|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 15, No. 9||September 2004|
The Green Card Crap Shoot
Luck is the only qualification for these immigrants.
Every year millions of foreigners from nearly every country on earth play the lottery — the Green Card lottery — hoping to win permanent residency in the United States. The lottery, officially known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, gives a shot at becoming legal immigrants to 50,000 foreigners who have no special skills and no family in the US.
Family ties became the easiest legal way into the United States, thanks to the 1965 Immigration Act. In 2002, for example, the US admitted 1,063,732 legal immigrants, of whom 673,817 (63.3 percent) were family-related admissions. Both US citizens and permanent resident aliens — Green Card holders — can bring in spouses, parents, and children. In 2002, about 300,000 Americans married foreigners, who then became permanent residents. Another 236,000 legal immigrants were parents and children of US citizens. About 85,000 resident aliens married foreigners (or brought in spouses they had left overseas) or brought in their own children. Only US citizens can sponsor brothers and sisters as immigrants, and that accounted for about 60,000 legal immigrants.
After immigrants with family connections, the second largest group of legal aliens admitted in 2002 — 174,968 or 16.4 percent — were professionals with advanced degrees or “exceptional abilities” (44,468), as well as wealthy foreigners who have a least $1 million to invest (149). The third largest category were the 126,084 refugees and asylum-seekers, who accounted for just under 12 percent of immigrants in 2002.
Anyone who is not a refugee, doesn’t have family in America, and doesn’t have special skills has essentially no hope of immigrating legally — unless he plays the lottery. Winners accounted for just four percent of all immigrants in 2002, but they make the immigrant stream even more exotic than it would be otherwise. We have a lottery because immigration is not diverse enough; we need Africans, Bangladeshis and Arabs, in addition to millions of Mexicans, Chinese, and Filipinos. Very few American even know there is an immigration lottery, but it is of absorbing interest in many foreign countries.
‘The Irish Program’
How did the lottery get started? The 1965 Immigration Act abolished the national origins quota system established in the 1920s to preserve the nation’s ethnic balance. The quota system favored skilled immigrants from the countries that had contributed the bulk of the nation’s founding stock — Great Britain, Germany and Ireland — and kept out most others, particularly non-whites. Great Society anti-racists opposed this common-sense policy. They wanted to give all foreigners an equal chance to immigrate, and thought family reunification was more important than skills.
The mid-1960s and early 1970s were a prosperous time for Western Europeans, and not many wanted to emigrate. Eastern Europeans wanted to come, but the Communists would not let them. As the following figures make clear, Third Worlders, primarily from Asia and Latin America, filled the gap.
During the 1950s, just 153,000 Asians immigrated to the US (Asians had largely been barred from the 1880s to the early 1950s). The number rose to 428,000 during the 1960s, and more than tripled during the 1970s to 1,588,000. During the 1950s, 259,000 Latin Americans (including Caribbeans) immigrated, but during the 1970s that number more than quadrupled to 1,172,000. In the 1950s, just under 300,000 Mexicans arrived, but in the 1970s that figure rose to 640,000, and more than doubled during the 1980s to 1,656,000. Mexico became the largest single immigrant country of origin during the 1960s and has remained so ever since. In fact, by 2002, Mexico had sent more legal immigrants to the United States than any other country except Germany — 6,560,000 vs. 7,219,000. Most German immigration was before1900, but more than half of all Mexicans who have ever legally immigrated came since 1981.
Because the 1965 law for the first time allowed recent immigrants to bring in their families, this started a never-ending cycle of chain migration. Third-Worlders filled all the queues and quotas, so by the 1980s, it was very hard for Europeans to get in. The 1965 Immigration Act had, in effect, become a European exclusion act.
The Irish were especially hard hit. More than four million Irish came to the Untied States between 1820 and 1930, but during the 1970s, the number fell to just 11,490. Many Irish came illegally, and worked in bars, restaurants, and construction. In 1986, as Congress prepared to grant amnesty to millions of mostly Mexican illegals by means of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Senator Edward Kennedy — who had championed the 1965 Act that was now hurting his kinsmen — added a provision for the first lottery. This granted 10,000 “special visas” to randomly-selected immigrants from countries that had been “adversely affected” by the 1965 law he had helped pass. More than 60 percent of these special visas went to applicants from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada, most of whom were here illegally. Presumably, they played the lottery because they did not meet the criteria for legalization in the 1986 amnesty.
“[T]o this day,” says Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), “the lottery is often referred to by congressmen and their staff as ‘The Irish Program.’ But as the program evolved, and as there were fewer and fewer Irish illegals, its emphasis changed, and it’s now more accurately described as the Middle Eastern, East European and African program.” In 2002, there were only 69 Irish diversity immigrants.
How it Works
Both IRCA and the “Irish Program” were supposed to be one-time-only events, but Congress liked the idea of diversity visas, and in 1990 it made the lottery permanent. During its initial phase the program authorized 40,000 visas per year, to be awarded to immigrants from countries underrepresented in the immigrant stream. But between 1992 and 1994, of the 108,436 immigrants who came on diversity visas, 84 percent were from Ireland, Northern Ireland (which immigration law treats separately from the United Kingdom, of which it is a part), Canada and Poland. At this time, it really was something of an Irish program.
In 1995, Congress changed the rules to exclude countries that had sent more than 50,000 immigrants during the previous five years, and raised the ceiling to 55,000 visas. In 1997, Congress made a special allocation of 5,000 diversity visas to Nicaraguans, Cubans, and other Central Americans who had come to the US illegally during the civil wars of the 1980s. This meant the US operated two visa lotteries for a few years, with one just for Central Americans. In 2000, Congress shut down the special Central American lottery, and set the ceiling for all diversity visas at 50,000, where it remains today.
In its present form, the Diversity Visa Lottery Program awards slots to the approximately 167 countries that have sent fewer than 50,000 immigrants during the past five years. This is every country in the world except Canada, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom (except for Northern Ireland), and Vietnam, all of which already send plenty of immigrants. People living in ineligible countries can still apply, though, if they, their spouses or parents were born in an eligible country. A Canadian whose parents were born in Bangladesh, for example, could apply, as could one married to a Bangladeshi. Diversity immigrants can bring in spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, and since family members are not part of the limit, the program can bring in more than 50,000 people in one year. Once they are here, diversity immigrants can sponsor chain migration just like all other legal immigrants.
|Whites are still a minority.|
Each year’s lottery and selection process takes approximately two years. The application period for the 2004 program, therefore, was 30 days in October 2002. No fewer than 10.2 million foreigners applied, but the State Department rejected 2.9 million applications because they were not properly filled out or didn’t come in on time. To cope with this huge volume of applications the department switched to Internet applications in 2003 for the DV-2005 program.
An applicant now goes to the State Department’s diversity visa lottery website, www.dvlottery.state.gov, and fills in his name, date of birth, sex, city and country of birth, mailing address, country of eligibility if different from that of residence, and marital status, and gives information about his spouse and children. The applicant must also submit an electronic photograph, and one each for his spouse and children. The requirements are surprisingly strict — photos must be 320 pixels wide by 240 pixels high, and be in either 24-bit or 8-bit color or 8-bit grayscale — and anything else disqualifies an application. Applicants may wear religious head coverings provided they leave the face clearly visible.
Applications are divided into six regions — Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe, North America, Oceania and Latin America. The US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) sets regional limits based on immigrant admissions during the previous five years and the total population of the region. The most diversity visas any country can get is seven percent of the 50,000 total, or 3,500.
After the deadline closes, the State Department’s Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky, conducts the drawing. It sorts each application into the appropriate region, and a computer randomly picks the winners. The center notifies the winners by mail, instructing them to contact the nearest US consulate if they are overseas, or the BCIS if they are in the United States.
The State Department has learned that many applicants do not qualify even if they are winners, so it selects more than twice as many winners as there are slots. For example, there were 110,467 winners for the DV-2004 program. Forty-five percent were Africans, 32 percent were Europeans, and 17 percent were Asians. Central and South Americans were just over three percent, and people living in Oceania were just over one percent. Because Canadians and Mexicans can’t play the lottery, the only North American DV-2004 winners were 12 Bahamians.
Winning is only the first part of the process, and does not guarantee a visa. It offers only the privilege of applying for one, and there are a few minimal standards. Applicants must either be high school graduates or have spent at least two of the last five years in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience. The would-be immigrant fills out the standard visa application and goes through the screening process, which includes fingerprinting and a security background check. He must also pay the standard visa fee of $335 for overseas applicants or $385 for applicants living in the US. In an unusual twist for a lottery, this one costs nothing to enter, but winners pay an additional lottery application fee of $100. (The State Department makes nothing on the millions of applications it processes every year.)
The winners have exactly one year in which to get their visa applications approved. Winners in the DV-2005 lottery held last fall got the word this summer. They can apply for the visa only after October 1, 2004, and if the visa hasn’t come by September 30, 2005, they are out of luck. If the application got held up in a bureaucratic snarl, that is just too bad; the applicant can enter the lottery again if he wants. There is another way a winner can become a loser through no fault of his own. The program ends once all the diversity visas for a given year have been issued or the deadline passes, which ever comes first. This means someone can apply early, but if consular offices in other countries work more quickly than in his country and fill all the slots before the deadline, his visa is no good even if it would have been issued on time.
Foreigners like the lottery but it is not popular here. One of the oddest charges is that it is somehow racist, despite the fact that it brings in more non-whites than whites. Referring back to Edward Kennedy’s plan to get more Irish into the country, the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian calls the lottery “affirmative action” for white immigrants, and a “racialist throwback,” “harking back to the ‘more-people-who-look-like-me’ immigration policy we had until 1965.” Dan Stein of the Foundation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) believes the program smacks of the “discredited” national origins system laid to rest by the 1965 Immigration Act. FAIR has also implied that Edward Kennedy and the other Irish-American politicians who created the original lottery program were racists because they “apparently were not satisfied with the dramatic demographic change the nation has undergone over the past 25 years.” Presumably, since non-lottery immigration is only 10 percent white, anyone who supports a lottery whose winners are all of 40 percent white must be a “racist.”
In 2002, the bulk of the diversity visas went to Africans and Asians. Ethiopians were the largest single nationality at 3,994 (this figure is larger than the per-country limit of 3,500 because it includes Ethiopians who were not living in Ethiopia when they applied).
In the most recent lottery, DV-2004, Nigeria produced the largest number of winners with 7,145, followed by Ghana at 7,040, Ethiopia at 6,353, Kenya at 5,721, and Bangladesh at 5,126. These are the numbers who won the lottery, not the numbers who got visas. Eighty percent or so of Nigerian winners are usually disqualified, but the process that awards that many slots to Africans is certainly not “racist,” even if many African winners turn out to be frauds or file their papers late.
Critics of the lottery make a better case when they point to the quality of the immigrants. A National Academy of Sciences study found that immigrants with only a high school education cost US taxpayers $30,000 in government services over their lifetimes (admitting an immigrant with less than a high school education costs $90,000 over his lifetime). The same study found that immigrants with a college education or more contribute $100,000 to the country over their lifetimes. If, over a decade, the lottery lets in 500,000 high school graduates rather than 500,000 college graduates, the lifetime opportunity cost is $65 billion. With its current low requirements, the green card lottery is a net loss to taxpayers.
Green card winners impose the usual cultural costs as well. The World Health Organization estimates the prevalence of female genital mutilation to be 98 percent in Somalia, but that didn’t stop the State Department from issuing 233 diversity visas to Somalis in 2002. (Somalis are also one of the largest “refugee” groups, with more than 12,000 scheduled to come over the next few years.)
The lottery also works as an amnesty program. If he was born in an eligible country, an applicant can apply from within the United States, and it makes no difference if he is here legally or not. If he wins, the BCIS adjusts his status automatically; there is no penalty for having broken immigration laws to get here.
Even some supporters of mass immigration believe the diversity visa lottery program should be scrapped. They note that there are some quotas even on family-reunification visas, and complain that lottery-winners get special treatment because they can bring in their families right away.
The complaint that gets the most attention today is that lottery winners can be a security threat. The State Department generally bars residents of the seven countries it designates as sponsors of terrorism from applying even for temporary visas, but allows those same countries into the lottery, which awards permanent visas. Diversity is apparently more important than security. In 2002 Iran received 695 diversity visas, Iraq, 54, Syria, 27, Libya, 7, North Korea, 3, Cuba, 425, and Sudan, 629. Countries where Al-Qaida terror cells actively recruit also participate in the program. In 2002, 1,161 Egyptians and 109 Saudis immigrated on diversity visas.
In Detroit earlier this year, two Moroccan lottery winners were convicted on terrorism-related charges. On July 4, 2002, Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohammed Ali Hedayet murdered two people and wounded several others at the Israeli airline El Al’s ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport before security men shot him. Hedayet had come to the US in 1992 on a temporary visa, became an illegal alien when it expired, and was scheduled for deportation in 1997 when his wife (also an Egyptian immigrant) won the lottery. Her newly-achieved status meant he could stay.
Even Anne W. Patterson, the State Department’s deputy inspector general, thinks the lottery is a big risk. “The bottom line is it’s a program that can be taken advantage of by hostile intelligence officers or terrorists,” she told the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee in April 2004. Miss Patterson said at the very least the lottery should not permit applications from countries that sponsor terrorism. Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA) says the lottery is a “serious security threat” and has sponsored a bill (H.R. 775) to end it.
The program does have defenders, however, including black Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas. At the same April hearing, Miss Jackson-Lee accused critics of the program of wanting “to topple the Statue of Liberty.” Miss Jackson-Lee cites as one of the stars of the lottery the mother of teenage soccer player Freddy Adu, who came to the United States from Ghana after winning the lottery in the late 1990s. Rep. Jackson-Lee does support overhauling American immigration policy — to legalize many illegals already here, and make it easier for immigrants to bring in even more relatives.
Of course, security threats aside, the very idea that immigration hasn’t made the United States diverse enough already is astonishing. Whites are passing judgment on diverse, immigrant-heavy California by fleeing it at a rate of 100,000 a year. Terrorism, racial conflict, ethnic ghettoes, bilingual education, bizarre Third-World customs — these are the consequences of today’s immigration, and none makes us stronger. They only serve to destroy unity and cultural cohesion. We should scrap the 1965 law along with the lottery.
But perhaps the greatest absurdity is the idea of raffling off permanent residency — the first step to citizenship — as if it were a door prize. It would be hard to think of a more frivolous, demeaning, and bone-headed way to build a nation. To think that people who have absolutely nothing in common with each other, scraped up from every corner of the world at random, can live together as loyal citizens and participants in a common culture is breathtaking foolishness. The lottery is — as if we needed it — yet another proof that our rulers have completely lost any sense of nation or peoplehood.
Fraud and Gullibility
Millions of people around the world are desperate to immigrate — it is their ticket out of squalor — and desperation makes them easy prey for con men. Each year, as the lottery deadline approaches, thousands of websites pop up offering to help would-be immigrants process their applications — for a price.
The websites lure the gullible with such official-sounding names as “USA Immigration Services” or “United States of America Foreign Immigration Services.” Most use the URL extension .org (official government websites end in .gov). Website designers try to make the sites look as official as possible, prominently displaying American flags, the Statue of Liberty, bald eagles and even the White House seal. One of the most brazen fake immigration websites in 2002 was www. USNIS.org, which billed itself as “United States Naturalization and Immigration Services,” a clever reversal of the old US Immigration and Naturalization Service. People in Rawalpindi, Pakistan ran the site.
The most blatantly dishonest websites tell prospective immigrants that using their services can improve their chances of winning. Since the lottery is random, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prosecutes this as false advertising if the con men are subject to US jurisdiction. Most sites just offer to help foreigners fill out the forms, charging anywhere from $50 to $200 for what they can do on the State Department’s official lottery website for free. Immigration lawyer Yigel Torem, who runs a website called GreenCard Lottery.com says he provides valuable assistance. “There’s over two or three million [applications] rejected every year,” he explains. “Obviously people are not getting it.” He says he provides lots of free information on his website, and only charges when people ask for help.
The problem is so bad the State Department has begun posting a warning on its website, telling applicants to stay away from sites “that may require you to pay for services such as forms and information about immigration procedures, that are otherwise free.”
Lottery applicants are not just victims of fraud; many also perpetrate it. Because an application does not require any documentation other than a photograph, many visa hopefuls lie on their applications and scramble to get fake IDs and bogus school diplomas and job training certificates after they win. Nigeria and Bangladesh are almost always among the top ten sources for diversity visa winners. They are also the two most corrupt nations on earth, according to Transparency International’s 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index. Not surprisingly, in 2002, the State Department rejected 80 percent of the green card applications filed by lottery winners from Nigeria and 85 percent from Bangladesh. This high rate of rejection explains why the lottery chooses approximately 110,000 winners for 50,000 slots.
Players in the lottery can get ugly when something interferes with their chances. In February 1997, there were riots in the African country of Sierra Leone after fishermen found 5,000 completed and mailed lottery applications in several mailbags floating in Freetown harbor. As word of the discovery spread through the city, thousands of would-be immigrants converged on the country’s central post office, throwing sticks and stones at police and smashing government vehicles. Police fired into the crowd, killing two and injuring more than 20. A local newspaper speculated that the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah may have ordered the mailbags dumped into the harbor in order to conceal the number of people who want to get out of his country. More than 35,000 Sierra Leoneans played the lottery in 1997, but only 343 got visas.
Alien Invasion, Alien Evasion
Immigrants take the lead in tax fraud.
A May 22 article in the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minnesota, reported that Somali tax preparers had filed thousands of bogus income tax returns for their compatriots. This is just another example of alien tax fiddling, and will not be the last. All new groups of aliens seem to think they are the first to discover how to trifle with the Internal Revenue Code, and many take to it naturally because they come from countries where people think tax evasion is a birthright or a national sport or both. The authorities almost always catch dishonest alien tax preparers because they do the obvious things the IRS looks for. However, when they file thousands of bad returns, as these Somalis did, they can overwhelm the system, and many of those returns will go through.
As a tax preparer and investigator, I have seen extraordinary levels of immigrant tax fraud, and there is every reason to think what I have seen is typical. As our country becomes increasingly Third World, we will suffer from Third-World levels of tax evasion.
Tax fraud runs the gamut from low to high income, and at the low end, foreign dependent exemptions are a particularly troublesome area. Most Americans do not know this, but Mexicans and Canadians who work in the United States can claim dependents who live back home. The temptation to commit fraud becomes irresistible when other Latin Americans see Mexicans doing this, and decide to try it themselves. A variant on this scheme is for Mexicans with large families to farm out excess dependents to others. If a man has more than enough children to lower his own tax bill to zero, why not make the additional exemptions available to someone else?
Underpaying taxes is nice; actually getting money from the IRS is better. The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a payment a filer may receive without having paid any income taxes. Originally conceived by Senator Russell Long as a way to keep the working poor off welfare and to ease the bite on low-income workers, the credit quickly became a major fraud target for Mexicans, and then Central Americans and Asians.
In outline, the EIC is a maximum cash benefit of $2,600 for a family with one child, and $4,000 for a family with two or more children. A filer with an income of $16,000 will generally receive the largest credit, with gradual reductions in the credit as income either falls short of that figure or rises above it.
The first assault on the credit came to light in the 1980s when low-income Mexican “businessmen” in Arizona were caught filing returns specifically designed for the credit. Since a self-employed person does not get W-2 wage statements, he can adjust his income to get the maximum EIC. These “businessmen” were all receiving their checks at the same PO box in Douglas, Arizona, and this is what caught the attention of the IRS. EIC fraud continues at an estimated rate of four to six billion dollars a year. The leading practitioners tend to be aliens; this is logical since they are more likely to have low incomes.
The EIC limit of two children leads, as in the dependent exemption fraud, to much sharing out of extra dependent children. For example, an extended family may be composed of four nuclear families with varying numbers of children. On their returns, taxpayers can share out children to achieve the maximum tax benefit. The Minnesota Somalis were maximizing benefits even further by having spouses file separate returns, and sharing dependents even more precisely for the best tax effect.
Better-heeled criminals go in for different frauds. Self-employed Eastern European, Middle-Eastern, and Asian immigrants have long evaded tax by means of an accounting principle, the Gross Profit Factor. This fraud is based on the average commercial gross profit margin of 33 percent. As IRS Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, explains, a typical business can expect expenses to consume 67 percent of its revenue, leaving a gross profit margin of 33 percent.
For example, a businessman might have $100,000 in revenue. He then claims $67,000 in expenses, leaving a gross profit of $33,000. Subtracting administrative overhead might leave a net and taxable profit of only $10,000, which is more or less what the IRS expects.
This could be realistic in a business with inventory or raw materials, but services do not follow this pattern. Consultants, lawyers, brokers, commission agents, and so forth normally have far fewer expenses than a small construction company, factory, or shop. A self-employed person in the service sector may require only $15,000 in expenses to produce $100,000 in income, leaving $85,000 in potentially taxable income. The fraud involves filing a return based on the IRS model, padded with false expenses to bring the gross profit down to $33,000. Because this is a typical gross profit margin, it is unlikely to trigger an audit. Also, the smart filer stays away from expenses often scrutinized very closely — meals, entertainment, travel, auto, home office, and depreciation. A final trick is to ask for an extension to file, because the IRS chooses which returns it will audit for that year before the August extension deadline.
There is no way to tabulate the amount of evasion due to the gross profit fraud. In this example, the difference between the $15,000 in actual expenses and the $67,000 in claimed expenses results in a reduction in taxable income of $52,000. The combined federal and state rate of 30 percent for a taxpayer at that level of income means the tax man lost $15,600. Also, a self-employed person pays Social Security (FICA) at a weighted average of 14 percent, so the total loss to government is $23,000.
The Gross Profit Factor tax return is so well known, mainly among Asians, that they openly ask for it at specialty tax firms as if they were ordering a hamburger with the works at a fast food restaurant. During the 1980s I worked as a tax preparer in Rolling Hills, California. Eighty percent of the self-employed Asian immigrants asked for this kind of return. My job was to prepare the return, based on the numbers provided to me, and make sure the percentages squared up (the taxpayer, not the person who fills in the return, is legally responsible for its contents).
Another type of high-income fraud surfaces as part of mortgage lending. Once again, the perpetrators are self-employed aliens, this time seeking home loans. The applicant has to submit two years of tax returns to prove he has the income to service the loan, and unsurprisingly, he produces returns with plenty of income. These returns can be altogether different from the ones actually filed with the IRS, which may report very low income and tax liability. Immigrants are well represented in this type of fraud because many of them are small businessmen and sole proprietors.
A number of years ago, I did an investigation for a mortgage broker on fraudulent applications. Only 35 percent of self-employed borrowers got their loans honestly. The majority of the frauds were recent immigrants: Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Iranians, Indians, and Pakistanis. That mixed group of Asians accounted for 90 percent of the 65 percent, or in round numbers, for 180 of the 200 dishonestly-obtained loans I uncovered during a six-month period.
The honest borrowers were mainly people with European names, but there was not one recognizably Japanese or Jewish name among the frauds. Since I investigated only one mortgage brokerage office, multiplying those results by the thousands of brokers and banks that do business with Asian immigrants would yield a huge level of mortgage loan fraud.
An interesting sidelight to my investigation was the discovery of 15 tax mills openly doing business in Southern California and producing phony returns to suit their clients’ needs. Thirteen of the mills were Asian-operated, mostly home-grown Chinese and recently arrived Taiwanese, with some Koreans thrown in for diversity.
Tax mill operators were perpetrating two major felonies simultaneously: one, defrauding a lender with intent (Title 18, U.S.C.); and two, income tax evasion (Title 26, U.S.C.). We can assume the latter, if only because the mortgage payments in all instances were greater than the total income claimed on the rather different returns the borrowers filed with the IRS, some of which showed income low enough to qualify for the EIC. The loans were all in the $200,000 to $400,000 range, and at that time required a monthly payment of approximately $3,000.
From a nationwide perspective, immigration will produce major enforcement problems. Americans traditionally evade about ten percent of the taxes they owe, but millions of newcomers will eventually give us Third-World rates of evasion. Even a high-grade country like Chile has an evasion rate of about 30 percent. El Salvador, where I live, collects only about half the taxes due. If El Salvador could collect at the Chilean rate — 70 percent — it would not have to borrow a dime on the world markets, and would need no foreign aid.
The United States has a perfectly adequate native-born, white-collar criminal class. We do not need to import another.
Mr. McClaren lives in San Salvador, where he is director of the Alliance for the American Union.
In Praise of Arthur Jensen
A well-deserved tribute to a great scientist.
Helmuth Nyborg, Editor, The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen, Pergamon, 2003, 642 pp., $125.00.
Arthur Jensen, professor emeritus of educational psychology at U.C. Berkeley, is one of the great scientists of our time. No one has played a larger role in rescuing the study of intelligence from radical environmentalism. No one has so patiently and carefully studied the most unpopular and maligned subjects in psychology: the biological bases of intelligence and the question of racial differences. And no one else has advanced the field as he has, nor suffered as much for doing so. If Prof. Jensen had made equal contributions to any less controversial field, he would long ago have been honored as one America’s most prominent thinkers.
However, even if the wider society continues to ignore or revile him, Prof. Jensen’s professional colleagues have begun to recognize his remarkable contributions. A special issue of the journal Intelligence, dated November 3, 1998, collected a number of articles under the title “A King Among Men: Arthur Jensen.” Fellow scientists like Philippe Rushton, Linda Gottfredson, Sandra Scarr, and Thomas J. Bouchard wrote sometimes moving tributes to a man who is sure to take his place with men like Francis Galton and Charles Spearmen as a giant in his field.
Some of the same authors have returned for a new volume in honor of Prof. Jensen edited by Helmuth Nyborg of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. This is a massive work of more than 600 pages, which amounts to both a tribute to a great man and a summary of our current knowledge about intelligence.
Many of the 31 contributors start by noting the qualities that make Prof. Jensen such an outstanding scientist. They admire his ability to spot the slightest flaw in research methods, and his overwhelming commitment to data. Preconceptions, preferences, even his own positions mean nothing to him if the data do not support them. As Sandra Scarr has said, “For him, impressions and feelings are not data and have no place in psychology.”
Prof. Nyborg writes that Prof. Jensen will eagerly analyze good data with a completely open mind even if it contradicts his own theories. Integrity of this kind is rare in any field, and has undoubtedly been crucial to his ability to maintain the respect of his profession while he undermined the fundamental convictions of most of its members.
The common scientific point of departure for the authors in this book is g, or the general factor for intelligence. Prof. Jensen’s work on g is probably the most significant of the many areas in which he has made important contributions.
It is now widely recognized in the field of mental testing that there is a human mental capacity known as g that is the basis for essentially everything we describe as intelligence. There are many specialized mental skills but g can be thought of as the common power source that drives them. g can not now be measured directly, but it can be calculated statistically from results of a battery of tests. All valid intelligence tests therefore test some aspect of g, and some come closer to measuring it directly than others. The extent to which a test’s results are close to those calculated from an entire battery of tests is called a test’s g loading.
People have different combinations of mental abilities, but because all of them are powered by g, people who are good at solving one kind of mental problem are usually good at others. With some exceptions and much variation, people who are good at working out word analogies are likely to be good at math, reading comprehension, geometry, spatial relations, and even such things as business or car mechanics. We are only just beginning to understand the brain functions that constitute g and to find the genes needed for them. Prof. Jensen himself describes molecular genetics and brain physiology as the new frontier for intelligence research.
A vast, wide-ranging volume
It would not be practical to critique or even mention all the articles in this vast and wide-ranging volume. They are organized by subject, such as “The Biology of g” or “The Demography of g,” and this review will only touch on a few highlights.
The search for the underlying biology of g has begun, but persistent public ignorance about the nature of intelligence means there is practically no funding for it. Richard Haier of U.C. Irvine points out that research on schizophrenia finally established that the disorder has a strong genetic component. Government and drug company funding promptly shifted to a search for the underlying physiology of schizophrenia in the hope of finding a cure. People who had theorized that “the cold mother” could cause the disease were out of a job.
Prof. Haier notes there has been no such shift in intelligence research. There are still plenty of well-funded proponents of “institutional racism” as the cause of low black IQ, despite the fact that a biological understanding of g has vastly more potential applications than an understanding of schizophrenia. It may some day be possible to cure mental retardation and stop the decline of intelligence in old age, but society will first have to get over the idea that the main influence on IQ is household income.
At this point our knowledge is very crude. We know, for example, that brain size has something to do with intelligence, but a size/IQ correlation of only 0.35 means there are other physiological functions that also explain differences in intelligence. Matching blacks and whites for intelligence produces matching brain sizes, but matching blacks and whites for brain size alone does not produce a match in IQ — the whites are still somewhat smarter. A certain level of brain size is necessary for high intelligence but it is not sufficient.
Since the appearance of this book, Prof. Haier has reported elsewhere that variations in the amount of gray matter — as opposed to white matter — in particular locations of the brain appear to be related to intelligence, but that these locations vary as a person matures. For young adults, a greater accumulation of gray matter in the temporal areas is associated with high intelligence; for middle-aged people, the frontal and parietal regions are more important. Dr. Haier is now looking into sex differences in these patterns.
In any case, size is clearly not all that matters. By age six, a child already has a brain that is 92 percent of its final adult size. The increase in mental ability after age six is therefore not greatly dependent on adding brain mass, but no one understands the changes that are taking place in the brain that make a person smarter as he matures.
Efficiency in the brain’s use of its primary fuel, glucose, appears to be one factor. Smart people’s brains use less glucose than dim people’s brains. Also, people use more glucose when they first try something mentally challenging than after they have had a lot of practice — and the reduction in glucose requirements after practice is greater for smart people. People with mental retardation or Down’s Syndrome seem to consume about 30 percent more glucose than normal people.
What is called “inspection time” is also a direct indicator of intelligence. People cannot make out an image flashed on a screen for just a millisecond or two, but as flashes get longer they begin to see the image. Scientists learned as early as 1976 that bright people see the images sooner than dim people — they need less “inspection time.” The correlation with intelligence is -0.5, and seems to reflect basic efficiency of neural processing that is related to intelligence.
The genes for intelligence have been very hard to find. The causes of single gene disorders are usually easy to find; if someone has (or doesn’t have) a particular expression of a gene, he has the disease. Intelligence seems to depend on accumulations and combination of many genes, each of which contributes only a little. This makes it hard to find stark genetic differences between smart and not-so-smart people.
Some day, the genes will be found and the biology of intelligence will be understood, and that day will bring far more benefits than “social programs” ever did. As Prof. Haier explains:
“[A] prevalent assumption underlying the (artificial) nature versus nurture debate was that something caused mostly by environment could be changed relatively easily, whereas something caused mostly by genes was essentially immutable. As we enter the 21st Century, just the opposite may be true. We are becoming quite expert at changing biology and genes; we still don’t improve environments with much precision of positive outcome. To the extent that low intelligence is genetic/biological, the prospects are increasing that neuroscience-based manipulations over the next decades may promise improvement where environmental-based manipulations have so far proved mostly unsuccessful.”
Although students of intelligence tend to be interested in high IQs, there is much to be learned at the low end, too. For example, there is a normal distribution of intelligence that takes the shape of the standard bell curve. However, at the very lowest levels are people who suffer from genetic diseases or who have had physical brain damage. Their plight is not the result of normal distribution, and this group forms a small hillock at the left-most end of the declining curve. Whites with IQs in the 60 and 70 range tend to suffer from conditions of this kind because the standard distribution of intelligence among whites does not often result in IQs this low. They tend to be obviously abnormal in appearance and behavior. Blacks, on the other hand, are much more likely to have IQs in this range simply because of standard distribution, and therefore do not appear or act obviously defective.
Another interesting finding is that people with low IQs tend to perform consistently on intelligence tests, whereas intelligent people get scores that vary — up and down — over time. This is probably related to the fact that people with high levels of g also tend to have greater variety in specialized mental skills. Low g people do not have this variety — except for the notable exception of savants, who may have striking musical or mathematical abilities despite low general intelligence.
The Demographics of g
Liberals seem better able to accept genetic causes for individual rather than group differences in g. If g were distributed equally across different groups — in particular, if blacks were as smart as whites — genetic explanations would triumph easily. Because of the intense hostility to racial differences, there is reluctance even to admit they exist, much less discuss their origins.
That there are differences, however, cannot be doubted. As Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster explains, different nations have different average levels of IQ that reflect their ethnic makeup. The lowest average IQs are found among the Australian Aborigines, with scores of about 71, and among sub-Saharan Africans, with scores of about 69. The highest average IQs — in the 103 to 106 range — are in northern Europe and especially Asia. Probably because of the effects of Communism, average IQs in Russia and East Europe appear to be in the mid-90s, though the data are bad because the Communists banned intelligence research. In some of the most primitive countries, notably in Africa, IQ studies of school children may be unreliable because many children do not know their ages. Because IQ rises during childhood, correct results require accurate age data.
Prof. Lynn notes that the association between race and IQ is so strong, it is possible to make accurate predictions of average national IQ on the basis of ethnic mix alone. He points out there is no environmental explanation that accounts for such consistent results.
Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario goes further into the evidence for the biological basis of race differences. Prof. Jensen, he points out, was among the first to write about the significance of life history differences between races — that blacks mature more rapidly than whites, and that they have higher rates of non-identical twinning. It was these and other observations about racial differences that gave rise to Prof. Rushton’s own ground-breaking work on r-K theory.
Prof. Rushton also emphasizes the importance of the link between inbreeding depression and black/white differences in test scores. The children of marriages between close relatives tend to have lower-than-normal intelligence; this is a recognized genetic phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. Performance is not, however, depressed equally on all intelligence tests, and as it happens it declines most on those tests for which the black/white gap is greatest. This is hardly to be expected if the black/white gap is caused by environmental effects, but entirely consistent with the view that there is a substantial genetic contribution to racial differences in intelligence. As Prof. Rushton observes, inbreeding depression data from as far away as Japan can be used to predict the tests on which whites outperform blacks by the largest margin — a connection disbelievers in genetics are unable to explain.
Regression towards the mean provides further evidence. The general tendency in sexual reproduction is for parents with extreme characteristics to have children who are beyond the average in those characteristics but not as extreme as the parents. Very tall people are likely to have children who are tall but not as tall as themselves. There is a tendency to regress to the mean or average height.
The same is true with intelligence, except that black children regress to a mean of 85 while whites regress to a mean of 100. This explains why children of successful, high-income blacks do not do nearly as well as their parents. The SAT scores of black children who come from households with incomes of $70,000 or more are lower than the scores of white (and Asian) children from households with incomes of $20,000 or less. The black parents may have high IQs but their children tend to be pulled down by the low racial mean to which they regress.
Matching black and white children with unusually high IQs produces evidence for the same phenomenon. In general, if researchers find a child with a very high IQ, his brothers and sisters will turn out to have lower IQs. Genetic combinations that produce very high IQs are uncommon, and the IQs of other members of the family tend to decline toward the mean. The siblings of very high-IQ blacks, however, have lower average IQs that those of very smart whites. When blacks and whites are matched at IQs of 120, the black siblings have an average score of 100 whereas the white siblings have an average of 110. In both cases, the siblings are above average for their race, but the blacks are pulled back towards a lower average. There is the same tendency at quite low IQ levels. When white and black children are matched for IQs of 75, the whites’ siblings have higher IQs than the blacks’ siblings.
Another argument for a genetic component to the black/white difference is the effect of miscegenation. For people of mixed race, more white genes correlate with larger brains and higher IQs.
In one of the most interesting chapters in the book, Helmuth Nyborg respectfully dissents from one of Prof. Jensen’s important findings in The g Factor: that men and women have the same IQ distributions. Prof. Jensen conceded that the question of sex differences in IQ is “technically the most difficult to answer … the least investigated, the least written about, and indeed, even the least often asked,” but concluded there are no sex differences in either average or standard deviation.
Prof. Nyborg points out some of the difficulties in studying the question. First, IQ tests, in particular the popular Wechsler test, are designed deliberately to give sex-neutral results. It is well known that men do better at mathematical/spatial problems and women at verbal problems, so the mix is carefully balanced to give equal results. Also, because girls develop more rapidly in intelligence than boys, data from child testing gives artificially high results for girls and are not valid for the population at large. Prof. Nyborg concludes that there is a male advantage in average IQ of perhaps four to six points, but that it does not appear until puberty. He speculates that the brain may change in important ways at that time, just as the body changes.
Prof. Nyborg also finds that the standard distributions of intelligence differ by sex, with women clustered nearer the average and men spread out towards both high and low IQs (see graph below). This means there are proportionately more male retardates. However, since the male average is four to six points greater than for women — the entire curve for men is pushed to the right — the real disparity in numbers is among the very intelligent, with men outnumbering women 120 to one at IQs of three standard distributions above the average (IQs of 145).
Proportions of this kind would explain male dominance in almost all fields, especially in mathematics, chess and physics. Likewise, female verbal ability would explain the large number of female writers. Prof. Nyborg is well aware of the resistance to his findings but argues that “the study of sex differences in general ability has long been hampered by ideology run amok.”
Prof. Nyborg also finds that high levels of testosterone boost IQ in women but depress it in men. He suggests that as far as intelligence is concerned, it would be useful to have at least four sex categories, not just two. He concludes that mannish, high-testosterone women and effeminate, low-testosterone men tend have the highest IQs, whereas macho men and effeminate women tend to be less intelligent.
Life as an IQ test
Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware is well known for her work on the relationship between IQ and how we live our lives. As she points out, a low IQ is associated with many things we want to avoid: crime, welfare, illegitimacy, and poverty. She writes that even the likelihood of dying in an automobile accident steadily increases three-fold as IQ declines from 115 to 80. Likewise, a certain level of intelligence is required to understand how disease affects the body or to figure out what dose of medicine to take. As Prof. Gottfredson explains, small mistakes add up: “g exerts its major effects on life outcomes largely by consistently tilting the odds of success and failure in the smaller events that eventuate in the more consequential outcomes.”
g is also the best single predictor by far of job performance. The more complicated and demanding the job, the more important it is to be smart; specialized knowledge or experience can be a leg up at first, but long-term success takes brains. The most respected, best-paid jobs are the ones that require the most intelligence, but high g is valuable even for menial jobs. A smart dishwasher works more consistently and responsibly than a stupid one. Conscientiousness is another measurable trait that predicts job performance but not nearly as well as general intelligence.
Specialized job tests — if they have any validity at all — show different pass rates for different groups. Prof. Rushton cites a Dutch “safety aptitude” test used to hire such people as locomotive engineers and bus drivers. Different ethnic groups scored in the same rank order on this test of motor coordination and concentration as they would have on an IQ test. Many people put great faith in specialized evaluations, but experts know that general intelligence is easier to test and usually gives more reliable results.
Lee Ellis of Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota, and Anthony Walsh of Boise State University in Idaho have contributed a very interesting chapter on the connection between IQ and crime. They refine the well-known association of criminality and low IQ by pointing out that criminals have a marked disadvantage in verbal rather than spatial/mathematical IQ, in which they may even be above average. Verbal IQ is what it usually takes to succeed in life by ordinary means — outside of specialized, math-oriented professions — so it is not surprising that the smash-and-grab mentality arises in its absence.
The two authors also refute the view that jails are filled with dummies only because the smart criminals don’t get caught. First, low IQ scores are very often found in aggressive, problem children, and they are the ones most likely to become criminals. Criminals are usually the least intelligent members of their families. Also, when researchers ask people to describe their own law-breaking, the ones with the most to tell fit the jail bird mental profile. Finally, if a researcher gives IQ tests to criminals about to be released, the scores are not a good predictor of recidivism. The smarter ones are just as likely to end up back in jail as the dim ones.
One theory about crime is that it is a battle between brain hemispheres. If someone’s left hemisphere, which handles language and moral reasoning, is unable to control the impulses of his more gratification-oriented right hemisphere he commits crime. An inability to control the right hemisphere seems to be linked to testosterone, which would help explain why men are more likely than women to be criminals. Blacks have higher testosterone levels than whites, and are vastly overrepresented among criminals.
It is now well established that money does not raise IQ. Children reared with all the social advantages show some gains in IQ compared to children without them, but these differences fade by early adulthood, when people choose their own environments, and the genetics of intelligence predominates. This is a well-established truth that liberals refuse to accept. They are happy to agree that people who don’t have “basic skills” will not get ahead, but they deny that illiteracy, for example, is a reflection of low g. For them, it must be caused by “oppression” or “racism.”
The volume ends with testimonials from Prof. Jensen’s former students, who praise his patience and his ability to explain complicated ideas. Helmuth Nyborg also offers a concluding chapter on what he calls the “collective fraud” of an academic establishment that will not face the evidence on intelligence. This is not merely an academic matter for, as he points out, “Policies for a make-believe world are doomed to failure.” Our social programs are like trying to go to the moon without understanding gravity or inertia.
Prof. Nyborg writes that Prof. Jensen’s brushes with mob violence remind him of Voltaire’s observation that “it is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Prof. Nyborg is confident that good sense will eventually prevail but quotes Max Planck: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Unfortunately, the generation now in school seems no better informed about intelligence than the generation of the 1960s.
This is an excellent and timely tribute to Arthur Jensen. Unfortunately, its staggering price — $125.00 — means practically no one buys it. Pergamon Press, like Praeger, which has published Richard Lynn, Michael Levin, and Prof. Jensen himself, seems to specialize in publishing important books and ensuring they go nowhere. A lower price and better marketing would have been as much a tribute to Prof. Jensen as the book itself.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
The most flamboyant congressional candidate this year is the black conservative Vernon Robinson, a Winston-Salem city councilman seeking the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s Fifth District. He was the top vote-getter in the first round of the Republican primary on July 20, and now is in a run-off with Virginia Foxx, who came in second. The runoff was to be held on August 17.
Campaigning under the slogan “Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he’s black!” Mr. Robinson grabbed voters’ attention through publicity stunts and free-wheeling attack ads on opponents. On January 19, as a protest against the ousting of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Mr. Robinson put a one-ton granite block with the Ten Commandments on one side and the Bill of Rights on the other on the walkway outside the Winston-Salem city hall. He also accused his competitors of endorsing special rights for homosexuals and of consorting with homosexuals. One of his ads attacked candidate Jay Helvey, a trustee of Wake Forest University, for failing to protest a “commitment ceremony” by two lesbians on the university campus. In a campaign phone message, Mr. Robinson attributed Mr. Helvey’s disagreement with him on tax law to the influence of homosexuals, pointing out that Mr. Helvey’s pollster is Arthur Finkelstein, a New York City “out-of-the-closet homosexual who has adopted children with his live-in lover.”
On matters of race, Mr. Robinson is just as mordant. He is a fervent opponent of racial preferences and victim politicking and has said, “The only thing that I have in common with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson is a good tan!” He approvingly quoted Bill Cosby in one of his ads: “Black hoodlums need to stop stealing and start getting jobs. Black mothers need to stop having eight babies by seven different fathers. Stop talking street jive like ‘Yo Dog! Peep my bling-bling!’”
Mr. Robinson blasts illegal immigration in radio ads that compare immigrant-occupied America to an episode of the classic television series “The Twilight Zone.” The famous theme-music from the program is the background to the following message:
The aliens are here, but they didn’t come in a spaceship. They came across our unguarded Mexican border by the millions.
They’ve filled our criminal courtrooms and invaded our schools. They sponge off the American taxpayer by clogging our welfare lines and our hospital emergency rooms. They’ve even taken over the DMV. These aliens commit heinous crimes against us, like Maximiliano Esparza, who raped a nun and strangled her with her own rosary.
They commit crimes but won’t commit to learn our language. You walk into a McDonald’s restaurant to order a Big Mac and find to your horror that the employees don’t speak English. You may be in the heart of America, but you feel as though you are in the Twilight Zone.
Vernon Robinson will secure our borders, cut off the welfare payments and once and for all make English our official language. Press one for English? No. Vote Vernon Robinson for English.
Yo, Gringo! Este episodio de Twilight Zone era pagado para Robinson por congreso.
These tactics work. A Winston-Salem Journal poll shows Mr. Robinson leading Mrs. Foxx 57 percent to 31 percent.
Mr. Robinson has ruffled a few feathers. Former vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp initially endorsed him, but then backed off because, in his view, Mr. Robinson was “running a very negative and aggressive anti-immigration campaign . . . contrary to the core values of the party of Lincoln.”
Over all, there has been surprisingly little outcry over Mr. Robinson’s campaign; being black has probably helped. However, his success ought to show American politicians that voters respond to direct, unapologetic condemnation of racial preferences and open borders. [Patrick Buchanan, No Nationalists on Jack’s ‘Shining Hill,’ WorldNetDaily.com, July 19, 2004. Theo Helm, Vernon Robinson: Conservative is Known For His Feather-ruffling Style, Winston-Salem Journal, July 16, 2004. Bill Cosby’s Tough Love Lesson — ”Don’t Blame It On Whitey,” The Twilight Zone — The Aliens Are Here, RobinsonforCongress.com.]
A reader has sent us a flyer promoting a meeting to be held in Oakland, California, by a group calling itself the African People’s Solidarity Committee. “Is the SF Bay area . . . for whites only?” the flyer asks. The speakers, including the leader of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the West Coast representative of the African People’s Socialist Party, and someone named only Quetzaocelocuia, who leads the Barrio Defense Committee, were to discuss “ethnic cleansing (a.k.a. ‘gentrification’).”
The back side of the flyer notes: “As across the US, the African communities of the Bay Area face ethnic cleansing through an imposed drug economy and police containment, sending black people to the prisons and the grave as the white people are able to move into their neighborhoods. Let’s take a stand from the white community to support economic development and an end to the war in the African community!” Organizers were asking for a donation of anywhere from $5.00 to $25.00.
Regrettably, no one from the AR office was able to attend the June 29 meeting, nor were we able to find any reports of its proceedings.
A 1998 survey by the Department of Transportation on attitudes towards wearing seat belts reveals racial differences in rationality of risk assessment, conformism, and fatalism. Thirty-five percent of whites, but 49 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics answered that seat belts are as likely to harm as to help you. Both blacks and Hispanics were more than twice as likely as whites say that putting on a seat belt made them worry more about being in a crash, and to believe that a crash close to home would not be as serious as one farther away. Only 13 percent of whites would feel self-conscious about wearing a seat belt if their friends did not, but 25 percent of blacks and 44 percent of Hispanics would. Non-whites were also more likely to believe that whether you wear a seat belt or not does not matter because if it is your time to die, you will die. [US Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: Volume 2, Seat Belt Report, March 2000.]
Blacks also have curious beliefs about the platforms of American political parties. Despite Republican efforts to appeal to black voters, pollster Kellyanne Conway has found blacks do not understand even the most basic positions of the Republican Party. Seventy-five percent of blacks thought the Democratic Party was more likely to lower taxes than the Republicans; 62 percent said Democrats were more likely to “reduce terrorism by strengthening the national defense;” and 69 percent said Democrats were more likely than the GOP to “protect the rights of the unborn.” [Jason L. Riley, Dems Score With Blacks as GOP Forfeits the Game, WSJ OpinionJournal.com, July 30, 2004.]
Moreover, despite the fact that rumors of black disenfranchisement in the Florida elections have been demonstrated to be groundless, blacks still think whites are working to prevent them from voting and to prevent accurate tabulation of their votes. In a poll conducted by Black Entertainment Television and CBS, 68 percent of blacks agreed when asked if there were deliberate attempts to prevent them from voting. Only 41 percent were confident their votes would be counted; 39 percent said they had some confidence, and 17 percent said they had none at all. Forty-one percent believed their votes would be less likely to be counted than those of whites. [BET/CBS News Poll of African Americans Finds Mistrust, Disenfranchisement Heading Into Elections, PR Newswire, July 21, 2004.]
When she worked as a waitress at a high-toned coffeehouse in Washington, DC, Andrea Carter, who is black, says her white customers seemed to think they were special. “I didn’t want to make them feel special,” she says, and in the spring of 2003, she decided to wear a homemade T-shirt to work that said “Uppity Negro” on it. Before she could wear it, she says, she was fired for talking back to white customers.
She then decided to print up and sell “Uppity Negro” and “Uppity Negress” T-shirts, hats and other merchandise, including coffee mugs and tote bags. She started a website, uppitynegro.com, in December 2003 to promote the stuff, and traveled to black colleges and events to sell it. Sales picked up, and before long, black celebrities like film director Spike Lee and comedian Dave Chappelle were wearing her T-shirts. Members of Al Sharpton’s campaign staff also wore them.
Miss Carter is pleased that her “Uppity Negro” line took off, but worries that it may become trendy and be co-opted by whites. She will not sell to whites unless the things they buy are intended as gifts for black friends, or if she thinks a particular white person can appreciate what she is trying to do. It’s not only a clothing line, she explains, but a movement — ”a sense of pride” — that only blacks can truly understand. She says she hates whites like a woman in Atlanta who thought her shirt was just “the cutest thing ever.”
“Uppity Negro” gear sold so well that Miss Carter could not keep up with orders, and in June she decided not to restock until she gets help running the business. “I’m not ending it,” she explains, “but I can’t go on any longer. It’s moving too fast for me.” She says she worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week filling orders, and that in February she was hospitalized with an ulcer. Investors would help, but Miss Carter is choosy. She says she turned down a “well-meaning” white businessman, telling him, “I can’t let you profit on the backs of blacks, especially considering blacks were killed for being uppity negroes.” [Mike DeBonis, Co-Opt City: A Woman Struggles to Keep Uppity Negro Away from Ironic Caucasians, Washington (DC) City Paper, June 11, 2004, p. 11.]
What’s in a Name?
In 1905, a road in Jefferson County, Texas, near Beaumont was named Jap Road, after a Japanese immigrant named Yasuo Mayumi who stared a rice farm in the area. Japanese-Americans have tried to get the name changed but without success. This year, after an unrelated racial discrimination complaint threatened some of the county’s federal money, the Jefferson County Commission decided to improve its image by renaming Jap Road. On July 19, it held a public meeting that brought out more than 150 people, including representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and the Japanese-American Citizens League. They all insisted ‘Jap’ was an embarrassment, and the ADL presented a petition with 4,300 signatures supporting a change.
Residents liked the name. Donnie Harvey, who has lived on Jap Road for 32 years, said, “Losing Jap Road would be like losing a part of who we are.” Another resident, Jimmy Norton, said, “I am very offended by the claim I am a racist and a bigot because I am trying to preserve history.”
After hearing both sides, the commission voted four to one to change the name, and appointed a committee to come up with new names and let the residents vote on them. The Japanese-American Citizens League proposed Mayumi Road. The residents didn’t like Mayumi Road or any of the other choices. The wining name was Boondocks Road — a write-in — in honor of the Boondocks Catfish House, a restaurant that used to be on the road, but closed 10 years ago.
“Everyone in this area, even newcomers that haven’t ever been to the Boondocks, have heard of the Boondocks,” says Wayne Wright, who supported the new name. He added that residents didn’t like Mayumi Road because many could not pronounce it. The Japanese-American Citizens League is miffed that residents didn’t like Mayumi, but Mr. Wright is not apologizing for Boondocks, which may well have been a slap at the Japanese. “They [Japanese Americans] pounded on us for 11 years. I hope they learned something from it,” he says. [Pam Easton, Texas County Votes to Change ‘Jap Road,’ AP, July 19, 2004. Wendy Grossman, ‘Jap Road’ to Be Renamed ‘Boondocks Road,’ Reuters, July 29, 2004.]
A gang of overweight black women shoplifters has been cleaning out stores in Durban, South Africa. According to Inspector Michael Read, “The modus operandi is that some of them pick a mock fight or cause a commotion while the others fill oversized bags with clothes. They usually target clothes shops and cosmetic outlets and then sell them to streetside vendors at cheap prices.” “Size,” he adds, “is a factor in that they use it to intimidate the staff.” Inspector Read says several arrests have been made, but some of the women are still at large. [Fat Shoplifters on the Rampage, AFP, July 29, 2004.]
Tonya Jameson is a black newspaper columnist who has some advice for whites: Stand up for yourselves. Miss Jameson believes the film “White Chicks,” in which two blacks impersonate white women, perpetuates demeaning racial stereotypes: White people are timid and can’t dance, and white women are stupid and promiscuous.
“Blacks still face cultural stereotypes in entertainment, but picking on whites is annoyingly pervasive in entertainment geared toward African Americans,” she writes. “Too many young black comedians rely on the same stale white-people jokes.”
Miss Jameson thinks the negative portrayal of whites in the media keeps white children from developing positive feelings about their race. She says she used to work at a summer camp where children were separated into racial groups to “define their culture, identify what makes them proud, and create a performance that illustrates pride in their ethnicity.” Each year, the whites had trouble defining their culture and thinking of reasons to be proud.
She writes that the silence from whites “regarding television shows, movies, comedians and music that belittle white culture sends a subversive message to Caucasian kids that they shouldn’t speak up when their ethnicity is being insulted. I want white children to take as much pride in their culture as I take in mine.”
She thinks whites should create an organization similar to the NAACP, which would complain to the media about offensive images of whites — as long as it treads softly. “About the only groups speaking up for whites are white supremacists,” she writes, “and their credibility is, well, you know, zero.” [Tonya Jameson, Why Don’t White People Mind Being Stereotyped?, Charlotte Observer, July 25, 2004, p. 1H.]
Puerto Rico is in the midst of a crime wave that has claimed the lives of 445 people so far this year, giving it a murder rate three times the national average. Officials on the island say the cause is a drug war between different groups of South American drug traffickers that smuggle cocaine and heroine through Puerto Rico on their way to the US. After a bloody July weekend in which at least five people — including a policeman — were gunned down, Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon has promised to call out the National Guard. Five hundred soldiers will patrol neighborhoods in at least four of the island’s cities, including the capital, San Juan. Their role could be expanded if crime rates keep going up.
This is not the first time Puerto Rico has called out the Guard to fight crime. In the 1990s, former governor Pedro Rossello ordered National Guardsmen to occupy crime-ridden public housing projects. The soldiers kept crime down, but some residents didn’t like their mano duro (hard-handed) approach.
Officers are making sure the Guardsmen understand the rules of engagement, and say they won’t be authorized to carry handcuffs or make arrests. “We will not be the lead agency,” says Major Millie Rosa. “Our role in this mission will be to support the police.”
Residents of housing projects — where broad-daylight shootings are commonplace — are split over the Guard. Manuel Feliciano, 78, wants the soldiers back. “There’s a lot of elderly who have been victimized,” he says. “If you’re old, you can’t go in some areas of this place.” Angel Gonzalez, 23 and unemployed, disagrees, saying, “The police won’t let you go anywhere. It’s like they want everyone to stay in the house, and when the National Guard gets here it’s going to be worse.”
The criminals do not appear to care either way. The day after the governor made the announcement, gunmen killed three people in a drive-by shooting in San Juan. (See “The Threat of Puerto Rican Statehood,” AR, March 1998.) [Matthew Hay Brown and Ray Quintanilla, Puerto Rico Calls in National Guard, Orlando Sentinel, July 20, 2004, p. A1.]
Whites Expose a Sham
American financial institutions see a potential for profit in the influx of immigrants into the United States; one profitable market immigrants offer financial institutions is money-wiring. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates Mexican and Latin American immigrants send $30 billion a year to their home countries every year. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that Mexican immigrants alone sent $13.3 billion home in 2003. Western Union, which handled 32 percent of Hispanic immigrants’ remittances in 2003, is the leader in this market, but Bank of America and Citizens Financial Group have rolled out competing services. To advertise its money-wiring service, Bank of America sponsored a Mexican music concert in Phoenix, Arizona, called “Banco Musical.” Citizens advertises its money-wiring services in churches, community organizations, and schools.
First Data Corporation, the parent company of Western Union, has done the most to appeal to immigrants. This year it set up a $10 million fund to promote more liberal immigration policies. On July 22, it sponsored an immigration reform panel at a Denver high school. All of the panelists were Hispanic, and all of them want more immigration. Many were representatives of groups like MALDEF, the Latino Coalition, and the Instituto del Progeso Latino. Two of the panelists had formerly been illegal aliens. One of these, Juan Salgado declared, “I was taught that this is God’s land and no one is illegal on God’s land.” Another speaker said that the recent Border Patrol sweeps for illegal aliens in California are “inconsistent with our values . . . I believe it is critical that comprehensive immigration reform includes a national principle of non-discrimination against people on the basis of immigration status.” First Data did not invite any of Colorado’s respected immigration reformers, like Rep. Tom Tancredo and former governor Richard Lamm. After the panel, Fred Elbel, director of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform stated, “It was nothing but a racist, open-borders sham, conducted in the name of corporate greed.”
While the opinion of the panelists was uniform, that of the audience was not. A number of immigration restrictionists attended the event, and some heckled the speakers. Minutes into the event, one audience member demanded that the panelists recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the panel speakers began. The hecklers also accused the panelists of “bashing whites” and told them to “go home.” A fight even broke out: police arrested a Hispanic woman after she hit one of the hecklers.
At the end of the event, 30 audience members lined up to ask questions. After three of them challenged the panelists’ views, the moderator allowed no more questions and ended the event. [Sasha Talcott, Banks Seek to Cash in on Money Wiring, Boston Globe, June 28, 2004. First Data/Western Union and Latino Advocacy Organizations Call For Action on Immigration Reform, First Data Corp. press release, March 3, 2004. $30 Billion in Remittances Sent Home by Immigrants Only a Small Piece of the Cost of Mass Immigration, Federation for American Immigration Reform, fairus.org, May 17, 2004. Michael Riley, Heckling, Fistfight Mar Forum On Immigration, Denver Post, July 23, 2004. First Data Immigration Reform Panel in Denver, Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, July 22, 2004.]
Silence not Golden
In April, Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, hosted the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government, an event that drew 1,000 participants but failed to get a write up in the university paper, the Collegian. The Black Student Union was outraged at what they took to be a racist slight, and demanded the head of the newspaper’s faculty adviser, Prof. Ron Johnson. On May 10, the director of the journalism school duly removed Prof. Johnson from the position he had held since 1989.
Collegian editor Katie Lane says the staff is “shell-shocked” by the decision, which she describes as “unwarranted” since it is the students who run the paper, and who decided not to cover the black conference. Miss Lane has been suitably intimidated, however. She says diversity training will begin immediately for the staff, and the paper will be sure to cover diversity in the future. [K-State Reassigns Adviser of Student-run Newspaper, Wichita Eagle, May 11, 2004.]
Theater of the Absurd
Black playwright Cassandra Medley has written a new play she hopes will convince San Francisco theatergoers that any belief in the scientific reality of race is evil and racist. The lead character in “Relativity” is a young, Harvard-educated black scientist named Kalima Davis, who is doing post-doctorate genetic research at Johns Hopkins University. Her father founded a research institute called the Melanin Project, which promotes the idea that blacks and other races with high levels of melanin in their skin are superior to whites. She is in a dither because she wants to honor her father and believes in paying whites back for centuries of “white scientific racism,” but — oddly enough — she is romancing a white scientist and knows that the latest scientific evidence “proves race is scientifically meaningless.” She must choose between her mother, also a black scientist who promotes melanin theory, and her mentor, the black woman who runs the genetic research project at Hopkins and who rejects race. One reviewer calls the play “compelling” and “riveting,” but notes that those “conversant with the latest research may quibble with some of the science . . .”
“The idea of reverse-racist-superiority concepts evolving within socially oppressed, historically enslaved societies and cultures — black Americans in the case of ‘Relativity’ — is fascinating to me,” explains Miss Medley. She says she wrote the play to explore “the question of how a melanin theorist might respond to the most recent genetic research on DNA and the mapping of the human genome, while sincerely maintaining his or her ideological position.” [Robert Hurwitt, Mother and Daughter Face Off in a Scientific Debate About the Significance of Race in Magic Premiere, Chronicle (San Francisco), May 10, 2004, p. E1. Molly Rhodes, Magic Theatre website.]
Pot and Kettle
Skin-color bias claims are an increasingly active field of anti-discrimination law. Color discrimination is different from racial discrimination in that both parties of a color discrimination complaint are of the same race. An example is the case of Dwight Burch, a dark-skinned waiter at an Applebee’s restaurant in Atlanta, who sued his light-skinned black employer for making offensive and embarrassing comments about his color. In 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found in Mr. Burch’s favor and awarded him a $40,000 settlement. As part of the settlement, Applebee’s must now offer anti-discrimination training to its employees. In a case in New York, a black employee brought a lawsuit against her black employer for calling her a “white wannabe.”
No fewer than 1,382 skin-color bias lawsuits were filed with the EEOC in 2002 and 1,555 in 2003. This is up from 413 in 1994. Although blacks file most of these claims, American Indians and Arabs have also sued each other for skin-tone discrimination. Usually, it is the dark-skinned who claim discrimination by the light-skinned.
Color bias is still a minor field in corporate anti-discrimination law, making up only two percent of the discrimination claims filed with the EEOC in 2002. One reason is that it is hard to sue a company, as opposed to an individual. Employers do not (yet) have to keep records of the skin tones of their employees, so it is hard to claim discrimination in hiring and promotions. [Jackson Lewis Law Firm Press Release, Skin Color Bias Is Growing as a Basis for Discrimination Claims, April 7, 2004. EEOC Press Release, EEOC Settles Color Harassment Lawsuit With Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill, August 7, 2003.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — Once again, I read with great interest the accounts by AR readers of how they became aware of race. What strikes me, however, is how often people kept their liberal illusions until there was some kind of violent encounter with blacks. This must mean that prevailing myths are too firmly battered into our minds for mere argument to break them down. Many people need a dramatic, non-logical experience before they see the light.
It is understandable that this should open someone’s eyes. However, if this is what it takes, it will be a long time before there are very many of us. This is not yet South Africa, and most of us have not yet been mugged or raped.
I am more encouraged by the accounts of people who have not suffered violence, whose ordinary experiences were enough to disabuse them. It may be that at this point in history, school integration is a good thing for our people, because it brings them into contact with blacks at an impressionable and even rebellious age. Unlike what the liberals keep telling us, contact with blacks does not reduce “prejudice.” It teaches us there are real differences that cannot be ignored.
Steven Cornish, Roanoke, Va.
Sir — Congratulations on yet another fascinating series on how people “saw the light.” I found it interesting that in almost every account, it was blacks who tipped the balance. This makes me wonder what it would be like if there were no blacks in America — only whites, Hispanics and Asians. Would there be even less white racial consciousness than there is today?
In past generations, whites had a sense of being white, no matter what race they faced. In the western United States, for example, they were as adamant about keeping out Japanese and Chinese as they were about keeping out blacks. Now, because sensible attitudes about race are not part of what we learn naturally as we grow up, each of us has to construct his own racial consciousness. This is why we teach ourselves the simplest lessons first, beginning with blacks. The differences in behavior between blacks and whites are so striking, they penetrate even the most clouded minds. Only after blacks have taught us the basic lessons about race do we apply them to Hispanics and Asians.
I don’t doubt this is why we hear relatively little about racial trouble in Hawaii, despite the fact that it was the first state in which whites became a minority. There are few blacks in Hawaii, and most of the non-whites are Asians. The lessons of race are therefore less salient — though just as important to us in the long run.
Tom Holden, Sacramento, Calif.
Sir — I read with interest the O Tempora, O Mores! item in the July issue dealing with Patel hotels. Back in 1983, I stayed at a motel in Wichita, Kansas, owned by a Patel. In the lounge I had a chance to talk to the owner, who told me that Patel meant “innkeeper” in his native language. He said that before he immigrated to the US he had worked in the South African diamond mines, where he stole diamonds by swallowing them. When he had a good number, he would hide them inside a candle, which he mailed to his family already here. After several mailings his family had enough money to buy a motel for cash, and he was able to come over. He told me motels are largely cash businesses so he could get by with paying next to no income tax. He said his family was also buying up coffee and donut shops.
At the time, I didn’t know if he was telling the truth or spinning a yarn, but the next year when I was in Chicago, I noticed that just about every Dunkin’ Donuts shop was operated by Indians.
Perhaps many of his relatives also spent time in the diamond mines of South Africa.
Erick Jones, Bowling Green, Mo.
Sir — I find it hard to believe the assertion in last month’s anonymous letter that during the 1980 presidential debate Ronald Reagan advocated a lower minimum wage for blacks than for whites. Surely the grip of political correctness was then already so strong that any such statement would have resulted in the TV screens going blank, followed by universal uproar, and groveling but ineffectual apologies that would have been replayed for ever.
Anthony Young, London, England
Sir — I was pleased to see your August O Tempora item about the Chicago authorities who appear to be waking up to the fact that racial preferences — at least in fire departments — can kill. I hope this public effort to link affirmative action to lethal incompetence will not be washed away in howls of “racism.” Maybe it will even embolden other people to point out the obvious.
Whenever I read about something gone wrong — a badly-constructed highway overpass falls down, air traffic controllers goof and planes have a near miss, the police department forgets to change the oil in its patrol cars — I wonder if we are not seeing affirmative action in action.
Most of the time, it is impossible to know. Investigators are not looking for a racial explanation, and even if they stumble onto one, they probably hide it. However, it is a statistical inevitability that when race is a more important hiring criterion than ability, some quota-hire will make a mistake with terrible consequences. It may even happen frequently, but we just don’t know.
Andrew Collins, Royal Oak, Mich.