|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 15, No. 11||November 2004|
Building White Communities
AR needs a more immediate, practical focus.
Thomas Hardy is supposed to have said that men and women generally take different views of reform. Men, he argued, seem to think they have to remake the entire world in order to be happy in their little corner of it, whereas women tend to concentrate on improving their corner, and leave the rest of the world alone.
In this respect, American Renaissance is a typically masculine undertaking. It is full of articles about the larger society, written clearly in the hope of changing society. AR is an almost touching expression of faith in Richard Weaver’s famous dictum, “Ideas have consequences.” It sends powerful ideas out into the world in the hope that they will have powerful consequences.
I note that over the years readers have written to complain that AR does a good job of explaining what the problems are, but has little to say about how to solve them. These people are not asking for suggestions about how to change their little corner of the world. They are men who want to know what they can do personally to help change the world.
I hope and believe that some day the ideas promoted by AR and other racially aware publications will change the world, but this will not happen soon. It will be some time before people who think as we do are setting policy. In the meantime, it is worth considering Hardy’s female approach. As we work to promote a general understanding of race, how can we also improve our little corners of the world?
I once met a group of Identity Christians, who almost perfectly demonstrated Hardy’s view of the sexes. One of the men told me he was working on a way to reconcile Biblical creationism with the geological evidence for evolution. He explained to me that he was finally approaching a solution: Whites were created but the other races evolved from primitive life forms.
The women had other priorities. They had set up a network for passing around baby clothes as children outgrew them. They were also working on a pro-white coloring book with practical instruction for children. Mixed in with Charles Martel and President Polk, there was a page with an automatic pistol and a message that said something like: “This is Daddy’s gun. If you find it, don’t touch it. Tell Mommy or Daddy right away.” As one of the women explained, many people in their circle have guns, and children need to be reminded of gun safety. Thomas Hardy would not have been surprised: The man was working out who was created and who evolved, while the women were making sure the children had clothes and didn’t shoot each other.
The women were particularly interested in children — and rightly so. Our children must grow up with healthy racial views, and yet they are uniquely vulnerable to bad influences in countless ways we are not.
Adults can live in a world full of anti-white, anti-”racist” propaganda without being affected by it, because people who have gained a sound understanding of race are not likely to lose it. People do not give up a view of the world that explains so much for one that leaves life full of mysteries. Once we have taken off the blinders, we see the racial double standards clearly, we know which part of the story the newscasters left out, and we see how desperately every American institution distorts the truth. The foolishness we read and hear may infuriate us, but the propaganda is so simple-minded no one who has seen through it will ever be duped again. And even if our neighbors and associates are conventional liberals, we are part of a community of publications, conferences, and Internet discussion groups.
Things are much more difficult for children. Simple-minded propaganda works on them because they have simple minds. At the same time, no matter how racially healthy their homes may be, the pressure to conform to the outside world is tremendous. Children hate to be different, and today, a child whose mind is not poisoned is different. How do we protect children from propaganda and from the pressures of conformity?
I can cite several examples of the dangers. I have gently done my best to give my children healthy racial views, but I have not always succeeded. I am from a family of Southerners, and over the years, I have tried to interest my 10-year-old daughter in her Confederate ancestors. I have not been very successful. The Confederacy does not get much respect either at school or among her friends, and what I say has little effect. However, some months ago I took her to see the movie Gods and Generals, which is about the early years of the War Between the States. It paints as realistic a picture as possible, and offers a sympathetic portrait of Stonewall Jackson. His death, after the battle of Chancellorsville, with his wife by his side, is a very moving scene.
This single movie affected my daughter more than anything I ever said to her. She marched out of the theater a staunch Confederate, and remains one to this day. The results on this occasion happen to have been good, but this only proves the extraordinary power of film, and we all know the insidious message that is most often on the screen.
At school, children try to please their teachers, and what pleases them is standard anti-”racism.” In grade school one year, my daughter had a choice of several biographies on which to write a report. I was surprised to find that one of the choices was the life of Robert E. Lee, and I encouraged her to read about him. One day, she came home from school and announced she had chosen her book. “I thought about General Lee,” she said, “but I chose Rosa Parks instead.” She later reported that the book was the most boring thing she had ever read, but she decided to please her teacher and classmates rather than her father. This is hardly surprising.
How can we give our children a proper start in life? In the October 2001 issue of AR there is an excellent article about rearing honorable white children. Prof. Robert Griffin of the University of Vermont profiled a number of families that have taken their racial responsibilities seriously, and who have arranged their households so as to instill sound racial and cultural values. These are inspiring stories, and the children will no doubt benefit greatly. However, these families all did something not all families can do: They taught their children at home rather than send them to school.
Home schooling is, of course, the only way to control what children learn, but not every family can do it. Even if an adult is home all day, not all parents or children are temperamentally suited to home schooling. Also, a single, self-contained family is not a community. Children need playmates.
What would be ideal is a place where the neighbors think as we do, and where the school teachers, the mayor, and the fire chief do, too. We need a community of racially conscious whites who build — simply by being together — the healthy atmosphere whites used to take for granted.
As a father, I am particularly conscious of the benefits such a community would have for children, but it would have great benefits for adults, too. How pleasant it would be for a neighborhood get-together to feel like an American Renaissance conference. At the last conference I attended, someone said to me, “It’s great to be among the living again.” It would be wonderful to live among the living.
The most important aspect of such a community would be the education it offered children. Any group that is out of step with the mainstream in any fundamental way — and, for the time being, racially-conscious whites are radically out of step — must be able to rear children in a way that supports dissident thinking.
Would it be difficult to gather together the nucleus of such a community? Certainly it would, but it would be easier than electing a racially healthy Congress or state legislature. At the same time, even a small zone of healthy white consciousness could become a base for efforts at achieving larger changes. Sooner or later, whites will form communities of their own, and the sooner we begin, the more successful we will be.
Communities of like-minded people do not spring up by accident. People have to build them, and Americans have a long history of building them. Most such people, like the Amish and the Shakers and Mormons, have had religious motives, but Americans have gathered for all kinds of reasons, some of them completely harebrained. Until recently, a black man named Dwight York, a convicted rapist who claimed to have come from the planet Rizq, ran the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors at a compound not far from Eatonton, Georgia. One hundred fifty Nuwaubians lived at the site, practicing an odd mixture of invented and Egyptian religion. They would still be there if it had not come to light that Mr. York was molesting little Nuwaubian girls.
An even more extreme example was Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. He managed to get more than 900 people to move to Guyana and build a town in which they could practice their religion. They built a system to train members in their dissident views, but it began to unravel, and on Nov. 18, 1978, they all committed suicide. The point here is that even crazy people can leave their old lives and build communities. Sane white people should certainly be able to do considerably better.
Probably the best-known example of a group that has built its own institutions to maintain a sharply dissident way of life is the Amish. They have been very successful in preserving a way of life completely at odds with the rest of America, but they are not a good model for racially-conscious whites. They have farm communities that have been established, in some cases, for centuries. Most racially-conscious whites are not farmers, and they need to form new communities, not carry on the ones into which they were born.
The Amish also have an unusual education system. They study in private, one-room schools that go up only to 8th grade. The Amish and Mennonites received a special Supreme Court exemption in 1972 from state requirements for education beyond middle school, successfully arguing that their people learn wisdom in the household and behind the plow, and that secondary schools are purveyors of temptation and worldliness. Racially conscious whites have the same distrust of high schools, but most would rather fix them than abolish them.
There are other successful dissident communities, established much more recently, with the express intention of building institutions to encourage a way of life at odds with the mainstream. These are the Orthodox Jewish towns of Monroe, Monsey, and New Square, all in New York. As a rule, Orthodox Jews have a head start on community because they are forbidden to drive on the Sabbath and must walk to temple services. This means they cannot live very far away from each other.
However, in these three cases they have gone much further, and have established all-Orthodox towns that reflect their desire to build institutions in which they can rear their children. If anything, Orthodox Jews are more out of step with the rest of America than racially-conscious whites, and they understand that without communities, without schools for their children, their way of life will disappear.
Jews founded New Square and Monroe as entirely new settlements. New Square got its start in 1953, when an Orthodox congregation bought an old farm, and parceled it out as lots. New Square now has a population approaching 10,000. Monroe was established in the mid-1970s by a larger congregation, and has a population of about 20,000. All the schools in both Monroe and New Square are private.
Monsey developed differently, and is perhaps the most promising model for racially-conscious whites. It was an ordinary, gentile town that began to develop as an Orthodox community after a seminary was founded there and many graduates decided to stay. Once a Yeshiva was built for younger students, Monsey became a center in which Orthodox Jews of all ages had the institutions they needed. The Orthodox from the entire area started moving in, and residents found they could sell their houses for a hefty premium. Soon Monsey was overwhelmingly Orthodox. There were no doubt some gentiles who were sorry to see their community transformed within a generation, but they had the consolation of getting out at a nice profit. This has certainly not been the case for millions of whites displaced by blacks or Mexicans.
These three towns are now completely stable, with more people wanting to move in than there are spaces available. Owners will not sell to anyone who is not Orthodox — not even to other Jews — and though this is against the law, only the Orthodox want to buy houses there anyway. The schools are Orthodox, the mayor is Orthodox, and all the plumbers and painters are Orthodox. These towns do not have police forces because the only crimes are parking violations. Parents have the perfect set of institutions within which to rear children, and Orthodoxy has a guaranteed future.
The school system is the key to a successful community. Children cannot sustain a dissident point of view in the face of a school system that teaches liberal nonsense. Orthodox Jews have always understood this, and because their schools are religious they have built private schools to sustain their way of life.
Private schools for whites are desirable but not necessary. Setting one up is a big job, and with enough people in a community, it would be easier and cheaper to elect a school board, and revamp the public schools. American schools teach the same subjects they did 50 years ago. It is the emphasis that has shifted, and there is no reason why a racially-conscious school could not shift the emphasis back. A curriculum taken unchanged from 50 years ago probably would be, except for a few odds and ends like sex education, in compliance with current standards. If state regulations demanded teaching units on American Indians, the slave trade, or American multiculturalism, these subjects could certainly be taught — though from a more traditional point of view. In fact, it would be important to cover those subjects thoroughly whether they were required or not. Any child who went to college after an education of this kind might be in for a shock, but by that age healthy ideas would probably be unassailable.
There are now more than enough racially aware whites to move gradually into a small town and remake its institutions. These whites would not have to be a majority in order to elect town councilmen or school board members. An activist minority can achieve a great deal, and any largely white town would have a certain number of original inhabitants who would support a return to good sense.
The question, of course, is where whites should go. Moving is a great bother, and everyone can think of reasons why the best place for a white community is the place where he already lives. Some obvious criteria are that if an existing town is to be taken over, it should be small, already overwhelmingly white, and with its own small school district. If a school is part of a huge, county-wide school district, for example, it could not be returned to sanity without taking over the entire district — an extremely difficult undertaking.
After people move, they have to make a living. It would be important to choose a town not far from a metropolitan area with jobs. When the Orthodox congregations built new towns, they arranged for private commuter buses into New York City so people could support themselves. It would be good to attract a certain number of retired people whose pension or Social Security income would follow them wherever they moved. A retirement home in a white town would be attractive to older people who prefer to be looked after by people from the community rather than by black and Puerto Rican orderlies.
Some would fear that the government would make it impossible to run a white town, but I disagree. Sooner or later it would become clear what was happening, but no laws require residential integration, and the country is still largely segregated. As soon as a town had a reputation for white consciousness, no non-whites would want to live there. If a few insisted on moving in as test cases, they would have to be let in; there could be no outright discrimination. However, no one wants to spend his life as a test case. Such people would move in with great fanfare, but would soon move out. If a certain number of non-whites decided to stay, they would have to be tolerated. Very few would choose that kind of life, and a handful of odd-balls would be a small price to pay for a healthy-minded community. The town would have to be very careful never to break anti-discrimination laws, but practically everything necessary for a real white community can be achieved entirely within the law.
Some might argue that starting small in this way is a renunciation of the larger, national goals of a white consciousness movement. On the contrary, it could well be that only modest beginnings can lead to greater achievements. A successful white community would grow. It could become the nucleus for a region that would send representatives to the state house and to Washington. The region would not only have a political voice, it would inspire imitators.
In the Feb. 1995 issue of AR there was a debate about whether the United States could be saved as a unitary, white state or whether whites would have to accept partition if they are to gain a homeland. This was an interesting but entirely abstract debate that does nothing to solve the problems we face every day. White communities are compatible with either approach — partition or unitary state — and have the immeasurable advantage of large benefits now. Small gatherings of whites will not immediately change the government in Washington or detoxify the national media, but they would be the beginnings of a real, practical movement to save our race and culture. Let us begin to cultivate our corners of the world even as we work to change it.
John Hunt Morgan is a pen name.
What Do We Owe Blacks?
Do blacks deserve compensation for slavery?
Stephen Kershnar, Justice for the Past, State University of New York Press, 2004, 158 pp., $18.95.
Race (and sex) quotas are now too entrenched to be noticed. It is simply assumed that all human activity must be conspicuously “diverse;” a TV newscast with only white reporters would probably puzzle today’s viewers. Justice for the Past, by a philosopher who understands the law, is a reminder of the purpose of quotas, and why the rationale for them is so weak.
Justice may actually attract some attention. SUNY Press is a reputable scholarly publisher, a few of whose books have made a splash, and this gives Justice a chance to be widely reviewed. With luck, this book could help restart the debate about racial preferences that has sputtered out since the Supreme Court decided in last year’s Grutter decision to keep them going for another generation.
Many of Stephen Kershnar’s arguments will be familiar to AR readers. They should look at Justice anyway, for its less familiar arguments. These are followed to conclusions that, by accepted standards, are too vile to contemplate, and that even challenge some race-realist assumptions as well. At the same time, non-philosophers should be warned that Prof. Kershnar is a demanding writer. His free use of technical terms, which is understandable given his intended audience, leaves outsiders to make what they can of “fine-grained individuation,” “token harms in possible worlds” and “referential opacity.” His terse prose offers few signposts to distinguish core material from peripheral refinements, but perhaps this neutral tone will mean Justice is takenmore seriously than would an anti-quota rant.
Prof. Kershnar reaches four main conclusions: superior qualifications do not create a right to a job, compensatory justice does not demand quotas for blacks, quotas promote no useful form of “diversity,” and — most daringly — “whites and Asians have greater per capita intrinsic moral value than blacks.”
As a free-marketeer on employment, Prof. Kershnar holds that a “job” is anything anyone wants done, and a “qualification” is the ability to do it, or learn how. Nevertheless, job qualifications are “a function of the demands of [the employer],” and employers are free to hire whomever they wish — even badly-qualified applicants. This may be foolish, but harms no one.
Prof. Kershnar then makes trouble for himself by trying to distinguish between rights and deserts. A job applicant may make himself most qualified by honing his skills, and may therefore deserve the job. Still, Prof. Kershnar argues, he has no right to the job because the employer can give it to anyone he likes. This sounds contradictory. Someone who deserves something ought to have it, that is, has a right to it. That’s what “deserves” means.
Of course, racial liberals always insist that a black who is no more (or perhaps a little less) qualified than his white competitors must have tried harder to reach a comparable level of skill, because he had to face racism, bad role models and other obstacles. Once it is granted that he therefore deserves the job, it pretty much follows that he should get it. Racial liberals want it both ways, however; if a black has not tried very hard, that too was due to the will-sapping effects of the same racism, bad role models, etc. Prof. Kershnar draws the line here: For him, it makes no difference why someone didn’t try hard enough. People who do not try do not deserve those things to which effort creates title.
And what should be the rewards of effort? In my view, assiduous individuals deserve no less, but no more, than credit for their pains. Blacks — and whites — who work to overcome environmental disadvantages should be praised for doing so. As for why effort should be praised, the likeliest answer is that the more people are praised for trying to do good things the harder they will try, and the harder they try to do good things — like develop skills — the more good things will be done. Nonetheless, an E for effort is not a ticket to a job or a place in medical school. It may be admirable for an employee to make great efforts to succeed, but an employer is still justified in hiring a more talented worker who does a better job with less effort.
It seems odd at first to find merit downplayed in an attack on civil-rights orthodoxy. Those who defend quotas and preferences are usually the ones who deny that the best-qualified have a right to the job. Ronald Dworkin, for instance, and the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Weber v. Kaiser Aluminum makes this point in order to justify passing over qualified whites. (This argument is rarely applied to the right of employers to disregard qualified blacks.)
What Prof. Kershnar opposes is the basis for anti-discrimination laws of any kind. Even many critics of quotas endorse the 1964 Civil Rights Act, for example. Its purpose, Prof. Kershnar notes, was to “protect” blacks from supposedly losing jobs to less-qualified whites, and it assumed that the best-qualified candidate does have a right to the job. Critics of quotas now say that the law was (mis)read to support “reverse discrimination,” but Prof. Kershnar rejects all anti-discrimination laws on libertarian grounds. Employers should have complete freedom to hire anyone they like.
Prof. Kershnar next considers whether quotas are just. He narrows the question to public institutions, since a private employer’s right to free association may well outweigh whatever duty he may have to hire blacks. In the case of public hiring, where freedom of association does not apply, any debt owed to blacks will stand out more clearly.
Prof. Kershnar’s analysis is thorough. The best-known argument for quotas, of course, is that blacks deserve the positions they would have gotten had not wrongs to their ancestors, chiefly slavery, impaired their abilities. Several of Prof. Kershnar’s replies are also well-known: genetic differences in intelligence, not white misdeeds, explain a large proportion of the black/white achievement gap; genes aside, the harm to contemporary blacks from long-ago wrongs cannot now be determined; most white men penalized by quotas “have not performed the relevant types of culpable wrongdoing.”
To these well-known arguments, Prof. Kershnar adds several more. Even if (some) whites are beneficiaries of past wrongs, a chance innocent beneficiary of a wrong may have no obligation to the victim. I might offer the following example: Even if some tourists go to Turkey rather than Israel only because they are afraid of bus bombs, Turkey owes Israel no part of its windfall.
Prof. Kershnar also stresses that today’s blacks would not exist were it not for the institution of slavery, which brought their ancestors together. No one can reasonably complain that he would have been better — or worse — off had he not been born.
In considering both sides of the reparations question, Prof. Kershnar raises a defense of reparations that does not depend on the current generation of blacks’ actually having been harmed by slavery. He takes the view that a slave’s descendants have inherited his claim to wages. The idea here is that the slave had a right to be paid by his master for the labor extracted from him. These unpaid wages were his property, which, like all property, he could pass on to his heirs.
In my view, Prof. Kershnar has unearthed the argument that leads many well-intentioned whites, in no way disloyal to their own race, to believe that slavery still matters. These well-intentioned whites, groping for words to express this thought, seize on nonsense about “institutional racism” or the “lingering effects” of long-ago events, and dutifully profess shock when group differences in IQ are pointed out. These whites are nonetheless getting at something real when they deny that the book on slavery closed the day the 13th Amendment was ratified. The inheritance model articulates what bothers them.
A black slave deserved remuneration. The debt to him incurred by his owner was not reduced by the possible inefficiency of slavery — the fact that his owner might have found hiring labor more profitable. The slave was owed the market value of his work. After all, the car I just stole from you does me no good if I wreck it, yet I owe you the replacement value of the car just the same, not of a pile of junk. Likewise, says Prof. Kershnar, the room and board provided by the master did not offset his debt. He had no right to his slave’s labor even if the slave would have fared worse back in Africa. I must restore the full value of your car to you even if, had I not stolen it, you would have driven it off a cliff. On the other hand, room and board intended as wages would have lessened the master’s debt.
Prof. Kershnar denies that the hereditary debt incurred by slavery can be paid now, for many of the same reasons slavery’s ill effects cannot now be compensated (or could be, if they were real). For one thing, the debt is impossible to calculate at this late date. Part of the problem is added value: if A invests the $100 he stole from B in stocks that appreciate to $1,000, how much of the $900 profit does A owe B? This calculation is particularly difficult with regard to compensation for slavery, since the prevalence among blacks of crime, out-of-wedlock births and other wasteful, destructive behavior suggests that goods stolen from blacks would have lost value if blacks had kept them. (Virtually everything left in Africa by white colonists has decayed.)
A related point is that when figuring compensation we normally require that the injured party make a good-faith effort to minimize his losses. The fact that black unemployment normally runs about twice that of whites, and that blacks (unlike, for instance, Chinese) do not have a reputation for unusual diligence in the jobs they do hold suggests blacks have not tried especially hard to make up whatever ground they might have lost because of slavery.
One way to calculate the debt would be to take as a benchmark the mean difference in wealth between living blacks and whites, but that yields an overestimate because genetic factors explain much of the wealth difference. Finally, as we have seen, even if a debt could be calculated, innocent white recipients of a slave’s unpaid wages — presumably the master’s heirs — may not be obliged to return these benefits to the slave’s estate.
Prof. Kershnar cites further complications peculiar to inheritance: claims can be sold off; descendants may be disinherited; a slave able to dispose of wages saved (at what interest rate?) might have given them to his church instead of his children. Prof. Kershnar concludes for similar reasons that no citizen today is liable for the wrongs, such as slavery, that the states and the federal government failed to prevent before the 20th century.
Nonetheless, Prof. Kershnar has convinced me there is a point that must be conceded to the reparationists. The lingering ill effects of slavery are fictions. There would have been no more black doctors or millionaires than there actually are if every black had come to America freely — discounting for quotas, there would probably have been fewer. However, the debt owed to slaves was genuine. For practical reasons it cannot be collected, yet at the level of principle, where critics have rightly sought to challenge reparations, it will not go away. The claim of blacks to have been denied their due has been wildly exaggerated, and used to extort countless unmerited concessions from guilty whites. It nonetheless contains an element of truth.
Prof. Kershnar then moves on to two issues more loosely connected to justice. The first is the diversification of opinion that — we are assured — higher black and Hispanic enrollment will bring to universities. After pointing out that less able students are unlikely to contribute much intellectually, and that minority opinions add nothing at all to science, Prof. Kershnar addresses the questions of whether the opinions blacks and Hispanics are apt to express are true.
Prof. Kershnar identifies the three “beliefs of favored minorities . . . that often receive public recognition,” and which their presence will presumably promote. The first is that justice essentially involves equality. According to Prof. Kershnar, this article of minority faith assumes, in the face of the wide variation found in every human trait, that all men have the same intelligence, virtue, or whatever else determines just treatment.
The second belief is that blacks and Hispanics are being treated unjustly, which ignores the role of genes in low minority achievement. The third is that “the government has a far-reaching mandate to aggressively combat this injustice,” an error with Orwellian potential if there is no injustice to combat. Whether such ideas are actually true is soft-pedaled when people talk of the marketplace of ideas for fear that an emphasis on truth may somehow encourage censorship of falsehood. Undaunted, Prof. Kershnar pronounces all three of these opinions false. In any case, as Prof. Kershnar remarks, these beliefs are “already far more prevalent than their competitor[s]” in American higher education, and need no extra advocates.
There is one more topic in Justice For the Past, raised in the context of compensatory justice but not really required by it. Assume, contrary to fact, that contemporary blacks are owed a measurable and collectible payment because of the wrongs of the past. Since the state is supposed to enforce debts, failure of the American government to enforce this one would show “contempt,” and “the notion that . . . blacks have less moral value than other persons.” However, argues Prof. Kershnar, non-enforcement of such debts is justified if blacks are less “intrinsically morally valuable” than whites, a view he spends seventeen pages defending.
Why make an argument that is sure to be met with outrage? Why, having already concluded that blacks are owed nothing, pursue the doubly hypothetical and radioactive question of whether, even if they were owed something, the government would be justified in doing nothing because of their lower value? I suspect Prof. Kershnar simply found the question too intriguing to pass up.
It is important to understand what Prof. Kershnar is saying. It is not, or not simply, that blacks act less morally than whites, although the rates of black crime, illegitimacy and venereal disease certainly indicate that they do. (Researchers have used the “prisoner’s dilemma,” “ultimatum games” and “Newcomb” problems to gauge a subject’s sense of justice or willingness to be cooperative, and it would be instructive to know whether there are racial differences in these findings. Probably some data have already been accumulated inadvertently but not published.) Prof. Kershnar’s claim, rather, can be expressed by saying that the disappearance of whites from the universe would be a greater loss than the disappearance of an equal number of blacks.
Logically, this view implies that if one were forced to choose between saving an anonymous white and an anonymous black, one should always choose the white. Prof. Kershnar says nothing like this explicitly, but he does say his view justifies private discrimination in favor of whites and Asians, for instance when deciding which philanthropies to support.
Prof. Kershnar bases this eyebrow-raising thesis on the greater “autonomy” of whites and Asians. Autonomy — what people have in mind by free will — is the capacity to identify one’s desires, examine them, and strengthen the more desirable ones and suppress the less desirable.
Autonomy can be expected to correlate with intelligence. Self-control requires insight into one’s own nature, and the capacity to foresee and compare the outcomes of various courses of action. Whites and Asians, because they have higher IQs than blacks, may therefore be expected to be more autonomous, a prediction for which Prof. Kershnar cites empirical evidence.
The question, of course, is why intrinsic value should depend on autonomy. Just because I’m more self-governing than you, does that make me better? Prof. Kershnar relies heavily on the observation that the belief that value “tracks” autonomy “best explains” many everyday judgments of value. If forced to choose between saving a man and a pig we would all unhesitatingly save the man; forced to choose between a pig and a radish we would save the pig — preferences which match the man > pig > radish ordering for autonomy. Now, this is undoubtedly the way we do think. People often act as if they believe that more autonomy equals more value.
Saying that “whites are intrinsically better than blacks” raises hackles and gives liberals an excuse to dismiss this book. Tactically, better results can be achieved, I suspect, merely by pointing out the values most people embrace reflect their preference for the ways whites do things. Making it clear that liberals prefer white ways by their own lights — by the neighbors they choose, by the way they want their children to grow up — is a good way to counteract liberal bromides. I don’t wish to be dogmatic; perhaps Prof. Kershnar’s audacity is a better way to shake things up, but I remain skeptical of talk of intrinsic value.
Justice for the Past may raise the consciousness of a few about quotas, but the odds of that making much practical difference are very uncertain. After 35 years, preferences for blacks have become the normal state of affairs, any departure from which, especially toward race-blindness, is treated as if it were discrimination. At the same time, a half-century after Brown v Board of Education, decades after discrimination in any plausible sense came to an end, black children and adolescents still trail whites in every category at every educational level by about as much as they did in the 1950s. Might these gaps suggest that whites are simply more able than blacks, in which case preferences were a bad idea from the start? By now this obvious question is met with the pretense that the gaps are inexplicable, or, more likely, silence.
The last opportunity to restore sanity may have been Ronald Reagan’s first term, when quotas were still considered the sort of liberal folly conservatives seriously intended to curb. In 2004, liberals are happy to let quotas continue to be part of the furniture, and conservatism seems to mean bombing Arabs. So far as I can tell, quotas were never even mentioned in the recent presidential campaign. The reception of Justice will be revealing, which is not the same as encouraging.
Michael Levin is professor of philosophy at City University of New York.
No, We Owe Nothing
There are several aspects of Prof. Kershnar’s argument that invite response. Although Prof. Levin’s review does not make this specific distinction, it is convenient to divide claims for reparations into two kinds: those against governments and those against living individuals who are the presumed beneficiaries of slavery.
The federal government is the favorite target for reparations claims, not because claims against it are strong but because it could conceivably raise the huge sums blacks demand. However, the federal government cannot be held responsible for slavery. There was slavery in the colonies for more than 100 years before the federal government came into existence. Under the Constitution by which the United States was established, slavery was regulated by the states, and was a question over which neither Congress nor the Supreme Court had jurisdiction. Slavery was abolished in the United States by Constitutional amendment, which only underscores the inability of the federal government to end it on its own authority.
Some people believe the Emancipation Proclamation proves the President had the power to abolish slavery, but they are mistaken. The proclamation was a war-time, executive order that applied only to those territories still under the control of the Confederacy, and in that sense no longer under the Constitution. President Lincoln’s proclamation did not free the slaves of Maryland or Washington, DC — both still within the Union — because the President did not have Constitutional authority to free them.
Slavery, therefore, was a practice that pre-dated the federal government, and over which it had no control. It makes no sense to blame it for slavery or hold it liable for alleged damages.
The claim against state governments is slightly stronger, but fails for similar reasons. State governments did not practice slavery. They permitted it, and passed laws to regulate it, but it was individuals who owned slaves, not governments. If there are claims to be made, they must be brought against the people who owned slaves and built institutions to support slavery; not against inanimate institutions. In any case, not even the most ardent reparationists are bringing claims against state governments because no one thinks they could pay or would pay, even if they could.
What about civil suits by the descendants of slaves directly against the descendants of slave-owners? It would be easy to find parties to such suits, and the standard of proof is low: “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Why have no such suits been filed? Because they would be laughed out of court. There is no legal theory of hereditary guilt. Guilt is an individual, not a family matter, and does not continue from father to son. Murder is worse than slavery, and yet a murder victim’s son has no claim of any kind on the son of a man who killed his father.
Prof. Kershnar argues that slaves had a right to wages and therefore their descendants have a claim to these wages. Prof. Levin agrees: “For practical reasons” we are not going to pay, but he concedes the principle of indebtedness. This is a dangerous and unjustified concession. If the United States ever accepted the principle of indebtedness to blacks, it would be only a matter of time before someone worked out a formula for payment — even token payment. It is not logical to agree that we owe a debt but then refuse to pay anything because we don’t know the exact amount. If liability is ever firmly established, some reasonable minimum figure will not be far behind
There are excellent reasons to reject the principle of indebtedness. First, slavery was legal. Under 19th century law, owners owed their slaves nothing. To insist, after the fact, that they or their descendants should be compelled to pay wages is to create an ex post facto crime. This is forbidden by the Constitution, as well as by general moral principles. The rule of law collapses if, by a change in the law, we can turn heretofore law-abiding citizens into felons and punish them.
Some may be tempted to make a special exception for slavery, but once we start applying today’s moral standards to the past, there is no end of possible exceptions. We now consider child labor barbarous, but it was legal, just like slavery. Governments sanctioned it, parents permitted it, and employers benefited from it. Do the descendants of child laborers have a claim on anyone? No.
Historically, American governments have meted out harsh punishments — even death — for acts that are now legal: fornication, homosexuality, abortion. Do the descendants of the people so punished have a claim on the governments or people who punished them? No.
Until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, women could not vote in federal elections, and most people think that was wrong. Do women, collectively, have a claim on the government or anyone else? No.
But let us stand on our heads and concede that slavery, though perfectly legal, was a crime anyway. Prof. Kershnar tells us the specific crime was the refusal to pay wages — let us call it robbery or grand larceny. Most crimes short of rape, murder, and arson have a statute of limitations, and in American jurisdictions the statute of limitations for grand larceny is generally five or six years. Over time, evidence goes stale, memories decay, and justice becomes uncertain. Another justification for the statute is that after a certain period of lawful behavior even the perpetrators of all but the most grievous crimes deserve to live without fear of prosecution. If the perpetrators deserve this, do not their distant descendants deserve it even more? For punishment to be just, it must fall on the guilty, not on the unborn.
The entire question of reparations for slavery arises only because it is part of the vexed history of American race relations, not because of the injustice it represents. Americans are conditioned to think slavery was a uniquely evil, shameful part of our history. It takes on this dark hue only because it was whites who enslaved blacks. If American slavery had not been a racial caste system — but was otherwise exactly as we find it — it would be an unremarkable historical curiosity, just as it is in Turkey or India or Indonesia or, for that matter, in France, Italy, and in practically every corner of the world, where slavery has been a near-universal phenomenon.
The fabled wickedness of American slavery has to do almost entirely with our post-slavery racial history, and practically nothing to do with what actually happened. It is only because people’s minds are unhinged by the alleged enormity of American slavery that they advance wild proposals to suspend the Constitution’s prohibition against ex post facto crimes, or invent exotic theories about hereditary guilt that menace us five generations after the fact.
There is slavery in the United States today. The US Justice Department estimates that 14,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, some held by force, others by psychological pressure or threats to their families. They work as domestic servants, prostitutes, and sweatshop laborers. They may be beaten, separated from their families, and, if anything, treated worse than Southerners treated their human property. When these cases come to light, the guilty are punished and the victims are freed. Even after years of forced labor, no one calculates the “back wages” that were due and makes the guilty pay. No one even thinks about requiring the taxpayer to pay a bill for back wages.
Why is there more institutional outrage over antebellum slavery than contemporary slavery? Because white people cannot be blamed for the modern kind. Today’s slaves are almost all foreigners, imported and exploited by foreigners. The most common origins of both traffickers and victims are China, Mexico, and Vietnam, and cases are most frequent among the large immigrant populations of California, Florida, Texas, and New York.
Let us imagine an equivalent number of exactly the same crimes, but committed only by whites against blacks. There would be massive public education campaigns, and a national eradication crusade. There might even be novel theories of compensation that required family members of white perpetrators to help pay “back wages.” In the United States, merely changing the races of the actors can turn a minor episode into a national scandal.
Black activists love to fantasize about large checks dropping out of the sky. Although Americans have a remarkable capacity to submit to unreasonable racial demands, those checks will never fall from the sky. Prof. Levin believes Prof. Kershnar has brought to light a genuine, irrefutable claim blacks have against the rest of us, but even most liberals would probably not agree.
Only one in five households in the Old South could even afford to keep slaves. Given the large number of immigrants to this country since emancipation, it means only a small minority of living Americans even have slave-owning ancestors. Most whites — conservative or liberal — will never accept punishment (and payment is punishment) for something they did not do.
Whites once again seek forgiveness.
On September 29, 1767, Kunta Kinte, the invented hero in Alex Haley’s book Roots, supposedly landed as a slave at City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. The London-based Lifeline Expedition and the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation chose Sept. 29, 2004 to hold a “slavery walk” from City Dock through part of old Annapolis. Its purpose was to promote “reconciliation in the context of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its legacy.”
According to publicity materials for the walk, “since 2000, Lifeline volunteers have been walking through England, France, Spain, and Portugal to encourage awareness of the impact and legacy of the slave trade.” This year it is America’s turn, and Holland and the Caribbean are scheduled for 2005. In 2006, Lifeline Expedition will go to West Africa, where its volunteers will no doubt meet people who wish their ancestors had been put on ships to America.
I attended the event in Annapolis, which attracted a crowd of about 125 to 150 people, including event staff. It opened with a prayer from a black minister and remarks from a local politician who, in the name of diversity, was white. A man who claimed to be a descendent of Kunta Kinte also shared his thoughts.
It was now time for whites to show repentance and seek the forgiveness of blacks. They wore black T-shirts reading “So Sorry,” and there were armbands reading “PENITENT” for whites in the audience who wanted them. For blacks there were armbands reading “FORGIVER.” I did without anarmband.
When Lifeline’s project leader addressed the crowd, it was not enough simply to confess how awful slavery was. He got on his knees and said a prayer of repentance. The white participants — they were called Lifeline Walkers — then confessed their repentance. They were not on a podium and did not kneel. With people standing around them, it would have made a difficult shot for news cameras.
Then out came the props for the slavery walk. The ritual requires that whites walk in bondage with black “masters.” Thus there were chains for two young white ladies, and chains plus a crude yoke for two white gentlemen. The yoke bound the men together at the neck, and looked impressive on television. With the four “slaves” properly adorned, the walk went from City Dock, past the historic Middleton Tavern (where slave purchases were allegedly celebrated with frothy mugs of ale) onto Prince George’s Street, and up to the William Paca House, home of an 18th century colonial governor. In a touching ceremony, the black “forgivers” unshackled the white “slaves,” and the races were reconciled.
Then, as one, blacks and whites marched to the statue of Justice Thurgood Marshall a few yards west of the Maryland State House. During this final leg of the walk, a reporter for a local news channel set up his closing scene, with marchers in the background, while he intoned something like, “Today Annapolis seeks to become the first city of healing in America.”
Closing ceremonies, in the shadow of a twelve-foot-high Thurgood Marshall, included several speeches, the usual prayer from a black minister, and, to top things off, handshakes and hugs between the man who claimed to be a descendant of Kunta Kinte and a man who claimed to be a descendant of Kunta Kinte’s owner. Then it was off to the Banneker-Douglas museum for refreshments. I had fried chicken.
Lifeline prepared a 20-page booklet for those who could not personally share this experience of reconciliation. It proposes the “Four Healing Steps” of confession, repentance, reconciliation and, of course, restitution.
Confession requires that one “acknowledge hurtful actions and injustices,” and racial healing requires “telling our history truthfully.” Truth sounds good in theory, but at many universities could get a professor fired. Lifeline itself is not very truthful, claiming that the blacks who sold other blacks to whites did so reluctantly, for fear of “annihilation.” They also claim that “the wealth of Europe and the Americas was built upon over 300 years of unpaid forced labor.” Alex Haley was not exactly a paragon of truthfulness either (see sidebar).
“Repentance” means whites must “show regret for having done something wrong.” In particular, they should recognize that “the poverty of Africa compared with Europe and the United States” is “a negative inheritance that needs dealing with.”
“Reconciliation” requires whites to “seek and receive forgiveness,” which means they are to “act in ways big and small to understand and redress the injury of racism in our society.” For “restitution,” Lifeline suggests giving money to black causes, joining a Reconciliation Study Circle, buying from blacks, and generally being an anti-”racist” nag.
I am truly sorry about slavery, but not for the reasons expressed by the organizers of this event. The chains and yokes worn by the Lifeline Walkers were props. The social pathologies of blacks are not. They are real, often deadly, and the costs borne by whites in human suffering and higher taxes are modern forms of bondage. It is whites who need to be set free.
The Roots Hoax
Alex Haley (1921–1992) was a black writer who made a great deal of money from his 1976 book Roots and the television mini-series that followed a year later. The book purported to be the true story of Haley’s slave ancestors. He followed a family oral tradition all the way back to Africa, where he met a tribal wise man whose oral tradition matched Haley’s: Slave traders snatched distant ancestor Kunta Kinte and hauled him off to America. Roots goes on for 700 pages and six generations of black resistance to white oppression.
The book won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and was issued as a Reader’s Digest condensed book. It was published in 37 languages and has been used in courses at approximately 500 colleges. There is even a Cliff Notes-like, Novels for Students version for scholars in a hurry. The book is still promoted as a true story.
In fact, early parts of the book are worse than invention; they are lifted straight out of a 1967 novel called The African by a white author, Harold Courlander. Courlander sued Haley for plagiarism in 1978, forced him to admit he had copied long passages, and collected $650,000 in damages. This, however, has done almost nothing to tarnish Haley’s reputation. By the time of the suit, Roots was already a cultural icon and a source of pride for blacks. Judge Robert Ward, who presided over the plagiarism case, urged Courlander to keep quiet since the truth would be too great a blow to black pride.
The co-sponsor of the Annapolis “slavery walk” was none other than the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, whose purpose is to “encourage greater study and awareness of African-American culture, history, archeology, and genealogy.” Let us hope they do not encourage Haley’s methods.
Howard Fezell is a Maryland lawyer.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
German Nationalists Win
Two nationalist German parties won seats in eastern German state assemblies in elections on September 19. The National Democratic Party (NPD) received nine percent of the vote in Saxony and twelve seats, the first time it has won seats in any election since 1968, when it had brief representation in seven state parliaments. The German People’s Union (DVU) won six percent of the vote and six seats in Brandenburg. The parties had agreed not to run against each other in the same states. The NPD also did surprisingly well in the western German Saar region in Sept. 2 elections, picking up four percent of the vote, which was just under the five percent necessary to win seats in the assembly. [German Far Right Makes Poll Gains, BBC News, Sept. 20, 2004.]
Both parties want to curb immigration and deport foreigners who are already in Germany. The NPD calls its political philosophy “social-revolutionary nationalism,” and its officials emphasize the “bio-cultural roots” of the German nation. Admitting Turkey into the European Union threatens “the continent of white nations with disintegration and decomposition.” An NPD campaign poster with the caption “Have a good trip home!” showed Turks carrying bags and walking towards a minaret.
“The NPD stands for Germany for the Germans,” says party leader Udo Voigt. “We have a situation now where we have six million foreigners in Germany. We do not need them. By 2030, the majority of people living in Germany will be foreigners. I do not want a doner kebab (a popular type of fast food introduced by Turkish immigrants) stand on every corner. It will end our German culture.”
Mr. Voight is also critical of American influence and excessive globalization. “We want to be sovereign, not under America,” he explains. “We want our national sovereignty back. There is too much in the hands of the Americans and too much of our economy is being taken over by foreigners. German companies should invest in Germany, not abroad.”
The party has other plans. It wants to overthrow Germany’s “liberal-capitalist system,” and Holger Apfel, one of the party’s Saxony candidates, wants to restore Germany’s 1945 borders, which would mean taking land back from Poland and Russia. “Nothing and nobody will keep us from our struggle for the Reich,” he proclaims. The party is also very anti-Jewish, describing the Torah as “the original document of Jewish national hatred.”
Last year, the German government tried to ban the NPD on the grounds that it was responsible for attacks on Jews and foreigners. However, the court threw out the case when it found that some of the party’s most extreme members were paid police informers.
The DVU is run by Gerhard Frey, who publishes an anti-immigration newspaper called the National-Zeitung. The party’s posters demanded “German jobs for Germans first” and the expulsion of criminal foreigners. The party was founded in 1987 and won 12.9 percent of the vote in the eastern German state of Saxony Anhalt in 1998. [Allan Hall, Quest To Ban Neo-Nazis Ends In Farce, Scotsman.com News, March 19, 2003. Far-Right Expected to Make German Election Gains, Expatica.com, Sept. 7, 2004. German Reform Anger Triggers Far Left, Right Surge, Expatica.com, Sept. 20, 2004. German Far-Right Parties To Form Election Alliance, Expatica. com, Sept. 23, 2004.]
The elections were also good for the Democratic Socialists, successors to the East German Communist Party. They received 28.5 percent of the vote in Brandenburg and 23 percent of the vote in Saxony. The two mainstream parties of the left and right, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Union, lost support in both states. In fact, the Social Democrats, Germany’s ruling party, won only 9.5 percent of the vote in Saxony, scarcely more than the NPD.
The political establishment is furious. Before the election, Saxony’s premier said if the NPD made it into parliament, he wouldn’t bother going to the United States anymore to promote his state. Party leaders walked off the set of a roundtable discussion of the elections, to which the NPD’s Mr. Apfel was also invited, because they could not stomach his presence.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s leftist Social Democratic Party fears the success of the NPD will scare off foreign investors. Martin Gillo, minister for labor and economic development, puts it this way: “People overseas will ask, ‘What’s going on in Saxony? What is a right-wing party that was on trial and at risk of being banned doing in the Saxon Parliament?’”
Others say the NPD has profited from the frustration many Germans feel towards Schroeder’s government and his failed economic reforms in the east, where unemployment hovers around 20 percent. “It’s a mixture of social rage, and the abuse of this rage by extreme right-wing, neo-Nazi groups,” says Hajo Funke, a political science professor at the Free University of Berlin. “They present themselves as ordinary people, but they have this right-wing, anti-foreign, anti-Semitic language.” [Judy Dempsey, German Nationalists Count on Resentment, International Herald Tribune (Paris), Sept. 17, 2004. Mark Landler, Rightists Make Strong Strides in Eastern German State Elections, New York Times, Sept. 20, 2004.]
Some ordinary Germans are unhappy, too. Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police as they protested the results in the Saxon capital, Dresden. [Kate Connolly, Far Right Surges as Schröder Feels Fury of the East, Telegraph (London), Sept. 20, 2004. Gains By Extremist Parties Trouble Germany, Deutsche Welle (www.dw-world.de), Sept. 20, 2004.]
A Place in the Sun
According to a recent Census Bureau report, more than 292,000 blacks moved to Florida between January 2000 and July 2003. With 2.8 million, Florida now ranks second behind New York (3.6 million) as the state with the most black residents. In 2000, Florida ranked fourth, behind California and Texas.
Many of the state’s new black residents are recent immigrants from the Caribbean or their children, but others are part of a larger trend of blacks returning to the South after decades of out-migration.
Broward County, just north of Miami, attracted more blacks than any other US county from 2000 to 2003 — nearly 70,000, bringing the total number of black residents to 434,985 as of July 2003. [Census: Florida No. 2 in Black Population, AP, Oct. 1, 2004.]
In 1996, the bones of a 9,300-year-old skeleton were discovered near Kennewick, Washington. Scientists were intrigued by the skeleton’s Caucasian features and were eager to study it, but local Indian tribes claimed “Kennewick Man” belonged to them under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and insisted he be buried without any scientific analysis. After years of legal wrangling, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals finally ruled this summer that since no “direct link” existed between the local Indians and Kennewick Man, scientists could study the remains.
Retiring Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), a member of the Northern Cheyenne Indian tribe and chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, wants to reverse that ruling. He introduced an amendment to NAGPRA that would no longer require Indians to prove a direct link between themselves and ancient remains in order to take custody. They would have rights to any finds on land they claimed was “ancestral.” Alan Schneider, an attorney for the scientists who sued to get access to Kennewick Man, calls Sen. Campbell’s amendment “a real sneaky way to amend” the graves law. “Basically all ancient skeletons would be subject to NAGPRA, and under the tribes’ interpretation, you couldn’t study them,” he says.
The Indian Affairs Committee passed the amendment in late September, but the full Senate has yet to act. [Matthew Daily, Scientists Protest Senate Measure, AP, Oct. 3, 2004.]
The Enemy Within
Russian security officers investigating the September massacre at the school in Beslan where more than 300 people — half of them children — were killed have detained a “British” citizen who they suspect is one of the terrorists. Kamel Rabat Bouralha, a 46-year-old father of three, was apprehended trying to escape from Russia into Azerbaijan to seek medical treatment. Mr. Bouralha and two other men suspected of participating in the Beslan massacre, both Algerians, studied together at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, a well-known breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. Muslims recruited at Finsbury Park have been captured fighting US forces in Afghanistan. [Jason Burke, London Mosque Link to Beslan, The Observer (London), Oct. 3, 2004.]
Last March, American soldiers captured a senior al-Qaida operative in Afghanistan who was carrying plans to poison US military field rations — called Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE) — as they were being prepared at American plants. When federal agents raided the Wornick Co. facility that produces MREs in McAllen, Texas, they found no evidence of poisoning but did discover hundreds of illegal workers. The illegals, mostly from Mexico and Central America but also from the Middle East, had been supplied to Wornick by a San Antonio-based temporary agency, Remedy Intelligent Staffing. In an indictment unsealed on Sept. 30, government prosecutors say Remedy gave the illegal aliens false work papers, and also sent fraudulent employment forms to the Joint Terrorist Task Force. The company denies any wrong-doing.
The war on terrorism has led to other crackdowns on companies that hire illegals. The day before the indictment against Remedy, federal agents raided the Brownsville, Texas, shipyard of defense contractor AMFELS, and netted 41 illegal aliens working for subcontractors. “A secure industrial infrastructure is absolutely essential to the defense of the United States of America,” says US Attorney Mike Shelby. “I intend to use every law the federal government gives me to ensure that nothing we do here at home compromises a single troop or a single sailor who risks their life abroad.” [James Pinkerton, Company Indicted in Worker Inquiry, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 30, 2004.]
Each time Sabrina Varroni walks the streets of her hometown of Drezzo in northern Italy, she risks a $50 fine. A convert to Islam married to a Morrocan, she refuses to obey a 1931 law that prohibits masks or clothing that conceal identity, and insists on wearing a burka that covers her face and body. She has been cited twice but refuses to pay the fine, claiming the law violates her religion. She also plans to sue. The mayor of Drezzo, Cristian Toletinni, says enforcing the law ensures public safety in an age of terrorism, but leftist critics say enforcement is racist.
Matteo Salvini, a Northern League member of the European Parliament, hopes Milan, Italy’s second largest, will start enforcing the law. He says so many Muslims in Milan wear burkas and other distinctive clothing that parts of the city are beginning “to look like Kabul.” “If I go to a mosque,” he adds, “I take off my shoes because I respect their laws. I’m asking them, with other traditions, to respect our laws. It’s that simple. The problem is, they don’t want to mix with Italians. They want to stay apart.” Given the number of suspected terrorists operating it Italy, Mr. Salvini says it would be foolish to let people move about in public in “disguise.” [Tracy Wilkinson, In Italy, a Clash on Burka Ban, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 26, 2004.]
Another Slave Myth
Each year, more than 200,000 people tour the Slave House on Goree Island, Senegal, where millions of Africans supposedly passed through the “door of no return” onto slave ships. “After walking through the door,” says tour guide Aladji Ndiaye, “it was bye-bye Africa. Many would try to escape. Those who did died. It was better to give ourselves to the sharks than be slaves.” Slave House guides tell of the suffering of 20 million slaves who languished in holding cells. Many visitors leave in tears.
The Goree Island Slave House, declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1978, has attracted such luminaries as Pope John Paul II and President George W. Bush. In 1998, President William Clinton gave a speech on the island in which he all but apologized to Africa for America’s role in slavery. American blacks make pilgrimages to Goree Island in search of their roots.
There is just one problem with the Goree Island Slave House: “The whole story is phony,” says Philip D. Curtain, a retired history professor at Johns Hopkins University. Goree Island was never a slave transport center; Senegalese slaves left from barracoons on the Senegal and Gambia rivers. As for the Slave House, it was the beautiful home of a wealthy merchant and would never have been used to warehouse slaves. The “door of no return” through which slaves stepped onto the decks of waiting ships is also a fraud. Prof. Curtain points out there are so many boulders in the water by the house it would be impossible to dock a ship.
Abdoulaye Camara, a historian and curator of the Goree Island Historical Museum, near — but not affiliated with — the Slave House, says the story was invented in the 1960s to drum up tourism, but now serves as an emotional shrine for descendants of slaves. “The slaves did not go through that door. The door is a symbol. The history and memory needs to have a strong symbol,” he explains. “You either accept it or you don’t accept it. It’s difficult to interpret a symbol.”
Some Western tour books have caught on to the hoax. “Goree Island’s fabricated history boils down to an emotional manipulation by government officials and tour companies of people who come here as part of a genuine search for cultural roots,” says Lonely Planet’s West African guide book. UNESCO hasn’t changed its tune. “We are certain that the House of Slaves had something to do with the slave trade,” says a spokesman. [John Murphy, Slave Portal has Mythic Power, Baltimore Sun, Aug. 8, 2004.]
Say it in Swati
One of the most cherished plans of the black government of South Africa is the rehabilitation of native languages supposedly suppressed by whites during apartheid. The government recognizes eleven official languages — English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda, and Ndebele — and under the National Language Policy Framework, all important government documents will be translated into all eleven. The government also promises to support more than a dozen non-official languages. Deputy president Jacob Zuma says the new policy will “complete restoration of the pride and dignity of all our people.”
Not everyone agrees. “It’s not practical,” says Shelagh Blackman of AngloGold, a large mining company. “I don’t think South Africa can afford that many languages. I understand the spirit, but you can’t have eleven official languages. It’s enriching to have more than one, but coping with too many is a problem.” AngloGold and other companies believe English should be the lingua franca. “It’s the language of business, technology, commerce,” Miss Blackman explains. “In South Africa, it’s the language of opportunity.”
Miners and white foremen have long communicated in “fanagalo” a simple pidgin mix of Zulu, Xhosa, and other languages, but English is rapidly replacing it. Instructions for operating modern mining equipment are in English, and fanagalo cannot express complicated ideas. “How do you teach a person in fanagalo to operate a personal computer?” asks AngloGold training officer Benade Baird.
Many blacks want the government to promote English. “With English I can enter any office and solve any problem,” says mineworker Daniel Methula, a native Swati speaker. I feel proud because I can speak for myself and I don’t need someone to speak for me. English is the best language because English can unite us.” [Laurie Goering, S. Africa Asks Diversity, but English Rules, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 3, 2004, p. 7.]
Day Labor Pests
Residents and businesses across the country are complaining about illegal immigrant Hispanic day laborers who congregate in public places to look for work. The problem is worst in California. In San Bernadino, day laborers outside a Home Depot drink, deal drugs, urinate in public, and make sexually suggestive comments to women. They stop cars and mob the drivers asking for work, which blocks traffic and annoys the drivers. In the San Gabriel Valley as well, Hispanic day laborers gather on corners and in parking lots, leave trash, and harass women. They give the area a bad image and lower property values. Residents have the same complaints in Concord. “My wife doesn’t feel safe going to work,” says one man. “The high concentration of day laborers seems to make the neighborhood less attractive to prospective buyers and businesses.”
Towns have tried several solutions. Many have passed anti-solicitation and public order legislation so that police can fine the laborers. In San Bernadino, for example, police recently handed out tickets of up to $340 for blocking the sidewalk and threatened fines of up to $2,000 for soliciting. Such laws are on shaky legal ground, however. In 2000, a Los Angeles judge struck down a local law barring day laborers from soliciting work on streets on the grounds that it violated their rights to freedom of speech and association. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund calls the laws racist, and threatens to challenge them. A San Bernadino city councilman also calls the penalties for the laborers racist and urges greater understanding of their plight: “What are we, Nazi City? These people are trying to make a living. We’re going to pound them because they’re trying to get a job.”
Some cities have built day-labor centers where no one asks for papers, but no one likes them. Residents complain of drinking and public urination. The men often avoid the centers because they are poorly run and corrupt. Often, managers give jobs only to friends or take bribes to move a man’s name to the top of the hiring list. Also, the centers can usually find jobs for only a fraction of the people who want work. [Karin Ruben, Workers Unwanted, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, March 20, 2004. Tyche Hendricks, More Workers than Work, San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2004. Stephen Wall, Day Laborers Ask Nonprofit for Help Against Recent Sidewalk Citations, San Bernadino County Sun, Sept. 26, 2004.]
Residents sometimes ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate the men, but the agency says it does not have enough jail space or money to do anything. Many Border Patrol officers would like to crack down on day laborers, but their supervisors forbid it. This policy was the result of a scandal over the Border Patrol’s inland sweeps for aliens (roundups far from the border) in June. In two weeks, a newly-formed mobile unit based at the Temecula, California, station caught 500 illegal aliens in inland cities. Immigrant advocates immediately demanded that the sweeps stop, and Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border security at the Department of Homeland Security, complied. The total number of apprehensions by Temecula agents fell from 711 in June to 349 in July. One agent says, “If we are driving by a day-laborer hiring spot, we can’t stop to check anyone for documents. Those orders come from current station management.” [William Finn Bennett, Staffing Shortage Hits Border Patrol, North County Times (Escondido), Sept. 7, 2004. Cathy Cobbs, Residents: Workers, Move On, Dunwoody Crier (Cal.), Aug. 31, 2004.]
James Hart, the Republican congressional candidate for Tennessee’s 8th district in the north west of the state, is an unapologetic believer in eugenics and the inequality of the races. He believes whites and Asians are the “favored races,” and blacks the “less favored races.” If the favored had integrated with the less favored centuries ago, he says, there would never have been automobiles, electric lights, or airplanes. Unless the less favored stop outbreeding the favored, America will end up like Detroit. The way to shift birthrates to benefit the favored races is to eliminate welfare and immigration, and to give productive and creative people economic incentives to have children. [Amber McDowell, Eugenics Backer Causes Stir in Tennessee Race, AP, August 4, 2004.]
The district in which he is campaigning supports Democratic incumbent John Tanner so overwhelmingly that the Republicans did not even field a candidate. Mr. Hart needed only 25 signatures to qualify for the Republican primary, which he won unopposed. The Republicans realized what was happening only after it was too late to file papers, but tried to organize a write-in campaign. It failed, and Mr. Hart won the primary with 79 percent of the vote.
Mr. Hart always wears a bulletproof vest and carries a gun as he campaigns door-to-door. He chooses only well-kept neighborhoods, assuming the residents will be mostly white. If a white answers when he knocks, he says, “I’m James Hart, and I’m running for Congress. I believe white children deserve the same rights as everyone else.” If a black answers, he leaves campaign literature and moves on. He is relieved when no one is home because he finds it unpleasant to tell people things they do not want to hear. Nevertheless, some voters agree with him and pledge their vote. Indeed, an alderman in the town of Dresden named Terry Odle says, “I like what he stands for. White folks are getting the shaft here lately. We’re a minority [in the heavily black area]. It’s time to get back on track.”
Mr. Hart does not expect to win the general election. He decided to campaign mainly to publicize his ideas, but also to do penance for the suicide of his son, who shot himself three years ago. He blames himself and his generation for creating a culture in which his son could find no reason to live, and thinks he would never have shot himself in the suburban, all-white world of Mr. Hart’s childhood. [Richard Locker, GOP Group Snubs ‘Hate’ Candidate, Commercial Appeal (Memphis), July 22, 2004. Vanessa Gezari, Race, Fear Collide In Campaign, St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 5, 2004.]
Arizona’s Proposition 200 is a ballot initiative that would deny illegal aliens state welfare benefits and require proof of Arizona citizenship to get a driver’s license or register to vote. The proposition would make it a crime for public officials to fail to verify citizenship when providing these services and would allow citizens to sue the government for lax enforcement of immigration laws. The group Protect Arizona Now (PAN) created and is campaigning for the initiative, on which Arizonans will vote this month.
Unlike Proposition 187, a similar California initiative passed in 1994, this initiative targets only state benefits, but would do nothing to deny illegal aliens federally-mandated services, such as education and emergency medical care. Prop. 200’s backers believe that limiting themselves to state benefits will help them avoid the legal problems that led to the invalidation of most of Proposition 187.
The measure is very popular with voters, regularly winning 3-to-1 support in polls. However, it is opposed by virtually the whole of Arizona’s political and business elite, including its governor, its entire Congressional contingent, the state’s Chamber of Commerce, and its hospitals. They complain Prop. 200 will do nothing to curb illegal immigration, require a new bureaucracy to verify citizenship, and make Arizona look anti-Hispanic. [Mike Sunnucks, Scottsdale Chamber Opposing Prop. 200, Phoenix Business Journal, Oct. 4, 2004.]
One of PAN’s advisors is Virginia Abernethy, an emeritus professor at Vanderbilt who is on the advisory board of the Council of Conservative Citizens and writes for nationalist publications like The Occidental Quarterly and Middle American News. The campaign’s association with her has caused controversy. The Center for New Community, called an “anti-bigotry group” in a newspaper article, broke the news about her association with PAN in early August. “With charges of racism already swirling around [PAN],” read its report, “[PAN] has taken the surprising step of choosing a leading figure in the white supremacist movement to chair its new national advisory board.”
This was followed by a number of newspaper editorials and press releases expressing shock and dismay. One came from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a restrictionist lobbying group that helped gather signatures for the initiative. Their press release said Dr. Abernethy’s views were “repugnant, divisive, and do not represent the views of the majority of Arizonans who support Proposition 200.” They called on both Dr. Abernethy and Kathy McKee, the director of PAN who appointed her, to resign from the campaign. An editorial in The Washington Times said Dr. Abernethy’s “repulsively un-American” views were a legitimate reason to oppose the initiative. [FAIR Press Release, What FAIR Believes . . . One Unified American Community, Aug. 9, 2004 . . . While Arizonans Debate Illegals, Washington Times, Sept. 25, 2004.]
Both women have responded to these attacks with great poise. In response to the Center for New Community, Dr. Abernethy said she was not a supremacist, but rather a separatist. “We’re not saying anything about supremacy, not at all. We’re saying each ethnic group is happier with its own kind.” The group had merely resorted to name calling because it had no valid arguments against the measure. Ms. McKee said, “I think we’ve all been called [racists] and it’s getting to be really old.” [Yvonne Wingett, Protect Arizona Now Advisor Denies Racism Charge, Arizona Republic (Pheonix), Aug. 7, 2004.]
Dr. Abernethy further defended herself in a letter to The Washington Times. She pointed out that the integrationist ideal no longer governs America. Rather, the current ethos is multiculturalism, in which “each ethnic group identifies with its own and battles for privilege and power on the basis of ethnic identity.” While this was sad for America, “I have to play the multicultural game, at least defensively, or I and my family and kin will lose out. It is what every ethnic group except, in the main, European-Americans, does these days.” European-Americans are late to the game, but “the many instances in which European-Americans are discriminated against in education, the job market and the criminal justice system — including various lies spread about me and the organizations to which I belong — should be a wake-up call.” [Virginia Abernethy, Letter to the Editor, Washington Times, September 30, 2004.]
There is no sign Dr. Abernethy’s association with Prop. 200 has decreased its support.
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — I read the October cover story about Chicago policing with great interest for several reasons. First, it is always good to get the police perspective on our cowardly “leaders.” Even more interesting to me, though, was to read about routine police practices in hard-bitten areas with many blacks.
I think the police have one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in America. Everyone suffers from the folly of multi-racialism, but white policemen probably suffer more than anyone. The author of the article rightly challenges critics of the police to have a go at dealing directly with America’s “problem people.” I suspect Senator Kennedy himself would have the liberalism knocked out of him if he had to make a living as a Chicago police officer.
George Pogue, Appleton, Wisc.
Sir — I was glad to be able to visit your web page and see for myself the video clip that got the Chicago policemen in trouble. The officers are pretty rough with the suspect, and I can see why someone who saw the video without an explanation would think the police were unnecessarily violent.
Context, of course, is everything, and the media do not hesitate to ignore context if this means whites can be made to look bad. I remember when I first saw the video of the beating of Rodney King, I could not imagine a justification for such treatment, but the context explained the officers’ actions. As the author of your article points out, the first jury — which did not have the memory of America’s worst-ever race riots looming over its verdict — studied the context and acquitted the officers. I pray that Officer Vander Mey’s jury will likewise attend to the evidence impartially and reach a just verdict.
Anne Grimes, North Caldwell, N.J.
Sir — An investigation should be done of the increasing number of “road rage” incidents between drivers of differing racial/ethnic groups. Whites do not like loud, pounding rap music or the crazy driving habits seemingly characteristic of other cultures and races. This kind of driving results in higher accident rates among non-whites, but also provokes more road rage. Non-whites may also dislike interacting with us, and this could trigger aggressive driving. I would be willing to bet there is a direct relationship between the levels of “diversity” in an area, and levels of accidents and road rage incidents.
Sidney Secular, Silver Spring, Md.
Sir — The image of the Willie Horton ad you used in the review of Samuel Francis’s Ethnopolitics in the October issue is erroneous. It is the version of the ad produced by filmmaker Michael Moore, not the one produced by the George H. W. Bush campaign.
The Moore version featured revolving turnstyles and the line, “Willie Horton released, then kills again.” The actual ad as it aired said that Willie Horton raped again while out on release; he did not kill. There were two Willie Horton commercials produced during the 1988 presidential campaign, one about the revolving door prison system of Massachusetts, the other about Mr. Horton himself. Michael Moore conflated them into one commercial and then added his own overlay about Horton being released to “kill again” in one of his exercises in creative license. The image appears in early versions of “Bowling for Columbine,” and eventually made its way to the Internet.
Sir — Samuel Francis need not be so pessimistic about “the Stupid Party.” Lust for power is the strongest emotion a politician feels. The effect of race on the electoral calculus will only become clearer, and even the stupidest of the stupid will start appealing to whites. Not to do so would be evidence of principles, of which the Republicans have none.
James Carmichael, Hoboken, N.J.
Sir — It might interest you to know that there has been some Internet traffic critical of AR for publishing a favorable review of Bernard Goldberg’s book Arrogance in last month’s issue. The complaint was no more and no less than the fact that although the book may make useful arguments, the author is Jewish. I believe the activities of Jews, like those of any group, are fair game for investigation and criticism. However, to dismiss an author — and one who writes usefully about some aspect of our racial plight — simply because he is a Jew is a sad example of closed minds at work. The word “prejudice” is so overused I thought I had stricken it from my vocabulary. On this occasion I am inclined to dust it off and use it.
Silvie Tourneau, Charleston, S.C.
Sir — “American Renaissance” is just the kind of trash that puts white people everywhere to shame. Its ignorant “articles” are a slap in the face to the ongoing struggle for justice and human dignity. It makes me ill to read the tired old racist ranting of your bigot writers.
The “blacks and immigrants are taking over” message is so irrelevant and ridiculous in these times and people just don’t want to hear it anymore. You should come out of fantasyland and start asking yourself what you can do to make life better like the rest of us. It’s hard enough out there without this kind of hateful garbage being circulated.
Please stop embarrassing white people like me, and find a new job.
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