American Renaissance, February 2009
Women who did not want children but still felt a maternal urge used to make do with houseplants or a cat, but now, thanks to a company called Reborn, they can experience the joys of motherhood without the bother of pregnancy, childbirth, or even midnight feedings. Reborn sells life-like infant dolls for prices ranging from $100 to several thousand dollars, and business is booming.
Forty-nine-year-old Linda is married with no children of her own, but with a Reborn in her arms she can now feel like a mother. “It’s not a crazy habit, like, you know, drinking, or some sort of, something that’s going to hurt you,” she explains. “It’s like a hobby and it doesn’t really hurt anybody.” Lachelle Moore, who has real children and grandchildren, has a clutch of fakes as well. “What’s so wonderful about Reborns is that they’re forever babies. There’s no college tuition, no dirty diapers . . . just the good part of motherhood,” she says. Mrs. Moore even throws birthday parties for her dolls and other women take them to the park or out to restaurants. Psychologists say all this is harmless unless women “stop interacting socially with others.” [Adult Women Play House With Fake Babies, ABC-7 News (Washington, DC), Jan. 2, 2009.]
The Company He Kept
One of Martin Luther King’s advisers was a black Baptist preacher named James Luther Bevel, who died in December. A prominent leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the New York Times remembered Bevel as “charismatic and eloquently quick-witted in a vernacular style” and noted, more reservedly, that he was “a man of passion and peculiarity.” Historian Taylor Branch described him more vividly: “a wild man from Itta Bena, Mississippi. . . . A self-described example of the legendary ‘chicken-eating, liquor-drinking, woman-chasing Baptist preacher.’ ”
Bevel is credited with turning King against the war in Vietnam War, which Bevel believed was an act of racist imperialism. Bevel was also at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the day King was shot, and went to his grave insisting that James Earl Ray did not pull the trigger. Bevel claimed he had proof of Ray’s innocence — which he never produced — and even offered to represent him in court, though he was not a lawyer. By 1970, Bevel had become something of a prophet to a group of disciples who were students at Spelman College, the black girls’ school in Atlanta. After he forced some of them to drink his urine as a loyalty test, the SCLC expelled him. During the 1980s, Bevel supported Ronald Reagan and ran for Congress in Illinois as a Republican. He eventually switched allegiance to perpetual fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, and even served as his running mate in 1992.
In April 2008, a Virginia jury convicted Bevel of incest after one of his daughters claimed he forced her to have sex with him in the 1990s (Virginia has no statute of limitations for incest). Three other daughters also accused Bevel of molesting them and it came out in court that Bevel had fathered 16 children by 7 women. In October, a judge sentenced Bevel to 15 years in prison, but he was released in November, shortly before he died, because of pancreatic cancer. [Bruce Weber, James L. Bevel, 72, An Adviser to Dr. King, New York Times, Dec. 23, 2008.]
Detroit’s public school district is $400 million in the red and no longer has the money to buy basic supplies. The principal of one elementary school, Academy of the Americas, recently sent a letter asking parents and staff to donate items “that are of the utmost importance for proper school functioning and most importantly for student health and safety,” such as toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, and 60, 100 or 150-watt light bulbs. This is not the first time Principal Naomi Khalil has rattled the tin cup. At the beginning of the academic year she asked for pencils, pens, and Kleenex. [Detroit School Lacks Toilet Paper, Light Bulbs, ClickOnDetroit.com, Jan. 7, 2009.]
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is a British historian of Spanish descent who teaches at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Before the election, Mr. Fernandez-Armesto wrote an article predicting an easy Obama victory, but said he could work up no enthusiasm for Mr. Obama because his policies would differ little from those of John McCain. His article is interesting only because of the following sentences:
“I have not been in the US long enough to be hypocritical about race. The hypocrisy is especially strong in the university sector, where color-blindness policies are a mask for positive discrimination. We are not allowed to know the race of job applicants, but we search the CVs for clues to candidates who will boost our department’s racial diversity statistics.” [Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Obama’s Promise is Global, Times Higher Education, Oct. 2, 2008.]
The Boy Scouts are America’s largest youth organization, with 2.8 million members, but membership peaked in 1972 and is now down by half. Scandals and bad publicity cut the rolls, and many boys prefer video games to camping, but the biggest challenge is demographic. Scouting is overwhelmingly white, and there are a lot more non-white children now than in 1972. Twenty percent of children under 18 are Hispanic — double the figure in 1980 — and another 15 percent are black. Just 57 percent are white.
“We either are going to figure out how to make Scouting the most exciting, dynamic organization for Hispanic kids, or we’re going to be out of business,” says Rick Cronk, former national president of the Boy Scouts, and chairman of the World Scout Committee. Today, only three percent of Scouts are Hispanic, and Mr. Cronk wants to double that figure by 2010, when the Boy Scouts celebrate their centennial. He says earlier attempts to recruit Hispanics with soccer and Spanish brochures have largely failed because “we knew very little about the Hispanic family, how they see us, what they value.”
The Boy Scouts have hired a PR firm that specializes in marketing to Hispanics and is making a pitch to immigrant parents in six heavily Hispanic cities from Fresno, California to Orlando, Florida. They will run commercials on Spanish radio and television stations, and hire more Spanish-speaking staff. “We’re serious about this,” says Rob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive. “This is a reinventing of the Boy Scouts of America.”
Julio Cammarota, a University of Arizona professor who studies Hispanics says the Scouts will have to change if they want to appeal to Hispanics. What has to go? The focus on individual achievement and camping in the woods. “They’d be better off starting with a carne asada (barbecue) in a city park,” he says. “Sending their kids away on their own, that’s not familiar [to Hispanic parents]. ”[Boy Scouts See Hispanics As Key to Boosting Ranks, AP, Dec. 26, 2008.]
Lowering the Boone
Back in 1968, Disney Studios drew a cartoon figure for the University of Denver, whose athletic teams are called Pioneers. The figure is a pudgy, bearded mountain man who wears a coonskin cap. The character became known as “Denver Boone” or just “Boone.” Boone was fired as mascot in 1998 when the university became uncomfortable with his “lack of gender inclusiveness,” and students and alumni have been trying to bring him back ever since. A survey conducted in 2008 showed 87 percent wanted him reinstated, but the university’s History and Traditions Task Force announced that would never happen because Boone represents “an era of Western imperialism” and is “offensive” to women and non-whites.
Student body president Monica Kumar hailed the decision. “The name ‘Boone’ is linked to Daniel Boone, and to people of Native American ancestry, it’s sensitive because he was part of a movement that pushed Native Americans to the side,” she says. “We are a university that has been very sensitive to diversity and one of our objectives is to be inclusive. And this was an opportunity for us to come together and show our inclusiveness.” Chancellor Robert Coombe agrees. “The old Boone figure is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today’s women, persons of color, international students and faculty and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit,” he says. [Valerie Richardson, Denver Axes Mascot ‘Boone’ in Diversity Drive, Washington Times, Dec. 27, 2008.]
Growing up on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, Edward Caballero feared the Border Patrol, even though he is a natural-born citizen. “It seems like most Border Patrol officers were Anglos, and I hate to say it, not too friendly towards Hispanics,” he explains, adding, “It’s not so much that way anymore.” Mr. Caballero should know. He is one of the Border Patrol’s new Hispanic agents. In just two years, as a result of the Bush administration’s efforts to expand and diversify the force, the number of Hispanic agents has grown from 6,400 in 2006 to 9,300 today, an increase of 45 percent. More than half — 52 percent — of Border Patrol agents are now Hispanic. Recruiters say Hispanics are a natural fit. They speak Spanish, which is required of all agents, and many are familiar with the job.
Critics see the obvious problems: Hispanic agents, especially if they have family on the other side of the border, will be tempted to go easy on illegals, and drug cartels are likely to infiltrate a Hispanic force. There is already no shortage of miscreant Hispanic agents. In December, prosecutors indicted Agent Leonel Morales for taking a $9,000 bribe to escort a load of drugs across the border. Just before Christmas, a federal judge sentenced former Border Patrol Agent Reynaldo Zuniga to seven years in prison for smuggling cocaine. [James Pinkerton, Hispanics Bolster Border Patrol, Houston Chronicle, Dec. 29, 2008.]
Shortly after the election, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada spoke to reporters about the top priorities of the new Congress that will meet in January. Here is what he had to say about amnesty:
Q: With more Democrats in the Senate and the House and a Democrat in the White House, how do you see congressional efforts playing out on such issues as health care and immigration?
A: On immigration, there’s been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. . . .
Q: Will there be as much of a fight on immigration as last time?
A: We’ve got McCain and we’ve got a few others. I don’t expect much of a fight at all. [Deborah Barfield Berry, Reid Says Democrats to Tackle Big Issues, Gannett News Service, Nov. 23, 2008.]
We’ll prove him wrong.
Antioch, California, is a mostly white city of 100,000 about 40 miles northwest of San Francisco. When the housing market slowed a few years ago, many Antioch landlords began accepting Section 8 tenants. Section 8 is the federal housing program that subsidizes rent for poor people. Desperate landlords like it because they get a steady income and tax breaks. Poor people like Section 8 because they can live in pricier neighborhoods. Federal bureaucrats like Section 8 because it “de-concentrates” poverty. The only people who don’t like it are the neighbors.
In Antioch, most of the people getting vouchers were black, and from 2000 to 2007, as more landlords got Section 8 tenants, Antioch’s black population doubled to more than 16,000. Crime went up, and residents began complaining about “loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing, and muggings of schoolchildren.” Police got so many complaints about Section 8 renters that in 2006 they formed a special unit to deal with them. “In some neighborhoods, it was complete madness,” says longtime resident David Gilbert, a black retired man who organized a community watch.
Under federal law, Section 8 renters can be booted from subsidized housing if they commit crimes. Antioch police weren’t shy about filing for eviction, and 70 percent of filings were against blacks. Now several blacks are suing the city, accusing police of “discrimination” and of trying to drive them out. They have asked a federal judge to make their case a class-action suit on behalf of hundreds of other black renters. “A lot of people are moving out here looking for a better place to live,” says plaintiff Karen Coleman. “We are trying to raise our kids like everyone else. But they don’t want us here.”
The situation in Antioch is “hotter than elsewhere,” according to a spokesman for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, but most cities with an influx of Section 8 renters have the same problems. Many activists and academics deny that Section 8 brings crime to the suburbs. Susan Popkin, of the Urban Institute, is one of them, but concedes that Section 8 causes problems. “That can be a recipe for anxiety,” she says. “It can really change the demographics of a neighborhood.” [Paul Elias, Influx of Black Renters Raises Tension in Bay Area, AP, Dec. 30, 2008.]