Posted on November 1, 2000

O Tempora, O Mores! (November, 2000)

American Renaissance, November 2000

Europe Speaks

Swiss voters have rejected a plan that would have limited the number of foreigners in their country to 18 percent. The “no” vote got 63.7 percent, and won a majority in all 26 Swiss cantons. This is the sixth time the Swiss have voted down referenda that would have restricted immigration. Foreigners are now about 19.3 percent of the population, a figure higher than in virtually any other European country. The Swiss cabinet and all mass media opposed the initiative, which was supported by only one of the four current government coalition members, the Swiss People’s Party. The government launched a major propaganda campaign against the measure, under the slogan “Xenophobia is un-Swiss.”

Interestingly, those who opposed the limits were not generally quoted as saying foreigners were good for Switzerland. Instead, they said the initiative would make Switzerland look “racist” or that it would encourage the allegedly growing neo-Nazi movement. [Alice Ratcliffe, Swiss Reject 18 Percent Foreigner Limit, Reuters, Sept. 24, 2000. Reuters, Swiss Papers Laud ‘No’ Vote to Limit on Foreigners, Sept. 25, 2000. Fiona Fleck, Swiss Voters Reject Cut in Number of Foreign Residents, Telegraph (London), Sept. 25, 2000.]

The Danes, on the other hand, have voted 53 to 47 to keep their own currency rather than adopt the Euro. Nationalist groups argued openly that the closer Denmark gets to other European countries the more immigrants it will get. The vote was a slap in the face to both the government and to all major media organs, which argued that Danes should give up the Krone. [T.R. Reid, Denmark Voters Reject Common EU Currency, Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2000, p. A1.]

In the meantime, the Vlaams Blok was poised for another electoral breakthrough in the October 8 municipal elections in Belgium. Its power is limited to Flanders, but it is already the biggest party in Antwerp, and has 22 of 130 seats in the Flemish federal parliament. The other parties have kept it out of power — just as they kept the French National Front out of power — only by bizarre coalitions specifically directed against it. The party was established only in 1978 but has since made gains in every election. A recent Miss Belgium has just signed up to help campaign.

The Vlaams Blok’s motto is Eigen Volk Eerst, which means “Our People First,” and it means it. The party would not just end immigration but reverse it. It would boot out illegal aliens immediately, and let legal aliens stay only if they met strict conditions. They would have to learn Flemish, know the country’s laws and history, and be approved by Flemish neighbors. Very few of the thousands of Turks and Moroccans who now live in Flanders could meet that test, and the party makes no secret it wants them out.

One of the party’s leaders, 37-year-old Filip Dewinter, adds that any foreigner who is unemployed for more than five months should have to leave. He notes that immigration is nothing more than “importing poverty,” and that immigrants have “ethnically cleansed” many neighborhoods of Flemings because of their crime and degeneracy. Mr. Dewinter makes a clear distinction between Europeans and non-Europeans and would grant amnesty only to the former. He accuses the current government of handing out citizenship “like confetti” so as to dilute the Vlaams Blok’s election results.

Within Belgium, the party wants separation from French-speaking Wallonia and eventual independence for Flanders, with Brussels as its capital. One of the first acts of an independent Flanders would be to expel thousands of European Union bureaucrats, who would be urged to set up their headquarters in Strasbourg, France. [Martin Fletcher, Support is Growing in Belgium for Filip Dewinter and His Far Right Vlaams Blok Party, Times (London), Sept. 14, 2000.]

The most dramatic European development, of course, has been the uprising in Serbia that ousted Slobodan Milosevic, the former Communist who had ruled Yugoslavia since the late 1980s. The great irony is that the new leader, Vojislav Kostunica, whom the United States and the rest of the West are treating like the new Messiah, is a nationalist who, at first blush, seems little different from Jörg Haider, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and Filip Dewinter whom we are supposed to hate. In their enthusiasm, liberals are saying Mr. Kostunica is a “different kind of nationalist” whose sentiments do not threaten his neighbors — as if the National Front or the Vlaams Blok threatened their neighbors. Whatever happens, it is a choice moment to see Madeleine Albright gurgling happily over the victory of a man she would denounce as a threat to democracy if he had came to power in France or Germany. Economic sanctions are expected to be lifted soon.

Diversity in Libya

Libya’s oil wealth has attracted a large number of immigrants from black Africa, many of them illegal. They have not won the love of Libyans who, in late September and early October, rose up and started beating and, in some cases, killing them.

Simmering resentment reportedly came to a head when a business disagreement between Libyan and Nigerian drug dealers in the Gregarish area turned violent. This prompted race riots in several Libyan cities, including the capital Tripoli, in which any black appears to have been fair game. Libyans attacked blacks from Ghana, Gambia, and Chad as well as Nigerians, and on Sept. 26 an armed group attacked the embassy of Niger but were repelled by Libyan soldiers. The government responded to the chaos by rounding up thousands of blacks and putting them in a camp near Tripoli. The camp, built on a huge garbage dump, is reported to be miserable and overcrowded.

The Nigerian government’s reaction has been surprising. Presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said thousands of Nigerian criminals living in Libya had become a burden to their host country, and conceded that some had killed Libyans. He explained that his country would bring them home: “Rather than allow them to continue to soil the good name of Nigeria and risk lives abroad, the government decided that they be brought back home to join hands with other compatriots and contribute their own quota to the current effort at nation building.” The first installment of 700 prodigals arrived back in Nigeria on October 2nd and 3rd, looking disheveled after as much as two weeks of internment in Libya.

Other black African countries are concerned. On October 4th an eight-member team from Ghana flew to Libya to investigate charges that several thousand Ghanaians had been attacked in the riots. Gambian officials were reported to be considering bringing home the estimated 1,000 Gambians now in Libya. [Federal Government to Repatriate Nigerians From Libya, This Day (Lagos, Nigeria), October 2, 2000. Repatriation of Nigerians in Libya Begins, Panafrican News Agency, October 4, 2000. Gambians Injured In Libya, Daily Observer (Banjul, Gambia), October 4, 2000.]

Deservedly So

McDonald’s Corporation and Coca-Cola have sponsored production of a packet of materials called Little Known Black History Facts, which they have mailed to 18,000 high schools all around the country. In the cover letter they write, “our hope is that this program will become a catalyst to saluting African American history throughout the school year.”

The packet consists of a slim pamphlet of 16 little-known facts, along with a slightly fatter teachers’ guide. We learn, for example, that: Peter Hill was born a slave but learned clock-making from his master, and one of his clocks is in the Smithsonian. “Peg Leg” Bates lost a leg in an accident but went on to become a popular tap dancer. Herman Petty was the first black to get a McDonald’s franchise (in 1968, in Chicago). Romare Bearden was born in 1912, became a collage artist and said, “art is the soul of the people.” The first American black to get a college degree was Alexander Twilight, who graduated from Middlebury College in 1823. Raymond Jones was a Harlem politician who supported Adam Clayton Powell and was known as “the Harlem fox.” The first “historically black college” was founded in Philadelphia in 1832 as the Institute for Colored Youth and is now called Cheyney State University. In his day, Marshall Taylor was the fastest bicyclist in the world and was the first black to win a national title in any sport (1898). Susie King Taylor, the army’s first black nurse, treated colored troops during the Civil War and wrote a book called My Life in Camp, etc. for a total of 16 facts. This stuff is, indeed, little known, and likely to stay that way.

The materials come with a poster that includes artists’ conceptions of nurse Taylor and clock-maker Hill, and a large picture of two fashionable, turn-of-the-century blacks doing the cakewalk, in which “dancers arched their necks and backs, stuck out their chests and behinds at the same time, and pranced with high steps like a drum major.” Although many American high school students can’t find Australia on a map or know who Joseph Stalin was, the teachers’ guide suggests such things as asking students to write and perform 10- to 15-minute skits about the subjects of these little-known facts and to participate in panel discussions about them.

The Power of Sentiment

Until recently Dan Ponder was a Georgia state legislator from a rural, conservative part of the state. Nine of his great-great-grandfathers fought for the Confederacy, and from Revolutionary times all his ancestors have lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. On March 16, 2000, he gave a speech in the statehouse in support of hate crimes legislation. This is excerpted from his speech:

There was one woman in my life that made a huge difference and her name was Mary Ward. She began working for my family before I was born. She was a young black woman whose own grandmother raised my mother. Mary, or May-Mar as I called her, came every morning before I was awake to cook breakfast, so it would be on the table. She cooked our lunch. She washed our clothes. But she was much more than that . . . She was never, ever afraid to discipline me or spank me. She expected the absolute best out of me, perhaps, and I am sure, even more than she did her own children. She would even travel with my family when we would go to our house in Florida during the summer, just as her own grandmother had done.

One day, when I was about 12 or 13, I was leaving for school. As I was walking out the door she turned to kiss me good-bye. And for some reason, I turned my head. She stopped me and she looked into my eyes with a look that absolutely burns in my memory right now and she said, ‘You didn’t kiss me because I am black.’ At that instant, I knew that she was right. I denied it. I made some lame excuse about it. But I was forced at that age to confront a small dark part of myself. I don’t even know where it came from. This lady, who was devoting her whole life to me and my brother and sister, who loved me unconditionally, who had changed my diapers and fed me, and who was truly my second mother, that somehow she wasn’t worthy of a good-bye kiss simply because of the color of her skin. Hate is all around us. It takes shape and form in ways that are somehow so small that we don’t even recognize them to begin with, until they somehow become acceptable to us.

It is up to us, as parents and leaders in our communities, to take a stand and to say loudly and clearly that this is just not acceptable. I have lived with the shame and memory of my betrayal of Mary Ward’s love for me. I pledged to myself then, and I re-pledged to myself the day I buried her, that never, ever again would I look in the mirror and know that I had kept silent, and let hate or prejudice or indifference negatively impact a person’s life, even if I didn’t know them.

This is why we must have hate crime laws.

Mid-East in Mid-Town

Gun battles that erupted in early October between Israelis and Palestinians over Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount have had echoes in increasingly diverse New York City. On October 4, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called a meeting of local Jewish and Arab leaders in an attempt to calm tension between the two groups after a series of attacks on Jews that appeared to reflect tensions overseas. Some of the attackers waved Palestinian flags, and police reported a handful of other incidents they thought were a reaction to mid-East violence. The mayor has stepped up police patrols around synagogues and Jewish schools. [Frankie Edozien, Rudy Urges Calm as Conflict Hits Home, New York Post, Oct. 4, 2000.]

Putting it in Black and White

Many American states, particularly in the South, included anti-miscegenation clauses in their constitutions. In 1967, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that miscegenation was a right under the Constitution, thereby overturning prohibitions then in force in 16 states. Since then, some states have gone through the often cumbersome process of amending their constitutions but others have not. One of these is Alabama, where a Nov. 7 ballot proposal was to give citizens an opportunity to vote on a change. The offending clause is in section 102 of the constitution, written in 1901, which bars the legislature from enacting any law “to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro.” According to polls, 64 percent of voters favor changing the constitution, 19 percent oppose doing so, and 17 percent are undecided or do not plan to vote. [Bob Johnson, Ala. May Allow Interracial Marriage, AP, Oct. 4, 2000.]

Homosexuals Welcome

Albert Gore says homosexuals should have the same “marital” immigration rights as heterosexuals. In other words, a foreign homosexual who is party to a “civil union” with an American should have the same rights as a heterosexual spouse. Current immigration law recognizes marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” but President Gore would change all that. In July, Vermont became the first state to recognize homosexual marriage, so if the Democratic candidate had his way, any foreign homosexual who found a Vermonter to “marry” could apply for permanent residency. [Devlin Barrett, Gore Comes Out for Gay Immigration Rights, New York Post, Sept. 27, 2000.]

‘Unfair Trade Practices’

The “reparations” tax credit is back again. Once more, a crook has convinced blacks there is a tax dodge for the “descendants of slaves” that will net them thousands. This time it is Susan Sanchez of Biscayne Park, Florida, who has been trolling black churches, persuading a steady stream of customers the IRS will pay $40,000 in “slavery reparations” if they file an amendment to their 1999 tax return. She was touting a 100 percent “recovery rate” and required a $100 money order (no personal checks, please) to start the process. Although the state of Florida apparently cannot send Miss Sanchez to jail for this caper, it can fine her up to $10,000 for each violation of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. [Lesley Clark, Tax-credit Scan is Alleged, Miami Herald, Sept. 27, 2000.]

Wicked Whites

Cheryl M. Mewborn, 42, has been suspended from her teaching duties at Bryant Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia. Miss Mewborn, who is white, gave her mostly black students a little lecture about how they shouldn’t call each other “nigger” and in so doing pronounced the forbidden syllables herself. Black parents raised an outcry, and Miss Mewborn will be out of the classroom until school authorities complete an investigation. [Mary MacDonald, Teacher Put on Leave While Racial Slur Probed, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 16, 2000, p. E2.]

Sages are Baffled

Antonia Novello is a Puerto Rican who served as President George Bush’s Surgeon General. She is now health commissioner of the State of New York, and has decided to change the name of the Office of Minority Health to Office of Emerging Majorities. Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly, says he “just doesn’t understand” why Miss Novello would make a change like that. [Frederick Dicker, PC Does it as Commish Renames Office, New York Post, Sept. 19, 2000, p. 2.]

Iowa Follies

From 1980 to 1990 Iowa and West Virginia were the only states in the union whose populations declined. In the decade just past, however, Iowa reversed that trend and grew by 3.3 percent. Still, the population is aging, young people are leaving for other states, and unemployment is at only two percent. Democratic governor Tom Vilsack says Iowa needs more people and thinks immigrants are the solution. He wants the federal government to declare his state an “immigration enterprise zone,” and for it to be exempted from immigration limits. He hopes for 310,000 newcomers over the next ten years. A poll taken by the Des Moines Register found that 58 percent of Iowans — 96 percent of whom are white — oppose the idea, 34 percent approve, and the rest aren’t sure. [William Claiborne, Iowa Looks Abroad for Workers, Washington Post, Sept. 16, 2000. A3.]

Celebrating the Decline

On Sept. 20, the Hispanic Caucus Institute, which is a group set up by the Hispanic congressmen, held its 23rd annual gala. The crowd of 2,000 included William Clinton, Albert Gore, Janet Reno, and cabinet secretaries William Richardson, Rodney Slater, Alexis Herman, and Norman Mineta. Mr. Gore addressed the gathering, saying “We might not share a common past, but we all share a common future.” Mr. Clinton mused that he is likely to be the last President who does not speak Spanish. [Roxanne Roberts and Janelle Erlichman, Politics With a Latin Beat, Washington Post, Sept. 21, 2000, p. C1.]

Eat or Be Eaten

Although American Indians have been stoutly denying it for years, the evidence continues to mount that their ancestors were cannibals. Scientists in south-west Colorado recently discovered four systematically butchered human bodies in “pit houses” occupied around 1150 by the Anasazi, forerunners of the present-day Zuni, Hopi and Pueblo Indians. They also discovered human myoglobin — a protein found only in skeletal and heart muscles — in the desiccated feces of the people who probably did the butchering. The only way to get myoglobin into your feces is to eat someone.

Partisans of the noble savage are not giving up. Andrew Darling, an archeologist for the Gila River Indian Community, says the site — which appears to be an ordinary dwelling — was a place where witches were executed by ceremonial dismemberment. He says the witches may have eaten human flesh. [Guy Gugliotta, An All-Consuming Debate, Colorado Springs Gazette, Sept. 7, 2000.]

Free Prep for Blacks

The NAACP has long argued that the reason blacks score about 200 points lower than whites on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is that the test is biased against blacks. Their traditional remedies have been to insist that the test be junked or that unspecified (and impossible) changes be made so blacks can score as high as whites. The NAACP’s national council has now voted to approve a new solution: State governments should offer free SAT preparation to blacks. The group wants the rest of the states to follow the example of California, which in 1998 voted $10 million for test prep for “urban and minority” students. [Tessie Borden, NAACP Wants State-Funded SAT Prep Tests For Minorities, AP, Sept. 22, 2000.]

Denny’s Gets Tough

Last month we reported it has finally dawned on the Denny’s restaurant chain that ever since it forked over $46 million in a class action suit for alleged mistreatment of black customers, it has become the favorite target for anyone willing to shout “racism.” We reported that Denny’s used a video tape to prove that a black Miami couple had been well treated and was not kept waiting for an hour as they had claimed. Now the company has announced it is suing the couple for malicious prosecution and wants not only its legal costs back but compensation for damage to its reputation. This tough new approach has begun to work. Spokesman Karen Randall says Denny’s has already recovered money from several fake claimants and expects that once the word gets out the suits will stop. Why didn’t Denny’s think of this $46 million ago? [Denny’s Serves Lawsuit to Pair Who Claimed Bias,, Sept. 20, 2000.]

Felons and the Vote

On Election Day, 1.4 million black men — about one in eight — will not be eligible to vote because they are convicted felons. This despite the fact that only a few states strip felons of the franchise for life. In these nine states, the number of ineligible black men is much higher than the national average of 13 percent: 31 percent in Florida and Alabama, 29 percent in Mississippi, and 25 percent in Virginia. Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming are the other states with lifetime bans. At the other extreme are Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont, which let even prisoners vote. This is the ideal for “civil liberties” groups, which have brought a suit against Florida’s lifetime ban, claiming it has a “disproportionate impact” on blacks. It does, but so do laws against murder.

If current crime trends hold, some 29 percent of black men — about seven times the white rate — can expect to do time for felonies. If all states had lifetime voting bans, it would keep about a quarter of black men away from the polls. [Greg Toppo, Felony Convictions Keep 13% of Black Males From Voting, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 22, 2000.]

Eskimos and Rape

For the last 20 years Alaska has had a higher rape rate than any other state. The current rate is 2.4 times the national average and Alaska also has a high rate of child sexual assault. These otherwise perplexing statistics are explained by the fact that rape is particularly prevalent among Eskimos, or “natives” as they are now called. Eskimo women are only 3.5 percent of Anchorage’s 255,000 residents but are 45 percent of the rape victims. In the last 15 months five Anchorage Eskimos have been both raped and murdered. Rape is a crime that does not usually cross racial lines.

Eskimo women who come to the cities from rural areas are particularly easy targets. Many still have the country habit of flagging down rides from strangers, so cities have started campaigns against hitchhiking. In Anchorage, volunteers tramp the streets giving advice on how to avoid rape and offering rides. Activists have tried to get the Downtown Bar Association to teach bartenders to spot potential rapists. They say any man who buys a woman drinks but is not himself drinking is a potential rapist. Some bars have posted signs in men’s lavatories that say “If you think that waking up with a hangover is bad, imagine waking up as a rapist.” [Mary Pemberton, Police, Alaska Natives Work Together to Reduce Rapes, AP, Sept. 23, 2000.]

Repeat Offender

In March 1992, the raped and beaten body of 18-year-old aspiring model Cari Ann Parnes was found in an Orange grove near Irvine, California. The manhunt went nowhere until police checked DNA taken from Miss Parnes’ corpse against a statewide database of convicted felons. The sample matched that of Leonardo Sanchez, an illegal alien from Mexico who was convicted of rape in 1989. He was on parole at the time Miss Parnes was murdered. Mr. Sanchez, now thought to be in Mexico, has been deported from the United States eight times. [Chelsea Carter, Warrant Issued in ‘92 Model Slaying, AP, Sept. 29, 2000.]

Zimbabwe Rots

As president Robert Mugabe drives his country onto the rocks, international businesses are clearing out. Airlines can pull out quickly, and Austrian Airlines and Air Austral of the Indian Ocean Island of Reunion have stopped flying to Zimbabwe. Quantas of Australia announced its last flight would be October 26. Cargolux, a freight forwarder, has also suspended operations, citing lack of business and deteriorating conditions. Gas and fuel shortages, electricity blackouts, and interest rates at 61 percent have not helped. International investment is at a standstill. Zimbabwe stopped paying its foreign debts months ago, and the World Bank has officially declared it delinquent and no longer eligible for loans. [Zimbabwe Woes Force Airliners, Forwarders to Quit, Reuters, Oct. 2, 2000.]

Light From the West?

Everyone learns in school that the Neolithic revolution — agriculture and domestication of animals — originated in the Near East and spread to the rest of the world. Surprising discoveries on the Mediterranean coast of France may require a reappraisal of this view.

As early as 1985, a people given the name of “Cardials” was confirmed by carbon-14 dating to have lived around 7,000 to 6,000 BC in an area about 35 miles northeast of present-day Mars-eilles. They lived in small stone houses arranged as if on a street, and sheep bones and domesticated grains confirm they were shepherds and farmers. In 1986 French archeologists discovered that “Cardials” settled Corsica around 7,000 BC. They brought their sheep with them in boats that could manage the 125-mile trip from the French coast.

Dates of this kind were beginning to push uncomfortably close to the earliest evidence of the Neolithic revolution — about 8,000 BC — found in Jericho in the Near East, but the traditional view got a boost from 1996-1998 excavations of a Syrian site at Jerf el-Ahmar that was C-14 dated to 9,000 BC. However, an August, 1999, discovery pushes the appearance in Europe of farming and herding back to 10,000 BC. A site at Viols-le-Fort some 40 miles north of Narbonne revealed the same Cardial-style houses, sheep bones and grains. If the dates are officially confirmed, they may require a revision of the accepted view of the origins of civilization.

New discoveries are leading to reinterpretations of older ones. Sites at Pech Maho and Ensérune, also in the Nar-bonne area, were excavated between 1954 and 1979 but were dated to about 2000 BC because both places had alphabetic writing. The script and the language were previously unknown, but the Light-from-the-East dogma was so strong no writing was thought to have been possible in Europe before about that time. The oldest writing was thought to date to about 3 or 4 thousand BC and the closer to the Near East the older it was permitted to be. In light of the Cardial discoveries, archeologists have begun to wonder whether the still-undeciphered script could date back as far as 9,000 BC. [Michael Bradley, A Cradle in the Wrong Place, National Post (Canada), July 5, 2000.]

Rudy Gets it Right

The US Attorney of Manhattan has decided New York City police are guilty of racial profiling when they stop and frisk suspects on the street. They want the Justice Department to monitor the department and make sure it behaves. A furious mayor Rudolph Giuliani has become the first public official we know of to dig in his heels and explain why the police stop so many non-whites: they are the ones committing the crimes. He points out that only 85.2 percent of the people stopped and frisked on the streets are non-white, whereas they account for 89.2 percent of the suspects. He says police are doing exactly what they should, and that he will never accept any kind of federal oversight. [Frankie Edozien and Devlin Barrett, Rudy Blasts Fed’s Profiling Claim, New York Post, Oct. 6, 2000.]

Columbus vs. the Indians

Denver used to have an annual Columbus Day parade until one in 1991 was marred by anti-Columbus demonstrations and arrests. The 1992 parade was canceled for fear of violence, just minutes before it was supposed to start, and the organizers stopped trying to get permits. This year local Italians are fed up with intimidation, and want to march. Hispanics and Indians beefed so loudly the Italians agreed to a March for Italian Pride that would not mention Columbus, and the protesters said they would stay away. Now, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Italians say they will celebrate Columbus after all. They expect about 1,400 marchers, and the newly-galvanized protesters have promised 1,000 screamers. Denver has reluctantly agreed to the new rules, and has promised massive police protection. Colorado Governor William Owen says the National Guard will be available to help if things get out of hand. It’s possible they could. Vernon Bellecourt, a local leader of the American Indian Movement, says Columbus was “a colonial pirate and murderer” and was responsible for vast genocide.

A few places have already capitulated to the screamers and downplay Columbus. South Dakota celebrates the second Monday in October but calls it Native American Day. Alabama gives Columbus joint billing in what is called both Columbus Day and American Indian Heritage Day. [Michael Janofsky, A Columbus Day Parade Has Denver on Edge, New York times, Oct. 6, 2000]

Cure for AIDS

A few white men still get respect in South Africa — at least certain dead ones. The word is going around that people with AIDS will be cured if they drink tea brewed from the bones of well-known whites. The farm manager of Hannes Rall, who was a deputy minister of transport in an apartheid administration, helped dig up his former employer’s bones and put them on the market. There is apparently no word on whether the cure will be more potent if the bones are taken from freshly-killed whites. [Grave Robbed to Cure AIDS, Electronic Telegraph, Sept. 25, 2000.]

Proper Sentiments

The press loves to report treacly accounts of whites forgiving and embracing their black assailants. Truck driver Reginald Denny was famous for cozying up to the thugs who nearly beat him to death at the start of the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Amy Biehl’s parents went to South Africa to wrap their arms around the blacks who killed their daughter because she was white.

Things are different in Steubenville, Ohio. Terrell Yarbrough abducted two white students at the University of Steubenville, pistol whipped them, forced them at gun point to fellate him, and then shot them. When he got the death sentence on September 27, the victims’ mothers were in court and were not in a hugging mood. One called the killer a “little pathological punk” to his face and added, “You disgust me.” The other stared him down and said, “So, Terrell, it seems your time is up. How does it feel?” She also heaped scorn on the defense, which had tried to portray Mr. Yarbrough as a victim of his upbringing, and scoffed at his family, praying outside the courthouse for his release. “These prayers mock God,” she said. “As if He would want a killer set free.” [Mike Lafferty, Students’ Killer Gets Death Penalty, Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 25, 2000, p. 1.]

Too Demanding

The Illinois High School Association requires players on school athletic teams to have a grade point average of 1.0 (a D average). Proviso Township High School outside Chicago has an overwhelmingly black student body but has higher standards. It requires a 1.7 point (C- average) for players, but this has had a devastating effect on its football team. Of the 115 students who played as freshman, 56 were knocked off the team because of their grades. [Carlos Sadovi, Athletes Aren’t Making the Grade, Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 6, 2000, p. 1.]

The City Invincible

Camden, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia, is stark, Third-World America. Ninety-five percent black and Hispanic, it shows no sign of recovering from years of decay. More than 3,000 houses are vacant, and the number grows by ten percent every year. Seventy percent of high school students drop out and those who graduate know virtually nothing. The poverty rate is 44 percent and the median household income is $17,300. Ninety-four percent of elementary school students are poor enough to qualify for subsidized lunches. Downtown, there is no decent place to stay or eat, and no place to watch a movie. You can walk a mile along Broadway, once bustling with retail, and not find a place to sit down for coffee. Almost all the bank buildings are now churches or liquor stores. An estimated 10,000 people a day come into the city to buy drugs at some 150 street-corner bazaars. Camden would need all the tax revenue it collects in a year just to tear down its derelict buildings, and three years’ revenue just to fix the sewers.

There are flashes of local color. The mayor has been indicted — like two of his four predecessors — and is out on bail. He was caught telling drug dealers when police were likely to make a raid. The city prosecutor was fired for shredding hundreds of uncashed checks from defense lawyers. They were for copies of police reports defendants are entitled to but that could not be produced. When she cleared out her office, the prosecutor left behind three months’ worth of unopened mail. The school super-intendent’s job has been vacant for more than a year and if one is finally hired he will be the fifth in eight years.

It takes about $330 million a year to run Camden but the city can raise only $30 million. The rest comes from the state, which has dumped $2 billion into the place in the last five years and essentially runs the city. Local officials cannot file a lawsuit, hire a clerk, or spend more than $4,500 without state permission. Governor Christie Whitman wants legislation that would give the state power to break certain contracts, evade some civil service rules, and reduce Camden’s elected officials to mere advisors. This would mean a complete takeover of a city that cannot run itself.

In the 1950s Camden was a booming industrial town. It was thriving as early as 1873 when Walt Whitman moved there to sing its praises in poetry. His words are still carved into the granite of city hall: “In a dream I saw a city invincible.” [Rick Hampson, A City Struggles to Survive, USA Today, July 26, 2000. Patrick Cole, Camden, N.J., a Study in Fate of Cities That Lose Industries, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 25, 2000, p. 6.]