American Renaissance, December 2010
Sense on the Bench
Blacks are 4 percent of the population of Washington state, but are 20 percent of state prison inmates. At a recent meeting on the treatment of non-whites by Washington’s justice system, Shirley Bondon of the state Administrative Office of the Courts, who is black, told state supreme court members that she believed there was racial “bias in the criminal-justice system, from the bottom up” and that “barriers” prevented non-whites from getting “fair treatment.” When one of the supreme court justices, Richard Sanders, doubted her contention, she pointed to the racial disparity in the state’s prisons as evidence. Justice Sanders said the reason more blacks are in prison is because they commit more crime. Another supreme court justice, James Johnson, agreed, pointing out that most of those crimes were committed against blacks.
Miss Bondon complained to the press. “I know that people in all walks of life hold biases, but it was stunning to hear a Justice of the Supreme Court make these outrageous comments in my presence.” She says she took the “comments personally, as though he were saying that I and all African Americans had a predisposition for criminality and I was offended.” Justice Sanders is standing by the remarks. When asked whether he really believed more blacks were jailed because they commit a disproportionate share of crime, he said, “That’s right. I think that’s obvious.” [Steve Miletich, Two State Supreme Court Justices Stun Some Listeners with Race Comments, Seattle Times, Oct. 21, 2010.]
In 2007, two PhD students at Northwestern University dressed up for Halloween in blackface and posted pictures of themselves on the Internet. In 2009, there was panic on the Evanston, Illinois, campus (tuition: $40,000 per year) when two students went to a Halloween party in blackface and pictures appeared on Facebook. This resulted in the usual public forum to discuss campus “racism.”
Determined not to have any “racism” this year, Dean of Students Burgwell Howard sent e-mail to all students the week before Halloween warning them not to wear “racially or culturally insensitive costumes.” He also urged them not to host “ghetto,” “pimps and hos,” or “gangsta”-themed parties. “Halloween is unfortunately a time when the normal thoughtfulness and sensitivity of most NU students can be forgotten and some poor decisions are made,” he wrote. “In many cases the student wearing the costume has not intended to offend, but their actions or lack of forethought have sent a far greater message than any apology could after the fact.”
The dean also provided a handy list of questions to ask before dressing up for Halloween: Is the costume based on making fun of real people or cultures? Does the costume promote cultural myths? Could someone take offense to it? If so, students should “rethink their choices.” [Stacy St. Clair, NU to Students: No Offensive Halloween Costumes, WGN-TV (Chicago), Oct. 27, 2010.]
Like the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts think they need more Hispanic members. “They’re making up a large percentage of our population now, and our numbers don’t reflect that, and we have to do something about it,” says Liz Farrell, spokesman for the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scout Council. Across the country, Girl Scout volunteers have been going into Hispanic schools, Hispanic community centers, and churches to tout the scouts.
Jessica Carmona, mother of a 14-year-old Girl Scout, says she wishes she had known about scouting when she was a child. “Girl Scouts is traditionally an American activity,” she says. “Being Hispanic ourselves, we didn’t grow up with an understanding of what Girl Scouts was. We just knew they sold cookies and didn’t belong in our neighborhood.” According to her daughter Faralynn, who has had trouble getting her Hispanic friends to join, many still feel that way. “Some of them think it’s childish,” she says. [Edward L. Kenney, Girl Scouts Go On a Recruiting Push for Hispanic Members, News-Journal (Wilmington, Del.), Oct. 5, 2010.]
Rich Whitney, a “civil rights” lawyer from Carbondale, ran for governor of Illinois on the ultra-left Green Party ticket. Already facing an uphill battle, his quest became a little more difficult in October when his campaign discovered that his name was misspelled on touch-screen voting machines in about two dozen wards in Chicago. While his name appeared correctly on the screen where voters made their selections, on subsequent screens, where voters reviewed their choices, it appeared as “Rich Whitey.” Half of the affected voting wards were in majority-black neighborhoods. Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said the problem could not be fixed before the November 2 election, but Mr. Whitney was considering legal action to force a correction. “I don’t want to be identified as ‘Whitey’ ” he said. “If this is happening in primarily African-American wards, that’s an even bigger concern. . . This has to be disconcerting to a voter, and I wonder how this will impact the vote.” [Dave McKinney, Whitney is ‘Whitey’ on Some Ballots, Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 14, 2010.]
He got 2.7 percent. It must have been the typo.
Lakeside Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was built to seat 520 worshipers when it opened in 1959. Attendance starting declining in the 1970s, but Sunday services were still attracting around 200 people well into the 1980s. Today, the church is lucky to bring in 30 — too few to support the cost of maintaining the building — so Lakeside Lutheran is being sold. Paul Fullmer, chaplain of Lebanon Valley College, says this is an increasingly common fate for mainline-denomination churches built in the 1950s. At that time, people wanted to walk to church in their neighborhoods, but now they like to drive to huge, interdenominational palaces with movies and rock bands.
Who is buying the church? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, an off-beat sect of Islam, which claims that Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian was the second coming of Jesus Christ. Somehow, the rest of us missed it, but according to the sect’s website, Ahmad “recognized the noble teachings of the great religious founders and saints, including Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu and Guru Nanak, and explained how such teachings converged into the one true Islam.” [Mary Klaus, Lakeside Lutheran Church in Harrisburg Plans Final Service After Sale to Muslim Community, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Oct. 22, 2010.]
In October, the Los Angeles Times reported that California welfare recipients were using state-issued debit cards to withdraw millions of dollars at unlikely locations all over the country. Between January 2007 and May 2010, more than $69 million intended to help poor Californians pay rent and feed their children was withdrawn in 49 other states, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. Indigent Californians withdrew more than $11 million from ATMs in Las Vegas alone, including $8,968 at the Tropicana casino and $7,995 at the Venetian. Welfare recipients withdrew $16,010 on 14 cruise ships sailing from as far away as Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai, and pocketed nearly $400,000 in Hawaii.
However, out-of-state spending was less than one percent of the $10.8 billion the state splashed out in welfare during the three-year period. California, which is home to 12 percent of the US population, accounts for 30 percent of welfare spending.
Lizelda Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, says that to qualify for the card, a single parent with two children must earn less than $14,436 a year. Recipients are supposed to stay in California and attend weekly job training, but nobody checks unless they go missing for at least three months. After the report in the Times, state officials cut off access at casinos and on cruise ships. [Jack Dolan, State Officials Cancel Access to Welfare Benefits on Cruise Ships and at All Casinos, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2010. $69M in Calif. Welfare Money Spent Out of State, AP, Oct. 4, 2010.]
Voters in Detroit, Oregon (population 300) voted on November 2 whether to change the name of their town to Detroit Lake. The ballot proposal was the brainchild of local builder Doug DeGeorge, who said the name invoked “unsavory” images. Others have turned their backs on Detroit. In 1992, voters in East Detroit, Michigan, rechristened their city “Eastpointe.”
Detroit (Michigan) City Councilman Gary Brown said he thought it would be a mistake to rename the town. “We’re going to be the great Detroit that we once were. In the future, they’ll be sorry they did that.” [George Hunter and RoNeisha Mullen, Ore. Town Steers Clear of Detroit, Detroit News, Oct. 26, 2010.]
Good news for Councilman Brown: Residents voted 47-37 to keep the name, and Alabama, Texas and Maine still have towns named Detroit.
On September 27, more than 150 Hispanics gathered at the Eagles Hall in the Cincinnati suburb of Elmwood Pace, to celebrate a three-year-old’s birthday. The party, well fueled with beer, went on until one a.m., when the boyfriend of a reveler’s ex-wife exchanged words with the former husband. Insults lead to blows, and soon at least 75 celebrants were mixing it up in full view of at least 30 children. Many of the brawlers used broken bottles as improvised knives.
It took more than 20 police officers from several jurisdictions to restore order. “It was an unbelievable scene, the amount of blood and broken glass,” says Elmwood Place Police Chief William Peskin. More than 15 party-goers needed medical attention, five of whom were hospitalized. One man had eye surgery from a broken-bottle stab wound, and doctors fear he may have brain damage. Surprisingly, police arrested only one man: 26-year-old Ramon Marcelo-Hernandez, father of the birthday girl, who was booked on charges of disorderly conduct while intoxicated. Police expect more arrests, but, says Chief Peskin, “The whole party was Hispanic, so we’re having language barriers and they are being very uncooperative.” [Jennifer Baker, Kid’s Birthday Party Turns Into Brawl, Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 28, 2010.]
Oklahoma City schools use a special curriculum for so-called “at risk” — meaning black — students. It’s called “Flocabulary” and uses “raps, rhythms and rhymes” to help students remember everything from vocabulary to math to social studies. Flocabulary’s US history course includes a rap song called “Old Dead White Men.”
On James Monroe: “White men getting richer than Enron./ They stepping on Indians, women and blacks./ Era of Good Feeling doesn’t come with the facts.”
On Andrew Jackson: “Andrew Jackson, thinks he’s a tough guy./ Killing more Indians than there are stars in the sky./ Evil wars of Florida killing the Seminoles./ Saying hello, putting Creek in the hell holes./ Like Adolf Hitler he had the final solution./ ‘No, Indians, I don’t want you to live here anymore.’ ”
Flocabulary CEO and co-founder Alex Rappaport is white. “In general, the purpose of our program is to motivate students, and we often say the enemy here is student apathy,” he explains. “We want students to ask questions and challenge assumptions.” Mr. Rappaport claims Flocabulary works wonders: “Some students are incredibly motivated to go on to read their history textbooks with more passion.”
So far, the Oklahoma City school district has spent $10,000 on Flocabulary, and the school board has authorized up to $97,000 in federal grant funds, but Superintendent Karl Springer is taking a second look after complaints about some of the history lessons. [Megan Rolland, Oklahoma City District Pushes Pause on Hip-Hop Curriculum, The Oklahoman, Oct. 1, 2010.]
In February of this year, a work crew from the Jersey City Board of Education removed a bronze statue of colonial administrator Peter Stuyvesant from its pedestal in front of Martin Luther King School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Known locally as Old Peter, the statue was erected in 1913 and pays tribute to the last Governor-General of the Dutch New Netherland colony, which included the present-day states of New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Connecticut. School superintendent Charles T. Epps, who is black, ordered the removal — apparently without consulting anyone — and planned to replace it with a statue of Martin Luther King.
The disappearance of Old Peter upset historians and preservationists. They were outraged when city historian Bob Leach unearthed documents proving that it was the city — not the board of education — that owned the statue, meaning Mr. Epps had no right to take it down. Supporters of the statue printed up “Bring Him Home” stickers as part of a campaign to return the statue to its rightful place, and in October the city announced it was restoring the statue. Maryann Kelleher, director of Jersey City’s Division of Cultural Affairs, called the removal an “honest mistake.” It will cost Jersey City taxpayers $40,000 to correct Mr. Epps’s “mistake.” [Agustin C. Torres, Old Peter Ripped from His Pedestal Outside School 11, Jersey Journal, Feb. 6, 2010. Karina Arrue, Peter Stuyvesant Statue to be Restored and Returned to Bergen Avenue Post, Jersey Journal, Oct. 18, 2010.]
End of an Era
When he died in October, nonagenarian Ancentus Akuku, Kenya’s most prominent polygamist, left behind more than 100 widows and 200 children. Akuku, nicknamed “Danger” because his good looks supposedly made him irresistible to women, married his first wife in 1939, his last in 1992, and outlived 12 of them. He became a polygamist at age 22. He fathered so many children that he established two elementary schools to educate them.
In Kenya, having many wives is a sign of wealth and status, and many Kenyans thought Akuku was the “ultimate symbol of traditional manhood.” His death was the talk of Kenya, with many men calling in to radio programs to pay their respects.
The status of women in Kenya has changed, however, and while many Kenyans had mothers and grandmothers who were part of polygamous families, most young women say Akuku could not get so many wives today. “We all understand that polygamy was allowed back then in some Kenyan communities, but Akuku is something else,” says Linet Wambui, a Nairobi saleswoman. “Personally, I would never be married to a man who has another wife let alone a hundred more. Those women were clearly different. Try having an Akuku at this day and age, the women would kill one another.”
Some men aren’t keen on the idea either. “I had heard of Akuku Danger back in the day when I was a teen, and up to now I still wonder how he did this,” says Jeff Kilumi, a businessman in Nairobi. “Right now, even if I had a lot of money, ‘Bill Gates’ rich, I wouldn’t even go for a second wife. The more the women, the more the headache and stress.”
There is still polygamy in Africa, though it is not as common as in the past. South African president Jacob Zuma has five wives and over 20 children. He says this is part of Zulu culture. Mr. Zuma takes a back seat, however, to King Mswati III of Swaziland, who has 14 wives and 23 children. [Dana Hughes, ‘Danger’ Akuku Dies and Leaves Behind 100 Widows, ABC News, Oct. 4, 2010.]
Who Needs Polygamy?
Howard Veal is an unemployed 44-year-old black man from Muskegon, Michigan, who will be spending the next two to fours years in state prison. His crime? Failure to pay child support. Most child-support scofflaws in Michigan serve six months or less, so why so long? According to the Michigan attorney general’s office, he owes more than $533,000 to the 14 mothers of his 23 children. Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber told Mr. Veal at sentencing that he was “stunned and amazed” by his irresponsibility, adding, “Animals procreate. Human beings are supposed to nurture their children. You’re an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children.” Mr. Veal denies fathering 23 children, and says he paid what he could. “I was paying money from my unemployment,” he told the judge. “I never chose not to pay.”
Sherri Black, the mother of two of Mr. Veal’s children, is happy he is going to prison, but would have preferred to get money, noting that over the past seven years, he has paid only $87.75 of the $60,000 he owes her. “Now my taxes will go to support him in prison,” she says. [Dad of 23 Gets Prison for Non-support, AP, Sept. 24, 2010.]
In 2007, Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe thought he had found the solution to his country’s chronic fuel shortage when “spirit medium” Nomatter Tagarira convinced him she could summon diesel fuel from rocks. Of course, Miss Tagarira had run a pipe from a tank of diesel to a rock, and a hidden assistant turned the tap at her signal, but officials who witnessed the stunt — including the ministers of state security and defense and top military commanders — were astonished. They took off their shoes, sat down on the ground, applauded in unison, and reported to Mr. Mugabe that their fuel woes were at an end.
The government rewarded Miss Tagarira with $2.7 million in cash, flew her around on air force helicopters, gave her a farm seized from a white man, and put a 50-vehicle convoy at her disposal so she could travel to perform night-time rituals needed to maintain her powers. A round-the-clock guard kept watch over the diesel-producing rock. Miss Tagarira lived the high life for a year until Mr. Mugabe asked for another demonstration; perhaps he was wondering what was taking so long to get the taps flowing. This time Miss Tagarira was found out. She skedaddled, got caught, escaped again, and managed to stay on the lam for nearly three years. In late September, a judge sentenced her to 39 months in prison for defrauding the government and supplying “false information to the state.” Magistrate Ignatius Mugova said Miss Tagarira’s lies “brought despondency in the nation.”
Even after her arrest, many Zimbabweans remained convinced of her supernatural powers. At her first court appearance, she appeared to go into a trance, growling as if she were possessed. Many spectators fled the courtroom in terror. [Jan Raath, 3 Years’ Jail for Diesel Diviner Who Took Robert Mugabe for a Ride, The Australian, Oct. 2, 2010.]
Under Britain’s Race Relations Act of 2000, the government requires all “public authorities,” including schools and churches, to “promote good relations between persons of different racial groups.” Part of promoting good relations requires that any “racist” incident be logged into a special database. Munira Mirza, a senior advisor to London Mayor Boris Johnson, says this has turned teachers into informants who have accused more than 250,000 children — including toddlers — of “racism.” She says this means “a massive increase of cases reinforcing the perception that we need an army of experts to manage race relations from cradle to grave. Does this heightened awareness of racism help to stamp it out? Quite the opposite. It creates a climate of suspicion and anxiety,” she says, concluding, “The more we seek to measure racism, the more it seems to grow.” [Laura Clark, Three-Year-Olds Being Labeled Bigots by Teachers As 250,000 Children Accused of Racism, Daily Mail (London), Sept. 23, 2010.]
Last January, Pittsburgh police arrested 24-year-old Jeffery McGowan for aggravated assault and resisting arrest after he tried to fight the officer who pulled him over during a routine traffic stop. As a first-time offender, prosecutors offered Mr. McGowan, who is white, a plea deal: three months probation in exchange for a guilty plea on disorderly conduct charges.
When Mr. McGowan went to court in October to finalize the deal, Judge Joseph K. Williams, who is black, rejected it. “[The assistant district attorney] for some reason comes up with I think ridiculous pleas whenever it’s a young white guy,” he said. “If this had been a black kid who did the same thing, we wouldn’t be talking about three months’ probation.”
“Now that the court has essentially called me a racist, I think that’s unfair,” said the prosecutor in question, Brian Catanzarite. “I don’t make offers based on race. I make offers based on facts.” Mr. McGowan’s lawyer Giuseppe Roselli then asked Judge Williams whether he was rejecting the plea because McGowan is white. “Not because he’s white, but because it’s a ridiculous plea that only goes to white boys that come into this court for the same facts, and I’m not going for it,” the judge replied.
Judge Williams recused himself after complaints from the district attorney’s office. The court clerk then assigned Mr. McGowan’s case to another judge, who is white, who accepted the plea deal. [Bobby Kerlik, Allegheny County Judge: ‘White Boys’ Given Deals, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 6, 2010.]
What a Croc
Twenty people died on a flight from Kinshasa to Bandundu in the Democratic Republic of Congo last August when their plane nosed straight into the ground. According to an unidentified sole survivor, trouble started when a crocodile escaped from someone’s carry-on bag. He says passengers panicked at the sight of the smuggled reptile and stampeded to the front of the plane, and the pilots were unable to regain control when the plane went out of balance.
Tim Atkinson, an investigator with the British Department of Transport, which is looking into the crash, says, “I would say it’s extremely unlikely this story holds water but I wouldn’t rule it out completely.” [Escaped Crocodile May Have Caused Congo Plane Crash, Guardian (London), Oct. 22, 2010.]
Millinocket, Maine is a former mill town, 200 miles north of Portland. Its population has been declining since the last of the pulp and paper mills shut in the 1970s and now stands at 5,000. School enrollment is also dwindling, down 43 percent since 2000, and there are now just 550 students in the town’s schools. Fewer students mean fewer dollars for school administrators, and this worries Superintendent Kenneth Smith.
His solution? Bring in scores of students from China. Dr. Smith has been on a fact-finding trip to China, where he hopes to convince Chinese officials and parents that Millinocket would be a great place to send the children to prepare them for college in the United States, provided they can pay $27,000 a year in tuition, room and board. “They want to learn English, and they want a college education. If we can get them into a college here, they will have achieved their major goal,” he says. When asked why Chinese students would want to come to a depressed town an hour’s drive from the nearest mall, Dr. Smith points to the town’s many assets: “There’s the beauty, number one, and the fresh air. And the roads are good,” he says, adding, “We have a tremendous music department and small classes with plenty of room. In China, you’re elbow to elbow.”
English teacher Terry Given thinks her neighbors could use some gingering up. “We’re pretty vanilla,” she says. Not everyone is eager to hop on the Chinese bandwagon, however. Seventeen-year-old Matthew Preble says he would welcome the Chinese, but says: “We’re used to Stearns High School being a small, hometown type of thing. The fact that suddenly we might have up to hundreds of kids from China might change that — in a good way, but we’re also kind of scared to lose our town.” [Abby Goodnough, Needing Students, Maine School Hunts in China, New York Times, Oct. 26, 2010.]