O Tempora, O Mores! (May, 2009)

American Renaissance, May 2009

PC at the VA

For the past ten years, the Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, which has cared for many Second World War veterans, displayed military memorabilia in the hallways of its outpatient clinic. One item was a period newspaper, dated Aug. 14, 1945, with the headline, “Japs Surrender!” A new employee of the hospital complained that the headline was offensive, and asked the director to take it down. After consulting the Ethics Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, the director replaced the paper with one from the same day whose headline simply said “Peace.” Spokesman Linda Jeffrey says the hospital wanted “to find something of equal historical significance that was not offensive,” adding, “we are a healing institution and we are certainly not wanting to create a hostile work environment.”

Floyd Mori, national executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, says the VA made the right decision. “Although it’s of World War II vintage,” he says, “we feel it sends a wrong kind of a message to today’s generation and so we’re concerned about it, we’re glad it was taken down.”

Many veterans are incensed, calling the decision a “disgrace” and a “betrayal,” and have urged people to complain to the VA. National veterans’ groups, however, are not getting involved. “When we fight a battle with the VA, it’s to ensure that the medical care at those hospitals is top notch,” says Steve Short of the American Legion.

In 1986, the US House of Representatives decided that the term “Jap” is “racially derogatory and offensive” and recommended using “Jpn” as the “appropriate” and “racially inoffensive” abbreviation for “Japan” and “Japanese.” [Pete Winn, VA Hospital Pulls ‘Japs Surrender’ Headline from Historical Display, CNS News, March 11, 2009.]

Black National Anthem

In 1919, ten years after it was founded, the NAACP adopted “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” a hymn based on a poem by black author James Weldon Johnson, as the official Negro National Anthem. Rev. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Martin Luther King’s old outfit) quoted from the song during the closing prayer at President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, as did the Rev. Sharon Watkins when she preached at the National Prayer Service the next day. Last year, a black singer upset many in Denver, Colorado, when she substituted the song for the “Star-Spangled Banner” during a state-of-the-city ceremony.

In February, as part of a Black History Month program at Lakeview Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska, two teachers asked students to stand while they sang the “black national anthem.” Russ Roberts, who has two children at the school, complained that it gave students the mistaken impression there are two national anthems — one for blacks and one for everyone else. He also said it promotes “segregation” and leads to “polarization and bias.” Lakeview, which has something called a “multicultural school/community administrator” explained that the teachers who sang the song have their “hearts in the right place” and that the song is “part of history.” [Margaret Reist, Parent Objects to ‘Second’ National Anthem, Lincoln Journal Star, March 9, 2009.]

Chipping Away at 209

Ever since it was enacted in 1996, opponents have been fighting to overturn Proposition 209, the California voter initiative that banned racial preferences in state contracting, education, and public hiring. Court challenges at both the state and federal levels have failed, but the pro-preferences crowd keeps chipping away at the color-blind rules Californians voted for.

In March, for example, a state appeals court approved a school integration plan in Berkeley that was clearly an attempt to circumvent 209. Instead of classifying students by race, the city classified small neighborhoods on the basis of household income and parents’ education as well as race. It then assigned students to schools in a way that achieved a mix by neighborhood that was largely a proxy for mixing by race.

This is the first time since Prop. 209 that an appeals court has upheld a school integration plan in California, and liberals are happy. “This is an important victory for those who understand the importance of a diverse learning environment and believe that opportunity should be equally afforded to all,” says John Payton, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which filed a brief in support of the Berkeley school district.

San Francisco has simply defied the preferences ban and still doles out contracts on the basis of race and sex. In 2000, white-owned Coral Construction sued the city for discrimination and won in 2004, but the case has been on appeal ever since. On March 18, the California Supreme Court may have tipped its hand when it asked the state’s Attorney General to explain why the ban on racial preferences in government contracting does not violate federal equal protection laws “by making it more difficult to enact legislation on behalf of minority groups.” [Pamela A. MacLean, Calif.’s Affirmative Action Ban Again Under Court Scrutiny, National Law Journal, March 19, 2009.]

As usual, “equal protection” requires unequal protection for favored groups.

Who’s ‘Un-American?’

Speaking to a largely Hispanic audience of both legal and illegal immigrants at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in San Francisco on March 14, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE): “Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families? It must be stopped . . . I think it’s un-American.” She went on to say: “You are special people. You’re here on a Saturday night to take responsibility for our country’s future. That makes you very, very patriotic.” After she finished speaking, the crowd chanted “Si, se puede,” or “Yes, we can.”

Mrs. Pelosi’s fellow congressman, Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) arranged the meeting as part of his 17-city, cross-country tour called United Families, which he says is supposed to “put a human face on the immigration debate.” Mr. Gutierrez is also collecting petitions asking President Obama to stop deportations “that are tearing our marriages, families and children apart.”

Rick Oltman of Californians for Population Stabilization, a group that opposes illegal immigration, filmed Mrs. Pelosi’s remarks. “Exhorting illegal aliens for taking responsibility for our country’s future . . . I really resented that comment,” he said. “I think it was pandering to the crowd but also insulting to American citizens who consider themselves to be patriotic, who obey the rule of law.” [William Lajeunesse, Pelosi Tells Illegal Immigrants that Work Site Raids are Un-American, Fox News, March 18, 2009.]

The Obama administration seems to agree with the speaker and Mr. Gutierrez. In February, ICE agents conducted an immigration raid at a plant that manufactures engine parts in Bellingham, Washington, arresting 28 illegals. This was the first workplace raid since Mr. Obama took office, and it appears to have taken Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano by surprise. In March, Mrs. Napolitano ordered an end to raids, including what would have been the administration’s second, an operation at a military-related facility in Chicago that was expected to net at least 100 illegals. A senior DHS official says ICE is shifting its focus, and will now go after businesses that hire illegals. [ICE Workplace Raid Caught Boss Napolitano by Surprise, AP, Feb. 26, 2009. Spencer S. Hsu, DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids, Washington Post, March 29, 2009.]

In late March, ICE released most of the people caught during the Bellingham raid, explaining that they can stay in the country because they could be called as witnesses in the investigation against their employer for hiring illegals. ICE also says they can work legally while they wait. [John Stark, Yamato Workers Freed as Immigration Probe Continues into Bellingham Company, Bellingham Herald, March 31, 2009.]

It is hard to imagine that after this they will actually be deported.

Blue-Eyed Devils

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva recently met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Brasilia to discuss the global slump. Speaking at a joint press conference afterwards, President Lula da Silva told reporters, “This crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing.” “I do not know any black or indigenous bankers,” he added, “so I can only say [it is wrong] that this part of mankind which is victimized more than any other should pay for the crisis.” Caught off guard, the brown-eyed Mr. Brown kept a stiff upper lip, saying only, “I’m not going to attribute blame to any individuals.” His staff later explained that Mr. Lula da Silva’s remarks were intended for “domestic consumption.” [Jonathan Wheatley, Brazil’s Leader Blames White People for Crisis, Financial Times, March 27, 2009.]

Norway Next?

Norwegians won’t be going to the polls for another six months, but if parliamentary elections were held today, the winner could well be the anti-immigrant Progress Party led by Siv Jensen. Several polls have Progress gaining on the ruling Labor Party, with one giving it the support of nearly a third of the electorate, which would put it in the lead. The party has been helped by the financial crisis and by Labor bungling.

Although 51 percent of Norwegians say radical Islam is a threat to Norway, Labor tried to pass laws that would let Muslim policewomen wear the hijab and would ban criticism of anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs. Public reaction was overwhelmingly negative and the government backed down. Miss Jensen, who warned of the “sneak Islamization” of Norway, says her party is growing because it has “the clearest stance on these policies and has credibility in this regard.”

Anita Marie Dahl Solheim, who works as a clerk at the port of Sandefjord in southern Norway, is increasingly typical. “I will vote for the Progress Party because of their policies on transport, elderly care, and not least immigration, as the current policy has veered completely off track,” she says. “[Immigrants] generally do whatever they want and nobody ever puts their foot down.”

As Torkel Brekke, professor of culture studies and oriental languages at the University of Oslo, explains, “People are losing their jobs, the economy seems to be going into recession but people are focusing on these issues instead. It tells you how important issues of identity are to small European countries and how people feel insecure about immigration.” [Marianne Stigset and Meera Bhatia, Norway Anti-Immigration Opposition Party Wins Support, Bloomberg News Service, March 27, 2008.]

Mumia Loses

In 1981 in Philadelphia, former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, murdered a white police officer named Daniel Faulkner. He claims to be a victim of a “racist” justice system that denied him a fair trial because prosecutors excluded blacks from the 1982 jury that convicted him of first degree murder and sentenced him to die.

Mr. Abu-Jamal has published several books, written columns for lefty journals, and even conducted radio broadcasts from prison, and is now the darling of the American and European Left. He has appealed his case several times, and managed to get his death sentence thrown out on the basis of faulty instructions to the jury. The conviction, however, still stands.

Mr. Abu-Jamal had been asking for a new trial, arguing that an all-white jury did him wrong, but on April 6, the US Supreme Court let stand a ruling of the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals upholding his conviction. The State of Pennsylvania has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate his death penalty, but the justices have not yet acted on that request. Even if the state cannot get the death penalty reinstated, the Supreme Court’s refusal to take up his case means Mumia Abu-Jamal will spend the rest of his life in prison. [Supreme Court Lets Philly Officer Killer’s Conviction Stand, AP, April 6, 2009.]

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