O Tempora, O Mores! (November, 2009)

American Renaissance, November 2009

Prisoners Reach Out

After the US Supreme Court ordered an end to California’s limited use of segregation in its prisons in 2005, Joshua Englehart, a former inmate of San Quentin, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that “mixing races and ethnic groups in cells would be extremely dangerous for inmates.” Mr. Engelhart noted that segregation “is looked on by no one — of any race — as oppressive or as a way of promoting racism. It is done for their own safety, and they know it . . . This ruling will strike dread in the hearts of all California inmates when they read about it.” Events have proven him right.

The California Institution for Men in Chino is about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and has been struggling to implement the Supreme Court decision. Prison spokesman Lt. Mark Hargrove explains that because of the ruling, more white, black, and Hispanic inmates are being forced to share cells, which has led to more racial tension.

On August 8, a fight broke out between black and Hispanic inmates in a 200-man dormitory, and guards were quickly overwhelmed. They pulled back and sounded the alarm as violence spread to the entire facility. Thirty minutes later, an 80-man crisis team arrived, but there was so much violence — hand-to-hand-fighting, mainly between black and Hispanic gang members — that they dared not go in. They watched as prisoners built barricades out of furniture and fought in the prison yards and on rooftops. The next day, after 11 hours of fighting, guards were finally able to control the exhausted prisoners.

The riot injured 250 inmates, and sent 55 to the hospital. Remarkably, no one was killed, nor were any guards hurt. Lt. Hargrove said prisoners smashed windows, tore down gates, and used whatever they could as weapons. “Inmates broke out glass and used shards as knives,” he explained. “They used pieces of metal, wood, whatever they could break off the walls, pipes.” He noted that while there were injuries among all races, “there are a greater number of injuries among Hispanic and black inmates.” Prisoners completely burned down one dormitory and damaged others so badly they were uninhabitable. The prison put some inmates in tents and sent others to nearby prisons. [Solomon Moore, Hundreds Hurt in California Prison Riot, New York Times, Aug. 9, 2009.]

Tale of Two Illegals

Carlos F. Boc, 29, is a Guatemalan who entered the US illegally from Mexico when he was 16, and has lived here ever since, most recently in Framingham, Massachusetts. Out of work, broke, and with no place to live, Mr. Boc turned himself in to the Framingham police and asked for help to go home. He showed a false birth certificate, a stolen social security number, and a driver’s license with his picture but another man’s information. Mr. Boc said he had stolen his former roommate’s identification after the man moved back to Puerto Rico two years ago. The officer on duty arrested him on charges of identity fraud and forgery, felonies that subject Mr. Boc to deportation. At trial he plans to plead guilty and not to protest his deportation order — a happy ending, though the taxpayer will still pay for his air ticket. [Norman Miller, Identity Theft Suspect Hopes to be Deported for Trip Home, MetroWest Daily News (Framingham), Sept. 29, 2009.]

Jorge-Alonso Chehade is also an illegal alien. He came to the US from Peru on a tourist visa with his parents and stayed. He enrolled (illegally) in high school and went on (illegally) to the University of Washington. In March, he visited Bellingham, Washington, but ended up going north on Interstate 5, rather than south. He realized his mistake only after the last exit before the Canadian border. Unable to turn around, Mr. Chehade had to go through customs where he could not prove US citizenship or legal residency.

The Canadians turned him back and the US Border Patrol detained him for two weeks until he posted bail. Unlike Mr. Boc, Mr. Chehade is determined to stay in the US, and has learned how to pull the right strings. He used Facebook to moan about his plight, and also got sympathetic coverage in the Boston Globe and other papers. He is now a poster boy for the DREAM Act, federal legislation pushed by xenophiles that would grant permanent residency to illegals who graduate from college or join the military. Both of Washington’s senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have written letters on his behalf to immigration authorities, and Washington congressman Jim McDermott has sponsored a private bill asking Congress to grant him residency.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants him out. “This individual had ample access to due process and immigration proceedings,” says spokesman Lorie Dankers. “The judge found he did not have a legal basis to remain in the United States. ICE has the responsibility to carry out the judge’s order.” A judge has issued a removal order for Mr. Chehade, meaning he could be arrested at any time. [Manuel Valdes, Wrong Turn on Highway May Lead to Washington Man’s Removal, AP, Oct. 1, 2009.]

Physician, Control Thyself

Cleveland Enmon was a black emergency-room doctor at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, California. On June 1, Jerry Keith Kubena arrived at the emergency room in cardiac arrest, but Dr. Enmon couldn’t revive him. Kubena was wearing an expensive Rolex wristwatch when he came in. Nurses later noticed the watch was gone, and that there was a wristwatch–shaped bulge under Dr. Enmon’s coat. They called security, who ordered everyone to remain at his station while police investigated. Dr. Enmon ignored the order and walked out of the ER into the parking lot, where a nurse saw him throw the watch into the grass. The hospital fired him, and in August, a grand jury indicted him for grand theft.

In September, Kubena’s adult children filed a wrongful death suit against Dr. Enmon and the hospital, claiming he deliberately let Kubena die so he could steal the watch, and that the hospital revealed the theft but covered up his negligence. [Jason Kobely, Doctor Charged with Stealing Patient’s Rolex, USA Today, Sept. 28, 2009.]

African Family Values

South African law recognizes “traditional” polygamous marriages — the president, Jacob Zuma, has at least three wives, some say four — so a man with a string of wives doesn’t attract attention, unless he marries several at once. Milton Mbhele, 44, a municipal manager, already had at least one wife and 11 children when he married three more women in a single ceremony on September 26. Mr. Mbhele says the joint service saved time and money.

The youngest wife, 23-year-old Smangele Cele, says she won’t mind sharing Mr. Mbhele with three other women. “It is because of the way in which he shows his love for me. He loves me in all ways.” She says the wives will live in separate houses, with their husband rotating in and out, and that she can be friends with the other wives. [Nkemeling Nkosi, South African Man Marries 3 Women at Same Time, AP, Sept. 26, 2009.]

Feeding Detroit

In the previous issue, we noted that Detroit is the only major city in the country without a national chain grocery store. The reason, of course, is that supermarkets cannot make a profit. They spend fortunes on security but there is still too much employee and customer theft. Detroit’s poverty makes it hard to sell high-profit, upscale items, and also gives the city an unusual consumption pattern. Many people buy food only on the first of the month, when welfare arrives, and stay away until the next check comes. Unlike convenience stores, chain grocers cannot easily increase staff just for the busy period.

Another problem is that customers are scared. “Sometimes even the people that live in the neighborhood don’t feel safe shopping in the store,” said supermarket expert David J. Livingston. “They’ll drive right past that Detroit store to go to a suburban store where they feel more comfortable.”

In 2007 there were 155 grocery stores — defined as any place that sold meat and produce — within the city’s 139 square miles. There were also 1,000 convenience stores, including gas stations and liquor stores, that sold some type of food. This helps explain why so many Detroiters eat potato chips rather than nutritious food. Most independent food stores in Detroit are owned and operated by Chaldeans, an Iraqi Christian people.

A 2003 University of Michigan study found that the city should support 41 supermarkets of at least 40,000 square feet of space but that there were only five grocery stores with over 20,000 square feet. [Joel J. Smith and Nathan Hurst, Grocery Closings Hit Detroit Hard, Detroit News, July 5, 2007.]

Parable from Nature

As many as 40,000 ring-necked parakeets live in London and in the southeast of Britain. No one knows exactly how the birds, which are native to the Himalayan foothills, got there (some say they escaped from the soundstage during the filming of “The African Queen” in the 1950s) but they do a lot of damage to native species and crops. Parakeets are 16 inches long (including tail feathers) and can live for 25 years. They are larger and more aggressive than most native birds, so it is easier for them to find food and roosting areas. A flock of a few hundred can destroy a grape crop in a day. Matthew Heydon, who works for Natural England, the government’s conservation agency, says the problem will only get worse as the parakeet population grows and spreads. Natural England has declared the birds a pest and lets landowners shoot them or destroy their nests without a license.

Many animal rights activists liken this to “racism.” “If there is a problem — for example with the birds taking fruit — then we have to take steps to deal with it. If you start to label it as alien then that is some sort of racism. Eco-xenophobia is the label I would use,” says Dr. Ian Rotherham, Director of the Environmental Change Research Unit at Sheffield Hallam University. Matthew Frith, Deputy Chief Executive of the London Wildlife Trust, says the parakeets are as “British as curry,” and agrees it is dangerous to label the birds as a pest “just because they are foreign.” “The biodiversity in our country is a mix of native and non-native just like the social make-up of this country,” he adds.

Natural England chief executive Helen Phillips insists that invaders must be controlled. “Non-native species are a major threat to global biodiversity,” she says. [Louise Gray, Parakeets Cull is Racist, Say Wildlife Experts, Telegraph (London), Oct. 2, 2009. Plan to Legalize Parakeet Shoots Branded ‘Racist’ by Wildlife Experts, Daily Mail (London), Oct. 2, 2009.]

Saving the Japanese

Japan has a population of 127.3 million, but experts says that could drop to 100 million by 2050 unless Japanese have more babies. The total fertility rate — the average number of children each woman has in her lifetime — has declined, from 2.16 in 1971 to 1.26 in 2005 (the US fertility rate is 2.1). In 2008, the fertility rate improved slightly to 1.37, still among the lowest in the world.

No one really knows why the rate is so low, but since the 1970s Japanese have been marrying later. Also, since the prolonged economic slump that started in the 1990s, more men — considered breadwinners in Japan — cannot afford a family. Children are expensive, and women are rebelling against the tradition that leaves them with all the child care. “Parents are also having a hard time making work and childrearing compatible,” says Yasuko Oshima, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

Japanese society is ageing. Since 1970, the number of Japanese over 65 has tripled, hitting 22 percent of the population in 2008. The percentage could increase to 32 percent by 2030.

Japan’s new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, is determined to raise birthrates by helping pay for children. In August, Mr. Hatoyama’s Democratic Party broke the Liberal Democratic Party’s 50-year hold on power, in part because it promised various subsidies. Under Mr. Hatoyama’s plan, families would receive 13,000 yen ($144) a month per child under 15 in 2010, and 26,000 yen a month in 2011. [Takehiko Kambayashi, How Japan Plans to Have More Babies, Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 29, 2009.]

Not Just for Women

A commercial on Indian television shows two men standing on a balcony. One is light-skinned; the other dark. The dark skinned man turns to his friend and says, “I am unlucky because of my face.” His friend replies, “Not because of your face, because of the color of your face.” The fair-skinned man tosses his friend a jar of whitening cream. The commercial ends with the darker man several shades lighter and getting the girl. Similar commercials are a staple of the airwaves in India and Pakistan.

“We always have a complex towards a white skin, towards foreign skin or foreign hair,” says Jawed Habib, who owns a chain of 140 salons in India and elsewhere. “We Indian people, we Asian people are darker, so we want to look more fair.”

Skin whiteners were once marketed only to women but they have become popular with men. A recent survey found sales are booming in rural India, and sales for male grooming products in general are increasing 20 percent a year. Emami Ltd., which produces “Fair and Handsome” whitening cream, boasts that it is “doing extremely well in Gulf countries and the Middle East as well.”

Brinda Karat, a member of India’s parliament, has lodged formal complaints about the advertisements: “Basically if you need a job you have to have white skin. If you want a good partner, a companion, you need white skin and you always seem to get it once you’ve used the fairness cream. Basically I think it’s completely racist and highly objectionable.” She says the ads exploit a bias against dark-skinned Indians. “What does it do to dark persons’ self esteem?” she asks. “I think it should be stopped.” Ads for marriage partners often list “fair” as one of the preferred characteristics.

Manufacturers say they are just giving people what they want. Deepak Rajput, who uses whitening cream, sees nothing wrong. “Everybody wants to look handsome and beautiful, why not me?” [Sara Sidner, Skin Whitener Advertisements Labeled Racist, CNN, Sept. 9. 2009.]

Some Progress in Norway

Norway held parliamentary elections on September 14, and the results were a disappointment for the nationalist right. Pre-election polling showed a very tight race, and nationalists led by Siv Jensen’s Progress Party were hoping to win power. Instead, Norwegians voted to keep the Red-Green coalition of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labor Party, the Socialist Leftist Party, and the Center Party, which together won a slim majority with 86 of 169 seats.

The Progress Party did well, slightly increasing its share of the vote to 22.9 percent and winning the second-highest number of seats (41, behind Labor’s 64). They might have done better but for Miss Jensen’s decision to play down opposition to immigration and focus on economic issues, such as roads and education. Miss Jensen’s approach made strategic sense; for the first time, the Conservative Party, Norway’s second-largest opposition party, said it would have been willing to work with the Progress Party in a coalition. However, two other center-right parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, ruled out working with Progress, mainly because of its stance on immigration. The Christian Democrats and the Liberals may have paid a price for spurning Progress: Between them, they lost eight seats, thus returning the leftists to power.

This election may have been more about economics than anything else. Prime Minister Stoltenberg used Norway’s North Sea oil money to stimulate the economy and help Norway weather the economic crisis. As Norway recovers, Norwegians may again notice how poorly the 10 percent of the population made up of non-white immigrants is fitting in. With the parliament nearly evenly split between left and right (86 and 83 seats, respectively), Miss Jensen’s Progress Party could be just a few special elections away from power. [Andrew Ward, Norway’s ‘Thatcher’ Eyes Poll Chance, Financial Times (London), Sept. 13, 2009. Karl Ritter, Norway’s Leftist Government Poised to Stay in Power, AP, Sept. 14, 2009.]

‘Racist’ Tintin

Tintin, the comic strip adventure character created by the late Belgian artist Georges Remi under the pen name Hergé, is a cultural icon in Belgium, where he serves as a unifying figure to people sharply divided along linguistic and cultural lines. Tintin first appeared in the late 1920s, and his earliest adventures depict non-whites in ways that jar sensitive modern audiences. Tintin in the Congo, written in 1930 and 1931, is said to be especially offensive. In one drawing, an African woman bows before Tintin, proclaiming, “White man very great! White mister is big juju man!” In 2007, British “anti-racists” removed the book from children’s shelves in libraries, complaining that in Tintin cartoons Africans “look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles.”

Two years ago, a Congolese named Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo sued Tintin’s Belgian publisher, Moulinsart, accusing Tintin in the Congo of promoting “racism and xenophobia.” He is seeking symbolic damages of one euro, but also wants Moulinsart to stop publishing the book. The Belgian courts have so far ignored Mr. Mondondo’s suit, but his lawyer is threatening to file the case in France and go “all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.”

Moulinsart says the lawsuit is “silly,” and that the book must be seen in its historical context: “To read in the 21st century a Tintin album dating back to 1931 requires a minimum of intellectual honesty. If one applied the ‘politically correct’ filter to great artists or writers, we could no longer publish certain novels of Balzac, Jules Verne, or even some Shakespeare plays.” That doesn’t convince Mr. Mondondo’s lawyer, who says, “When the album was written there was no legal disposition incriminating racism. In 2009 there is. This isn’t about history but the law.”

Lest readers think this kind of foolishness is confined to Europe, in August, the Brooklyn, New York public library removed the book from circulation after a reader complained that it “had illustrations that were racially offensive and inappropriate for children.” [Henry Samuel, Tintin ‘To be Sued’ For Congo Book, Telegraph (London), Sept. 1, 2009.]

‘Just a Paddy like Us’

Thousands of people lined the streets of Ennis, Ireland on September 1 to cheer on and welcome home an American descendant of one of Ennis’ native sons: Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali. Mr. Clay’s Irish great-grandfather, Abe Grady, emigrated to Kentucky in the 1860s and married a freed slave. One of their grandchildren, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, gave birth to Mr. Clay in 1942. Mr. Clay’s Irish ancestry was publicized in a documentary by two Irish television producers in 2002.

Ennis pulled out all the stops to welcome Mr. Clay. Schools closed early, streets were festooned with red, white, and blue, and shop windows displayed posters honoring the three-time heavyweight champion. His visit to Ennis Town Hall was broadcast live on big-screen televisions outside, while traditional musicians played. Mayor Frankie Neylon proclaimed Mr. Clay Ennis’ first “freeman,” an honor conveying him special privileges, the most valuable of which is free parking.

Mr. Clay, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, did not address the crowd, but his wife Yolanda did: “When you look at Muhammad’s pugilistic skills and his loquacious ways, I am sure if his great-grandfather was alive, he would swear it came from him.”

Former Irish national champ Jim O’Sullivan recalled sparring with Mr. Clay back in the 1970s, and wished he had known then that Mr. Clay was “just a Paddy like us.”

After leaving the town hall, Mr. Clay visited his relatives. Imelda O’Grady, a distant cousin, said of the meeting, “It was unreal; it was a privilege. When he saw his relations he was delighted. I think he was emotional — by God, I was certainly emotional.” [Shawn Pogatchnick, Boxing Legend Ali Traces Roots to Irish Town, AP, September 1, 2009. Gareth A. Davies, Muhammad Ali Touches a Corner of Ireland with His Visit to Ennis, Telegraph (London), Sept. 1, 2009.]

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