O Tempora, O Mores! (January, 2005)

American Renaissance, January 2005

Vlaams Blok, RIP

The Vlaams Blok was, until recently, Belgium’s largest political party. It called for the independence of the Flemish-speaking Flanders region of Belgium (Flemings are 58 percent of the Belgian population) and the deportation of all non-white immigrants. On Nov. 9, the Belgian supreme court sentenced the Vlaams Blok to death, upholding a lower court ruling that found the Flemish nationalist party guilty of “permanent incitement to segregation and racism.” The court rejected all of the Blok’s legal arguments, insisting that freedom of speech must be subordinate to anti-racism. The ruling means the Blok no longer has access to Belgian television and will lose $325,000 in public funding. The supreme court ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

Blok party leaders were outraged. “Exactly 15 years after the Berlin Wall came down and the people of East Germany and eastern Europe regained their freedom, it was confirmed today that in the Belgian state, democracy and freedom of speech are under threat,” said party president Frank Van Hecke. “What happened in Brussels today is unique in the Western world: Never has a so-called democratic regime outlawed the country’s largest political party . . . We are the democratic voice of an ever growing number of Flemings who, in an entirely non-violent way, want to put an end to Belgium [through secession]. Our electoral strength is causing panic amongst the Belgian establishment. Today our party has been killed, not by the electorate but by the judges. We will establish a new party. This one Belgium will not be able to bury; it will bury Belgium.”

In the national elections of May 2003, the Blok gained three seats in the 150-seat national parliament, bringing its total to 18. In last June’s regional elections, it received a quarter of the vote in Flanders — more than any other party — but took no seats because the other Belgian parties have conspired to keep it out of government. Under an exclusionary ban known as the “cordon sanitaire,” no other party will form a government or otherwise cooperate with the Vlaams Blok, in spite of polls showing that 44 percent of the Flemish people want the Blok included in a governing coalition.

Blok parliamentary leader Filip Dewinter denies charges of racism. He explains that the Flemish nationalist movement is about “defending our identity against mass immigration and against the multicultural society.” Its members are strongly against Muslim immigration because “the way of life of Muslims is not compatible with ours.” [Court Rules Vlaams Blok is Racist, BBC News, Nov. 9, 2004. Philippe Siuberski, Ruling Forces ‘Racist’ Vlaams Blok Party to Reorganize, AFP, Nov. 10, 2004.]

The Sunday following the supreme court ruling, one thousand members of the Blok gathered first to dissolve and then to resurrect their party under a new name, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest or VB). “We are changing our name but not our direction nor our program,” Mr. Van Hecke told party members. Part of the transformation of the Vlaams Blok into the Vlaams Belang will mean a “softening” of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Instead of calling for the wholesale deportation of all non-whites, it will focus on removing those “who reject, deny or fight against culture and European values like separation of church and state, freedom of expression, and equality between men and women.” The party has not backed away from its desire to work for the independence of Flanders and the end of the Belgian state. [Blok Changes Name and Pleads Victim Status, Expatica.com, Nov. 15, 2004.]

The Belgian political establishment both loathes and fears the VB, and it is doing whatever it can to discredit it. On a state visit to China, Belgium’s royal heir, Crown Prince Philippe, son of King Albert II, lashed out at the VB, accusing the party of wanting “to tear our country to pieces.” The prince violated the constitutional role of the royal family, which prohibits them from engaging in politics, by saying, “I assure them that they will have to deal with me first.” His comments outraged the party’s parliamentary delegation and even prompted a rebuke from Belgium’s prime minister, who is no friend of the Flemish nationalists. The country’s French-speaking deputy prime minister, however, said the prince’s statement brought credit to the palace.

The political establishment also paints the VB as a threat to the Belgian economy. According to a study published in a French-language newspaper, Flemish employers are worried that the nationalist movement will cause political unrest and hurt business. “Investors are looking for maximum stability,” says the study’s author Benoit Scheuer. “If [the VB] continues to progress, the decision makers may decide to relocate and invest outside of Flanders.”

Belgian political experts say the ban on the VB will backfire, and make the movement for Flemish independence even more popular. The party capitalized on its underdog image as “the only party fighting against the establishment for the common people,” says Antwerp University professor Stefaan Walgraeve. He believes the ban against the Vlaams Blok and its resurrection as the Vlaams Belang “will reinforce this image — an image which is the party’s best life insurance.” A recent poll found that 26 percent of the electorate would vote for the VB if an election were held tomorrow. [Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Prince Attacks Separatists, Telegraph (London), Dec. 2, 2004. Vlaams Belang a ‘Threat’ to Belgium’s Economy, Expatica.com, Nov. 19, 2004. Angus Roxburgh, Fear That Ban on Vlaams Blok Party Will See Far-Right Group Strengthened, Sunday Herald (Glasgow), Nov. 14, 2004. Gareth Harding, Analysis: Makeover for Flemish Far Right, UPI, Nov. 15, 2004.]

Serial Infector

Anthony Whitfield, a black methamphetamine addict, got AIDS in the early 1990s after he was raped in prison. Although he has known about his infection since 1992, he lived the life of a “player,” bouncing from one girlfriend to another, marrying one, and fathering at least two illegitimate children. He almost always refused to wear a condom. He never told the women about his infection, and lied when asked about it.

In May 2003, health officials in Thurston County, Washington, were investigating a cluster of AIDS cases among local women, each of whom had named Mr. Whitfield as a sex partner. The health officials tracked him down, tested him, and told him he had to use “protection.” According to one of his girlfriends, he had unprotected sex with her that very night. “I know because he always came over and had sex with me on the first of the month,” she says. The Thurston County health department also told Mr. Whitfield he had to report all his sex partners, but instead he left for Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, state health officials tracked him down in Olympia, Washington, and presented him with a cease-and-desist order that required him to tell potential sex partners he was infected, and always to use protection. He signed the order and gave the officials the names of more women with whom he was having sex. Two days later, Mr. Whitfield had unprotected sex with one of the women he named. The health department then contacted the police, who arrested Mr. Whitfield as he was loading his belongings into a U-Haul truck, apparently getting ready to leave the state again.

Washington has a law on the books making deliberate exposure to HIV a Class A felony — on par with murder and rape. He was tried and convicted, and on Dec. 21, he was to be sentenced on 17 counts of first-degree assault for having unprotected sex with 17 different women, five of whom have since come down with AIDS. The charges carry a prison term of 130 to 150 years. At trial, his attorney, Charles Lane, tried to argue that the women bore some of the responsibility for consenting to have sex with his client in the first place. “Everyone of them knew he slept around,” he said. “They had the ability to protect themselves and they didn’t.” Mr. Lane also tried to play the race card, telling the judge (the defense requested a trial by judge rather than jury) that the case had “too many emotional hot buttons,” such as “a black man spreading AIDS to a bunch of white women.” The judge wasn’t sympathetic, noting that Mr. Whitfield had said on two occasions that, “If I had AIDS, I’d give it to everyone I could.” The judge found him guilty of having unprotected sex “with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.”

In some ways the most disturbing thing about this case was the reaction of the women — all unidentified but mostly white. Many described him at trial as “a caring man who made them feel ‘special.’” Several remained loyal to Mr. Whitfield and testified against him only under compulsion from prosecutors. [Mark D. Fefer, HIV: Criminal Intent, Seattle Weekly, Dec. 1-7, 2004, p. 19.]

Typhoid Mario

Tuberculosis is endemic in many parts of the Third World, but had largely disappeared in the West until immigrants brought it back. Although highly infectious — and sometimes fatal — it is easily cured with antibiotics, if the patient submits to a full course of treatment. Patients who stop taking the medicine before the bacteria are eradicated risk developing antibiotic-resistant strains of TB and pose a greater public health threat.

Feliciano Morelos, a 19-year-old Mexican farmworker and TB carrier living in California infected 56 people, prompting public health officials to order him quarantined. He refused the order, so police arrested him for endangering public safety. Mr. Morelos, the first person jailed in Santa Barbara County for refusing to obey an isolation order, had to be held in a special jail cell with air filters to keep him from infecting other inmates. [TB Carrier Jailed, AP, April 4, 2004.]

Bye Bye, Berry

Mary Frances Barry

Mary Frances Barry

Black lawyer and activist Mary Frances Berry, who has been a fixture on the US Commission on Civil Rights since President Jimmy Carter first appointed her in 1980, seems to think she holds her seat for life. When President Ronald Reagan fired her for attacking his civil rights policies in 1983, she successfully sued for reinstatement. In 1984, she made the statement for which she is best known: that civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them. President William Clinton made her chairman of the commission in 1993, and re-appointed her to another six-year term in January 1999. In 2000, Miss Berry made headlines when her commission released a silly report that claimed thousands of black Florida voters were prevented from voting during the presidential election. The following year she tried to extend the term of an ally and Clinton appointee, Victoria Wilson. The DC federal appeals court had to order her to seat Peter Kirsanow, appointed by President Bush.

With Mr. Bush’s reelection signaling the end of her 24-year tenure, the President appointed former assistant secretary of education Gerald Reynolds to fill Miss Berry’s post, and former Virginia deputy attorney general Ashley Taylor to take over from vice chairman Cruz Reynoso. At first, Miss Berry insisted she would fight to stay until January 2005, but now says she will leave quietly at the end of 2004.

“The White House has clipped her wings,” says a commission staffer. “She has been stripped of her ability to travel and will be asked to turn over her badge. She will be asked for her keys to the building, although we will still have to change the locks, because there are many people here who are loyal to her who would allow her in.”

Miss Berry, whom critics accuse of running the commission as her own personal fiefdom, may have good reasons for trying to hang on to the bitter end. There hasn’t been an independent financial audit of the commission since she became chairman — the GAO describes it as an “agency in disarray” — and it is currently being investigated by the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution. [Steve Miller, Civil Rights Panel Gets New Chief, Washington Times, Dec. 7, 2004. Terence Hunt, Bush Replaces Outspoken Civil Rights Chair, AP, Dec. 6, 2004. Christopher Jolma, Wearing Out Their Welcome, Insight Magazine, Jan. 14, 2002.]

Sensible Swiss

We reprint the following verbatim and in toto:

BERN (AFP) — The Swiss are more fearful about an influx of foreigners than terrorism or war, according to a survey by the GFS Institute published on Thursday.

Two-thirds of the 714 people questioned felt that the flood of asylum seekers was a big danger, while only 51 percent were worried about terrorist attacks.

Less than 10 percent of the people surveyed were concerned that Switzerland would become involved in a war over the next five years, while in 2000, 28 percent had feared a conventional conflict and 18 percent a nuclear war, the poll said.

At the same time, 71 percent of people quizzed felt that Switzerland’s army was necessary.

Forty-nine percent said it was inconceivable that the country would abandon its neutral status.

[Swiss More Fearful of Foreign Immigrants than Terror Attacks: Survey, AFP, Dec. 1, 2004.]

The Truth Hurts

On Dec. 1, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, county commissioner Bill James, a white Republican, sent an e-mail message to 1,300 constituents in which he discussed some of the problems facing the county’s schools. It read in part: “Most people know why CMS [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools] can’t teach kids within the urban black community. They live in a moral sewer with parents who lack the desire to act properly. That immorality impacts negatively the lives of these children and creates an environment where education is considered ‘acting white’ and lack of education is a ‘plus’ in their world.”

Mr. James got the typical reaction. County manager Harry Jones, who is black, said his comments “smack of racism in the highest form.” A black preacher, Rev. James R. Samuel, said Mr. James “is not only a product of some moral sewer, he is a product of some disease,” and “a redneck accountant.” Even Mr. James’ fellow Republicans, including Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, joined in, issuing a statement saying, “We fully and completely censure Mr. James’ comments.”

Mr. James has stuck to his guns, writing to Mr. Jones that “to solve the problem you have to discuss it openly and there is no doubt that the urban core is a moral sewer full of promiscuity that leads to illegitimate kids and a continuing cycle of poverty which no one wants to address.” He told the press, “My point was that we’ve got to talk about this and we’ve got to be willing to have the guts to resolve it . . . Candy-coating isn’t going to make the pill any easier to swallow.” He said his black critics “continue to ignore the fire burning in their own home.” He eventually did apologize, but not for the substance of his remarks, saying “It’s not an apology for bringing it up, and it’s not an apology for me believing the problem in the urban black community is moral. I guess it’s an apology for not saying it as well as I could.”

Mr. James represents an overwhelmingly white, conservative Republican district in Mecklenburg County. He is very popular with his constituents, and is almost impossible to beat. He ran unopposed for his fifth term on the council in November. Constituents defended his remarks, which they said weren’t racist at all. Jonathan Roberts, a local realtor, says, “there’s a lot of truth to what he said. You’ve got illegitimate births. You’ve got people not taking responsibility. You’ve got kids who have never heard the word ‘no’ from their mothers — certainly not their fathers, because they aren’t around.” Mr. James also received many encouraging comments by e-mail, his favorite form of communication (his address is [email protected]).

Not all county residents support him. Mr. James filed a police report on Dec. 3 after receiving several threatening phone calls. At his swearing in on Dec. 6 — a few days after his comments were publicized — 400 people showed up, some brought by area black churches, and many booed him when he took the oath of office. Extra police officers provided security, and one was assigned to guard Mr. James and his family. [Paul Nowell, NC County Commissioner Says Blacks Live in ‘Moral Sewer,’ AP, Dec. 2, 2004. Scott Dodd, James’ Seat is Safe in District 6, Charlotte Observer, Dec. 3, 2004, p. 1B. Carrie Levine, James Apologizes for Wording of Remarks, Charlotte Observer, Dec. 4, 2004. Carrie Levine, James Faces Boos at Swearing-In, Charlotte Observer, Dec. 7, 2004.]

Sensible Spaniards

Spain’s Canary Islands are a desirable destination for illegal aliens from Africa, who see the archipelago lying off the northwest African coast as a backdoor into the European Union. From January to the end of September, Spanish authorities intercepted more than 11,000 illegal aliens trying to sneak into the country by boat from the Canaries. It isn’t known how many drown on the way or avoid detection and make it into the country.

People smugglers used to run illegals from Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar in small boats, but a crackdown by both governments is forcing them to change tactics. They now buy or rent old, abandoned ocean-going ships, make cheap repairs, and take the illegals greater distances. “Several old ships that are being repaired for use to smuggle migrants have been detected in different parts of western Africa,” says Canary Islands governor Jose Segura. People smuggling is lucrative. Traffickers charge $1,500 to $2,500 a head, and larger vessels mean more profits.

The Spanish government is sending intelligence officers to keep an eye on suspicious ships being refitted in several West African nations. In August, Spanish officials intercepted the Hollgan Star as it was about to sail from Freetown, Sierra Leone, with a cargo of 500 illegals bound for the Canaries. In October, Spain seized another cargo ship off the coast of the Canaries carrying 176 illegals, and in November, when the monitoring of West African ports was first reported, Spain’s spies were keeping an eye on yet another suspicious vessel in Freetown harbor.

Spain was annoyed that word leaked out about its spy operation, but it has no plans to stop it. Spanish agents were working in cooperation with several West African governments. [Spanish Spies Watch Suspected People-Smuggling Ships in Sierra Leone, AFP, Dec. 1, 2004.]

Shifting the Blame

On Nov. 16, an 11-year-old student at Stetson Middle School in Philadelphia dragged another sixth grade boy into a hallway and raped him. Instead of blaming the attacker, the victim’s mother, Damaris Rivera, blamed the school, saying it failed to protect him. Mrs. Rivera even took part in a protest in front of the school, where she used her son as a prop, having him hold a sign that read, “I was raped by the School District.” The attacker’s mother, Carmen Cuevas, was also at the protest and the two women embraced and consoled each other. “He said he did it and that he didn’t know why,” said Mrs. Cuevas, of her son. Like Mrs. Rivera, she too blamed the school and not her son.

Edison Schools, Inc., the private company that runs Stetson, says it has fired the principal and hired more guards. [Vernon Clark, Stetson Parents Put Blame on School, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 23, 2004, p. B1.]

Racial Reality

On Nov. 12, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study of BiDil, a new combination drug for treating heart failure — but only for blacks. In clinical trials, researchers found that BiDil, along with standard heart treatment medicine, reduced the number of deaths from heart failure by 43 percent for blacks. Clinicians were so astonished by the results they suspended the trial on ethical grounds, believing other patients should get BiDil right away rather than wait for the study to end. If the US Food and Drug Administration approves BiDil, it will be the first race-specific medication — but probably not the last. There are 29 drugs that show evidence of being more effective for certain races, and more are being developed.

This troubles race deniers, who believe it is somehow immoral to develop race-specific drugs. They would have preferred that the BiDil studies include whites and Asians as well. Dr. Clyde W. Yancy of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, for example, says the trial should have included people of other races — even though early research on BiDil had shown it had no effect on whites.

Dr. August Grant, former president of the Association of Black Cardiologists, which co-sponsored the BiDil trials along with manufacturer NitroMed, is tired of hearing that complaint. “At times, you can’t win,” he says. Here we have a wonderful trial that shows a clear result, and the issue is raised, ‘Why was this trial done only in African-Americans?’” [Claude Lewis, Race-Specific Drug Adds to Black-and-White Issues, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 12, 2004. Toward the First Racial Medicine, New York Times, Nov. 13, 2004.]

Showing Support

Elmwood Cemetery, owned and maintained by the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the final resting place for many Confederate soldiers. Ten years ago, the Sons of Confederate Veterans put up a flagpole to fly the Confederate battle flag over the Southern dead. This bothered no one until earlier this year, when black Charlotte councilman Warren Turner proposed lowering the height of the pole so the flag couldn’t be seen from outside the cemetery. Others now want the flag removed entirely.

The only surprise in this story is that a Nov. 20 rally to keep the flag flying high included as one of its speakers a former head of the Asheville, North Carolina, NAACP chapter, H. K. Edgerton, an outspoken defender of the flag. Mr. Edgerton, who once carried the flag from North Carolina to Texas in a protest “March Across Dixie,” is a proud black Southerner who believes that “Southern symbols are part of a proud heritage that should be defended, not scorned,” and that “Southerners have a cultural experience of their own, and that culture needs to be defended from historical revisionists.”

Elsewhere he has explained how blacks supported the Confederacy: “We made all of the implements of war, we fought, we participated — not one slave insurrection happened during that period of time. They did not have whips and guns forcing them to be there. God in his infinite wisdom brought these people here. He brought about a love between master and slave that has never happened before. If you search this empirically then you will know the only one who cared about the African was the man in the South.” [Bruce Henderson, Confederate Flag Brings Out Support at City Cemetery, Charlotte Observer, Nov. 21, 2004, p. 2B. Clint Parker, The Man Behind the Rebel Flag, Asheville (NC) Tribune, Sept. 26, 2002. Donna Davis, Black Leader Defends Confederate Flag, Responds to Violent Attackers.]

Bad Advice

CosmoGirl is a version of Cosmopolitan for young teenagers. The November 2004 issue includes an “ethics test” to help angst-ridden girls cope with moral dilemmas, including what to do about “racist” parents:

Your parents are always loving and supportive of you, but sometimes they say prejudiced things about people of other races and faiths. Your dad tells you all the time that he does not want you dating, calling, or even socializing with Latinos. But you have a serious crush on a Mexican-American guy in your homeroom. Should you just avoid him?

CosmoGirl’s advice: “Generally it’s right to obey your parents. But here many people would say their beliefs aren’t ethical. So, while it may not be smart to bring your crush home, it isn’t fair to avoid him — he’s done nothing wrong. Ask yourself: Am I morally obligated to obey an unjust rule? Should I agree with all my parents’ beliefs?”

CosmoGirl’s bottom line: “Only you can decide what choices are right for you. Make decisions that you respect and you will lead an ethical life!” [Ethics Test, CosmoGirl, November 2004, p. 141.]

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