Posted on September 1, 1992

O Tempora, O Mores! (September, 1992)

American Renaissance, September 1992

The Riots Rumble On

The four police officers who were acquitted (except for one unresolved count against one of them) in the Rodney King beating case have been indicted on federal civil rights charges. This was to be expected, since the jury’s refusal to return guilty verdicts in April was widely described as “racist.” This means that despite the Constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, the officers are being tried twice for the same offense.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that repeated trials are Constitutional if different governments — state and federal — mount separate prosecutions. This technique for violating the Fifth Amendment was invented only a few decades ago, because Southern state courts were thought to be lackadaisical about prosecuting whites who committed crimes against blacks. Whites have been the almost exclusive targets of double prosecutions of this kind.

Blacks are reported to be pleased by the new indictments. Representative Maxine Waters, of South Central Los Angeles, is “absolutely delighted.” State Senator Diane Watson adds that “the high visibility and public interest should bring different results [from those of the last trial].” Indeed, they may. Jurors are likely to think twice about returning another verdict of the kind that touched off the worst riots in America this century.

Interestingly, the reasons for the first verdict are slowly being acknowledged. The June 8 issue of Legal Times carried a long article on the evidence in the case; after much hand-wringing, the author concluded that he probably would have voted exactly as the jury did.

As it happens, civil rights cases are more difficult to prove than assault cases. The prosecution in the new trial will have to show that the four officers intended to deprive Mr. King of his rights, not simply that they beat him excessively. Brave jurors may once again refuse to convict.

Meanwhile, the trial of the three blacks who nearly killed truck driver Reginald Denny has begun. This savage attack, caught on video tape, was one of the acts of violence that ignited the riots. A fourth man, who stole Mr. Denny’s wallet after he was beaten senseless, is being tried separately.

To many Los Angeles blacks, these men are heroes. T-shirts have gone on sale demanding the release of “the L.A. Four.” Something called Communities United to Free the L.A. Four manages to field 50 demonstrators a day to protest outside the court house

Perhaps similar thinking explains recent unusual trial results in the federal Northern District of Georgia. Lawyers have noticed an increase in hung juries split along racial lines. In all cases the defendants have been black, with white jurors voting to convict and blacks voting to acquit. Many attribute the rise in racial divisions to black resentment against the verdicts in the Rodney King case. One black man who was the foreman of a jury that split on racial lines says that the verdict and the rioting have inspired black jurors. “I think a lot of people are starting to realize . . . we have some type of power to use and we’re going to learn how to use it.”

The riots have inspired Hispanics, too, including Eric Vega, head of the Sacramento (CA) Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission. In July he presented a study called “Budgets as a Civil Rights Issue,” in which he argued that no matter how strapped the state may be, it had better not cut handout programs. He pointed out that many of the state’s poor are non-white and might bestir themselves if their benefits were not up to expectations. As the Sacramento Bee of July 10 put it, Vega argued that budget cuts “could result in the type of negligence and civil unrest that crippled Los Angeles during the recent riots.”

Multilingual Medicine

The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services has ordered clinics in Harris County (TX) to supply full medical services in foreign languages. It gave the health authorities 30 days to hire interpreters and to print materials in foreign languages; the county will lose $2.6 million a year in federal funds if it does not do so. The investigation of Harris County clinics was prompted by complaints from W.R. Morris, a Hispanic activist who works for the mayor of Houston. The Department of Health and Human Services decided that patients have the right to be addressed in their own languages and that the county was guilty of discrimination against people who do not speak English.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs

As the apologists for immigration keep telling us, new arrivals create jobs. In Los Angeles, immigrants have devised a novel way to stage highway accidents and sue for damages. The trick is to drive a car on the freeway in front of a 16-wheeler truck, with an accomplice in a car in the lane next to the truck. The driver in front of the truck then slams on the brakes. Since the truck is boxed in by the accomplice’s car and big rigs cannot stop quickly, the trucker crashes into the first car. Poor Latino immigrants are recruited at $25 to $100 a head to ride in the car, claim injuries, and sue the trucking company. Truckers often carry as much as $1 million in liability insurance, so the payoff can be worth the inconvenience.

In the past year, California authorities have investigated more than 340 such incidents, more than half of which took place in Los Angeles County. The “accidents” do not always go according to plan. One driver who deliberately swerved in front of a tractor trailer in the San Fernando Valley caused a wreck in which one passenger was killed and several others badly injured. The driver and three other people have been charged with murder.

Raising Black Scores to New Lows

Blacks are increasingly inventive in devising new ways to accuse whites of racism. Recently, the black assistant principal of Galileo High School in San Francisco decided to help three black students pass an important examination. He handed back their test papers, with the right and wrong answers indicated, and left them alone to compare answers and fix mistakes. The mischief was discovered when a different school official noticed that the test papers had a suspicious number of corrections on them, all from wrong to right answers.

The incident itself was less noteworthy than the reaction to it. The assistant principal was put on paid leave — hardly a cruel fate — but blacks united behind him, claiming that the punishment was “racist” and that he had done nothing wrong. As Lulann McGriff, president of the San Francisco NAACP, put it, “The point is to get them to pass the test, isn’t it?”

Pat Womak, president of the San Francisco Alliance of Black School Educators took a similarly absurd position. “It’s an example of the racism in the schools,” she said; “If these children had been white, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Hair Brained

According to the Wall Street Journal of July 29, there is an upper-level history seminar at Stanford University called “Black Hair as Culture and History.” The course teaches how black people’s hair “has interacted with the black presence in this country — how it has played a role in the evolution of black society.” No, this is not a parody of multiculturalism; this is the real thing.

Prof. Kennell Jackson, the instructor, is delighted by the enlightenment that is sweeping the campus. “I couldn’t have taught this class ten years ago,” he says. In one class session, Prof. Jackson asked students for a recent “black hair event.” When a student mentioned “Juliette Lewis’ cornrow hair at the Oscars,” Prof. Jackson agreed: “That’s a good one.” He then produced a picture of the actress. Besides studying the 1960s musical, “Hair,” students will have a week of discussion with local beauticians and will learn that blacks were prominent wig makers during the colonial period.

There are reported to be people at Stanford who think a course in black hair is lunacy, but the pressure to be “tolerant” and “open-minded” keeps them closed-mouthed.

Wretched Refuse

Last year, more people immigrated to the United States than in any previous year. A total of 1.8 million foreigners became legal residents, a figure that surpassed the previous record of more than 1.5 million, set in 1990. More than half of all legal immigrants came from Mexico, while the next most common countries of origin were the Philippines, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Haiti, and El Salvador. No one knows how many illegal immigrants came to the United States last year, but the number is thought to lie somewhere between 2 and 5 million.

In July, 53 percent of blacks and 69 percent of “nonblacks” told Business Week that they thought further immigration was bad for the country. Fifty-nine percent of blacks and 62 percent of “nonblacks” said they thought immigrants consume more than their fair share of welfare, medicaid, and food stamps. Why does Congress continue to ignore the will of the people and pass laws that permit ever greater numbers of immigrants?

Uncle Sam Plays Daddy

Every year, more than one million American teenagers get pregnant. Half of these girls give birth, and four out of five of those babies are unwanted. Eighty percent of American women who have had children without getting married receive a government check of some kind, and the United States spends $21 billion every year to support teen-age mothers and their children.

Plague and Pestilence

Thanks to immigrants and people weakened by AIDS, tuberculosis has reestablished itself so firmly in the United States that the federal Centers for Disease Control say it is “out of control.” TB can usually be cured, but patients must stick to a six-month regimen of medication. Many feel healthy after only a month or two of treatment, stop taking their medicine, and get sick again. Aborted treatments are not just ineffective; they can cause the TB bacillus to mutate into new forms that cannot be treated. Medical workers thus worry about treatment “completion rates,” and have calculated them for various countries.

New York City, home to more than one in six American TB carriers, has one of the most abysmal completion rates in the world. According to the World Bank, even Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania have completion rates of nearly 80 percent. In East Harlem, which is the most tuberculosis-infested place in America, the completion rate is 11 percent. The United States therefore has a good chance of giving the world new strains of lethal TB.

The state of Michigan has noted a similar, race-related trend in the rates at which people tested for AIDS return to clinics to learn the results. The Department of Public Health found that in 1991, 73 percent of whites took the trouble to find out if they have the disease, but only 32 percent of blacks did. Of the people — of all races — who were found to have the AIDS virus, 34 percent never bothered to learn the results.

Height Makes Right

Airlines have minimum height requirements for flight attendants because they must store bags in overhead bins and operate safety equipment. On July 16, Northwest Airlines was served with a suit charging that its requirement that attendants be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall discriminates against Asians, Hispanics, and women. The class-action suit was filed by a U.S. citizen of Sri Lankan origin who is five feet tall.

No Mercy for Racists

Ron Chattler is the owner of a Chicago company that makes buttons. Recently he fired one of his black employees because she was rude to customers, rude to him, and careless at work. The woman claimed she was a victim of racism, and the Illinois Department of Human Rights promptly called Mr. Chattler on the carpet.

Mr. Chattler pointed out that 63 of his 83 employees are black, Puerto Rican, or Mexican and that the person he hired to replace the fired woman was also black. The bureaucrats were unimpressed. They asked Mr. Chattler to prove that he hadn’t hired so many minorities just to make it look as though he didn’t discriminate.

This was too much for Mr. Chattler, who then made an angry telephone call to the Governor’s office. He told one of the Governor’s staff that if the bureaucrats didn’t get off his back, he would take his business to a different state. “OK, leave,” said the staffer, though she now denies this. Mr. Chattler has learned that several neighboring states would be delighted to get a new business with 83 employees. He plans to move.

Self Segregation

Cornell University in Ithaca (NY) is upset because its students tend to segregate themselves by race. The school’s two main residential areas are North Campus and West Campus; the former has become largely non-white while the latter is mostly white. This spring Cornell proposed a plan whereby incoming freshmen would not be allowed to choose their residences and would be assigned so as to integrate the two campuses. The school withdrew the plan in the face of stiff opposition from students and faculty. The most vocal opponents of integration were blacks.

Hiring the Handicapped

The Americans With Disabilities Act, which went into effect on July 26, forbids employers to discriminate against just about anyone. People who are blind, have trouble breathing, or who are psychotic must not be denied employment, if they are otherwise capable of doing the job. Just what sort of jobs the blind and the psychotic are likely to think they are capable of remains unclear. It will be up to the courts to decide whether an employer is entitled to insist that all his receptionists, for example, be able to see.

According to the law, AIDS is a disability. This means that employers must hire AIDS carriers and must not deny them health benefits. Two thirds of the people who have been diagnosed as having AIDS have already died. The average cost of treatment from the time an AIDS patient is diagnosed until the time he dies is $80,000. Although AIDS can be easily detected by means of a blood test, employers may not protect themselves against the inevitable expense of hiring people who have the disease.

Oprah Winfrey to Write Memoirs

Oprah Winfrey, the black entertainer, has signed a contract with Alfred A. Knopf to write her memoirs. The publisher reportedly paid $3 million for world-wide rights. Knopf is best known for literary fiction and serious non-fiction rather than celebrity confidences, but Miss Winfrey is thought to have chosen Knopf because she would be able to work with a black editor, Erroll McDonald.