field.” Her book is also a jumble of repetition and events out of chronological order.
Prof. Behrend is terrified she might feed stereotypes. She writes that before she went to Uganda to do research, she thought the Holy Spirit Movement was a peasant revolt against a heartless government. She discovered that the fighters were mostly in it for thrills, loot, and revenge, that many of them had fought in one civil war or other, developed a taste for killing, and would not go back to being peasants. She nearly dropped the project, she writes, “since I saw no possibility of depicting the Holy Spirit Movement and its history except by idealizing it unjustifiably or repeating stereotypes that would have been too close to colonial images of warlike, ‘violent’ savages.” She admits that given a choice, she has succumbed to “a certain tendency to idealization,” but concedes that in Africa, war often has very little political content and is hard to distinguish from large-scale crime.
One wonders what a brutally frank account would be like. Prof. Behrend strains to avoid passing judgment, but it seems there is just about nothing the Acholi cannot be made to believe. This book is an account of credulity of a nature entirely different from the horoscopy, channeling, or pyramids in which white people sometimes dabble. Much as she would deny it, Prof. Behrend has written a portrait of the African mind — perhaps even the African soul — a portrait that is to us disturbingly alien.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Coming to a City Near You
The first of 12,000 Somali Bantu refugees will start arriving this spring. The US State Department plans to resettle them in 43 cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. This is the most ambitious resettlement since thousands of primitive Laotian Hmong were shipped in after the Vietnam War, but it still represents a small percentage of the 807,000 refugees admitted to the US over the past ten years.
The Bantu were originally from what is now Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, but were taken to Somalia as slaves in the 1800s. They were freed by European colonists but remained at the bottom of Somali society, performing the most menial tasks. Other Somalis call them adoon (slave), gosha (foreigner), or jareer (which refers to their kinky hair). When civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, many Bantu were massacred and raped. Thousands fled to refugee camps in neighboring Kenya, where they have lived ever since. The UN High Commissioner of Refugees originally planned to resettle them in Mozambique, one of their ancestral homes, but when that country turned them down in 1997, the State Department volunteered to bring them here.
The Somali Bantu are extremely primitive. Hardly any speak English, and most are illiterate in their native tongue. Until they began receiving 10-day instruction classes in American culture, most had never seen telephones, flush toilets, or clocks. They have a very elastic view of time, and refer to important events by whatever natural phenomena were occurring at the time. Sasha Chanoff, who works with the Bantu for the International Organization for Migration, wrote recently about trying to bring them into the 21st century:
“How does one begin to teach the relevance of time and dates and schedules? What about sensitizing people to the nuances of shopping and cooking and eating, when they won’t recognize food in the supermarket? How does one prevent children from sticking a finger into an electric socket or garbage disposal, falling down stairs, scalding themselves with a faucet or straying into the road?”
“Do not assume they open a door just because it has a doorknob,” he adds.
People in the cities the State Department has chosen have no say in the matter. Last fall, the city council of Holyoke, Massachusetts, one of the lucky towns, voted to reject a $320,000 federal resettlement grant, saying that even with the money it could not house and educate Bantu. Cities cannot legally prevent people from moving in, so the vote was only symbolic. [Mark Bixler, New World Awaits Bantus Seeking Refuge in Atlanta, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 23, 2003, p. B1.]
The Enemy Within
“Fragging” is Vietnam-era military slang for the murder of (usually) officers by enlisted men, and comes from the preferred weapon for the job: a fragmentation grenade. Between 1969 and 1972 there were reportedly 788 fraggings, which killed 86 soldiers. Fragging usually occurred in rear-area units that had high levels of drug use and racial tension. In many cases the officers were white and the murderers black. The practice came to public attention in 1971 with the trial of Billy Dean Smith, a black soldier charged with fragging two white officers. Mr. Smith managed to turn his trial into a forum on military racism and was ultimately acquitted.
On March 23, black American Muslim Sgt. Hasan Akbar revived the practice of fragging when he rolled hand grenades under three command staff tents of the 101st Airborne Division while it was stationed in the Kuwaiti desert preparing to invade Iraq. He then opened fire with a rifle, shooting an officer in the back. The attack killed two white officers — Army Captain Christopher Scott Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory Stone — and wounded 14 other soldiers.
As he was being led away by MPs, witnesses heard Sgt. Akbar shout, “You guys are coming into our countries, and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children,” but Army officials say they have not found a motive for the attack. They do admit Sgt. Akbar appears to have had an “attitude problem,” and that the five-year veteran had recently been disciplined for insubordination.
Sgt. Akbar was born in Louisiana with the name Mark Fidel Kools, but legally changed it after he converted to Islam. His family says military racism was too much for him. William Bilal, his stepfather, says Sgt. Akbar resented the military and complained that it was difficult for blacks “to make rank.” “Everybody’s got a breaking point,” explains Mr. Bilal. “If he did this, he was driven.”
Sgt. Akbar faces the death penalty for murder. [Attitude Problem? Family: Soldier Accused in Grenade Attack Troubled over Race & Religion Issues, ABCNews.com, March 25, 2003. Rene Sanchez, Few Clues to Grenade Incident, Washington Post, March 25, 2003. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Return Of ‘Fragging’ Echoes Earlier War, Pacific News Service, March 25, 2003. Suspect in Attack on Army Returns to US, ABCNews.com, March 30, 2003. Akbar Charged in Grenade Attack on 101st, AP, April 4, 2003.]
Perhaps not coincidentally, support for war with Iraq differs sharply by race. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 35 percent of blacks support the war, with 61 percent opposed. Whites support the war 78 percent to 20 percent. In a separate poll, Hispanic support was found to be mid-way between that of whites and blacks, with 61 percent supporting the war and 27 percent opposed. [Darryl Fears, For Blacks, the War Is Another Divide, Washington Post, March 25, 2003, p. A22. Darryl Fears, Hispanics Split Over War in Iraq, Washington Post, April 9, 2003, p. A33.]
In March, Albuquerque police arrested four active-duty airmen from nearby Kirtland Air Force Base on charges stemming from an alleged cross-burning. Officials at Kirtland used the incident to remind base personnel of the importance of diversity. Capt. Kimberly Adamski, Kirtland’s Equal Opportunity Officer, wrote, “Diversity poses unique challenges, but it is also what has made our nation so successful and our Air Force the most formidable in the world.” She adds that it is not (yet) illegal to display a Confederate flag, but doing so will “get you looked at!” She continues: “If I know you are a card-holding member of a supremacist organization or I know you have confederate [sic] flags displayed in your home or on your vehicle, I will likely draw the conclusion that you are a racist — whether you are or not.”
Lt. Col. Neil Whiteman, Staff Judge Advocate, suggests that anyone not keen on diversity is an enemy of the Constitution. Military personnel, he wrote, “are expected to conform to and support the core values of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence: all people are created equal . . .” The colonel adds that “active participation” in “racist” organizations — marching in rallies, recruiting, fundraising distributing literature — is prohibited, and though “passive” participation is not prohibited, it can ruin a career. [Kimberly Adamski, Air Force Does Not Tolerate Supremacist Behavior, Nucleus (Kirtland AFB), March 21, 2003. Neil Whiteman, JAG Emphasizes Rules on Rupremacist (sic) Activities, Nucleus (Kirtland AFB), March 21, 2003.]
On October 24 last year, Lee Malvo was arrested along with his mentor John Muhammad for the series of sniper killings that terrorized the Washington, DC, area and left ten people dead. Police interviewed Mr. Malvo at length in the days after the arrest, but the transcripts have only now been made public. They show Mr. Malvo, now 18, to be a cool, contemptuous killer, who regrets nothing.
He said the purpose of the killings was to sow terror and extort $10 million in return for calling them off, adding that he shot whatever victims came into his sights. He preferred “head shots,” he explained, because of their “horrific effect:” presumably the shocking appearance of an exploded head. He graphically described the ways in which victims fell when they were hit, pointing eagerly to where bullets entered their bodies. “He was hit good,” he said of one victim; “Dead immediately.” He described another killing as “a perfect shot.” He bragged that he and his partner, Mr. Muhammad, never missed, and were always careful to fire only once: “One shot means I’m in control.”
He said the two men sometimes stayed on the scene to watch how police and the media responded. More than once he asked police officers what had happened, and that they sometimes asked him if he had seen anything suspicious. He said the two men went in and out of police road blocks several times to test police behavior.
Like so many black killers, Mr. Malvo shows no regret. “I wouldn’t change my life a bit,” he said. “I’d do the exact same thing.” And like so many blacks, he does not lack self esteem. “If I’m in jail, I won’t be there all my life,” he said. “You can’t build a jail strong enough to hold me.”
Mr. Malvo’s lawyer, Michael Arif, says he will challenge the admissibility of the statements in court. [Sari Horowitz and Josh White, From Malvo, Hubris and Contempt, Washington Post, April 6, 2003, p. A1.]
Last month we reported on the Vlaams Blok’s victory in a lawsuit filed to ban the Belgian nationalist party. Germany’s National Democratic Party (NDP, or NPD in German), a small, nationalist party, which its detractors say incites hatred against immigrants and minimizes the Holocaust, has just had a similar proceeding thrown out of court. In 2000, the German government together with both houses of parliament petitioned the Constitutional Court — the country’s highest judicial body — to declare the party a threat to democracy and disband it.
The government’s case fell apart when judicial investigators discovered that some of the most extremist and fanatical members of the NDP were government plants. The authorities later admitted that between 1997 and 2002, it had at least 30 informers among the 200 top national and state party leaders, but the government refused to disclose who its people were and what they did.
On March 18, presiding judge Winfried Hassemer noted that since the government made it impossible to know which were the actions and positions of the NDP and which were those of agents of the government, the most common refrain on the seven-judge panel was, “We have problems with the facts — how can we arrive at the truth?” “The proceedings” he said, “have been dismissed.”
Since the Second World War, the Constitutional Court has banned only two parties: a successor to the Nazis in 1952 and the Communist Party in 1956. The Schroeder government invested a great deal of moral capital in this case, which has only served to raise the profile of the NDP and highlight the lengths anti-nationalists are prepared to go to quash dissent. The NDP has never won more than 4.3 percent of the vote — this was back in 1963 — but as a recognized political party it receives state funding and is permitted to hold public rallies. Supporters have pointed out the hypocrisy of the larger parties in claiming to defend democracy by trying to snuff out an electoral choice for the German people. [Tony Czuczka, Germany Throws Out Bid to Outlaw Party, AP, March 18, 2003. German neo-Nazi Ban Rejected, BBC News, March 18, 2003.]
No Pigs, No Buns
Sixty percent of the pupils at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley, West Yorkshire, England, are from Pakistan or India, and 99 percent of this group are Muslims. The head teacher, Barbara Harris, has decided to ban storybooks that mention pigs, because they might offend Muslims, who do not eat pork. The ban affects only those classes for children age six and under, since teachers read out loud to them. Pig books will be permitted in classes for older children who can presumably choose their own books. “I very much regret that anyone should find this controversial,” says Miss Harris, “as all we are doing is trying to ensure that all of our children are awarded the respect that all human beings deserve.” [Pig Tales Ban is ‘About Respect,’ Daily Post (London), March 5, 2003.]
School children may also soon do without hot cross buns, even though the British have been eating them for nearly 2,000 years. In pagan times, the cross represented the moon and its four quarters, but Christians claimed the buns in 1361 when Father Thomas Rockcliffe started distributing them to the poor of St. Albans, and hot cross buns have long been traditional Easter fare at schools. Local governments are now ordering schools not to serve them for fear they will upset non-Christians. The Liverpool local council, for example, banned them because they have the “potential to offend,” although the schools cook up special dishes for such exotic festivals as Chinese New Year, Italian National Day and even Russian Independence Day. York, Wolverhampton, Wakefield, and some of the London boroughs have joined the bun boycott.
“These people are silly asses,” says Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe: “It seems that anything that comes from an ethnic minority is fine, while anything Christian is wrong.” A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain calls the bans “very, very bizarre.” “I wish they would leave us alone,” he says, adding: “We are quite capable of articulating our own concerns and if we find something offensive, we will say so. We do not need to rely on other people to do it for us. British Muslims have been quite happily eating and digesting hot cross buns for many years and I don’t think they are suddenly going to be offended.” He suggested that if the British were really concerned about offending Muslims they might reconsider the war with Iraq. [Chris Hastings and Elizabeth Day, Hot Cross Banned: Councils Decree Buns Could be ‘Offensive’ to Non-Christians, Telegraph (London), March 16, 2003.]
No Free Speech for ‘Racists’
Ralph Crow, a Spanish teacher at Evarts High School in Harlan County, Kentucky, has been fired because of an email message he sent to about 40 members of the school staff. He wrote that achievements of whites are ignored so “non-achieving minorities can have the spotlight,” that the main accomplishment of Martin Luther King was the “introduction and promotion of communism,” that blacks commit “about 90%” of violent crime, and that students were being taught about King and Rosa Parks at the expense of the Founding Fathers. “The truth isn’t necessarily kind,” he wrote. “If Martin Luther King Jr. were white, would there be a holiday for him?” The superintendent of the district promptly fired Mr. Crow, saying he had violated county and school regulations against harassment and discrimination, and that his letter could cause “great harm” to the district. The ACLU is considering defending Mr. Crow, who says his right to free speech was violated.
Erma Murphy, 71, a black whose grandson was in Mr. Crow’s Spanish class several years ago, says she is surprised by the fuss. “He and I have conversations on the phone until 12 o’clock at night,” she says. “We talk about cooking and all sorts of things. If he’s a racist, that’s news to me.” [Alan Maimon, Fired for Racial Remarks, Courier-Journal (Louisville), March 8, 2003.]
Larme Price, a 30-year-old black man, has been arrested for a series of killings in February and March, in which all but one of the victims were Middle Eastern. His mother says the Sept. 11 attacks unhinged him. Mr. Price, who prowled Brooklyn and Queens with a handgun, killed four people and wounded several more. One day when he could not find any Middle Easterners, he decided to kill someone who was “not good.” This turned out to be a 32-year-old Russian immigrant named Albert Kotlyar who worked at a laundromat where Mr. Price was loitering. Mr. Kotlyar asked him to leave and got a bullet in return.
Mr. Price turned himself in to police on March 29, explaining he had been reading the Bible, and was moved by the injunction, “Thou shalt not kill.” [Larry Celona Et. Al., 9/11 Made ‘Psycho’ Slayer Go Nuts: Mom, New York Post, March 31, 2003.]
Blacks Good, Whites Bad
The Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington, DC, has opened an exhibit on West Africa that will run through the end of August. The exhibit is titled “Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas,” and includes the following explanation: “Slavery had existed in Africa as it had in other parts of the world, for centuries, but it was not based on race and it did not result in dehumanization and death, as did transatlantic slavery . . . Because the economies of Africa did not depend on slave labor, the number of enslaved people was small until European traders arrived.” When a reporter asked Julia Hotton (race unspecified), curator of the exhibit, why African slavery was not “dehumanizing,” she said it would not be wise “to concentrate on that particular phrase.” When pressed, she conceded, “I can’t guarantee that somewhere along the way a slave somewhere did not die because of mistreatment.” [Marc Morano, Federal Museum Denies Slavery in Africa Was ‘Dehumanizing,’ CNSNews.com, March 6, 2003.]
Anapra is a notorious Mexican slum just across the border from New Mexico. The tracks of the Union Pacific railroad run right by Anapra, and for years residents have made a practice of robbing trains. They come through a hole in the border fence, hop onto the slow-moving freights, and trip the emergency brakes that stop the train. Then they break into containers and carry the loot back to Mexico.
The FBI, in cooperation with the Mexican police, decided to catch the crooks. About 70 agents and border patrol officers took part in a raid on Sept. 12, some hidden in containers on the train, others waiting near the track. On the other side of the border there were about 70 Mexican police and customs agents. The bandits attacked in their usual way, and about 20 men broke into a container in which three FBI agents were hiding. They got into a fight with the agents, one of whom was a woman (what fool gave her that assignment?). Samantha Mikeska managed to get handcuffs on the ringleader, Eduardo Calderon, before one of the robbers broke one of the bones in her face with a baseball bat. She held on to Mr. Calderon, while his accomplices dragged both of them through the fence into Mexico. Another agent, who also got a skull fracture in the fight, went across the border to get Miss Mikeska back, and the two bleeding agents staggered back to US territory while the Mexicans escaped. Later, Mexican authorities rounded up ten people and turned them over to the Americans.
The aftermath has been as much a fiasco as the raid. Of the ten arrested Mexicans, eight were released by a judge who ruled there was not enough evidence to hold them, and only two still face charges. But the worst of it is that the Mexican press has reported widely that FBI agents crossed the border that night and made arrests in Mexico. This is hotly denied by the Americans, but firmly believed in Mexico, where it is known as “the FBI invasion.” In March, a federal prosecutor in nearby Juarez even called for the arrest on charges of treason of the Mexican agents who turned over the ten suspects, and a judge is reportedly considering issuing arrest warrants.
The residents of Anapra are likewise in high dudgeon. Some can look from their hovels across the border at the pleasant American community of Sunland Park, with its well-tended country club. “I don’t think it is fair for us to have so little,” says one slum-dweller. The people of Anapra think the train robbers are Robin Hoods. They argue that if the railroad put up with robbery for so long, it was because it could afford the losses. A spokesman for Union Pacific will not say how much the company lost to bandits, but points out that there have been no successful robberies since the September incident. [Mary Jordan, Legacy of Jesse James Survives on Border, Washington Post, March 10, 2003, p. A18.]
Crisis of Succession
Nigeria has hundreds of traditional local monarchs who once had absolute power and still have considerable influence. On March 7, the “Oba” or king of Lagos Island died at age 92. Adeyinka Oyekan II was monarch of the part of Nigeria’s capital city that includes the high-rise financial district as well as a number of poor, densely-packed residential neighborhoods. He ruled from a set of 19th-century colonial-era bungalows, where traditional chieftains met on March 14 to plan his burial and succession. Neither was likely to be uneventful. Lagos state governor Bola Tinubu declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew to keep warring Yoruba tribal factions from coming to blows over the succession. Many residents of Lagos stayed home voluntarily because they didn’t want to become part of a different Yoruba practice: human sacrifice. Traditionally, the Oba does not go to his grave alone, but must be accompanied by freshly killed slaves. Oyekan II is not known to have had slaves, and the locals were taking care not become substitutes. [Dulue Mbachu, Nigerian Capital Mourns Death of Monarch, AP, March 14, 2003.]
Blame the Test
Like 18 other states, California requires highs school students to pass an “exit examination” in order to graduate. The language section of the test is at a 10th-grade level and the math section requires a knowledge of basic algebra, which many students learn in 9th grade. The test is given several times a year, and students can retake any part they fail. Of the current crop of 459,588 juniors in the state, only 48 percent have passed both parts. 271,300 have either failed the math portion or not yet taken it, and 103,300 have failed it twice. The figures for the language portion are a little better: 140,000 and 48,800. Needless to say, blacks and Hispanics fail the test far more often than whites and Asians, and are complaining about bias. They have organized demonstrations in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, and elsewhere, and Assemblywoman Loni Hancock of Berkeley (race unspecified) introduced a bill in February to let students graduate without taking the test.
Here are some sample questions:
1) Stephanie is reading a 456-page book. During the past seven days she has read 168 pages. If she continues reading at the same rate, how many more days will it take her to complete the book?
A. 12; B. 14; C. 19; D. 24
2) A bag contained four green balls, three red balls, and two purple balls. Jason removed one purple ball from the bag and did not put the ball back in the bag. He then randomly removed another ball from the bag. What is the probability that the second ball Jason removed was purple?
A. 1/36; B. 1/9; C. 1/8; D. 2/9
3) The musician played Wendy’s favorite waltz for her husband and ____.
A. I; B. he; C. she; D. her
[Jenifer Ragland and Erika Hayasaki, State Exit Exam Gets Poor Grades, Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2003.]
Black or Not?
The Democratic Party of Florida has officially recognized the establishment of a new Caribbean Caucus — to the fury of members of the Black Caucus. American blacks don’t want Haitians, Jamaicans, and other black islanders forming a group that could dilute black power and black solidarity. As the president of the Black Caucus Dorothy Jackson explained: “We think this doesn’t unify us as black people. Even though they are Caribbean, they are [first and foremost] people of color.” Samuel Jackson of Miami, also a member of the Democratic Black Caucus, puts it bluntly: “Once you come to these shores you are black.”
Caribbean blacks say they want a group that will attract more attention to the issue they care about but that American blacks ignore: immigration. There are now 300,000 blacks from the Caribbean living in south Florida, and they want to consolidate their power and make it easier for yet more of them to immigrate. [Toni Marshall, Caribbean Blacks Aim to Sway Party, Orlando Sentinel, March 31, 2003.]
This correction recently appeared in a college newspaper: “A typo in a headline on page 17 of the February 28 issue mistakenly conveyed the wrong meaning for the article. Instead of ‘Relevant yet expendable: the ideals of Black History Month,’ the headline should have read, ‘Relevant yet expandable . . .’” [Chimes (newspaper of Calvin College), March 7, 2003.]
Insane Asylum . . .
Last year, 111,000 asylum seekers entered Britain, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year. Over the last two years, asylum seekers have cost British taxpayers the astonishing sum of £3.5 billion in direct and administrative costs — a figure that could rise. In February 2000, a Libyan man arrived in Britain seeking asylum. His claim was delayed because the government sent forms to the wrong address, but the problem was eventually straightened out and he won asylum in May 2002. He is now suing the government, saying the uncertainty caused by the “long and troubling” delay gave him what a psychiatrist says was a “major depressive disorder.” He wants £30,000, and Mr. Justice Stephen Silber of the High Court has ruled that the suit may go forward. The government is appealing the ruling. [John Elliot, Depressed Refugee Gets Right to Sue, Sunday Times (London), March 9, 2003.]
. . . Sane Solution
On April 1, the British government passed a law that will let it revoke the citizenship of immigrants who got it by fraud or who act against Britain’s vital interests. The first person likely to be stripped of citizenship is Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical Muslim clergyman who believes the Sept. 11 attacks were a Jewish plot, and that the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed by God because it was carrying Christians, a Jew, and a Hindu. “He wants to turn Britain into a Taliban-style state, and has no place in this country,” says Labor MP Andrew Pismire. “He fulfills the requirement of this legislation for his nationality to be removed and then for him to be removed.” [Jane Wardell, Britain Can Revoke Immigrant Citizenship, AP, April 1, 2003.]
Teachers are under great pressure to narrow the racial gap in test scores, and Terri Dieker, principal of Nettle Heartnett Elementary School in Leavenworth, Kansas, thought she would give black students a pep talk. Just before the state assessment tests were to be administered in February, she called about 20 black fourth — and fifth-graders to her office in small groups to explain that because minority students often score lower than whites, they should work hard and do their best.
Miss Dieker is white, so was of course misunderstood and pilloried. “She said black kids are dumber than white kids,” says ten-year-old Spencer Hildebrandt. “I thought it was appalling that they would even consider doing this without the consent of the parents,” says his father George. “They actually assume those kids are dumb to start with, when they haven’t even taken the test.”
Miss Dieker formally apologized to parents and students, but she says she felt she had to do something about the performance gap: “If we are to help all kids learn better, the information had to be put on the table. I apologize for doing it the wrong way.” [Dawn Bormann, Pep Talk to Black Pupils Lands Principal in Dispute, Kansas City Star, March 15, 2003, p. B-1.]
‘A Pretty Bad Thing’
On March 22, white 17-year-old Dana Marie Pliakas went to a party in the Pittsburgh-area apartment of Rodney Burton, a 21-year old black man. She spent the afternoon drinking 151-proof rum and smoking marijuana, and at one point got into an argument with Mr. Burton’s black girlfriend, 19-year-old Brittany Williams. The argument turned violent when Miss Williams punched Miss Pliakas and tore her clothing. According to an eyewitness, Miss Pliakas was then beaten and tortured for several hours while she begged for her life. It is not clear whether Mr. Burton took part in the assaults, but Miss Pliakas was reportedly stripped, whipped with a belt, and hit with a plastic bottle. According to the witness, Miss Williams threatened her with a gun, and at one point put a plastic bag over her head, saying, “You could be dead.” Miss Pliakas tried to run out the front door, but Miss Williams and Mr. Burton caught her.
Late that night, the two eventually let Miss Pliakas get dressed, left the apartment with her, and returned shortly afterwards without her. Residents report hearing a single gunshot at about three a.m., and at about seven in the morning, a passerby spotted Dana Pliakas’ body lying at the bottom of a flight of concrete stairs near a viaduct. She was wearing only jewelry and socks, and had been shot once in the back of the head. Her body was to be tested for evidence of sexual assault.
On March 25, police arrested Mr. Burton and Miss Williams. They think Mr. Burton fired the fatal shot, since their witness says he heard him say he shot her in the head so she would not tell police what happened. At a news conference, Police Superintendent Kenneth Fulton said Miss Pliakas “probably spent eight or nine hours under the hand of these two individuals. For young people, this ranks right up there. To be tortured, stripped, beaten and shot in the back of the head is a pretty bad thing for a junior in high school.” [Karen Zapf, Teen Slaying Victim Begged for Her Life, Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh), March 26, 2003.]
Decent Blacks Speak Out
Over the first weekend in April, the city of Daytona, Florida, braced for the 150,000 black revelers expected to attend this year’s Black College Reunion. Daytona police assign more officers to this event than to any other, and many residents leave town to escape the drunkenness, mayhem, and lewdness.
Black spring break started in 1984, when Grady Irvin, then-student body president of black Bethune-Cookman College (BCC), invited students from rival Florida A&M to a beach party to try to soothe tensions that arose from a dispute over ticket sales from their annual football game. The next year BCC and Florida A&M invited other black schools, and within a few years students from 50 colleges were showing up for the party.
By 1989, appalled by the behavior of the partygoers, BCC withdrew. Then-student body president Gerald Yancey, now an assistant school principal, says he thinks most of those who attend are just looking to drink, fight and take drugs, and are not even students: “[I]f there’s any violence, if there’s anything negative, it always sounds like it was black students. It sickens me. They should change the name.”
The founder, Mr. Irvin, agrees: “That function as it exists today puts black college students in a bad light. Those who participate in the event don’t have the principles that were initially espoused.” [John Wolfson, Black College Reunion’s Founders Decry Changes, Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, March 30, 2003.]
According to David Mays, founder of the Hip-Hop magazine The Source, “For over 20 years, Hip-Hop culture has been this country’s single most powerful force in the battle to improve race relations and destroy the racism and racial profiling that continues to pervade our society.” Mr. Mays credits Hip-Hop with helping “make sure that myself and my generation of white youth had a better understanding and respect for the struggles of African-Americans in this country.” Now all this is under threat from unscrupulous whites. As evidence, Mr. Mays cites a letter from a schoolteacher who was telling her class Martin Luther King paved the way for Hip-Hop by “promoting freedom of expression for all races,” when a white boy butted in and said, “What are you talking about? Eminem created Hip-Hop and he’s better than any rapper out there.” The teacher adds: “It is sad that it appears mainstream America has embraced Eminem as Hip-Hop’s creator and king, just [as it did] with Elvis Presley when he stole the credit for Rock ‘n Roll from Chuck Berry.”
Today, says Mr. Mays, Eminem’s marketing machine “is actually allowing white youth to dismiss the historical and current existence of racism, while embracing a so-called new form of ‘Hip-Hop’ as their own.” If Eminem is not stopped, Hip-Hop will be “co-opted,” and discussing this threat will force people to “take a real honest look at ourselves and the way racism is programmed into our society.” [Who is White, Globe Times (Philadelphia), March 20, 2003.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — Stephen Webster’s April article on the history of immigration legislation is basically accurate but over-emphasizes the contribution of the Kennedy brothers, and especially President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Webster does note the central role of Jewish organizations in organizing and funding the anti-restrictionist movement. JFK was indeed a strong anti-restrictionist, but his efforts would have had no effect without the prolonged, intensive, and consistent drumbeat of all the major Jewish activist organizations. Indeed, the fact that JFK’s book, A Nation of Immigrants, was originally published by the Anti-Defamation League in cooperation with the Joseph Kaplan Project in Intergroup Education is itself evidence of how Jewish activist organizations orchestrated the campaign for immigration reform.
There were no other organized forces in favor of multi-ethnic immigration or opposed to the national origins provisions of the 1924 law during the pre-1965 period apart from those emanating from Jewish organizations (K. MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements; Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library, 1998/2002). Indeed, many Jewish organizations and individuals proudly describe their role. As Hugh Davis Graham recently noted:
“Most important for the content of immigration reform, the driving force at the core of the movement, reaching back to the 1920s, were Jewish organizations long active in opposing racial and ethnic quotas. These included the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Federation of Jews from Eastern Europe. Jewish members of the Congress, particularly representatives from New York and Chicago, had maintained steady but largely ineffective pressure against the national origins quotas since the 1920s . . . Following the shock of the Holocaust, Jewish leaders had been especially active in Washington in furthering immigration reform. To the public, the most visible evidence of the immigration reform drive was played by Jewish legislative leaders, such as Representative Celler and Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Less visible, but equally important, were the efforts of key advisers on presidential and agency staffs. These included senior policy advisers such as Julius Edelson and Harry Rosenfield in the Truman administration, Maxwell Rabb in the Eisenhower White House, and presidential aide Myer Feldman, assistant secretary of state Abba Schwartz, and deputy attorney general Norbert Schlei in the Kennedy-Johnson administration.” (Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America; New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 56–57)
Rather than a cover-photo of the Kennedy brothers as “architects of immigration,” it would have been far more accurate to have a pantheon of Congressman Celler, Senator Javits, and a legion of other Jewish activists going back to the early years of the 20th century and posing in front of the offices of the Anti-Defamation League or the American Jewish Committee. Despite the fact that liberal immigration reform was part of the Democratic Party platform in 1960 and Kennedy had voiced public support for it during the 1960 campaign, immigration reform was not a priority of the Kennedy administration (Graham, ibid,p. 55). Kennedy made no specific proposals about immigration reform until the summer of 1963, despite considerable anticipation among both restrictionists and anti-restrictionists that his administration would make an initiative in that area. When immigration reform finally came, after JFK’s death, it was due far more to the death of Congressman Francis Walter, the wily foe of immigration reform in the House, and to LBJ’s landslide Democratic victory in the election of 1964 that produced a liberal Congress on his coattails. It was in the broader context of the Great Society and the Civil Rights Movement — the latter also a major interest of Jewish activist organizations — that the intensive effort of over 40 years by major Jewish organizations to remove the national origins provisions of the U.S. immigration law and to initiate high levels of multi-racial immigration finally came to fruition, thereby inaugurating the incredible transformations of the past 35 years.
Kevin MacDonald, Laguna Hills, Cal.
Sir — Your “O Tempora, O Mores!” section of the April issue reported our foreign secretary Jack Straw as saying that “many of today’s worst international problems are Britain’s fault,” and that “in India and Pakistan we made some quite serious mistakes . . . The consequences [disputes between the two countries] are still there.”
This statement reveals an almost unbelievable ignorance of British history. The first and only historical period during which the entire Indian sub-continent was ever under unified rule was that of the British Empire. When in 1946 the then-Labour government sent a plenipotentiary to Delhi to try to negotiate a transition to all-Indian independence, he was confronted by an intractable conflict between the Indian National Congress (which was predominantly Hindu but also included many Muslims) and the Muslim League (which was exclusively Muslim). Pakistan was originally established and its frontiers drawn only after every effort to grant independence to a still-united India had failed.
Prof. Anthony Flew, Reading, England