Posted on August 1, 2007

O Tempora, O Mores! (August, 2007)

American Renaissance, August 2007

Victory — For Now

In March, the National Council of La Raza (“the race” in Spanish) presented its 2007 Capital Award to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. In his acceptance speech, Sen. Graham explained that when he was a young Air Force JAG officer, a Hispanic sergeant showed him the ropes. He was “one of the finest men I ever knew,” said Sen. Graham, which apparently explains why we must not enforce our immigration laws. Sen. Graham ended his speech with a promise to keep pushing for “a path to citizenship.” “We’re going to tell the bigots to shut up,” he declared to sustained applause.

On June 28, the “bigots” — meaning the majority of Americans — told Lindsey Graham to shut up. And Ted Kennedy, John McCain, Mel Martinez, and Harry Reid and all the other Senators who supported so-called comprehensive immigration reform. It was the second time public anger stopped the legislation. Majority Leader Harry Reid first tried to push the bill through before Memorial Day. Pro-enforcement senators like Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana and John Cornyn of Texas were able to drag out debate while immigration-control organizations rallied supporters for a massive show of grassroots opposition to the bill. As a result of intense public pressure on the Senate, on June 7, the bill failed on a cloture vote, which was necessary to stop debate and put the bill to a vote.

At President Bush’s urging, Sen. Reid brought the bill back in mid-June, using procedural tactics to limit debate. President Bush then twisted arms, trying to get Republicans to back what he called his number-one domestic priority, while his allies sharpened their rhetoric. Mel Martinez of Florida, a Cuban immigrant who also serves as GOP chairman, joined Sen. Graham in calling opponents simple-minded bigots: they “just want to build a fence.” Sen. Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, implied that public opposition was driven by ignorance, and Sen. Edward Kennedy said enforcing immigration law would amount to using “Gestapo tactics.”

On Tuesday, June 26, it looked as though the bill might pass after the vote to bring it back passed with 64 votes. Another cloture vote — again to end debate and pave the way for a vote on final passage — was scheduled for Thursday, June 28. Over the next two days, tens of thousands of Americans faxed, e-mailed and phoned the Senate. According to Sen. Jeff Sessions, the calls overloaded the Senate switchboard. On Thursday morning, no one was quite sure how the vote would go; both sides claimed optimism. But once voting got underway, it was clear the Senate would submit to the will of the people. In the end, the cloture motion failed badly, with only 46 votes out of the necessary 60. It was a tremendous victory for the American people.

Some legislators still haven’t gotten the message. Harry Reid has not ruled out bringing the bill back a third time, and other senators may try to pass parts of the bill, such as the so-called Dream Act, which would grant citizenship to illegal alien students. [James Rowley and Nicholas Johnston, Immigration Legislation Blocked Again in US Senate, Bloomberg News, June 28, 2007. US Senate Defeats Immigration Bill, Reuters, June 28, 2007.]

Another Victory

In order to ensure “diversity” in public schools, both Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky limit the number of whites in certain schools. Seattle classifies each student as “white” or “non-white” and assigns them accordingly, while Louisville keeps black enrollment at all schools between 15 and 50 percent. White parents sued, claiming their children were kept out of schools because of race. On June 28, the Supreme Court issued a five-to-four ruling against the school systems. Four justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, ruled that race-based student assignment violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. According to Chief Justice Roberts, “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin. The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons.” His conclusion? “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, relishing the role of “swing justice” he inherited from Sandra Day O’Connor, refused to join in Justice Roberts’ ruling. He agreed that the two school districts in question had gone too far in assigning students by race, but refused to rule out all race-based decision-making. He wrote a concurring opinion in which he described the race-blind position as “all-too-unyielding,” and “dismissive” of cases in which the government may take race into account to ensure that “all people have equal opportunity regardless of their race” (whatever such cases may be). Justice Kennedy thinks diversity is so important that race discrimination is sometimes justified in achieving it — just not quite as much discrimination as Seattle and Louisville were practicing. One of his proposed race-conscious measures would be “strategic site selection” of schools, or building them between black and white neighborhoods so they get a mix of students.

The Court’s four liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stephens — were incensed at the majority ruling, claiming it “betrayed” the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. In his dissent on behalf of the other liberals, Justice Breyer warned that both the Court and the nation “will come to regret” the ruling. He thinks racial discrimination is justified and desirable if it increases diversity.

Because Justice Kennedy refused to join the Court’s conservatives in declaring that the way to stop discrimination is by not discriminating, the victory is not complete. Only four of the nine justices have taken the position that racial discrimination by government is always wrong. Still, experts say many school systems will now abandon “race-conscious” student assignment. Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of the nation’s largest urban public school systems, says the Court has left little room for maneuver so “many school districts are likely to give up.” [Robert Barnes, Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, Washington Post, June 29, 2007.]

Ward Connerly, who led the fight for racial preference bans in California and Michigan, hailed the ruling: “The Supreme Court today made a glorious decision that directly fits with our plans to eliminate race in all facets of American public life. This Supreme Court decision shows that the era of race preferences is quickly coming to an end.” [Jennifer Bollenbach, Connerly Declares Supreme Court Decision ‘Glorious Victory,’ American Civil Rights Institute, June 29, 2007.]

Happy Juneteenth

“Juneteenth” is a black “holiday” that commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union troops under General Gordan Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and told slaves the War Between the States was over, and that they were free. Juneteenth is becoming increasingly popular among blacks, and many cities now mark the day with parades.

Juneteenth celebrations, however, suffer from a malady that frequently afflicts black gatherings. This year, in Syracuse, New York, police stopped the fun three hours early when rival groups of blacks started fighting each other. Three were stabbed and 14 were arrested. [Robert A. Baker and Pam Lundborg, Brawls Mar Juneteenth, Post-Standard (Syracuse), June 17, 2007.]

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the revels turned violent for the second year in a row. A mob of blacks pulled a man from his car and began punching him. Two young women started fighting, and then attacked police who arrived to restore calm. When other women started fighting, a man fired five shots into the crowd, wounding a bystander. [John Byman, Juneteenth Celebrations Turn Violent, WTMJ Radio (Milwaukee), June 20, 2007.]

In Austin, Texas, a driver accidentally struck a young black child on a street crowded with Juneteenth celebrants. The driver stopped, and he and a friend went to check on the child, who was not seriously injured. A crowd of blacks attacked them. The driver managed to get away but the crowd beat his friend, 40-year-old David Morales, to death. [Texas Crowd Kills Man After Car Hits Kid, AP, June 20, 2007.]

Uncivil Wrongs

On June 20, the House of Representatives passed HR 923, the “Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act,” by a vote of 422-2. The bill, named for a black teenager killed by whites in Mississippi in 1955 supposedly for whistling at a white woman, would provide more than $100 million over ten years to the Justice Department to hire new FBI agents to investigate old, unsolved “racially motivated” crimes from the 1950s and 1960s. The bill would also hire prosecutors for these crimes, and build a brand new bureaucracy to oversee everything. The bill would also grant $2 million a year to state and local police agencies and another $1.5 million a year to “improve coordination among investigative agencies.” Sponsor John Lewis, a black Democrat from Georgia, says, “We have an obligation . . . let us move to close this dark stain on our nation’s history.”

Mr. Lewis and Senate sponsor Christopher Dodd of Connecticut say Congress must move quickly on the bill before the passage of time makes it impossible to solve these cases — in other words, before white suspects die. The Senate is expected to pass the bill soon, and the White House has pledged support.

The two dissenters were both Republicans: Ron Paul of Texas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. A spokesman for Mr. Westmoreland says the Justice Department should investigate cases for which it has leads and evidence, and can do that with its current budget. “This was named for Emmett Till and that’s illustrative of the point. The guy who killed him has been dead for many, many years. We can’t prosecute dead people,” he says.

At a recent hearing on the bill, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker said the Justice Department plans to review at least 100 cases. Seventy-six are based on files turned over by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [Ben Evans, House Votes to Reopen Civil Rights Cases, AP, June 20, 2007.] Forty percent of the murders committed from 2000 to 2005 in New York City are still unsolved, but Congress wants to spend money on cases that are decades old.

Lewiston Update

Lewiston, Maine, is the former mill town made famous when Somali refugees started arriving by the busload in February 2001. Most had originally settled in Atlanta, where it was thought warm weather and a large population of blacks would make them feel at home. Instead, the Somalis found crime, drugs, and stingy welfare. In an updated version of the ancient practice of sahan, in which young men roam the countryside looking for water and good grazing, they send scouts looking for more fertile pastures.

Lewiston turned out to be the promised land. It was cold and 97.5 percent white, but it had just about the most generous welfare payments in the country and plenty of public housing because the population had declined as the textile mills closed. Welfare in Maine lasts five years and after that, extensions are easy to get. Even after Somalis filled the public housing, others got Section 8 vouchers, which offer government subsidies for private housing.

Nobody told anyone in Lewiston the Somalis were coming, and by late 2002, it had 1,000 new, mainly non-English-speaking, illiterate welfare cases on its hands. Then-mayor Larry Raymond wrote an open letter to the Somalis asking them to stop coming. They kept coming anyway, and now number around 3,500 — fully ten percent of the population. Lewiston has the highest percentage of Somalis of any city in the country, and an average of 30 more arrive each month.

Lisbon Street, Lewiston’s main thoroughfare, now has a mosque, Somali restaurants, and two halal grocery stores. Women in hijabs and burkas are a common sight. Most Somalis are still on welfare, and intend to stay on it as long as they can. When the president of the city council offered to hire 30 Somalis at $8.00 an hour to hold traffic signs at road construction sites, she got few takers — and they wanted to work only half days. Even if they wanted jobs, there is not much Somalis know how to do.

Many Lewistonians wish the Somalis would go away. Last summer, a man rolled a pig’s head into a Somali mosque. He was charged with desecrating a place of worship, and later committed suicide after a standoff with police. In April, a white middle school student tossed a piece of ham onto a table where Somali students were eating. Administrators suspended him, and the Maine attorney general considered but did not file hate crime charges.

At least one Somali, 46-year-old Said Mohamud, is doing fine. He manages a grocery called the Mogadishu Store, and has a daughter studying at Smith College (annual tuition $33,940; room and board $11,420) who plans to attend medical school. Another child is studying accounting at a university in Florida. He says he plans to send his six other children to college, too. [Roger McGrath, The Great Somali Welfare Hunt, The American Conservative, Nov. 24, 2002. Jerry Harkavy, A Maine City’s Somalis Facing Cultural Divide, AP, May 11, 2007.]