|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 16, No. 10||October 2005|
Africa in Our Midst
The media suppress Katrina’s lessons.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which blasted the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, the entire world saw images that left no doubt that what is repeatedly called the sole remaining superpower can be reduced to squalor and chaos nearly as gruesome as anything found in the Third World. The weather — a Category 4 hurricane — certainly had something to do with it, but the most serious damage was done not by nature but by man.
Much has been and will be written about why the levees that are supposed to keep the water out of below-sea-level New Orleans failed. There will be bitter recrimination about whether the federal rescue effort could have been launched sooner. Commissions will ask questions and lessons will be learned. But there was another human failing that was far more ominous. No commission will study it, and official America will refuse to learn from it. In the orgy of finger-pointing it will be all but forgotten. That human failing — vastly more significant than the ones the commissions will investigate — is the barbaric behavior of the people of New Orleans.
New Orleans is 67 percent black, and about half the blacks are poor. Of the city’s 480,000 people, all but an estimated 80 to 100 thousand left before the hurricane struck. This meant that aside from patients in hospitals and eccentrics in the French Quarter, most of the people who stayed behind were not just blacks, but lower-class blacks without the means or foresight to leave.
Katrina hit on the morning of Monday, Aug. 29. The levees broke on Tuesday and the city began to flood. Before long, 80 percent of New Orleans was under as much as 20 feet of water.
The city’s 70,000-seat football stadium, known as the Superdome, had been officially designated as a public shelter before the hurricane, and several thousand people were already there the night before the storm. It had some food and medical supplies, but when the waters began to rise, people poured in from all directions, swelling its numbers to an estimated 25,000.
People came because their houses were under water, but also because New Orleans very quickly collapsed into banditry. Looting began even while the storm was still blowing. At first there was sympathetic clucking about the need for food and medicine, but news clips of blacks wading happily through waist-deep water with television sets over their heads dispelled that view.
The day after the hurricane, a reporter caught the atmosphere of high-spirited chaos at a Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District. People were grabbing things as quickly as they could, smashing open jewelry cabinets and scooping up double-handfuls. One man packed his van so full of electronic equipment he could not close the rear doors. A teenage girl passed out, face down, and people stepped on her. A man stopped to roll her onto her back, and she vomited pink liquid. “This is f***ed up,” he said, and rolled her back on her stomach. An NBC correspondent filmed black, uniformed police officers strolling through the aisles, filling shopping carts.
At one store, a policeman broke the glass on the DVD case so civilians would not cut themselves trying to break it, but one man was ungrateful. “The police got all the best stuff,” he said. “They’re crookeder than us.” One woman stocking up on makeup was glad to see the officers. “It must be legal,” she said. “The police are here taking stuff, too.”
Violence of all kinds quickly spread through the paralyzed city, where robbery, rape, and even murder became routine. There were still thousands of people trapped on rooftops and in attics, but on Sept. 1, Mayor Ray Nagin called the entire police force off of rescue work and ordered it to secure the city. The response from the force? An estimated 200 officers just walked off the job. “They indicated that they had lost everything and didn’t feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives,” explained Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police. Many disappeared without a word. Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans also said his men were deserting. “They want to be with their families,” he said. “Well, I want to be with my family too, but you don’t quit in the middle of a crisis.”
Two police officers, including the department’s official spokesman Paul Accardo, committed suicide by shooting themselves in the head. The London Times estimated that one in five officers refused to work, and some of those who stayed on the job were useless. When Debbie Durso, a tourist from Washington, Michigan, asked a policeman for help he told her, “Go to hell — it’s every man for himself.”
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, told BBC News what happened when a group of stranded British women shouted to police for help from the rooftop of a flooded hotel: “They [the officers] said to them, ‘Well, show us what you’ve got’ — doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and they said ‘well fine,’ and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That’s the sort of help we had from the authorities.”
“No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans,” explained Lieutenant General Steven Blum of the National Guard. He said the city was operating on only one third of its pre-storm strength of 1,500 officers, and that the guard suddenly had to switch from rescue to law enforcement: “And that’s when we started flowing military police into the theater.”
New Orleans has had only black mayors since 1978, and has spent decades making the police force as black as possible. It established a city-residency requirement for officers to keep suburban whites from applying for jobs, and lowered recruitment standards so blacks could pass them. Katrina blew away any pretence that the force was competent (see next story).
(On September 5, exactly a week after the hurricane, Mayor Ray Nagin offered to pay for the entire police force, firefighters, and city emergency workers to go on five-day vacations — with their families — to Las Vegas or some other destination. He said there were enough National Guard in the city to maintain order, and that his men “have been through a lot.” He brushed off suggestions that this was dereliction of duty. He even asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for the vacations, but FEMA refused. “We haven’t turned over control of the city,” a city spokesman explained. “We’re going to leave a skeleton force — about 20 percent of the department — for leadership and liaison with the troops while we get some rest.”)
New Orleans has a high crime rate at the best of times — it is usually in top contention for the American city with the highest murder rate — and looted firearms spilled into the street. Some blacks fired on any symbol of authority, blazing away at rescue helicopters and Coast Guard vessels. Several days after the hurricane, with desperate people still huddled on rooftops, FEMA said it was too dangerous to attempt rescues.
On Wednesday, along one stretch of Highway 10, hundreds of volunteer firefighters, auxiliary coastguardmsmen and citizens with small boats were eager to reach people, but could not set out because of sniper fire. “We are trying to do our job here but we can’t if they are shooting at us,” explained Major Joey Broussard of the Louisiana State Fisheries and Wildlife Division. “We don’t know who and we don’t know why, but we don’t want to get in a situation of having to return fire out there,” he said.
Perhaps the most chilling accounts were from hospitals, where staff desperately tried to move patients up stairs as the water rose, while blacks looted the floors below. Most hospitals had emergency generators, but these began to give out. Two days after the hurricane, the city had no running water, and as food ran out, doctors and nurses gave themselves intravenous feedings to keep going.
Just outside New Orleans, gunmen held up a supply truck carrying food, water, and medical supplies that were on their way to a 203-bed hospital. Patients all across the city eventually had to be taken out, but rescuers met resistance. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan told reporters at an emergency headquarters: “Hospitals are trying to evacuate. At every one of them, there are reports that as the helicopters come in people are shooting at them, saying, ‘You better come get my family.’” An effort to evacuate patients and staff from Charity Hospital in downtown New Orleans was stopped by sniper fire. Other hospitals reported gangs of looters attacking and overturning ambulances.
Chris Lawrence, a reporter with CNN, filed a report from the roof of a police station: “Right now it’s the only safe place to be in the city. We were on the street earlier but the police said under no circumstances would you be safe on the street. They said anybody walking in the streets of New Orleans is basically taking their life in their hands. . . . They directed some of the young women to get off the street immediately.”
What may have been the most shocking headline of the entire crisis was in the September 2 issue of Army Times: “Troops Begin Combat Operations in New Orleans.” The article was about the Louisiana National Guard massing near the Superdome in preparation for a citywide security mission. “This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones explained. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.” The amphibious assault ship Bataan was in the area, but kept its helicopters on board after pilots reported sniper fire.
Many soldiers came under gunfire from civilians. “I never thought that as a National Guardsman I would be shot at by other Americans,” said Philip Baccus of the 527th Engineer Battalion. “And I never thought I’d have to carry a rifle when on a hurricane relief mission. This is a disgrace.” Cliff Ferguson of the same battalion added: “You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn’t come here to fight a war. We came here to help.”
Michael Brown, head of FEMA, said: “We are working under conditions of urban warfare.” General Blum of the National Guard said half of the 7,000 guardsmen under his command had just returned from overseas assignments and were “highly proficient in the use of lethal force.” He promised to deal with thugs “in a quick and efficient manner.”
Shoot-to-kill orders were supposed to have gone out, and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco boasted that battle-hardened veterans would put down the violence in no time. However, there were few accounts of soldiers firing their weapons. The London Times reported that a New Orleans policeman explained through tears that he had seen bodies riddled with bullets, and one man with the top of his head shot off. He said looters were armed with stolen AK-47 rifles, and that the police were outgunned just like in Somalia. “It’s a war-zone, and they’re [the federal government] not treating it like one,” he said.
We will never know the full extent of the mayhem blacks loosed on their own city. Many victims will not be found for weeks or even months, rotted beyond recognition, their killers never found. Drowned or murdered, the bloated, stinking bodies that turn up by the hundreds will look much the same. In their haste to get cadavers off the streets, the authorities may not worry much about cause of death.
From Hurricane to Jungle
In the two main refugee centers, however — the Superdome and the Convention Center — too many people witnessed the degeneracy for it to be ignored. The first refugees had arrived at the Superdome the day before the hurricane, on Sunday, August 28. The last finally left the stadium on Saturday, Sept, 3, so some people may have spent nearly a week in what, after the toilets began to overflow, became known as the “Sewerdome.”
Preparation for refugees was pitifully inadequate. By day, as many as 25,000 people sweltered in temperatures that rose into the 100s. Whatever order had been established soon melted away, and the stadium reverted to the jungle. Young men robbed and raped with impunity. Occasional gunshots panicked the crowd. At least one man committed suicide by throwing himself off a high deck and splattering onto the playing field. Bodies of the murdered, and of infants and the elderly who died of heat exhaustion began to accumulate. Six babies were born in the stadium. Charles Womack, a 30-year-old roofer, said he saw one man beaten to death, and was, himself beaten with a pipe. Crack addicts — who had brought their most valuable possession with them — smoked openly and fought over drugs.
A group of about 30 British students were among the very small number of whites in the stadium, where they spent four harrowing days. Jamie Trout, 22, an economics major, wrote that the scene “was like something out of Lord of the Flies,” with “people shouting racial abuse about us being white.” One night, word came that the power was failing, and that there was only ten minutes’ worth of gas for the generators. Zoe Smith, 21, from Hull, said they all feared for their lives: “All us girls sat in the middle while the boys sat on the outside, with chairs as protection,” she said. “We were absolutely terrified, the situation had descended into chaos, people were very hostile and the living conditions were horrendous.” She said that even during the day, “when we offered to help with the cleaning, the locals gave us abuse.”
Mr. Trout said the National Guard finally recognized how dangerous the threat was from blacks, and moved the British under guard to the basketball area, which was safer. “The army warned us to keep our bags close to us and to grip them tight,” he said, as they were escorted out. Twenty-year-old Jane Wheeldon credited one man in particular, Sgt. Garland Ogden, with getting the Britons safely out. “He went against a lot of rules to get us moved,” she said.
Australian tourists stuck in the Superdome had the same experience. Bud Hopes, a 32-year-old man from Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, took control and may have saved many lives. As the stadium reverted to anarchy, he realized whites were in danger, and gathered tourists together for safety. “There were 65 of us altogether so we were able to look after each other, especially the girls who were being grabbed and threatened,” said Mr. Hopes. They organized escorts for women who had to go to the toilet or for food, and set up a roster of men to stand guard while others slept. “We sat through the night just watching each other, not knowing if we would be alive in the morning,” Mr. Hopes said. “Ninety-eight percent of the people around the world are good,” he said; “in that place 98 per cent of the people were bad.”
John McNeil of Coorparoo in Brisbane tells what happened when their group, too, heard the lights were about to go out: “I looked at Bud [Hopes] and said, ‘That will be the end of us.’ The gangs had already eyed us off. If the lights had gone out we would have been in deep trouble. We were sitting there praying for a miracle and the lights stayed on.” Mr. Hopes said the Australians owed their lives to a National Guardsman who broke the rules and got whites out to a medical center past seething crowds of blacks.
Peter McNeil of Brisbane told the Australian AP that his son John was one of the 65 who managed to get out. The blacks were reportedly so hostile “they would stab you as soon as look at you.” “He’s never been so scared in his life,” explained Mr. McNeil. “He just said they had to get out of the dark. Otherwise, another night, he said, they would have been gone.” No American newspaper wrote about what these white tourists went through.
When guardsmen began to show up in force on Sept. 1 and take control, some blacks met them with cheers, but others shouted obscenities. Capt. John Pollard of the Texas Air National Guard said 20,000 people were in the dome when the evacuation began, but thousands more appeared from surrounding areas when word got out that there were buses leaving town. Soldiers held their M-16s and grenade-launchers at the ready, and kept a sharp eye out for snipers.
That same day, when it was time to board buses for Houston, soldiers had trouble controlling the crowd. People at the back of the mob crushed the people in front against barricades soldiers put up to control the flow. Many people continued to yell obscenities whenever a patrol went by. Some were afraid of losing their place in line and defecated where they stood. The Army Times reported that Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon of the Oklahoma National Guard, who had recently come home from Afghanistan, said he was struck by the fact Afghanis wanted to help themselves, but that the people of New Orleans only wanted others to help them.
By the evening of Sept. 3, the Superdome was finally evacuated, but the state-of-the-art stadium was a reeking cavern of filth, human waste, and an unknown number of corpses. It, too, had been looted of everything not bolted down. Janice Singleton was working at the stadium when the storm hit. She said she was robbed of everything, even her shoes. As for the building: “They tore that dome apart,” she said sadly. “They tore it down. They taking everything out of there they can take.”
Only afterwards did the public learn there were 50 police officers assigned to the Superdome, but they appear to have been completely ineffectual. Toni Blanco, a 24-year veteran, said police could not arrest anyone because there was no place to hold suspects, and they were afraid to use their guns for fear of the crowd. “You felt helpless in the sense there was absolutely nothing we could do for the city,” she said. What did she do at night, when conditions were worst? She and another officer, Alecia Wright, would slip out to a patrol car and have a good cry. “Many times we laid in the car and tears just rolled,” said Miss Blanco. Some officers simply abandoned their posts and fled the Superdome.
Conditions were even worse at the Convention Center. Although on high ground not far from the stadium, it had not been designated as a shelter. It was, however, beyond reach of the high water, and soon some 20,000 people were huddled in its cavernous halls. There were no supplies or staff, and for several days neither FEMA nor the National Guard seems to have known anyone was there.
Armed gangs took control, and occasional gunshots caused panic. There was no power, and at night the center was plunged into complete darkness. Degeneracy struck almost immediately, with rapes, robbery, and murder. Terrible shrieking tore through the night, but no one could see, or dared to move. When Police Chief Eddie Compass heard what was happening, he sent a squad of 88 officers to investigate. They were overwhelmed by superior forces and retreated, leaving thousands to the mercy of criminals.
It was not until Sept. 2 — four days after the hurricane — that a force of 1,000 National Guardsmen finally took over from the armed gangs. “Had we gone in with a lesser force we may have been challenged, [and] innocents may have been caught in a fight,” explained Gen. Blum.
Sitting with her daughter and other relatives, Trolkyn Joseph, 37, told a reporter that men had wandered the center at night raping and murdering children. She said she found a dead 14-year old girl at 5 a.m. on Friday morning, four hours after the girl went missing. “She was raped for four hours until she was dead,” Miss Joseph said through tears. “Another child, a seven-year old boy, was found raped and murdered in the kitchen freezer last night.”
Africa Brumfield, 32, explained that women were in particular fear: “There is rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats.” Donald Anderson, 43, was at the convention center with his wife, who was six months pregnant: “We circled the chairs like wagons because at night there are stampedes,” he said. “We had to survive.”
The very few whites in the crowd were terrified. Eighty-year-old Selma Valenti, who was with her husband, said blacks threatened to kill them on Thursday, Sept. 1. “They hated us. Four young black men told us the buses were going to come last night and pick up the elderly so they were going to kill us,” she said, sobbing. Presumably, the blacks wanted to take their places on the buses.
The center was not entirely without a form of rough justice. A National Guardsman reported that a man who had raped and killed a young girl in the bathroom was caught by the crowd — which beat him to death.
At one time there were as many as seven or eight corpses in front of the center, some of them with blood streaming from bullet wounds. Inside, there was an emergency morgue, but a National Guardsman refused to let a Reuters photographer take pictures. “We’re not letting anyone in there anymore,” he said. “If you want to take pictures of dead bodies, go to Iraq.” By Saturday, Sept. 3, the center was mostly cleared of the living. Refugees pulled shirts over their noses trying to block out the smell as they walked past rotting bodies.
Later it would be learned there were 30 to 40 bodies piled into the convention center’s freezer, almost all of them murder victims. Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks showed a reporter the charnel house: “I ain’t got the stomach for it, even after what I saw in Iraq. In Iraq, it’s one-on-one. It’s war. It’s fair. Here, it’s just crazy. It’s anarchy. . . . And this is America. This is just 300 miles south of where I live.”
For the city as a whole, not even 50,000 soldiers and federal rescue workers could bring calm. On Sunday, Sept. 4, contractors working for the US Army Corps of Engineers came under fire. Their police escort returned fire and killed four attackers.
On Monday, Sept, 5, a week after the hurricane and after virtually everyone who wanted to get out was gone, there was still widespread banditry. “We’re having some pretty intense gun battles breaking out around the city,” said Capt. Jeff Winn of the New Orleans SWAT team. “Armed gangs of from eight to 15 young men are riding around in pickup trucks, looting and raping.”
Brian McKay was one of 300 Arkansas guardsmen just back from Iraq. He was in full battle gear, including body armor, putting down insurgents. “It’s like Baghdad on a bad day,” he said. Another Arkansan veteran under fire agreed: “It’s just so much like Iraq, it’s not funny, except for all the water, and they speak English.”
Since the old jail was flooded, police set up a holding pen at the Greyhound bus terminal. State Attorney General Charles Foti said there were plans for a temporary court system, but no one knew how they were going to assemble juries or call witnesses. The grim business began of combing the drowning city for corpses and the remaining survivors.
The world reacted with astonishment to sights it never expected to see in America. “Anarchy in the USA,” read the headline in Britain’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun. “Apocalypse Now,” said Handelsblatt in Germany. Mario de Carvalho, a veteran Portuguese cameraman, who covers the world’s trouble spots, said he saw the bodies of babies and old people along the highways leading out of New Orleans. “It’s a chaotic situation. It’s terrible. It’s a situation we generally see in other countries, in the Third World,” he said.
Some Third-Worlders would have been insulted. “I am absolutely disgusted,” said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, of the looters. The Sri Lanka native added: “After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering. Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world’s population is.”
In the United States, the stark contrast between endless scenes of appalling behavior by blacks and rescue personnel who were almost all white was greeted with the standard foolishness. Some people accused the “biased” media of suppressing footage of rampaging whites and heroic black helicopter pilots.
Many blacks made excuses for looters. “Desperate people do desperate things,” said US Rep. Diane Watson of California. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. from Illinois, said we must not judge harshly: “Who are we to say what law and order should be in this unspeakable environment?” Rep. Melvin Watt, North Carolina Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was perhaps the greatest ass of all: “Whatever is being taken could not be used by anyone else anyway,” he said.
Many blacks took it for granted that federal relief was slow because the victims were black. Rep. Elijah Cummings said “poverty, age and skin color” determined who lived and who died. Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, blasted “disparate treatment” of Katrina victims. “Many black people feel that their race, their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a factor in the response,” explained Jesse Jackson, Sr. He said the rubbish outside the Convention Center made the place look “like the hull of a slave ship.” Black activist and reparations-booster Randall Robinson said the relief effort was the “defining watershed moment in America’s racial history.” He said he had “finally come to see my country for what it really is. A monstrous fraud.”
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan said she was “ashamed of America and . . . of our government.” The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin — the man who gave city workers a vacation when the feds arrived — shouted and wept on local radio, demanding of federal officials: “Get off your asses, and let’s do something.” There was an undercurrent of fury at a meeting of black leaders in Detroit. One audience member wanted to know whether the slow federal response was “black genocide.” Another shouted, “African Americans built this nation. Descendants of slaves are being allowed to die.”
One black man, observing the chaos from abroad, took a different view. Leighton Levy wrote in the Sept. 2 Jamaica Star: “I am beginning to believe that black people, no matter where in the world they are, are cursed with a genetic predisposition to steal, murder, and create mayhem.” He wanted to know why there was no footage of white looters: “Is it that the media are not showing pictures of them looting and robbing? Or is it that they are too busy trying to stay alive, waiting to be rescued, and hiding from the blacks?”
Most blacks and many whites fell into the usual assumptions about omnipotent white government and helpless Negroes. If black people were suffering it was because whites had not done enough for them. It did not occur to them that it was the responsibility of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana — not the federal government — to prepare for hurricanes. Before the storm, Mayor Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation only under pressure from the Bush administration. The mayor then did nothing to enforce the order, leaving hundreds of city buses and school buses to drown, rather than use them to offer transportation to people without cars.
Something of the mood of black New Orleans was caught by Fox News film crews as late as Sunday, Sept. 4. White volunteers were trying to persuade a black woman and her small children to leave her flooded house. “You’ve got to get out,” they explained. “The water isn’t going away.” A black man at the top of a multi-story building told a helicopter crew he didn’t need to leave. All he needed was some supplies.
These people could not understand something that was obvious to the whole world: New Orleans had no electricity, no plumbing, no transport, and no food. Blacks refused to leave their flooded homes, even though to stay meant near-certain death.
Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff noted how crazy it was to stay in the wreckage. “That is not a reasonable alternative,” he said. “We are not going to be able to have people sitting in houses in the city of New Orleans for weeks and months while we de-water and clean this city.”
FEMA reported that it had pulled three Carnival Cruise Lines ships from commercial duty to shelter the blacks of New Orleans. Maybe the chance of berth on the Ecstasy, the Sensation or the Holiday would be enough to drag them out of the muck.
Ninety-nine percent of the white people left New Orleans when the evacuation order went out. Some 80,000 blacks could not or would not leave. Whites did not “leave them behind,” as the editorial writers keep telling us. No one could have gotten some of them to leave — a number of men cheerfully admitted they stayed in town to loot — but if it was anyone’s job to give them the option, it was that of the black-run city government. Of the blacks who stayed, probably only a minority committed crimes, but they were enough to turn the city into a hell hole. Some did unspeakable things: loot hospitals, fire on rescue teams, destroy ambulances. No amount of excuse-making and finger-pointing can paper over degeneracy like that. Black people — and only black people — did these things.
The Superdome and the Convention Center were certainly unpleasant places to spend three or four days, but 50,000 whites would have behaved completely differently. They would have established rules, organized supplies, cared for the sick and dying. They would have organized games for children. The papers would be full of stories of selflessness and community spirit.
Natural disasters usually bring out the best in people, who help neighbors and strangers alike. For blacks — at least the lower-class blacks of New Orleans — disaster was an excuse to loot, rob, rape and kill.
Our rulers and media executives will try to turn the story of Hurricane Katrina into yet another morality tale of downtrodden blacks and heartless whites, but pandering of this kind fools fewer and fewer people. Many whites will realize — some for the first time — that we have Africa in our midst, that utterly alien Africa of road-side corpses, cruelty, and anarchy that they thought could never wash up on these shores.
To be sure, the story of Hurricane Katrina does have a moral for anyone not deliberately blind. The races are different. Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears. And in a crisis, it disappears overnight.
Voodoo, Violence, and Victimology
New Orleans was ailing long before Katrina.
The New Orleans police department has been struggling for years, but may have hit its low point around 1995. That was the year Antoinette Frank, a black woman officer, killed three people in a holdup at a Vietnamese restaurant where she moonlighted as a security guard. She ate dinner there before she killed two of the owner’s children as they knelt on the floor praying and begging for mercy. She also shot a policeman, Ron Williams, who was on guard that evening. She had worked with Mr. Williams in the same precinct and knew him personally. Officer Frank even had the effrontery to respond to the police call from the restaurant, and sauntered in as if she had no idea what had happened. She was sentenced to death in 1995.
Miss Frank was the fourth New Orleans officer — all of them black — to be charged with murder in less than a year. Another city officer who made the news in 1995 was Len Davis. Federal agents were already investigating him, and recorded him making the following cell phone call while he sat in his patrol car:
“Man, that whore’s standing out there right now with a black [expletive] coat on . . . with her [expletive] hair in that little bob . . . with [expletive] jeans on . . . standing in the middle of the [expletive] street. Get that whore.”
This was not an over-exuberant message to the vice squad. It was instructions to a crack dealer whom he had hired for $300 to kill the “whore,” 32-year-old Kim Groves, a Superdome security guard who had offended Officer Davis by filing a citizen’s complaint when he pistol-whipped one of her neighbors. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” exulted Officer Davis when he got confirmation of the killing; “Rock-a-bye, baby!” Mr. Davis was sentenced to death for the killing in 1996.
Between 1991 and 1995, more than 45 New Orleans police officers were charged with crimes, including murder, rape, bank robbery, racketeering, drug trafficking, bribery, auto theft and aggravated battery.
In 1998, the force went through a rash of washouts from the police training program because black women kept failing the shooting course. The women said the gun was too big or that they were afraid of it. At one point, the last ten people to fail the shooting test were all black women.
Perhaps police incompetence had something to do with the fact that in 2003, while the rest of the country was enjoying a drop in violent crime, New Orleans had a crime wave. With a murder rate of 54.5 per 100,000 it was easily tops in the country. Some people wondered if the mayhem began when two public housing projects were shut down, and the redistributed miscreants got into turf wars.
That year was notable in another way. On July 6, two 14-year-old girls stabbed a 16-year-old girl to death with a steak knife. The victim could not run away because she had been shot in the leg the year before. Her cousin said she knew the killers. “They was jealous,” she explained, adding that the victim was “the cute type. Boys liked her.” The stabbing came just one week after two other teenage girls went to prison for killing a 16-year-old girl, also with a steak knife.
2003 was such a bad year that a number of black ministers asked for National Guard patrols in the most violent neighborhoods. That would probably have been more effective than a different crime-fighting plan from several years earlier that failed. A group of New Orleans citizens, led by Sallie Ann Glassman, held a voodoo ceremony to drive away muggers and crack dealers. They drummed, chanted, prayed, and asked the meanest voodoo deity of them all, Ogoun La Flambeau, to keep out bad guys. Miss Glassman, who has been burgled and assaulted, explained that the New Orleans Police Department was not doing its job. Miss Glassman was only part right. As many as half of the black men in the city could not vote because of felony convictions.
Black judges in New Orleans can be as surprising as black police officers. Judge Charles R. Jones of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wanted the court to hire more blacks. On Jan. 31, 2001, he lashed out at two white judges on the hiring committee, Miriam Waltzer and Steven Plotkin. He started bellowing and cursing at Judge Waltzer, accusing her of being in on a conspiracy not to hire blacks. He was so angry she thought he might hit her. When Judge Plotkin — at 155 pounds, much smaller than the 200-pound black man — tried to intervene, Judge Jones picked him up and threw him against a table. According to a deputy who witnessed the fracas, Judge Jones was screaming “You are all sons of bitches, you are all f***ing sons of bitches.” Judge Plotkin ended up on the floor in a daze, bleeding from the head. On August 8, the Louisiana Judiciary Committee ruled that Judge Jones disgraced the bench, and recommended that he be suspended for three months without pay. Judge Jones said, through his lawyer, that he thought the court’s minority-hiring record deserved more attention than the fight.
New Orleans apparently has a lot of racism that must be put down, and in 1997, the struggle against bigotry got national attention. George Washington Elementary School, 98 percent of whose students were black, decided to change its name to honor Charles Drew, a black surgeon. As Carl Galmon, a long-time community activist explained, blacks should not honor someone who owned slaves. “To African-Americans,” he said, “George Washington has about as much meaning as David Duke.”
The struggle against bigotry continued right into this year. In May, when Brian Parnell, a white social worker flew to New Orleans to attend the national convention of the National Association of Black Social Workers, the man at the registration desk told him he couldn’t attend because he was white. When Mr. Parnell asked to speak to a conference organizer he got the same reply. Mr. Parnell, who has a special interest in the overrepresentation of backs in the child welfare system, filed a civil rights complaint.
Most of New Orleans is now under water and evacuated. A place with no people and no tax base does not need many police officers. Fortunately, there are many other departments in the country clamoring for experienced black officers, so New Orleans’ “Finest” should have no trouble finding jobs.
Immigrants brought their bad habits with them.
Kevin J. Mullen, Dangerous Strangers: Minority Newcomers and Criminal Violence in the Urban West, 1850-2000, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005, $69.95, 224 pp.
Dangerous Strangers is a must read for anyone interested in crime, urban and immigrant studies, or San Francisco. Author Kevin Mullen was a San Francisco cop for nearly 30 years, retiring as deputy chief of the department. He knows the city intimately and has studied its history thoroughly. He was born in an Irish neighborhood in the Noe Valley section of San Francisco in 1935, and got on the force in 1959 after serving in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Central casting could not have supplied a more stereotypical Irish cop. With a mug that has the Emerald Isle written all over it and a six-foot two-inch heavy-boned frame, the red-faced Mullen could be mistaken for nothing else.
With a sharp mind and a devotion to duty he rose rapidly through the ranks, all the time making mental notes on San Francisco, people, and crime. When he retired, he indulged his intellectual curiosity by researching crime in pioneer San Francisco, which resulted in his first book, Let Justice Be Done: Crime and Politics in Early San Francisco (1989). In it, Mr. Mullen clearly demonstrated that crime and violence in the city were not so much a consequence of the wild rush for gold but the conflict created by disparate groups with different values occupying the same space. His new book, which reflects more than a decade of research, develops a similar theme but over a century and a half. The breadth and depth of the study is spectacular and should firmly establish Kevin Mullen as the authority on crime and violence in San Francisco. At the same time, the book is full of interesting anecdotes and colorful descriptions that could hardly be surpassed by a detective novel.
Most importantly, especially in today’s politically-correct climate, Mr. Mullen tells the story of immigrant and minority crime without omissions, euphemisms, or convoluted rationalizations. Dangerous Strangers is simply the straight scoop. With a focus principally on homicide, Mr. Mullen concludes that high rates of criminal violence can be attributed more to the characteristics of a particular immigrant group than to its reception or treatment. As Mr. Mullen puts it, “It is also found that the violent behavior can often be traced to behaviors emerging from the newcomers’ culture — more than is generally conceded — than to discrimination on the part of the host society.” He further concludes that the way the police operate affects the level of violence: aggressive and rigorous policing does suppress violence.
Mr. Mullen plays no favorites. Australian, Irish, Chinese, Hispanic, and Italian immigrants, as well as black migrants from the South, are all scrutinized for their contributions to criminal violence in San Francisco. Mr. Mullen understands he will be attacked: “A book could be written on each group — and many have — extolling their various accomplishments and contributions to American society. But this is not that kind of book. This is a book about criminal violence involving minority newcomers and thus must focus on the negative contributions of a numerical minority of each group considered.”
One of San Francisco’s first criminal gangs was the Sydney Ducks, which operated in the 1850s. Criminal and Australian even became nearly synonymous, but Mr. Mullen reveals that the homicides attributed to Australians were wildly exaggerated. At the same time, though, they did commit a disproportionate number of robberies, and Robert McKenzie and “English Jim” Stuart, two of the most notorious of the Sydney Ducks, ended up at the end of a rope.
There have been many attempts to explain the high rate of robberies by Australians, including the extension of San Francisco wharves, which eliminated the need for boatmen to haul goods over the mud flats — work that was dominated by those from Down Under. The most important factor, says Mr. Mullen, is not unemployment or any of the many other reasons proffered, but a simple statistic: nearly 20 percent of all Australian men who arrived in San Francisco already had criminal records. They had been criminals in Britain and Australia, and now they were criminals in America. Although they were only six percent of early San Francisco’s population, they committed 50 percent of the robberies. “While the Australia from which the Gold Rush immigrants came might not have been particularly plagued with criminal violence,” concludes Mr. Mullen, “many of the Australians who answered the call to gold from California definitely brought criminal propensities with them.”
Contributing disproportionately to criminal homicide in Gold Rush San Francisco were Hispanics. Many were recent immigrants to America, giving the lie to the old argument that they were a conquered and oppressed people fighting the new and hated Anglo establishment. Says Mr. Mullen: “We are willing to accept criminal violence committed by Anglos in the old West — like that found in boomtown San Francisco or the wild mining camps like Bodie — as caused by some individual character flaw or because of some general societal condition — not enough law, alcohol, youth, and prevalence of firearms. Yet when ‘people of color’ are involved, we immediately start looking for some oppressive condition imposed on them by the majority to explain their criminal behavior.” Many of the Hispanic criminals were recent arrivals from either Mexico or Chile. The Chileans, says Old West historian Jay Monaghan, included rotos, whom he describes as “landless vagabonds who worked occasionally and robbed often, proving themselves dangerous highwaymen or excellent guerillas. . . . Reckless, vindictive fighters, these ragged gangsters cared little for their own lives and not at all for the lives of others.”
Many Mexican immigrants could be similarly described. Nonetheless, the myth of the peaceful old Californio turned avenger for his oppressed people persists as demonstrated by the legend of Joaquin Murrieta. Most of what California students are told today about Murrieta comes from a wildly fictional tale created by John Rollin Ridge, a part-Cherokee who published a book about the bandido in 1854. Ridge said Americans drove Murrieta from his claim, flogged him and raped his wife, and hanged his brother. Murrieta, according to Ridge’s tale, then set out on a course of revenge, killing all the gringos responsible. Actually, Murrieta was not a Californio but a Mexican from Sonora who did not arrive in California until 1849. He was not flogged, his wife was not raped, and his brother was not hanged. Murrieta led a gang that robbed and killed without compunction, attacking Americans, Mexicans, and Chinese. Murrieta and his bandidos killed nearly as many Chinese as whites, and Chinese were outnumbered by whites ten-to-one. One of Murrieta’s victims was black. Truth be told, criminal gangs like Murrieta’s were very much in operation in Sonora at this time — without any Anglo oppressors. Murrieta brought his criminality with him from Mexico.
Another popular notion concerns unequal punishment. In San Francisco, says Mr. Mullen, “from 1850 through 1859, 15.6 percent of those punished for homicide by hanging or imprisonment were Hispanic (five of 32) against their approximately six percent of the population.” It would seem that Latinos were suffering under the Anglo justice system until one learns that they committed 15.1 percent of the homicides during the same period — a near perfect match. Moreover, most of the Hispanic killings described by Mr. Mullen were Hispanic on Hispanic.
Mr. Mullen traces the Irish propensity for violence to classical antiquity. Posidonius, a Greek historian of the first century said, “These Celtic warriors were wont to be moved by chance remarks . . . to the point of fighting.” Dozens of other such descriptions are recorded. “We have no word for the man who is excessively fearless,” said Aristotle, “perhaps one may call such a man mad or bereft of feeling, who fears nothing, neither earthquakes nor waves, as they say of the Celts.” “The whole race,” noted Strabo, “is madly fond of war, high-spirited and quick to battle. . . . For at any time or place and on whatever pretext you stir them up, you will have them ready to face danger, even if they have nothing on their side but their own strength and courage.” This was 2,000 years before the Irish immigrated to America and faced prejudice. The Irish simply have a propensity for fighting. Sean McCann in The Fighting Irish describes an Irishman as “Quick-tempered and yet still a brooder on hidden angers, has never been short of a fight, right or wrong, through any stage of history.”
Mr. Mullen argues that Irishmen brought all this to San Francisco and that the propensity for fighting continued into subsequent generations. It’s in the blood. Not by accident, many of San Francisco’s cops and police chiefs were Irish, led by the city’s first chief, Malachi Fallon. In conversations with Mr. Mullen he told me that the toughest kids in San Francisco before and after his time on the force were Irish. He remembers in the late 1940s and early 1950s the older guys he grew up with would leave their Irish neighborhoods and head for the Fillmore district looking for blacks to fight.
This love of a good fight continued during the 1980s and 90s with the sons of Irishmen who immigrated to San Francisco during the 1950s and early 60s. While many white kids had been sissified or drug addled during the late 1960s and 1970s, the sons of Irish immigrants were like the kids Mr. Mullen was reared with in the 1930s and 40s. They took no guff, especially not from blacks, and were more afraid of their own fathers than of cops or anybody else. Whites found in the Fillmore district during the 1970s, Mr. Mullen told me, were usually there to buy drugs. But by the 1980s and 90s the generation of Irish sons of immigrants had come of age and, like the toughs of a couple of generations earlier, were there to fight. That they and their pale-blue eyes were strikingly out of place did not go unnoticed by the SFPD. “What might you be doing in this neighborhood,” coppers would ask. The Irish kids would answer quite openly that they were looking for some blacks who had jumped a friend. The fact that they were in a neighborhood where they were greatly outnumbered seemed not to faze them. On the other hand, blacks avoided the Irish immigrant neighborhoods in the Sunset district.
Mr. Mullen said that Irish parents reacted very differently from others to reports that their sons had been fighting. Most were astounded to hear their boys were in jail just for fighting. “The lad was fighting, you say, and you’ve put him in jail for that? Bejaysus!”
Chinese violence was usually over women or involved secret societies and their competition for control of Chinatown’s gambling, prostitution, and opium dens. While the pugnacious Irish were fighting, the Chinese were killing, often with knives or meat cleavers — and women suffered disproportionately. The Chinese were effective killers, accounting for some 20 percent of San Francisco’s homicides from 1850 through 1969, while comprising only about six percent of the population. “Model” immigrants they were not.
Unlike whites, especially in the early years, the Chinese killings were not the result of a bad night of drinking in the saloon. Disputes often came from old animosities in China over political factions or Triad associations. At the same time, the Triads controlled prostitution, and Chinese women were in short supply. During the 1870s when the white sex ratio had equalized, Chinese men still outnumbered women 20-to-one. Typical was Ah Kow’s killing of Moon Ping. The murder, said the Alta California, the state’s leading newspaper at the time, “arose out of the late difficulties about imported Chinese women.” The fashionable claim is that American immigration policies caused the sex imbalance, but Mr. Mullen explains that a prohibition against emigration of women was deeply rooted in Chinese custom and law. A Chinese publication noted that it was “contrary to the custom and against the inclination of virtuous Chinese women to go so far from home . . .”
In China, protection money was the lifeblood of secret societies, and it was no different in San Francisco. Disputes that led to murder were often attributed to extortion. Tong wars most commonly resulted from battles over protection money for brothels, opium dens, and gambling halls. The first tong war in San Francisco erupted when the Suey Sing and Kwong Duck tongs had a dispute over a prostitute known only as the Golden Peach. There were Triad Society and tongs centuries before Chinese immigration to the United States, and these groups had nothing to do with the host nation.
Chinese convicted of murder were more likely than others to get the death sentence. At first glance this would seem a racial injustice. Mr. Mullen reveals that the disparity is accounted for by the murder being coupled with another crime, which usually brings a harsher penalty. Chinese criminal homicides were often a result of robberies or extortion attempts. “From a reading of the cases,” says Mr. Mullen, “Chinese homicides were almost never committed in the heat of passion, unlike those of the non-Chinese with whom the rates of severe punishment are compared.” Moreover, many of the Chinese sentenced to death had prior convictions, including convictions for murder.
Far from being marginalized by the host society, argues Mr. Mullen, the Chinese in the 19th century chose to run their own affairs by their own standards. They did not let the police and courts address their problems. Most of their conflict was internal and a good portion of it can be attributed to a decades-long battle between the See Yup and Sam Yup tongs, which helped keep the Chinese homicide rate high until the 1920s. With conditions changing in China — Sun Yat Sen had finally defeated the hated Manchus and established the Republic of China — conditions changed in San Francisco. No longer were large numbers of Chinese tong thugs arriving in California.
At the same time, San Francisco Chief of Police Daniel O’Brien decided Chinatown had to be reined in. He appointed Sgt. Jack Manion to lead the department’s Chinatown Squad and ordered him to do whatever it took to stop the killings. Manion specialized in profiling. Chinese who had the characteristics of tong killers and no visible means of support were constantly harassed and arrested. Many were deported. He also held a meeting with all the wealthy and powerful leaders of the tongs and told them that if they did not cap the killings he would have them deported. Manion had a no nonsense reputation and it brought results.
Italians had twice the homicide rate of non-Italian whites in the early decades of the twentieth century. Again, Mr. Mullen sees these rates as a product of the immigrants themselves rather than of treatment by the host society. Before 1890, Italians only trickled into San Francisco; by that year the Italian community numbered little more than 8,000. During the next several decades, however, the numbers increased dramatically until there were 57,000 Italians by 1930. Like the Chinese, says Mr. Mullen, the Italians generally came into the city as young, single, males and, like the tong gangsters, Italian Mafia or Black Hand gangsters came to extort and kill. Italians, especially southern Italians, came from a violent, vendetta-dominated society. “The propensity for violence of the southern Italians was not a symptom of social disorganization caused by emigration,” says Rudolph Vecoli in The Aliens, “but a characteristic of their Old World culture.”
Nonetheless, the Italian crime rates never reached the levels recorded for Italians in Eastern cities. The Italian neighborhoods, such as North Beach, were more easily policed in San Francisco and there was a greater willingness by San Francisco Italians to cooperate with the authorities. The gangsters simply did not have the cover they had in Eastern cities. Moreover, gang warfare over bootlegging did not come to San Francisco during the 1920s as it did to Chicago and other Midwestern and Eastern cities. Immigration reform contributed to reducing Italian violence as well. With drastic cuts in the number of Italians admitted to the US by new laws in 1924 and 1927, the source of fresh killers was blocked. By the 1950s Italian crime rates in San Francisco were beginning to resemble those of other whites.
Lou Calabro, who retired as a lieutenant from the SFPD and worked under Kevin Mullen, was relieved when he came on the force in the early 1960s to find his fellow Italians were close to the white norm. Mr. Calabro, with an inquisitive mind and attention to detail, studied the arrest log books that listed the name, charge, and nativity of everyone arrested and carefully noted all Italians. Even after his retirement from the force he, like his friend Mr. Mullen, continues to study crime in San Francisco and remains one of the experts in the field today.
The black community in San Francisco was also the product of immigration, not from overseas but from the Deep South. Moreover, meaningful statistical data for blacks cannot be developed until the 1940s. Before then there were so few blacks in San Francisco — less than one percent of the population — that extrapolations can lead to wildly erroneous conclusions. Mr. Mullen notes the first murder by a black in San Francisco was committed by Obadiah Paylin in 1853. He was treated rather leniently, sentenced to two years in San Quentin. His victim seems to have been black, although details of the crime are lacking. Interracial killings were soon occurring, though. During the 19th century in San Francisco, there were seven cases in which blacks killed whites and five cases in which whites killed blacks.
Blacks certainly were not treated harshly by the justice system. Case after case described by Mr. Mullen reveals surprisingly lenient treatment, even when the victim was white. A black named Lloyd Bell had some kind of dispute with John Ryan, an Irish bartender at the Drumm Street boarding house for seamen. One night in October 1873, Bell crept into the boarding house and, finding a man asleep, swung an ax into the man’s neck, nearly severing the head. As it turned out, the man was not Ryan but a customer sleeping off a drunk. Bell got seven years in San Quentin, but on appeal his sentence was reduced to one year. He was out of prison only for a couple of years before he murdered again, this time his landlady in a dispute over rent. Again, he was sentenced to San Quentin.
Black murders in San Francisco increased dramatically during the early 20th century. Mr. Mullen suggests that much of this was the result of a culture of violence moving north with blacks from the Deep South. The host society does not seem to have been responsible. From 1900 through 1943 there were only two blacks killed by whites. During the same time blacks killed eight whites (and many more blacks).
The black population of San Francisco began growing dramatically during the last two years of the Second World War and had doubled by 1950. It doubled again and again until, by 1970, there were nearly 100,000 blacks in the city, comprising almost 15 percent of the population. Black criminal homicide, wildly disproportionate to population numbers, made San Francisco’s murder rate soar. By the 1960s, black murder victims were often white. By the end of the decade it was more common for a white to be killed by a black than by another white. Things got worse for whites in the 1970s. Part of this was a consequence of the infamous Zebra murders, perpetrated by blacks from a religious cult who were intent on destroying the white race. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s the black homicide rate ebbed and flowed but always remained at least double the black proportion in the population and often triple or quadruple.
The SFPD has tried a number of different tactics to suppress black homicide but all have been discontinued after protests. The most effective tactic harkened back to earlier times when police were given greater latitude in dealing with gangsters. A unit called CRUSH (Crime Response Unit to Stop Homicide) was organized in 1995 and, over the next two years, made 700 felony arrests and seized more than 200 weapons. While murders dropped precipitously in Hunters Point and other black neighborhoods, complaints against the unit began to accumulate. “This was the cowboy unit of the Police Department,” said public defender Jeff Brown. Public defender Shelia O’Gara said that “it appeared to us that they were transferring the most volatile cops to the unit.” In May 1997 the unit was quietly disbanded. In his apartment in the Sunset district Dirty Harry Callahan consoled himself with another Jameson.
Black crime seems almost intractable. San Francisco was about as welcoming as any host society could be, but instead of the violence lessening with each succeeding generation, as it had with other groups, it got worse. Whenever the cops cracked down — a theme that runs throughout Mr. Mullen’s chapter on blacks — crime receded. Whenever the cops backed off, it surged. One cannot help but think of New Orleans and the orgy of looting that occurred as a consequence of passive or absent (or sometimes participating) police.
Roger McGrath is an author, historian, and expert on the old West.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Researchers led by Bruce T. Lahn of the University of Chicago have discovered that different gene variants that control the development of the brain have different distributions in different populations. The two genes in question, microcephalin and ASPM, are disabled in a condition known as microencephaly, in which the brain is much smaller than normal.
Seventy percent of people in Europe and East Asia and 100 percent of people in three South American Indian tribes have one microcephalin gene variant or allele, but it is very rare in Sub-Saharan Africa. The allele appeared between 14,000 and 60,000 years ago, with the midpoint of 37,000 years as the best guess.
A new allele of ASPM appeared 500 to 14,100 years ago, most probably about 5,800 years ago. Half of the populations of Europe and the Middle East have this allele, but it is less common in Asia, and very rare in Africa. There are probably many different genes involved in brain growth and function, and it is significant that the ones now discovered are not distributed equally in all groups. The research suggests the brain is still evolving. Just 6,000 years ago — and 6,000 years is a short time in evolutionary terms — no whites had this allele. Now half do.
The research also suggests that brain structure and intelligence are not the same in all populations. Since the two genes are known to have an effect on brain size, the alleles may help explain the well-known race differences in brain size, which are correlated with intelligence. [J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, 3rd ed. (Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute), pp. 113-146.]
Scientists are nervous about this second implication, and they urge the public not to draw hasty conclusions. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, says he is “worried about the way in which these papers will be interpreted.” “One should resist strongly the idea that [the alleles have] to do with brain size,” he adds. [Nicholas Wade, Researchers Say Human Brain is Still Evolving, New York Times, Sept. 8, 2005.]
According to US Census Bureau population estimates, Texas has become the fourth state to have a majority non-white population. Non-whites — mostly Hispanics — now make up 50.2 percent of the population; in the 2000 Census, it was 47 percent. California, New Mexico and Hawaii also have non-white majorities, with Hispanics the largest non-white group in the first two states, and Asians in Hawaii. Five other states — Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona — are now 40 percent or more non-white, and are expected to have non-white majorities by the time of the 2010 Census. Nevada isn’t far behind. In the 1990s, its population was 80 percent white. The figure is now 60 percent and falling fast. The nation is well on its way to becoming majority non-white by 2050, says Steve Murdock, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “If you look in the 1990s, in every one of the 50 states, non-Anglo Hispanic populations grew faster than Anglo populations,” he explains. “It’s a very pervasive pattern.”
As the country goes brown, analysts fear it will also become increasingly poor, unless non-whites can be educated and brought up to the level of whites. They also fear more social friction as states try to reconcile the needs of younger non-whites with those of an aging, shrinking white population. [Alicia A. Caldwell, Texas Becomes a Majority-Minority State, AP, Aug. 11, 2005.]
As non-whites continue to displace whites, many are questioning whether the term “minority” has become obsolete. “Twenty or thirty years ago, we saw the country as a majority-white country with a black minority, but now you have places where that is a woefully poor description of what is going on,” says Roderick J. Harrison, a demographer with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank. He believes “minority” is “a confusing term as one thinks of today’s population,” where more than a third of Americans will soon be living in areas in which non-whites outnumber whites.
Luke Visconti of DiversityInc, a group which advises corporations on racial issues, believes “minority” needs to go because it implies second class status, and “language is the dominant way today of expressing oppression.”
In 2001, the San Diego city council expunged “minority” from official usage, and also stopped referring to neighborhoods that are largely black and Hispanic as “Southeast San Diego” in order to “move away from the pejorative connotations” toward “something that was respectful.”
What will replace minority? The media have begun using “majority-minority,” while academics prefer “people of color.” Others prefer “multicultural,” “diverse,” or “urban.” [Erin Texeira, Term ‘Minority’ Criticized as Outdated, AP, Aug. 18, 2005.]
“Invaders” does not appear to be on the list of possible replacements.
Ignoring the People
Every morning, about 150 men looking for work — most, if not all, Hispanic illegal aliens — gather in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Herndon, Va., a Washington, DC, suburb. These men have provoked complaints from the neighbors, who say they drink beer, urinate in public, frighten women and children, and lower property values. The police have made 21 arrests around the convenience store in each of the past two years, all for nuisance crimes like public drunkenness and trespassing. A long-time resident of the neighborhood, who sometimes picks up beer bottles left by the men, says few children come to the store now, whereas a decade ago the area was crowded with children.
After the town attorney said it would be “unconstitutional” to chase the men away, the town proposed this year to build a day-laborer center for them and make it illegal to solicit jobs anywhere else. A coalition of non-profit groups called Project Hope and Harmony (PHH), which hoped for a county grant to run the center, began lobbying for it.
The mayor, the police chief, and members of PHH repeatedly went to the area where the center was planned to reassure neighbors, but they objected strongly. In July, one said five of the 30 houses on her street were for sale. Residents submitted a list of 70 questions to the town, including, “Are the town and Hope and Harmony prepared to guarantee that property values will not decrease because of this site?” and “How will the project managers ensure that my grandchildren are not exposed to the workers while they are waiting for their school bus in the morning?” One resident suggested putting up an eight-foot-high fence around the center. [Carol Morello, Herndon Roiled by Site for Laborers, Washington Post, July 31, 2005.]
The town held three meetings on the hiring center in July and August that were attended by as many as 250 people. The first two were before the Herndon Planning Commission and the third before the town council. Outside the meetings, there were opposing demonstrations, with one side holding signs with messages like “Illegal aliens displace US workers” and “Stop rewarding illegals.” The other group’s signs read, “No human being is illegal” and “Open your hearts to the poor and needy.” The town let residents speak on the matter, and two of the meetings had to be stretched over more than one night to accommodate all the speakers. The majority opposed the center. They said it would bring gang violence and disease, as well as loutish behavior. [Carol Morello, Day Laborers Enter Fray Over Job Site, Washington Post, Aug. 2, 2005. Building Setback for Day Laborers Site in Herndon, AP, Aug. 4, 2005.]
Michael Graham, a local radio talk show host, urged listeners to call Herndon mayor Michael O’Reilly to protest the center on August 5. He said the mayor was “assisting criminal aliens who are . . . destroying this country, stealing jobs, running drugs, raping people.” The town hall got so many calls it had to shut off its switchboard. The town manager said the calls were “vile and resembled hate speech,” and The Washington Post took him at his words, referring to “hate calls” — without quotation marks — in the headline of its story. [Lisa Rein, Hate Calls Swamp Herndon Town Hall, Washington Post, Aug. 6, 2005.]
The debate struck a chord with many other towns that have the same problem with illegals. Scott Lingamfelter, a local state delegate who opposed the center, discussed it on CNN. Rep. Tom Tancredo, head of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, had a proxy speak for him a town meeting. The Federation for American Immigration Reform and Judicial Watch threatened to sue the town if it built the center. Jerry Kilgore, Republican candidate for Virginia governor, urged Fairfax County, where Herndon is located, to stop the center. [Samson Habte, Day Laborer Center Stirs National Debate, Examiner (Washington, DC), Aug. 8, 2005. Christina Bellantoni, Kilgore Urges Fairfax to Drop Day Laborer Center, Washington Times, Aug. 9, 2005.]
This massive opposition came to naught. The protestors persuaded the Herndon Planning Commission to vote against the center, but on Aug. 18 the town council voted five to two to approve it. PHH got a $175,000 contract from Fairfax County to run the center. It says it will not check anyone’s immigration status. [Christina Bellantoni, Herndon OKs Day Laborer Center, Washington Times, Aug. 18, 2005. Christina Bellantoni, Center Staff Won’t Check Legal Status of Laborers, Washington Times, Aug. 19, 2005.]
There is still hope for opponents. Judicial Watch has sued the town on behalf of six Herndon residents to block construction, on the grounds that the town is abetting illegal immigration. Neighboring Loudoun County has threatened to use zoning laws to block the center, which would stand near the Fairfax-Loudoun County border. Jerry Kilgore, currently the front-runner for Virginia governor, has reiterated his opposition to the center, and there is little doubt that, if elected, he would take steps to block it. [Carol Morello, Suit Filed to Block Herndon Labor Site, Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2005. Lisa Rein and Aymar Jean, Day Labor Center Faces a Fight From Loudoun Officials, Washington Post, Aug. 19, 2005.]
Southern California’s abundant sunshine holds no charms for many Asian women. They believe sunlight will make their skin dark and unattractive. “There’s a saying, ‘If you have white skin you can cover a thousand uglinesses,’” says Margaret Qiu, a 36-year-old Chinese immigrant who applies skin whitening creams to her face twice a day. She’s not alone. Many Asian women think a porcelain-like white face is the feminine ideal, and are willing to spend a lot of money trying to get one. Importing Asian whitening creams into the United States has turned into a multi-million dollar business. A set of cleansers and lotions that claims to control melanin production can cost $100, and beauticians charge $65 to apply whiteners. Asian women also shield themselves from the sun with umbrellas, masks, and UV gloves. Even doctors are getting in on the action, charging up to $1,000 for a procedure known as a “mesofacial,” in which they use electric fields to deliver vitamins, moisturizers, and bleaching agents to a woman’s face.
Although immigrant women defend the practice as a cultural tradition, many younger, American-born Asian women think the obsession with pale skin is an attempt to abandon their Asian identity and blend into white American culture, and may be a a reaction to racism. The companies that market the creams have taken note of this, and now refer to their products as “brightening” rather than whitening creams. [Jia Rui Chong, No Tans for These Women, Herald (Miami), Aug. 7, 2005, p. 12A.]
Wages of Sin
Arthur E. Teele, a black man who was City Commissioner of Miami from 1997 to 2004, committed suicide on July 28, after facing two indictments for corruption. It was a dramatic exit: Mr. Teele shot himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building, in full view, through glass doors, of the street. Mr. Teele had reasons for suicide. Besides the indictments, Gov. Jeb Bush had removed him from the office of City Commissioner in 2004 for threatening to shoot a police officer who was observing him for a fraud investigation. He was convicted for that offense in March 2005 and got probation. [Gov. Bush Suspends Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele, Jr., AP, Sept. 22, 2004.]
One of the indictments was for an elaborate fraud that involved abusing a city set-aside program. Mr. Teele arranged for work on the Miami airport to be given to a company owned by non-whites through a set-aside program. However, this company was a front. A white-owned company had bribed Mr. Teele to set things up so that it would do all the work and get most of the contract money. [US Dept. of Justice Press Release, Dewitt Jackson, “Jack” Maxwell, and Arthur E. Teele, Jr. Charged with Conspiracy, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering, July 14, 2005.] The other charge against Mr. Teele was for taking $135,000 in kickbacks from a black-owned construction company while he was head of Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
It had also come to light that Mr. Teele patronized a male prostitute named Frederick Davis. Mr. Davis said he had four or five cocaine-laced sessions with Mr. Teele, for which he was paid $450 each. Mr. Teele also owed $1.7 million in debt — $815,000 of it to the Internal Revenue Service. Many humiliating details came out in a 14,000 word expose in the Miami New Timesthe day Mr. Teele committed suicide — and probably helped drive him to it. [Francisco Alvarado, Tales of Teele: Sleaze Stories, Miami New Times, July 28, 2005. Luis Yanez, Teele Kills Self in Herald Lobby, Miami Herald, July 28, 2005.]
Marcello Pera of the Forza Italia Party is the speaker of Italy’s senate. “In Europe,” he said at a meeting of young Catholics, “the population is decreasing, the doors are open to uncontrolled immigration and we will all become members of a mixed race.” This shocked many in Italy, especially since Mr. Pera is the second highest official in the country. Cardinal Tariscio Bertone said he was “a bit stupefied” by the remarks. Parliamentarian Bobo Craxi of the New Socialist party said, “His speech is very dangerous if you consider that Italy is a country that lives at the center of the Mediterranean.” However, Deputy Prime Minister Giulio Tremonti said he agreed with Mr. Pera. [Phillip Pullella, Italy Shocked by ‘Mixed Race’ Remark, Reuters, Aug. 25, 2005. Tremonti: My Views Similar to Those Expressed by Pera, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Aug. 22, 2005.]
Afef Jnifen, a Tunisian-born former model who has Italian citizenship, said that Mr. Pera’s words amounted to “anti-Islamic instigation” and that “Italians [were] more tolerant than Pera.” Miss Jnifen, who is married to an Italian, promotes herself as unofficial ambassador for Islam in Italy. The Italian nationalist party, the Northern League, is part of Italy’s ruling coalition. Its newspaper discussed her political ambitions under the headline “Mongrel Candidacies,” and declared her slogan should be “Let’s mongrelize Italy.” [John Hooper, Muslim Socialite Splits Italian Right, Guardian (London), Sept. 3, 2005. Tunisian Beauty Aids Islam Debate, ANSA.it, Sept. 2, 2005.]
DNA tests are an increasingly common way for people to prove their right to join Indian tribes. Until now, would-be Cherokees or Seminoles had to rely on documentation of Indian ancestry; now they can buttress their claims with proof that they have a large share of Indian genes.
Many are taking the tests because of the cash bonanza for being Indian. The Chickasaw tribe of Oklahoma, for example, has assets of $315 million, mainly because of casinos. Also, the government pays reparations to Indians. In 1990, the Seminoles got $56 million in compensation because their ancestral lands in Florida were seized almost 200 years ago. There are other benefits: Genuine Indians can get federally subsidized medical treatment, and some tribes offer free school clothes for children, vocational training, college scholarships, low-interest home loans, and other services. These incentives have swollen tribal rolls. In 1980, there were 50,000 Oklahoma Cherokees; today, there are 250,000.
Many people think it is worth testing their ancestry even if they are long-shots. The chief of testing service at DNAPrint Genomics says, “Ninety percent of the people interested in Native American ancestry are people who look as European as could be. They think they might have a Native American ancestor three or four generations back. We call it the American Indian Great-Grandmother Princess.”
However, even if tests show Indian ancestry, they do not guarantee tribal membership. For one thing, the gene markers that indicate Indian blood are not exclusive to Indians. Someone with a low level of Indian markers — in the four to six percent range — could have gotten them from Greece or Turkey. Pakistanis generally show about 30 percent American Indian heritage for reasons scientists do not understand. Furthermore, ancestry tests cannot distinguish between Indians of different tribes, so proof of Indian genes is not sufficient for membership to any particular tribe.
One group that is particularly eager to prove its Indian ancestry is the Freedmen, or the descendants of slaves owned by Indians in the 19th century. After they were freed in 1866, say Indians, former slaves were accepted into the tribes as equals, and intermarriage was common.
However, once Indians came into money from casinos and reparations, they became more selective. In recent years, Indians have defined membership to exclude the Freedmen, whom they now claim were never really members of the tribe and are not Indian. In 2000, for example, the Seminoles kicked out 2,000 blacks, even though the blacks’ ancestors had been living with the tribe since the 18th century. Blacks sued to regain their membership, but to no avail.
The Freedmen thought they had found their vindicator in Rick Kittles, the head of African Ancestry, a company that purports to be able to tell blacks where in Africa they came from. Mr. Kittles heard about the Freedmen’s plight and agreed to test their DNA. The results were dismaying. A sample of 95 Freedmen showed African ancestry ranging from four to 76 percent, white ancestry from 0 to 62 percent, and Indian ancestry from 0 to 30 percent. The average Freedman was only six percent Indian, almost the same as the average East Coast black who does not claim to be Indian.
Mr. Kittle did, however, offer a ray of hope. He pointed out that Freedmen had a greater share of white genes than most blacks do. Since ordinary Indians also have substantial white ancestry, the Freedmen’s white genes might prove that they were Indians after all. [Brendan I. Koerner, Blood Feud, Wired, Sept. 2005. Karen Kaplan, Ancestry in a Drop of Blood, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 30, 2005.]
Polygamy has been illegal in France since 1993, but many African and Middle Eastern immigrants, particularly those from Mali, practice it anyway. In fact, there are between 8,000 and 15,000 polygamous households in France, and each has an average of 10 children. This can lead to squalid living conditions, with families packed into small apartments and houses.
Although polygamists are, technically, lawbreakers, France does not arrest and deport African violators. Instead, the government encourages wives to “de-cohabitate,” sending teams of social workers to offer them large, state-funded apartments and living expenses for themselves and their children. The government encourages extra wives to divorce their husbands, but this is not mandatory. So far, only 24 wives from polygamous families have divorced.
It is illegal to bring more than one wife into France, but the French do not enforce the law for fear of accusations of racism. [Geniviève Oger, France’s Polygamy Problem, Deutsche Welle, July 31, 2005. Frank Renout, Immigrants’ Second Wives Find Few Rights, Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2005.]
Sticks and Stones
Urban Outfitters, a trendy Philadelphia-based retailer of youth-oriented clothing, recently began selling a T-shirt with a printed slogan reading, “New Mexico, Cleaner Than Regular Mexico.” The T-shirt has inflamed a number of pressure groups. One calling itself BlueLatinos.org claims the shirt could promote “negative and racist ideas of ‘the dirty Mexican.’” A spokesman for the ADL says the T-shirt “is an inappropriate and unnecessary disparagement of [Mexico],” and that Mexicans “should not be subjected to this type of ridicule and debasing reference.” Both groups are calling on Urban Outfitters to pull the T-shirts from their stores immediately.
In 2003, the chain sold a parody of the board game “Monopoly” called “Ghettopoly,” which made fun of “gangsta” rap and “hip-hop” culture. Instead of houses and hotels, Ghettopoly featured crack dens and housing projects. Urban Outfitters stopped selling the game after it got complaints and bad publicity. [Wendy Tanaka, Sale of T-shirt Sparks Protest, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 22, 2005, p. C3.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — Wade Mackey’s article in the July issue, “Race and the Fertility Paradox,” like others I have read in AR, implies that European populations are fated to decline indefinitely because of low birth rates. This is not the case. The present low reproduction rate reflects the introduction of reliable birth control. In the evolutionary time scale, this development is very sudden, and will take several generations to correct.
If the average fertility rate for European women continues at 1.55 children, Europeans are doomed to oblivion, but this is an average rate, and is greatly influenced by the women who have no children at all. Whether this decision is affected by genes or social pressures, these women will have no descendants to carry on this custom. On the other hand, women who have several children will pass that inclination on to their children. Therefore the trend to lower fertility will bottom out and reverse. It will, in fact, rise past the replacement level of 2.1 until overcrowding eventually drives it back down to that level, the natural stability point.
The choice is this: Should the vanishing Europeans be replaced by other Europeans of higher fertility, but of the same genetic stock and culture, or by non-whites with different cultures?
Charles Hayes, Tyler, Texas
Sir — The picture of Hatun Surucu, the young Turkish woman murdered in the “honor killing” mentioned in the August issue of AR, throws light on the recent controversy in these pages about race in Turkey. Ms. Surucu’s phenotype was very Asiatic/Middle Eastern, and would be considered completely alien to any European ethnic groups. Was her phenotype just an unusual, isolated example? Photographs of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Jean Paul II, show a phenotype that is as non-European as that of Ms. Surucu. For an even larger sample, look at the composition of the Turkish parliament, which can be found online. While some could pass as European, many others could not.
Keep in mind as well that, just as Mexican immigrants to the US are more likely to be dark mestizos rather than the white elite, so too Turkish migrants to Europe are likely to be from the Asiatic masses rather than the whiter, more Europeanized elites. The Turkish gene pool is very heterogeneous, and there is every reason to think the Middle Eastern-Asian elements would be the ones emigrating to Europe.
Sir — It may well be that truth and rationality will prevail in our struggle, but we had better fight hard for it. Let me draw your attention to an article in the May/June 2005 issue of California Monthly, a magazine for UC Berkeley alumni. The article, by Christopher Edley, Jr., the black dean of the Berkeley law school, is called “Toward a Diversity Research Agenda.” Dean Edley lays out 10 steps to guide Berkeley’s research for “diversity-related” initiatives, which would lead to “private practice and public policy.”
Most of Dean Edley’s recommendations are the usual laundry list of failed policy prescriptions, but his tenth is more original:
10. Understanding Bias.
Cognitive scientists have devised experimental means of identifying powerful, unconscious forms of prejudice, termed ‘implicit bias,’ that are all but universal and may shape behavior in subtle ways. What are the implications of measuring the prevalence of discrimination for anti-discrimination law, and for strategies to overcome bias?
“Implicit bias” certainly is universal, and is nothing to be ashamed of. It is an integral part of our human makeup and guides our reproductive choices so as to preserve our biological distinctiveness. Even to consider passing laws to suppress universal biological imperatives is a totalitarian outrage.
My thoughts on “bias” can be summed up in the following quote: “There is nothing unbiased in the world . . . Everything has a bias whether acknowledged or concealed.”
Bill Pepperell, San Francisco Friends of American Renaissance, Alamo, Calif.
Sir — As webmaster of OurWayOfLife.org, I disagree with Prof. Farron’s dim assessment of its prospects, which appeared as a letter in your September issue. In the few months of its existence, OWOL has attracted over 70,000 page views and has over 170 members and more than 250 postings.
We are pursuing two goals: first, to “lead by example” in showing those who espouse “neoconservatism” either out of ignorance or out of a sense that it is the only option besides liberalism, that there is something better; and second, to create an online community where racialist and non-racialist conservatives can discuss social and cultural issues and tear down the barriers of taboo and ostracism that keep racialist positions out of the “mainstream.”
Given these barriers, it is unremarkable that the Cato Institute would seek to distance itself from Prof. Farron’s book. Nonetheless, a growing number of whites have been, or soon will be, “mugged by reality” on the way to multicultural Never-never-land. When they wake up, they will need an ideological home. OWOL is working to build that place — and to prevent the neocons from “kidnapping” the unwary before they get there.
Our site is off to a good start, with bright prospects for further growth.
Jonathan E. Ardleigh, Webmaster, OurWayOfLife.org
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