Unsung black people – It must be hard for young black males to always be viewed as criminals by people who notice crime statistics. We’ve jawboned that sad story for 40 years. Last week, President Obama ran it around the block again in another speech about himself in reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict.
Let’s give that beloved chestnut a rest for a day and consider another way blacks have it harder than whites. Only black people are expected to never speak against their community. Might we spend five minutes admiring the courage of blacks who step forward and tell the truth to cops, juries and reporters in the middle of our periodic racial Armageddons? This one is never discussed at all.
In December 1984, Bernie Goetz shot four black men who were trying to mug him on the New York City subway. (About a year later, one youth admitted that, yes, in fact, they “were goin’ to rob him.” They thought he looked like “easy bait.”)
A few days after the shooting, The New York Times got the racism ball rolling with its “beneath the surface” reporting technique: “Just beneath the surface of last week’s debate was the question of whether the shooting may have been racially motivated.”
Hoping for support for its below-the-surface thesis, the Times visited the mother of Darrell Cabey, the young man paralyzed from the shooting. As the Times summarized the feeling at the Claremont housing project where Cabey lived, “many people said the four teen-agers were troublemakers and probably got what they deserved.”
Cabey’s mother had received one letter that said: “[Y]ou get no sympathy from us peace-loving, law-abiding blacks. We will even contribute to support the guy who taught you a lesson, every way we can … P.S. I hope your wheelchair has a flat tire.”
The Washington Post also interviewed Cabey’s neighbors. Eighteen-year-old Yvette Green said: “If I’d had a gun, I would have shot him.” Darryl Singleton, 24 years old, called Cabey, “a sweet person,” but added, “if I had a gun, I would have shot the guy.”
As white liberals (and Al Sharpton) screamed “racism!” how’d you like to be the black woman called by the defense at Goetz’s trial? Andrea Reid, who was on the subway car during the shooting, testified: Those “punks were bothering the white man … those punks got what they deserved.”
Reid had met the mother and brother of one of Goetz’s muggers at a party. But she took the stand and told the truth.
Juror Robert Leach, a black bus driver from Harlem, was one of Goetz’s most vehement defenders in the jury room, even persuading the others not to convict Goetz for unlawful possession of any guns, other than the one he used in the shooting. In the end, three blacks and one Hispanic on the jury voted to acquit Goetz of all 13 charges except for the minor one of carrying an illegal firearm.
More brave blacks stepped forward in the Edmund Perry case a year later.
Perry, a black teenager from Phillips Exeter Academy, along with his brother, mugged a cop and ended up getting himself killed. When Perry’s brother Jonah was prosecuted for the mugging, two of the witnesses against Jonah were his black neighbors.
One neighbor testified that Jonah told him the night of the incident that his brother was shot when they were mugging someone. Another neighbor said Jonah told her that night that he tried to beat up a guy who turned out to be a cop. This was in a courtroom full of rabble-rousers, amen-ing everything defense lawyer Alton Maddox said.
They told the truth knowing they’d have to go back to the neighborhood. Whatever happened to them? Why aren’t they the heroes? Where’s their Hollywood movie? There was a movie about the Perry case. It was titled: “Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story.” (The grand jury had no difficulty finding the motive: The cop was being mugged.)
In the middle of one of these racial passion plays, it takes enormous courage for a black person to step forward and say, “Yeah, I heard him say he mugged the cop,” “If I had been Bernie Goetz, I would have shot them, too,” or “I know George, he’s my friend.”
That last one was Elouise Dilligard, George Zimmerman’s final defense witness. Clear as a bell, this black woman spoke warmly about “my neighbor George” and went on to describe his nose being disfigured and bloody right after the shooting.
You won’t see her on CNN, though. In fact, you’ll never hear a peep about any of these courageous black people, unless you obsessively research every “race” case of the last 30 years, as I did for my book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama. (All these black heroes appear in my book.)
Whites never need to be brave this way. There’s absolutely no pressure on white people to root for their race. In fact, there’s often pressure to root against their race. Instead of being asked to weep over President Obama’s ever having been looked at suspiciously (probably by Jesse Jackson), could we reflect on the fortitude of ordinary black citizens who resist “racial solidarity” and speak the truth?
During his otherwise excellent commentaries on race in America, Bill O’Reilly, host of the No. 1 cable news show, claimed on Tuesday night that the one person who tried to help African-Americans more than any other was … Robert F. Kennedy!
No one laughed. I guess that’s what they’re teaching these days at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. (I can’t wait to hear how Ted Kennedy helped eradicate drunk driving!)
According to O’Reilly’s Bizarro-World history, Bobby Kennedy was “the guy who was really concerned about African-Americans” and “who really DID SOMETHING. … He went in with the federal government and he cleaned out the rat’s nest that was abusing African-Americans in the South.”
Although this myth has been polished to perfection by the Kennedy PR machine (requiring all Kennedy stories to illustrate either courage or adorableness), it is simply a fact that helping blacks was not the Democrats’ priority. Even the ones who wanted to, such as Bobby and John Kennedy, couldn’t risk upsetting the segregationists, more than 90 percent of whom were Democratic.
The job of actually enforcing civil rights and desegregating Southern schools fell to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
Five years after Eisenhower had shown the Democrats how its done by sending federal troops to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., President Kennedy and brother Bobby still dragged their feet in helping James Meredith enter the University of Mississippi.
On Feb. 7, 1961, Meredith wrote a beautiful letter to the Department of Justice, describing his inability to enroll at the University of Mississippi, He wrote:
“Whenever I attempt to reason logically about this matter, it grieves me deeply to realize that an individual, especially an American, the citizen of a free democratic nation, has to clamor with such procedures in order to try to gain just a small amount of his civil and human rights, and even after suffering the embarrassments and personal humiliation of this procedure, there still seems little hope of success.”
The full letter is worth looking up. I would venture to guess there are not many college applicants of any race who write this well today. (You know why? Because Americans don’t read anymore. You watch cable news and fill your heads with nonsense history and false facts.)
In response to Meredith’s eloquent letter, Bobby Kennedy did nothing. And that’s how Bobby Kennedy “cleaned out the rat’s nest that was abusing African-Americans in the South”!
Remember: This was seven years after the Supreme Court had already handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education — a ruling expressly endorsed in the Republican Party platform, but not the Democratic platform, I might add.
But Democrats were in the White House, so Meredith had to take his case to the Supreme Court. Liberals were engaging in their usual massive resistance to court rulings they don’t like and neither Bobby nor John Kennedy would dare try to stop them.
You will notice that the Freedom Rides and civil rights marches all took place under Democratic presidents. It was the only way to get Democratic administrations to intervene against their fellow Democrats.
In June 1962, a federal appellate court ruled that Meredith had been denied admittance to Ole Miss because of his race and ordered the university to enroll him. (At least that’s how the two Republican judges voted; the segregationist FDR appointee dissented.) But one old segregationist on the court — who had not even sat on the case — kept issuing stays to prevent enforcement of the ruling.
Only when these illegitimate stays were appealed to the Supreme Court did Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department finally weigh in, asking Justice Hugo Black, the circuit justice, to lift the stays — nearly two years after Meredith had written to the Department of Justice asking for its help.
Needless to say, Justice Black came down on Meredith’s side in a matter of about six seconds. The full court had already decided the school segregation issue years earlier in Brown.
But the state still would not admit Meredith to Ole Miss.
With a showdown inevitable, President Kennedy, on the counsel of his trusted attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, wrote a letter to the segregationist Democrat governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett.
These were JFK’s stirring words on behalf of the constitutional rights of black Americans, redeemed with the blood of American patriots:
“White House, September 30, 1962
“To preserve our constitutional system, the Federal Government has an overriding responsibility to enforce the orders of the Federal Courts. Those courts have ordered that James Meredith be admitted now as a student at the University of Mississippi.”
So basically, his hands were tied. It reads like a letter from a Republican administration explaining why it’s forced to comply with a gay marriage ruling. (JFK’s weasel-word letter is also worth looking up.)
Yes, eventually the Kennedy brothers sent the National Guard to force the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith. It wasn’t hard to figure out what to do: Eisenhower had sent in the 101st Airborne to enforce desegregation back in 1957 against a much more tenacious segregationist (and Bill Clinton pal), Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas.
But in the rest of the South, schools remained segregated as long as Bobby Kennedy was attorney general and either JFK or LBJ was in the White House. (LBJ on the 1964 Civil Rights Act: “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”)
Black Americans may say hosannas to Bobby Kennedy, but they would have to wait for Richard Nixon to become president to win the promise of Brown v. Board.
Within Nixon’s first two years in the White House, black students attending segregated schools in the South declined from nearly 70 percent to 18.4 percent. There was more desegregation of American public schools in Nixon’s first term than in any historical period before or since.
It was not an accident that Nixon launched his comeback in 1966 with a column denouncing Democrats for trying to “squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.” It’s also not an accident that James Meredith was a Republican. (You’d know all this if you had read Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, but you were busy watching TV.)
Crediting Bobby Kennedy for the great work he did on behalf of black Americans would be like calling Harry Reid the country’s greatest champion of the unborn. Sure, Reid says he’s pro-life, but he dare not act on it lest he upset the rest of his party. It was the same with Democrats and civil rights.
If you want to say something nice about Bobby Kennedy, remind everyone that he proudly worked for Sen. Joe McCarthy.
Bill O’ is smarter than Lawrence O’Donnell – After attacking Bill O’Reilly’s history last week, I’ll defend his sociology this week. On Monday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell ridiculed Fox News’ O’Reilly for saying that single motherhood is responsible for the the high black crime rate.
O’Reilly said, quite correctly: “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock. That drives poverty. And the lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents.”
O’Donnell mocked O’Reilly, saying that “the struggles of black America have nothing to do with slavery in Bill O’Reilly’s very narrow and uneducated mind.” He then droned on about some paper Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote about slavery.
Take that, Bill O’Reilly!
While I’m sure that was a fascinating little monograph Moynihan wrote about slavery, O’Donnell cited nothing in it that contradicted O’Reilly. Apparently, Moynihan found that American slavery was “the most awful the world has ever known.” True, but unfortunately that has nothing to do with what O’Reilly said.
It doesn’t even sound like Moynihan was attributing black illegitimacy to slavery. O’Donnell’s point was simply that the great Moynihan had written about slavery being bad, so all discussion must end.
Fortunately, all discussion did not end for Erol Ricketts, a (black) demographer and sociologist with the Rockefeller Foundation who researched the origin of black female-headed families in the 1980s. His studies showed that the black family was thriving from the late 19th century through most of the 20th century.
You don’t get much poorer, deprived or discriminated against than being a black person in America just a generation out of slavery.
Examining nearly a century of U.S. census reports, Ricketts found that between 1890 and 1950, blacks had higher marriage rates than whites. Until 1970, black women were more likely to get married than white women — and that was despite the high mortality rates among black men, leaving fewer available for marriage. In three of four decennial years between 1890 and 1920, black men out-married white men.
Whatever else may cause illegitimacy and its associated problems, it isn’t poverty, discrimination, lack of education, unemployment or slavery. Black Americans had all those handicaps — and yet they still had strong families and low crime rates from 1890 until the 1960s.
But in the ’60s, liberals decided it would be a great idea to start subsidizing illegitimacy.
Everyone knew — even FDR’s secretary of labor, Francis Perkins, knew — that granting widows’ benefits to unmarried women with illegitimate children would have disastrous consequences. An early 20th-century social welfare advocate, Homer Folks, warned back in 1914 that to grant pensions for “desertion or illegitimacy would, undoubtedly, have the effect of a premium upon these crimes against society.”
But under President Lyndon Johnson, that’s exactly what the government did. The “suitable home” requirements for welfare — such as having a husband — were jettisoned by liberal know-it-alls in the federal Bureau of Public Assistance. As a result, illegitimacy went through the roof, particularly among blacks, our most vulnerable fellow citizens.
In 1970, for the first time, the marriage rate for black women fell below 70 percent. But even then, a majority of black children were still living with both parents. By 2010, only 30.1 percent of blacks above the age of 15 were married, compared to 52.7 percent of whites.
Liberals keep using the bad consequences of their policies as an argument for more of the same policies. Government subsidies to unwed mothers increase the illegitimacy rate, which in turn leads to poverty, criminal behavior and more illegitimacy. So Democrats reverse cause and effect to claim it’s the poverty that causes illegitimacy and then demand more payments to unwed mothers.
But we know poverty does not cause illegitimacy. The black experience from 1890 to 1960 proves it. It’s the reverse, just as Bill O’Reilly said. If African-Americans started marrying again at their pre-Great Society rates, it would wipe out the entire black “culture of poverty.”
Nor is there a speck of evidence that poverty causes crime. Murder is the only crime that has been reliably tracked since 1900. From the turn of the century right up to the early 1930s, the murder rate rose steadily, with a few peaks and valleys. Then it began a noticeable decline right at the beginning of the Great Depression, remaining low until the mid-1940s, and rising again only at the end of the Depression.
The converse happened during the economic boom of the “go-go” ’80s. The homicide rate shot up in the 1970s and stayed high until the mid-1990s. Both the homicide rate and general crime rate have remained at all-time lows through the economic wasteland of the Obama years. (Thanks to Republican crime policies.)
So while it’s fascinating that Moynihan concluded that slavery was awful (I think we knew that!), O’Reilly is absolutely right that it’s illegitimacy driving the black crime rate.