Posted on September 1, 1991

O Tempora, O Mores! (September, 1991)

American Renaissance, September 1991

Tale of the Tape

Nearly everyone in America has seen the videotape of white (and Hispanic) Los Angeles policemen beating Rodney King, a black motorist. Virtually no one has seen the recent videos of Detroit blacks beating white women.

Two similar incidents took place at a July 4th fireworks display. In the first, a crowd of blacks — mostly women — suddenly started beating three white women. They shouted, “Oh, look at the pretty little white girls,” and “Get the white bitch,” as they knocked all three to the ground. The whites were eventually saved by passersby, but were refused protection by the police when they asked for an escort out of the crowd. Some of the attackers then chased and taunted them as they returned to their car.

The same amateur cameraman recorded another attack, in which a 46-year-old white woman was beaten to the ground. Some of the same blacks can be identified in both attacks, and three teen-agers have been arrested.

These tapes were shown very briefly on local Detroit television, but got no national air time. We can be certain that if anyone had recorded an attack by whites on blacks, it would have gotten the full, Rodney King treatment.

Art Attack

“Art” is increasingly put to the task of attacking the very idea that there is such a thing as a core American culture. The Whitney Museum in downtown Manhattan has mounted a show called “Constructing American Identity.” As the opening paragraph of the exhibit brochure explains, “Distinctions of race, gender, and sexuality have been shown to be rooted in particular social and class practices rather than preexistent categories. The creation of a ‘mainstream’ marginalizes certain forms of cultural production and implicitly fulfills the ideological needs of dominant social powers.” The brochure goes on to praise the “multicultural approach,” and explains that the show is part of a movement “to destabilize the notion of a [cultural] mainstream.”

Of course, it is hard to change people’s minds just by showing them paintings, as this exhibit does, from American collections of 30 and 60 years ago. It is the commentary forced onto the paintings that is pure politics. As art critic Hilton Kramer has pointed out, the study of art history has been turned into a branch of the social sciences, which have always been heavily politicized.

Return of Eugenics

At one time, eugenics was in high esteem in the United States, and 30 states had laws calling for the sterilization of undesirables. A recent Los Angeles Times survey asked Californians if they thought female drug-users of child-bearing age should be forced to use the implantable contraceptive, Norplant. Sixty-one percent thought it was a good idea. Interestingly, Hispanics, at 70 percent, were more likely than either blacks or whites, at 60 percent each, to support mandatory Norplant. Even a narrow majority of people who described themselves as “liberals” favored the idea.

In 1937, a poll in Fortune magazine found that 63 percent of Americans were in favor of sterilizing habitual criminals. The American people haven’t lost their good sense; their legislators have.

African Heroin

Heroin is making its way into the United States from a new source: Africa. The trade is little known outside of law enforcement circles, because African smugglers have not been violent, and do not handle cocaine, which attracts more attention.

Customs agents note that a large proportion of smugglers use their official positions in attempts to escape detection. Billy Eko, the chief pilot of Nigeria Airways was recently arrested in New York with 10 pounds of heroin in his pockets. A purser with the same airline had five pounds tucked inside a radio.

Falling Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of American blacks has fallen for the fourth year in a row. In 1988, the most recent year for which figures are complete, life expectancy for whites was 75.6 years — the same as the year before, and 69.2 years for blacks — a decline of 0.2 years. The black decline was enough to cause overall life expectancy in the United States to fall for the first time in decades.

The main cause of the black decline was a sharp increase in homicide deaths. Blacks between the ages of 15 and 24 were seven times more likely than whites to be victims of homicide. Homicide was the leading cause of death for all blacks between the ages of 15 and 44. Virtually all blacks are killed by other blacks.

Smarter or Just More Honest?

According to a poll reported in Newsweek of August 6, 14 percent of Chicago blacks think blacks have less “inborn ability to learn than whites.” Only 9 percent of whites said they thought this. Newsweek goes on to quote experts who blame a bad black self-image on white racism.

Keeping it in the Family

If blacks prefer to do business with each other rather than let their money fall into the hands of whites, they will soon be able to consult SuccessGuide, a listing of black organizations, businesses, and services. SuccessGuide has been licensed to 14 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, and should appear shortly.

Protecting Lawbreakers

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has mounted a national campaign to tell illegal Hispanic immigrants that they are protected from job discrimination. The campaign emphasizes that the EEOC has no interest in a person’s immigration status, and welcomes complaints from anyone. It promises to keep all information secret from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The campaign includes written materials in Spanish, lectures by Spanish-speaking officials, and a toll-free telephone line manned by Spanish-speakers.

The Power of Example

David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor, ran for office with the promise that he would do more than ever for the needy. In his inaugural address, he announced to throngs gathered at City Hall that, “our most powerful weapon is example.”

Mayor Dinkins’ tax returns show that in 1990 he earned $217,219 and gave $475 to charity. $350 of this was his valuation of “clothes and household goods” that he gave to the Salvation Army. Mayor Dinkins is only conforming to the current standard of what passes for “compassion:” He is happy to do more for the needy with your money.

On the other hand, we should be pleased that Mayor Dinkins actually filled in a tax form for 1990. Some time back, he went for four straight years without bothering to file at all.

Anthropology in Brooklyn

Secretary Jack Kemp of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has decided that one of the problems with public housing is the number of low lifes who live in it and spoil things for the other tenants. He has started evicting known crack dealers as part of a plan to spruce up the projects. All was going well until he ran into Judge Jack Weinstein of Brooklyn.

The feds had found a Brooklyn grandmother living in a public housing apartment with her grown daughters and 12 grand-children. No one in the household was married and all were getting public assistance. Some of them — it hasn’t yet been proven how many — were supplementing their monthly check by selling a great deal of crack cocaine. Several have already pleaded guilty.

HUD then filed a civil suit to get the miscreants out of the apartment. A high-priced New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, offered to defend them for free, and made a novel argument that convinced Judge Weinstein. He found that this was a “matriarchal family,” of the kind that has become the norm among a certain class of Americans, and that eviction would disrupt family ties.

One can’t help wondering how Judge Weinstein — or the pro bono Sullivan & Cromwell lawyers — would like it if they learned that tenants in their apartment buildings were running crack dens but could not be evicted for fear of straining family ties.

Life Imitates Art

“Boyz N the Hood,” a black-made film about black gangs, opened in July to widespread violence just as “New Jack City” had done four months earlier. Shootings in 20 of the 829 theaters in which it opened left one person dead and 33 wounded. The director gave the usual excuses for the violence. Twenty-three year-old John Singleton claimed that American society “breeds illiteracy and economic deprivation,” and spoke of “a whole generation of people who are disenfranchised.”

In fact, it would be a mistake to blame the film for the violence it provoked. The young blacks who were shooting each other in theaters would probably have been shooting each other somewhere else if they had not been at the movies. In Los Angeles, for example, in the two-week period during which “Boyz N the Hood” opened, there were 47 murders. They got virtually no attention, whereas the gunfire at Los Angeles theaters — none of it fatal — was first-page news. It is only the locale, and the possibility that ordinary people might be caught in the cross fire, that makes these shootings newsworthy.

The unhappy truth is that any event that attracts a large number of young urban blacks is likely to turn violent. Several years ago, rap concerts were in the news for the same kind of violence. The reason we don’t read about rap concert violence any more is that most large halls refuse to book rappers. They don’t want to put on shows that may result in killings, and even if they did, the insurance premiums are too high.

A Czech Gets it Right

The more the fight for human rights gains in popularity, the more it loses any concrete content, becoming a kind of universal stance of everyone toward everything, a kind of energy that turns all human desires into rights . . . The desire for love the right to love, the desire for rest the right to rest, the desire for friendship the right to friendship, the desire to exceed the speed limit the right to exceed the speed limit, the desire for happiness the right to happiness, the desire to publish a book the right to publish a book, the desire to shout in the street in the middle of the night the right to shout in the street.

— Milan Kundera, in his new novel, Immortality

Unexpected Allies

A certain number of activist homosexuals have decided that the word “gay” is no longer combative enough. They have revived an old term of derision and have started calling themselves “queers.” The most ardent group, Queer Nation, has the motto, “We’re Queer/We’re here/Get used to it.”

Some of the new militants wish to reserve the word exclusively for their own use. “I am not for any straight writer using the word ‘queer’ in a mainstream publication,” says Donna Minkowitz, who writes for The Village Voice; “This is our word. I can say it, but you can’t.”

It is the editor of a homosexual magazine called Outweek, however, who makes the most convincing case for general rehabilitation of the word. Says Gabriel Rotello: “When you’re trying to describe the community and you have to list gays, lesbians, bisexuals, drag queens, transsexuals (post-op and pre), it gets unwieldy. Queer says it all.” So it does.

George Bush on America

On April 13th of this year, President George Bush delivered a speech in Montgomery (AL), in which he stated, in the clearest possible terms, his conception of what America means. It is certainly different from that of the founding fathers, who wrote the Constitution to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

“What defines this nation?” asked the President. “What makes us America is not our ties to a piece of territory or bonds of blood; what makes us American is our allegiance to an idea that all people everywhere must be free.” No, it is not a shared culture, a common history, a sense of peoplehood, or anything else that has always defined nations. Think one particular thing (and an entirely abstract one at that), and anyone can be an American.

The Weight of Ideology

Orange County has traditionally been an oasis of Caucasian tranquility in the ethnic stew that Los Angeles has become. Like every other such oasis, Orange County is changing. Though the 1990 census shows that the county is still 65 percent white, this is a sharp drop from the figures of ten years ago.

The shifting racial makeup has brought the usual consequences. The welfare case load has grown faster in Orange County than in any other part of California. Though non-whites are 35 percent of the population, they account for 67 percent of all welfare cases. These include at least 3,000 children of illegal immigrants. Medi-Cal, the state’s program of free medicine for indigents, has been tapped by at least 12,000 illegals. Despite their reputation elsewhere as high achievers, more than a quarter of the Indochinese population is on welfare.

Lawrence Leaman, who directs the county’s social services, is careful to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions. “It would be easy to take these numbers and turn the issue into some redneck viewpoint that minorities are pulling us down, but that’s not the picture,” he says. He explains that the problem is one of demographics rather than of ethnicity, a distinction that may be too subtle for some.

Hands Across the Water

Prominent black leaders recently met in the Ivory Coast for three days of what was billed as the first African — African American Summit. The Americans promised the Africans that they would establish a black lobby in the United States that would be just as powerful as the Jewish lobby.

Five African presidents, two prime ministers, and a host of lesser ministers roared their approval as Rev. Leon Sullivan of Philadelphia vowed to make debt forgiveness the lobby’s first priority. African countries are thought to owe the U.S. government approximately $100 billion, but conferees from both America and Africa agreed that it should not have to be paid back. American blacks also said that they would demand that they be allowed to hold dual citizenship with African countries, so that blacks would, as Rev. Sullivan put it, have “some place to go.”

The American participants were clearly having a jolly time, but some of the Africans doubted that a powerful Africa lobby would materialize. “Most of them look as though they’re just having a good holiday,” observed one Ghanaian official.