O Tempora, O Mores! (April, 2005)

American Renaissance, April 2005

Diversity Eyesore

A new sculpture in Denver’s City Park, called “Meeting of Minds,” symbolizes the superiority of openness over rigid thinking by portraying a black woman triumphant over a dying white man. Douglas Kornfeld’s steel profiles of two heads stand over 16 feet tall. Inside each head is a circle that appears to be a brain, containing the figures of men and women that identify public restrooms. Inside the black woman’s head, the figures are jumbled together in a disorderly way, and stretched into different shapes and sizes. The sculptor explains that “this head celebrates diversity and symbolizes a progressive way of thinking.” Inside the white man’s head, uniform figures in straight rows “symbolize an old way of thinking or narrow mindedness,” which “hopefully is disappearing.” The white man’s head is sinking into the ground, while the black woman’s head is upright, gazing boldly ahead. American cities display more than a dozen of Douglas Kornfeld’s works, which often use the symbols for men’s and women’s restrooms. “Meeting of Minds” cost Denver $52,000. [Michael Booth, New Public Art Explores Race, Gender, Stereotypes, Denver Post, Feb. 7, 2005. Douglas Kornfeld, Press Release on “Meeting of Minds,” awaka-inc.com.]

Better as Cabbies

In Canada it is fashionable to believe that highly-qualified immigrants are stuck in menial jobs because they do not get enough help from the government and face discrimination. As Canada’s largest newspaper put it recently, “Canadians regularly meet foreign-trained doctors who drive cabs, engineers who clean floors and professors who wait on tables in their local café. They know something is wrong with their immigration system.” [Carol Goar, Ontario Could Have Led The Way, Toronto Star, Feb. 21, 2005.]

Canada has a doctor shortage — the number of graduates from Canadian medical schools has been declining since the 1980s, and in Ontario only 13 percent of doctors are accepting new patients — and the government thinks immigrants are the solution. This may be wishful thinking. To qualify for a Canadian residency, immigrant doctors must pass a medical exam and then a round of clinical tests of how they deal with patients. Last year, of 1,088 immigrant candidate-doctors, only 15 percent passed both tests.

This year’s crop appears to be similar. So far, the results of the paper test are in, and only 559 of the 1,041 candidates passed. The 559 have taken the clinical test, and the results are not yet known, but The Windsor Star published an e-mail message from one of the examiners as follows: “Just participated in the exam along with some of my colleagues. I was utterly dismayed by the caliber of these finalists. Out of the 30 that went through my . . . station, only two were practice-ready. Half failed to diagnose the straightforward case presentation and were functioning at a medical school level, the remainder were clerkship level. This is the underbelly of the politically correct movement . . . These people will be passed through on the wave of political expediency. The government is playing a shell game with this and is likely to create a public health fiasco.” [Doug Williamson, Many Foreign Physicians not Making the Cut, National Post (Toronto), Feb. 18, 2005. Paul Fromm, Cabbie, Heal Thyself, Canadian Immigration Hotline, March 2005.]

Unpleasant Surprise

The Canary Islands, a Spanish possession 56 miles off the coast of Africa, are a popular destination for illegal immigrants from Africa. Spaniards cannot expel the immigrants, because they come from countries without a repatriation agreement with Spain — or at least claim to — and since they don’t have papers the authorities cannot disprove their claims. The law says they can be detained in the Canaries for only 40 days, since there is no place to put them, so the government dumps them on the streets of Spanish cities on the mainland. Last year, the authorities chartered 227 flights, at a cost of $13,000 each, to send almost 8,000 Africans to Spain. The government issued no warnings, so the arrival of indigent Africans was a disagreeable surprise. In January, the Valencia city hall complained that Africans have tuberculosis and HIV, are sleeping in parks and under bridges, and living off charity or prostitution.

This is only a small part of Spain’s illegal immigration problem. Last year, an estimated 800,000 to a million illegals entered the country, mostly Moroccans and Latin Americans. In January, Spain only encouraged more illegal immigration by granting amnesty to illegals who have worked in the country for at least three years. It also angered other Europeans. Germany and the Netherlands complained that the new “Spaniards” will now be free to move anywhere in the European Union. [Elizabeth Nash, African Migrants Dumped on Spain’s Streets, The Independent (London), Jan. 31, 2005.]

Sewage and Suing

A fight over minority set-asides at a Maryland water and sewage commission has been so bitter, it has led to expensive lawsuits that raised the price of water, resulted in the dismissal of the head of the commission, and even threatened the quality of water delivered to customers. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission serves Montgomery and largely-black Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, and its commissioners are mostly black.

Shaaron Phillips, a black woman, was in charge of giving more of the commission’s sub-contracting business to non-whites. She had extraordinary powers, was extremely aggressive about eliminating white contractors, and did not seem to care if switching to non-whites led to bad service or excess costs. This put her in direct conflict with the manager of the utility, John R. Griffin, who is white. Miss Phillips first rigged the contract for maintaining the utility’s pipes so that minority firms got a better chance at it. When this did not work, she ordered the white-owned maintenance company to hire more minorities. When the company could not find any, she refused to let the commission renew the contract. No one is now looking after the pipes, and it will cost $1.5 million for the utility to catch up on missed maintenance.

Mr. Griffin was theoretically her boss, and in 2003, Miss Phillips filed a discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC against the commission, claiming it was delaying her performance reviews and keeping her from getting raises. The EEOC dismissed the action. She then filed another EEOC suit claiming Mr. Griffin called her “the pied piper for the black people at the commission.” Mr. Griffin denies this. This suit is still pending, but the two together have already cost the commission $220,000, and it has budgeted another $150,000 for future legal fees. These costs were one of the reasons the commission increased rates by three percent this summer, bringing the average annual water bill for a family of three to $255 — very high by national standards.

Things came to a head when Miss Phillips demanded that Delta Chemicals, a contractor that delivered chemicals to the utility, hire more non-white truckers. Miss Phillips recommended two trucking firms, which offered to join Delta as sub-contractors but be paid to do nothing.Delta refused this insulting offer, but Miss Phillips took them off the job, too. The utility got no shipments during this stalemate, and the board of commissioners delayed a vote on what to do. The utility nearly ran out of chemicals, and Mr. Griffin ordered a two-month emergency extension of the Delta contract because inaction “directly threaten[ed] the health” of customers. The board saw this as insubordination, and also wanted to put an end to Mr. Griffin’s fights with Miss Phillips, so it fired him. This violated procedure, but Mr. Griffin accepted a $250,000 buyout and left in October. Perhaps customers can expect yet more rate increases.

Miss Phillips was not left in triumph for long. In the past, she had lobbied the state legislature in favor of a law that would have increased her influence and raised her pay, which was a violation of the utility’s conflict-of-interest policy. On Jan. 31, the commission fired her, citing this violation. Miss Phillips thinks this was retaliation for her lawsuits. No one seems to think it had anything to do with her enthusiasm for set-asides. As for the chemicals, Delta — white-owned but capable — got the contract again. [Matthew Mosk and Lena H. Sun, Contracts, Race Bred Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Rift, Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2005; Race and Contracts at WSSC, Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2005. Lena H. Sun and Matthew Mosk, WSSC Moves To Fire Official, Washington Post, Feb. 1, 2005.]

La Raza Comica

When Raul Yzaguirre took over as president of the Hispanic pressure group National Council of La Raza in 1974, it had a small, disorganized staff and little money. Today La Raza is the largest Hispanic “civil rights” group, with 35,000 members and a $28 million budget. During the 1990s it claimed credit for restoring $20 billion in welfare benefits for immigrants, establishing 100 charter schools, and putting a thousand families a year into new homes.

As he prepared to retire in December, Mr. Yzaguirre reflected on the Hispanization of America that La Raza has so vigorously promoted. “The culture has changed,” he says. “I mean, to walk into HEB [a grocery store in Texas] and feel like you’re in Mexico is pretty profound. You walked into HEB when I was growing up and it felt like every other American chain. They’ve adapted. They’ve Mexicanized their products and services.”

Mr. Yzaguirre says the term “La Raza,” which means “the race” in Spanish, is misunderstood by non-Hispanics, especially if they think it is exclusionary or racist. He says it was coined by Mexican intellectual Jose Vasconcelos, who in 1925 wrote of “la raza cosmica,” the “cosmic race.”

“We’re Caucasian. We’re Arab. We’re Jew. We’re African and we’re Asian, Native American,” he says. “So we celebrate our meztizos, our mixing, our blending of cultures. Some extremists say we’re ‘the race,’ and of course, the real definition is totally opposite. It’s an inclusive term.” [Lynn Brezosky, Longtime La Raza Chief Sees Positive Changes, AP, Dec. 19, 2004.]

A Hard Lesson

Meredith Brace of Santa Barbara was committed to stopping white flight. Before her son entered Harding Elementary School, which is 90 percent Hispanic, she went door-to-door touting the school’s achievements. Later she became PTA president, helped raise money, and held neighborhood meetings to promote the school to whites. She started after-school art and theater classes to bring whites and Hispanics together, but this failed. “We had so few people sign up, we had to eliminate a lot of the classes,” says Mrs. Brace. She tried to make friends with Hispanic parents, “but we have nothing in common. Every time my husband and I would go over for an event, my husband would feel like it was his first time. We haven’t made any friends.”

Mrs. Brace didn’t have much luck convincing whites to send their children to Harding, either. The dozen families she had been wooing recently all sent their children elsewhere, even though they had to drive them to school. “[I]f half of [the neighborhood] is going in that direction, maybe we can carpool,” says one neighbor.

Her son had gone to Harding for three years, but Mrs. Brace concluded he would never feel at home. “He hasn’t been invited to a birthday party. There is absolutely no after-school interaction. For his birthday, he invited four of his classmates. Only one came.” Mrs. Brace finally gave up and transferred her son to a more distant, majority-white school. [Camilla Cohee, Diversity in the Classroom, Santa-Barbara News-Press, Feb. 24, 2005.]

Lexington, Nebraska, a town of 10,000, faces similar problems. As Hispanics pour in to work in meat-packing, whites transfer their children to schools out of town. Lexington now, in effect, has two separate school systems, and the school Superintendent says white flight is the cause. This is “unconscionable,” says Lincoln State Senator Ron Raikes, who is promoting a bill to consolidate Nebraska’s school districts. This would close down many of the smaller schools out of town, and whites would have to attend school with Hispanics. Opponents of the bill claim white parents are fleeing school overcrowding, not Hispanics. The bill is expected to be one of the most hotly contested this year. [Racism Part of Merger Debate, AP, Feb. 11, 2005.]

Hurban Radio

Clear Channel Communications, which owns more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide, is one of the largest broadcasting companies in the country. Clear Channel hopes to profit from increasing numbers of Spanish-speakers, by pushing “Hispanic radio.” It has converted a number of well-known classic rock stations in Washington, DC, Houston, Atlanta and Orlando to a Spanish-language format known as “Hurban” — a blending of Hispanic and black “urban” music, which features reggaeton (Puerto Rican-style reggae), Spanish hip-hop and Latin dance music. The stations try to appeal to 18- to 34-year-olds, the group advertisers like best.

The latest Clear Channel station to go from rock to Hurban is WZTA 94.9 FM in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. David Ross, Clear Channel regional vice president, says he made the change because none of Clear Channel’s 15 south Florida stations broadcast in Spanish, and their revenues were suffering. He says half the region’s 900,000 18- to 34-year-olds are Hispanic, and that advertisers spend $98 million a year to reach them. The station now plays Spanish-language songs, and its DJs speak “Spanglish.”

Tom Taylor, editor of the Inside Radio newsletter, says that when Clear Channel switched its Atlanta station to Hurban, its ratings increased nearly six-fold. “You’re going to see this everywhere,” he predicts. [Tom Jicha, Young Hispanics Drive New Format on Broward Radio, Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 12, 2005, p. B4.]

Clear Channel pulled the same switcheroo in Orlando. Listeners to Oldies Radio 100.3 FM were caught by surprise when it converted to Hurban on Feb. 3. The station switched at noon without warning, leaving English-speaking listeners fuming. “I almost drove off the road when I heard it,” says Sandy Winters. “I was very upset . . . I think we could have diversity here, but not by taking away what we have. They could have added a Spanish-language format elsewhere.”

“People are kind of mad,” says Linda Conner. “I don’t dislike the salsa music, but it seems like we are a minority now and this is being shoved in our face everywhere we turn.”

Hispanics say Clear Channel is just responding to the growing consumer power of Hispanic immigrants who, at 465,000, are now the largest non-white group in central Florida. “I don’t think this is about replacing any other group,” says Marytza Sanz, president of Latino Leadership. “If most of our minority residents had been from Asia we would be listening to Asian music, and that would be fine. But this is reality, and many people are learning to eat black beans and yellow rice with us or to listen to salsa.”

Clear Channel says it is just a business decision. As regional vice president Linda Byrd explains, “We own seven radio stations here in Orlando, and six of them are targeted at the white consumer, so it’s not like we have reverse discrimination going on.” Hispanics are happy the station has gone from oldies to Hurban. “It blew me away when I heard rumba,” says Daisy Galarza. “I don’t think we lose anything by getting more culture here.” [Victor Manuel Ramos, Radio Tunes in Cultural Uproar, Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2005, p. A1.]

Desperate Measures

Two thirds of Philadelphia’s 185,000 students are black. The district suffers from the inevitable problems, and is reaching deep into its bag of tricks to try to solve them. On February 16, the city’s School Reform Commission voted unanimously to offer classes in black American and African history in each of its 53 high schools, and the district is even considering making the courses mandatory. If it does, it would be the first school district to make black history a graduation requirement. The reform commission has also ordered the district to hire more non-white teachers and administrators, produce a plan to close the racial achievement gap, and discover new teaching methods that will work for blacks — boys especially. [Susan Snyder, All High Schools to Offer Courses in Black History, Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 17, 2005, p. B4.]

Business is Booming

Robert Mugabe’s war on whites in Zimbabwe is destroying not just the economy but the medical system, once one of Africa’s best. Zimbabwe’s National Medical Association says 40 percent of the doctors who used to work in the capital, Harare, have left the country, and that there are fewer than 900 doctors left in the whole country. Most medical school graduates go abroad to practice, and hospitals are running out of supplies.

The decline of modern medicine has been a windfall for witchdoctors, known as “healers.” They use tribal cures concocted from roots, bark, leaves, animal parts, and, sometimes, human organs. Many claim to have divine powers.

Julius Churi is a typical healer. He diagnoses diseases by throwing four animal bones in the air and seeing how they land. He doses patients with traditional medicines, and says customers are renewing their faith in the supernatural. “People are discovering that traditional medicines work more effectively than modern medicines,” he says. “Our methods are more effective because they are informed by supernatural powers. I am unlike these doctors who went to school to learn to treat patients. I communicate directly with the gods and spirits and they are the ultimate owners of humanity.”

Martin Mutero of Harare, who has consulted healers, says he doesn’t believe they are better than doctors, but says he has no choice. “What can you take when there are no drugs in state hospitals, no doctors to give any advice, no equipment to even examine your blood pressure and basically nothing to do anything for you when you enter state hospitals and clinics? You have to try whatever is at your disposal, including traditional healing.” [Basildon Peta, With Zimbabwe’s Heath Sector in Ruins, Witchdoctors are Busy, The Independent (London), Feb. 3, 2005.]

DiversiTV

Television advertisers use images of Americans of all races mingling in casual settings like bars and neighborhood gatherings, to convey an inclusive image they think will sell products to all ethnicities. The trend began in the 1980s when United Colors of Bennetton ran an ad with a black man and a white woman holding up an Asian child. In 1989, Bennetton ran another ad showing a black woman breastfeeding a white baby. Last year, Verizon, a telecommunications company, ran a series of ads about a mixed-raced white/Hispanic family, and it is now routine in commercials to see people of all races acting as if they were old friends.

While TV ads pretend race doesn’t matter, real Americans rarely mix voluntarily. Sociologist Charles Gallagher of Georgia State University, says television advertising is creating a “carefully manufactured racial utopia . . . that is far afield of reality,” noting that only around seven percent of marriages are interracial, and that most Americans have few close friends of another race. He says 80 percent of whites live in neighborhoods where 95 percent of their neighbors are white.

Sonya Grier, a marketing professor at Stanford, agrees that racially-inclusive ads are unrealistic, but says they show that “multiculturalism is socially desirable” and “reflects our aspirations, what we can be.” [Multiracial Scenes Are Now Common in Ads, AP, Feb. 15, 2005.]

Mexico’s Heroes

A new drug war is raging in Mexico. It started last year when gang leaders Osiel Cardenas and Benjamin Arellano joined forces to challenge the Juarez cartel, led by Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquin Guzman. Since then, drug-related murders have soared, with more than 100 killings in January alone. The cartels are fighting for control of smuggling routes, so most of the violence is along the US border. There is now so much lawlessness in the area that the American consul at Nuevo Laredo, just south of the Texas border, says 21 American citizens were kidnapped in and around the town between last August and January. Two were killed. The State Department even issued a warning to American tourists about crime in the area — and got an official complaint from Mexico. [Chris Hawley, New Drug War Besets Mexico, Worries US, Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Jan. 30, 2005. Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, Inmates Undercut Drug War, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2005.]

Violence is spreading beyond the border. American police think a Mexican gang called the Zetas has killed at least three people in the Dallas area, and is responsible for hundreds of murders and kidnappings in Mexico. The Zetas are particularly dangerous because they are former members of the Special Air Mobile Force Group, an elite Mexican paratrooper unit established to fight the drug trade. Thirty-one paratroopers have gone over to the other side and hired themselves out to drug runners. The Zetas have offered $50,000 to anyone who kills a US border-patrol agent, and may even have 80 Soviet-made SA-7 missile launchers from Nicaragua that US intelligence believes were recently on the black market. [Jerry Seper, Ex-Troops Aiding Drug Traffickers, Washington Times, Feb. 24, 2005.]

It is hard to punish big-time Mexican drug dealers. Joaquin Guzman of the Juarez cartel has operated freely since 2001, when guards helped him escape from a maximum security prison. Police know where he is but cannot arrest him because he has corrupted and intimidated police and townspeople in his home town of Badiraguato, Sinaloa, in Northwestern Mexico. The locals fear him much more than they do the authorities, and the mayor will not even say his name out loud to a reporter. Locals always warn Mr. Guzman when they see police on their way to his remote house. [James C. McKinley Jr., How Far Has Drug Lord Burrowed In Mexico? New York Times, Feb. 10, 2005.]

This kind of beyond-the-law swaggering helps explain why drug dealers have become national heroes for many Mexicans. Mexico has long celebrated outlaws in folk songs known as corridos. These songs first appeared in the 1820s, when the country became independent, and during the revolution of 1910-17 they popularized the exploits of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

The growth of the drug trade in the 1970s gave birth to a new variety called narcocorrido, which celebrate the sexual prowess of smugglers, the tricks they use to get drugs into the US, and their shoot-outs with Mexican or American police. After a successful drug run, smugglers often hire a singer to write a narcocorrido about it. The songs are popular in the United States, where the last album of Los Tigres del Norte, the best known group of this genre, sold 500,000 copies. [Chris Summers and Dominic Bailey, Mexico’s Forbidden Songs, BBC News Online, Oct. 3, 2004.]

Recently, the Mexican government ordered millions of new books for school libraries, and was embarrassed when a collection of corridos turned out to include some narcocorridos. This appears to have been an oversight, though some education officials are promoting the collection as a celebration of the common man. [Mark Stevenson, Drug Trafficker Songs in Mexico Kids’ Book, AP, Feb. 27, 2005.]

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