American Renaissance, March 2006
The reaction to the publication of twelve caricatures of Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten shows how alien fundamentalist Islam is from Western culture. It all started with an author’s failure to find an illustrator for a book. Last September, Kare Bluitgen, a Danish children’s author, could find no one willing to illustrate a children’s book on Mohammed. Danish artists knew that Islam forbids depictions of the prophet, and they feared they might meet the fate of Dutch director Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim for making a film critical of Islam. [Danish Artists Scared of Islam, DR Nyheder (Denmark), Sept. 16, 2005.]
When he heard about this, Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s largest newspaper, decided to assert Danes’ right to free speech. He commissioned cartoonists to draw Mohammed, and published 12 cartoons at the end of September. The most provocative showed Mohammed with a bomb instead of a turban.
Muslim protests began a week later with a demonstration in the heart of Copenhagen against “Islamophobia.” The leader of an influential Danish mosque then led a delegation to several Muslim countries to complain about Denmark. In October, eleven Muslim states demanded that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen meet with their ambassadors to discuss the cartoons. The prime minister refused, saying the government cannot influence the press. [Jörg Lau, Allah und der Humor, Die Zeit (Hamburg), Jan. 2, 2006.]
Jyllands-Posten began getting death threats and demands for apologies, but Mr. Rose stood firm. “They’re asking for subordination — for us as non-Muslims to follow Muslim taboos in the public domain,” he explained. [Imam Demands Apology for Mohammed Cartoons, Copenhagen Post, Oct. 10, 2006. James Brandon, Danish Editor Tests Right to Violate Muslim Taboos, Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 10, 2005.]
Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Iran recalled their ambassadors because the newspaper and the Danish government would not apologize unreservedly for the cartoons. Angry crowds burned the Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon, and attacked the embassy in Indonesia. In Lebanon, one of the demonstrators died in the attack, and 32 protestors and police were injured. The cartoons have been condemned by heads of state and in angry demonstrations in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Seventeen Arab countries have called on the Danish government to punish the newspaper. A boycott of Danish products in the Middle East is costing Danish dairy giant Arla Foods $1.8 million in sales every day, and the company has laid off workers. [Lebanese Torch Danish Embassy Over Cartoons, Reuters, Feb. 5, 2006. Outrage Grows over Mohammed Cartoons, CBS/AP, Feb. 3, 2006. Iran Recalls Ambassador to Denmark, Reuters, Feb. 5, 2006. Protestors Torch Danish Embassy in Beirut, AP, Feb. 6, 2006. Hamish Rutherford, Cartoon Backlash Costs Arla £1m a Day, Scotsman (Edinburgh), Feb. 4, 2006.]
In London, one thousand Muslims gathered outside the Danish embassy on February 4. They chanted slogans threatening more bombings in London and carried signs saying, “Behead those who insult Islam,” “Freedom go to hell,” and “Be prepared for the real Holocaust.” Although the demonstrators were clearly threatening violence, police made no arrests for fear of a riot. The police did detain two counter-demonstrators carrying cartoons of Mohammed — in order to prevent a breach of peace. British conservatives protested the double standard. [Muslim Protests are Incitement to Murder, Say Tories, Telegraph (London), Feb. 5, 2006.]
The Danes have begun to waffle. In his New Year’s Day address, Prime Minister Rasmussen urged the press to exercise free speech “in such a manner that we do not incite hatred and cause fragmentation of the community that is one of Denmark’s strengths.” At the end of January, Jyllands-Posten’s chief editor said, “We apologize for the fact that the cartoons undeniably have offended many Muslims.” However, neither the editor nor the government apologized outright for the cartoons. Polls show that large majorities of Danes oppose apologies. [Per Bech Thomsen, Danish Step Over Cartoons Eases Muslim Anger, Reuters, Jan. 4, 2006. Danish Paper Apologizes for Muhammad Cartoons Offense, Bloomberg, Jan. 31, 2006. Anthony Browne, ‘This is Not Just About Cartoons, but Standing Up for Our Values,’ Times (London), Feb. 1, 2006.]
Western elites have almost all said Jyllands-Posten was in the wrong. EU commissioner, Franco Frattini, called the cartoons “thoughtless and inappropriate.” The UN Commissioner on Human Rights, Louise Arbour, wrote, “I find alarming any behaviors that disregard the beliefs of others. This kind of thing is unacceptable.” She also said UN experts on racism would investigate. The US State Department said, “Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable.” The Vatican called the cartoons “unacceptable provocation.” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said republication of the cartoons in other newspapers “has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful, and it has been wrong.” Only French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy has defended Jyllands-Posten, saying he prefers “an excess of caricature to an excess of censor.” [Outraged: Cartoon Controversy Threatens Free Press, Florida Alligator, Feb. 2, 2006. Saul Hudson, US Backs Muslims in Cartoon Dispute, Reuters, Feb. 3, 2006. European Elite Scrambles to Defuse Furor Over Caricatures of Muhammad, Guardian (London), Feb. 3, 2006.]
European newspapers have shown solidarity with Jyllands-Posten. Papers in Norway, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy reprinted the cartoons or their own caricatures of Mohammed. The Norwegian Christian newspaper Magazinet published the cartoons along with interviews with two Norwegian artists who said they would not draw Mohammed out of fear for their lives. The paper then had to endure an apology by the Norwegian government, and dozens of death threats. The editor apologized. The owner of France Soir fired its editor for printing cartoons of religious figures, including Mohammed, with the caption, “Don’t worry Mohammed, we’ve all been caricatured here.” [Norway Editor Regrets Mohammad Images After Threats, Reuters, Feb. 3, 2006. French Editor is Sacked over Cartoon, Reuters, Feb. 2, 2006. Alan Cowell, More European Papers Print Cartoons of Muhammad, Fueling Dispute With Muslims, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2006.]
So far, no major American newspaper has reprinted the cartoons, though millions of Americans have seen them on the Internet.
BNP Wins Round One
On Jan. 16, the British government put British National Party chairman Nick Griffin and BNP activist Mark Collett on trial for incitement to racial hatred because of speeches the two made in West Yorkshire in 2004. A BBC reporter had sneaked into the meetings and videoed them without permission. The extracts from the speeches that the prosecution read were largely focused on Muslim rapes of white women and other Asian-on-white crimes — in Britain, “Asian” means Indian and Pakistani. Mr. Griffin said Britain was becoming “a multiracial hellhole” and that Islam was “a wicked, vicious faith.” He also said Muslims were responsible for a “rape wave” in the town of Keighley, and that the Koran encourages Muslims to rape non-Muslim women. Mr. Collett said there were at least two rapes of white girls by gangs of Asians in Britain every week. The prosecution argued that these speeches were aimed at inciting racial hatred. [BNP Leader ‘Warned of Multiracial Hell Hole,’ Press Association (UK), Jan. 17, 2006.]
The pair’s defense was that their speeches could not be considered incitement to racial hatred because they were attacking Islam, not Asians, many of whom are not Muslims. Mr. Griffin pointed out that at one of the speeches he had condemned an attack by whites on an elderly Asian man, and told the audience that whoever had committed the attack should be hanged. His audience burst into applause. He said, “I admire people of all races but I would prefer my children, my people, to keep themselves to themselves.” He told the jury he had Sikh friends who agreed with him: “they want their grandchildren to look like they do.” [Paul Stokes, Islam is a Wicked, Vicious Faith, BNP Leader Tells Court, Telegraph (London), Jan. 26, 2006.]
Mr. Collett said he had never laid the blame for ethnic turmoil in Britain at the door of non-whites; rather, he had blamed “the Labour party, the establishment and the media.” He said the Labour party is a “soft touch” for asylum seekers, and the media underplays Muslim crime in Britain. Both defendants showed that their accounts of Asian-on-white crimes were based on government statistics and newspaper articles. [BNP Man ‘Didn’t Blame All Asians,’ BBC News, Jan. 24, 2006.]
On February 2, the jury acquitted Mr. Griffin of two charges relating to one of his speeches, but could not decide whether the “vicious, wicked faith” speech was incitement to racial hatred. Mr. Collett was acquitted of four charges, but the jury hung on four others. The British government says it will retry the two men on the unresolved charges. [BNP Duo to Face Race Hate Retrial, BBC News, Feb. 2, 2006. Nick Griffin and Mark Collett’s trial diary, Free Speech on Trial, http://freespeech ontrial.blogspot.com/.]
Recently “Stop Snitching” T-shirts have popped up in various cities to warn crime witnesses against informing on criminals. Police believe the shirts were inspired by a DVD put out by drug dealers and starring basketball star Carmelo Anthony. It threatened crime witnesses with a “hole in the head” for talking to police.
Buffalo policeman Anthony Barba says he first saw the T-shirts at a murder scene. He looked up and saw them being sold in a store window and then noticed a man walking back and forth around the crime scene wearing one. “This kind of thing in the community is a big deterrent to people coming out,” he says. “They have enough fear as it is.”
Some people wear the shirts because they are fashionable. Kyiesha Keeley of the Hip Hop Closet in Brooklyn, where the shirt is a big seller, explains: “A lot of times people are wearing things just for a fashion statement and not for what exactly it says. . . . But definitely some are wearing it as a badge of honor: ‘This is what I stand for.’”
There is no law against wearing the shirts. However, Massachusetts has banned them in courthouses after they showed up at trials. The state has also banned cell phones with cameras in them after friends of a defendant were caught using cell phones to take pictures of witnesses and the prosecutor. Mayor Menino of Boston is trying to discourage stores from selling the shirts, but ACLU lawyers say this violates free speech rights. [‘Stop Snitching T-shirts Stir Concern, AP, Jan. 4, 2006. ‘Stop Snitching’ Logo Banned from Courthouses, AP, Jan. 11, 2006.]
Hero of Hate
Users of Black Entertainment Television’s website, have elected Louis Farrakhan as the 2005 BET.com Person of the Year. They chose Mr. Farrakhan over Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Robert L. Johnson, who started BET, and “the suffering victims of Hurricane Katrina of New Orleans.” Mr. Farrakhan told BET.com he was greatly honored to receive the award and would continue “the work of the liberation of our people.” [Tracy Stokes, Min. Louis Farrakhan 2005 ‘Person of the Year,’ BET.com, Dec. 19, 2005.]
What did Mr. Farrakhan do to win this honor? Mr. Farrakhan got heavy news coverage twice in 2005. Once was when he promoted the theory that whites blew up the New Orleans levees to destroy black neighborhoods. The other was his “Millions More Movement” organized on the National Mall on October 15th to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March. Here are some of the things the speakers said on that occasion:
“We want to say to our young brothers of the Crips and the Bloods that we are one family. The real enemy doesn’t wear blue, but white, even when he’s butt naked.” — Michael Muhammad, National Youth Minister for the Nation of Islam.
“We are at war here in America and across the world. . . . We need soldiers now. We need black male soldiers, we need black feminist soldiers, we need Crips and Bloods soldiers . . . soldiers in the prisons, soldiers in the streets.” — Ayende Baptiste.
“We must force the lying, bloodsucking administration of this country to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe.” — Viola Plummer, National Chairman of the Millions for Reparations Campaign.
“Is Mumia Abu Jamal the real criminal or is the real criminal the president of the United States? . . . On the charge of drowning our people in New Orleans and sabotaging the levees, how do you find George Bush?” — Malik Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party.
Other speakers said Katrina rescue crews had deliberately passed over blacks on rooftops so they could rescue whites and that “our slave masters” were in charge of the rescue equipment. The Congressional Black Caucus endorsed the event and five black Congressmen attended. [Steve Malzberg, Louis Farrakhan’s Inclusiveness, NewsMax, Oct. 17, 2005. Black Liberals Support Farrakhan Event, NewsMax, Oct. 4, 2005. More Than A Million Pledged To Restore, Rebuild and Repair Broken Lives, etc., Millions More Movement Press Release, Oct. 15, 2006.]
Camels for Norway
A Norwegian village has thought of a new way to keep refugees happy: give them camels. The refugee council of the village of Loeten in southeast Norway has applied for government money to bring 20 camels to the village for its 100 refugees, most of whom are from East Africa. “It’s hard to find jobs for anyone here,” refugee council leader Wenche Stenseth explained. “Then we found out that many of the refugees here have nomadic backgrounds, and know a lot about camel farming. So we want to import camels, and employ the refugees so that they can use the skills they already have.” The camels are supposed to provide milk, fur, hides and meat for the village, and the farm might become a tourist attraction.
The refugees are enthusiastic. However, if the town does get camels, they will be a different breed from the ones the refugees are used to. Only Bactrian camels, which come from the icy steppes of Russia and Mongolia, can survive in Norway. [Lars Bevanger, African Hopes Ride on Norway Camels, BBC News, Jan. 16, 2006. Norway Eyes Icebreakers of the Desert, SAPA-AFP, Jan. 4, 2006.]
Blacks vs. Africans
On Oct. 31, Jacob Gray, a 13-year-old from Liberia, was walking home from Tilden Middle School in Philadelphia when a gang of young blacks beat him so badly he needed hospitalization. Philadelphia police were unsure of the motive — they think the boy may have been suspected of being a snitch — but members of the Liberian community say it was an anti-African hate crime, and hardly the first.
“It’s been going on for quite a while,” says Sekou Kamara, a Temple University student. He says his younger brother was beaten up by blacks and that his sister had her braids ripped out by others. He believes American blacks view African immigrants as a threat. “You have this increasing African community competing with African-American kids,” he says.
Other Liberians believe blacks resent their success. “There’s anger about African immigrants coming here and doing so well,” says Orabella Richards, who teaches black medical personnel how to deal with African immigrants. “You see them fixing up their houses, buying cars.”
Black children, particularly, resent Africans. Tilden Middle School is 90 percent black and 20 percent West African. Liberian parents say American blacks make fun of their children’s accents and darker skin. “The kids talk about being called African chimps, African monkeys, sometimes being told to go back to Africa,” says Portia Kamara. She says African students form gangs to protect themselves.
“The worst of all is if you’re good in class,” says Varney Karneh, a Liberian immigrant and host of a local radio talk program. African immigrants make some American blacks look bad, “and they don’t want to look bad,” he adds. [Robert Moran, Gaiutra Bahudar and Susan Snyder, Residents Say Attack Exposes Larger Problem, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 2005, p. B1.]
Robbing the Hangman
On Nov. 8, 1999, Wesley Harris, a 27-year-old black fast food worker hijacked and kidnapped Whitney Land, a 22-year-old white woman, and her two-year-old daughter Jordan at a park in Clayton County, Georgia. Mr. Harris drove them to Gwinnett County, where he shot them at point-blank range. An autopsy showed Mr. Harris had put his gun right against the child’s face and shot her while she was still strapped into her car seat. With the help of a friend who arrived after the killings, he put the bodies in the trunk “at obscene angles,” according to press accounts, and then set the car on fire. It was not hard for police to catch Mr. Harris; he called his friend on the dead woman’s cell phone.
Mr. Harris went on trial last fall. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter sought the death penalty and was sure he would get it. He says it was the strongest case for the death penalty he has ever tried. The trial lasted for 13 days, and the jurors took ten hours to convict Mr. Harris of first-degree murder. Some jurors said they could have reached a verdict in minutes, but wanted to go over all of the evidence “just to make sure.” Afterwards, the jurors met again for the sentence. After deliberating for an hour, they voted ten to two for the death penalty. The majority favoring the death penalty tried to persuade the other two, but they wouldn’t budge. Mr. Harris will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jurors who voted for death are unhappy. “We’re angry that the system didn’t work and frustrated that we didn’t see the outcome we thought we should have seen,” says Denise Schneiders. “Justice wasn’t done.” Another juror adds, “I really feel like our verdict was stolen from us. We feel robbed by two people for reasons that were not really voiced.” The holdouts said only that they couldn’t vote for the death penalty. At least one juror speculated that the issue was race. The ten who voted for the death penalty were white; the two others were a black and an Asian. [Lateef Mungin, Death Sentence ‘Stolen,’ Angry Jurors Say, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 13, 2005, p. E1.]
In 2003, John Smith, a white 51-year-old retired Navy submariner, began a second career as a teacher at predominantly black Brentwood Middle School in Charleston, South Carolina. It was not a pleasant experience. The students cursed, harassed and insulted him every day. He complained to the principal, Wanda Marshall, but she would not allow students to be disciplined because of behavior towards Mr. Smith and other white teachers. Mr. Smith filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), accusing Brentwood’s administration of allowing a racially hostile environment at the school. In April 2004, Principal Marshall told Mr. Smith he had successfully completed his first year of teaching, but that he was not welcome to return to Brentwood. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Smith went public with his EEOC complaint, after which he received a letter informing him that he had not successfully completed his first year of teaching, which effectively ended his teaching career. In South Carolina, first-year teachers have no right to appeal dismissals.
Mr. Smith then filed a lawsuit against the school district in federal court. Last fall the district agreed to settle with Mr. Smith for $50,000. The district did not admit any wrongdoing, but Mr. Smith’s lawyer says it did concede there were racial problems at the school. Mr. Smith, who now works as a longshoreman, says that he hopes his experience will encourage other white teachers to fight discrimination. [School District Settles Racial Allegation Case, AP, Nov. 6, 2005.]
Singing the Blues
On Feb. 1, New York City evicted the Harlem Boys Choir from its headquarters at the Choir Academy of Harlem. The choir has performed all over the world, but has fallen victim to financial mismanagement and bad leadership by its director and founder, Walter Turnbull. Things have been unraveling since one of the choir’s employees was convicted of molesting a chorister in 2002. The group is $5 million in debt, and did not honor an agreement to replace Mr. Turnbull, who was accused of covering up the molestation and keeping the molester on the payroll. The city says the choir has also failed to live up to its responsibilities to provide counselors, tutors, and musical training, and to offer a summer institute.
Mr. Turnbull accuses the city of racial bias. “They want to marginalize me as a black man,” he says. He is not alone. In late January a group of choir parents sued the city, claiming it is discriminating against a school run by blacks. They want the eviction reversed and demand more city money. [David Usborne, Harlem Boys Choir is Told to Face the Music and Leave the Premises, Independent (London), Jan. 5, 2006. Deepti Hajela, City Evicts Debt-laden Boys’ Choir from Home, AP, Feb. 5, 2006.]
Menace in Milwaukee
On Dec. 27, Samuel McClain, a 50-year-old black father of 12, was driving through northwest Milwaukee, Wisconsin, looking for crack. When the deal went bad, a gang of at least 15 black teenagers and young men beat him within an inch of his life. Witnesses told police that men jumped off cars and did flips onto Mr. McClain’s head, laughed, and blasted music as if they were having a “block party.” “They just started stomping on him, beating him,” said one witness. “They were having fun, like it was normal, like it was an everyday thing.” Mr. McClain is said to have brought on the attack by honking his horn at men who were blocking the road.
Although not quite yet an everyday occurrence, black mob violence has become increasingly common in Milwaukee. There were four such incidents in 2004. On July 4, blacks robbed 54-year-old David Rutledge and beat him so mercilessly he later died of his injuries. Four days later, a group of older boys attacked a 14-year-old after he supposedly had a playground argument with a girl to whom they were related. Later that month a mob of blacks attacked and beat a man whom a neighborhood girl falsely accused of groping her. On July 29, 2004, a gang fell upon a16-year-old and his brother, and beat them with bats, bottles, sticks, and socks stuffed with canned food. The most notorious incident of mob violence was in 2002 when at least a dozen blacks — including children — attacked 36-year-old Charlie Young, Jr., and beat him to death with shovels, tree limbs and other weapons.
The mob attacks have prompted police to push for a new law that would add one to five extra years of prison time to the sentence of anyone convicted of violence as part of a mob — defined as three or more people. [John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge, Attackers Sought in Driver’s Beating, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Dec. 28, 2005. John Diedrich, Felicia Thomas-Lynn and Bob Purvis, At Least 9 Held in Mob Beating, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Dec. 28, 2005. Carrie Antlfinger, Milwaukee Mob Beating a Drug Deal Gone Bad, Police Say, AP, Jan. 18, 2006.]
In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas, from whom Americans get Santa Claus, does not arrive by sleigh on Christmas Eve. He comes by a boat from Spain on Dec. 5, and has a black-faced assistant named Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete. According to legend dating back to the twelfth century, Pete is black because he climbs down chimneys to deliver presents, although some variations on the legend hint that he may be Sinterklass’s Moorish slave. The latter view may be gaining support from the way in which Zwarte Piet is portrayed by contemporary Dutchmen: they wear woolly Afro wigs, black greasepaint and thick red lipstick.
“I understand it’s in their tradition to celebrate the event,” complains Patrick Chapell, a black American living in Utrecht, “but I must admit I am deeply offended.” Mr. Chapell is not alone. The population of the Netherlands is now more than 10 percent non-white, and many are offended.
Most Dutch fail to see what the fuss is about. “It’s our tradition, and I am really proud of it,” says Marjoline Wentzel. “I don’t see any racism in it. It’s just fun.” “I think I speak on behalf of many Dutch people when I say it’s utter nonsense to associate it with racism,” says Bert Theunissen, a history professor at Utrecht University. It’s a tradition that goes back to way before the 19th century, and it simply has no racial connotations whatsoever.” The Dutch government believes the legend of Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet is such an integral part of Dutch culture that it is included in the test it gives to immigrants who want to stay. [Bruce Mutsvairo, Dutch Sinterklass Tradition Stirs Racial Umbrage, Christian Science Monitor (Boston), Dec. 22, 2005.]
Blacks vs. Hispanics
On Feb. 4, blacks and Hispanics fought each other at the North County Correctional Facility, a 34-acre maximum-security jail housing 21,000 prisoners in Castaic, California, 40 miles north of Los Angeles. The violence left one inmate dead and 50 injured, 20 badly enough to be hospitalized. It took more than 200 deputies armed with tear gas and pepper-ball guns to restore order.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says the riot began around 3:30 in the afternoon when Hispanic inmates began throwing bunks and furniture from the upper level of a dormitory onto blacks in a lower-level day room. He thinks it was in revenge for a stabbing of a Hispanic by a black two days earlier at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. “It is essentially a brown-on-black incident today which led to the fighting that occurred in these dorms,” he says. There were 200 prisoners involved in the initial outbreak, but it quickly turned into “massive chaos.” Inmates used fists, parts of beds, shoes and anything they could grab as weapons.
This was just the latest racial violence in the Los Angeles County prison system, which is 60 percent Hispanic and 30 percent black. There have been four nasty incidents since last December. On Jan. 13, a fight between blacks and Hispanics at the same North County jail put three men in the hospital. Last Dec. 27, 62 blacks and Hispanics fought it out at North County. On Dec. 4, 162 black and Hispanic prisoners rioted at the East Facility at the Pitchess center, leaving 22 injured. Three days later, 12 more inmates were injured during a fight involving 117 black and Hispanic prisoners at the same jail. One of the worst riots was at Pitchess in 2000 when several days of violence left 80 inmates injured, mostly blacks. Sheriff Baca separated the men by race, but they fought again as soon as they were reintegrated.
After the latest riot, a Hispanic inmate handed the sheriff a note that said, “if blacks come into the dorms we will fight.” It asked that he “please separate us by race for everyone’s safety.” After consulting with county lawyers, Sheriff Baca did just that — despite a Feb. 2005 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting racial segregation in California prisons. Sheriff Baca knows racial violence in prisons “is impossible to prevent.” “They will divide on racial lines,” he says. “There is a code of race. [You] are required to defend your race.” [Jean Guccione, Stuart Pfeifer and Rich Connell, 1 Killed, 50 Hurt in County Jail Race Riot, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 5, 2006.]