A poignant anniversary
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s memorable “I have a dream” speech, is a time for reflections — some inspiring, and some painful and ominous.
At the core of Dr. King’s speech was his dream of a world in which people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by “the content of their character.”
Judging individuals by their individual character is at the opposite pole from judging how groups are statistically represented among employees, college students or political figures.
Yet many — if not most — of those who celebrate the “I have a dream” speech today promote the directly opposite approach of group preferences, especially those based on skin color.
How consistent Martin Luther King himself was as he confronted the various issues of his time is a question that can be left for historians. His legacy to us is the “I have a dream” speech.
What was historic about that speech was not only what was said but how powerfully its message resonated among Americans of that time, across the spectrum of race, ideology and politics. A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted in Congress for both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To say that that was a hopeful time would be an understatement. To say that many of those hopes have since been disappointed would also be an understatement.
There has been much documented racial progress since 1963. But there has also been much retrogression, of which the disintegration of the black family has been central, especially among those at the bottom of the social pyramid.
Many people — especially politicians and activists — want to take credit for the economic and other advancement of blacks, even though a larger proportion of blacks rose out of poverty in the 20 years before 1960 than in the 20 years afterwards.
But no one wants to take responsibility for the policies and ideologies that led to the breakup of the black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and generations of discrimination.
Many hopes were disappointed because those were unrealistic hopes to begin with. Economic and other disparities between groups have been common for centuries, in countries around the world — and many of those disparities have been, and still are, larger than the disparities between blacks and whites in America.
Even when those who lagged behind have advanced, they have not always caught up, even after centuries, because others were advancing at the same time. But when blacks did not catch up with whites in America, within a matter of decades, that was treated as strange — or even a sinister sign of crafty and covert racism.
Civil rights were necessary, but far from sufficient. Education and job skills are crucial, and the government cannot give you these things. All it can do is make them available.
Race hustlers who blame all lags on the racism of others are among the obstacles to taking the fullest advantage of education and other opportunities. What does that say about the content of their character?
When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was pending in Congress, my hope was that it would pass undiluted, not because I thought it would be a panacea but, on the contrary, because “the bitter anticlimax that is sure to follow may provoke some real thought in quarters where slogans and labels hold sway at the moment.”
But the bitter anticlimax that did follow provoked no rethinking. Instead, it provoked all sorts of new demands. Judging everybody by the same standards was now regarded in some quarters as “racist” because it precluded preferences and quotas.
There are people today who talk “justice” when they really mean payback — including payback against people who were not even born when historic injustices were committed.
The nation has just been through a sensationalized murder trial in Florida, on which many people took fierce positions before a speck of evidence was introduced, basing themselves on nothing more than judging those involved by the color of their skin.
We have a long way to go to catch up to what Martin Luther King said 50 years ago. And we are moving in the opposite direction.
The media’s fixation on the Trayvon Martin case, while ignoring much more brutal crimes with clearer racial motivations, is a return to pre-O.J. America.
The thesis of my book, “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama” — out in paperback this week! — is that after decades of liberals play-acting Racist America, wherein they cast themselves as civil rights champions, and other, random white people as Bull Connor (a Democrat), it all ended with the O.J. verdict.
That’s when white America said, That’s it. The white guilt bank is shut down. It was one of the best things that ever happened to America — especially for black people.
But then in 2007, Barack Obama brought it all back. In order to immunize the most left-wing presidential candidate the nation has ever seen, the Non-Fox Media went into overdrive reporting their fantasies of an America full of racists, constantly terrorizing innocent blacks.
Of course, once Republicans got the Democrats to stop terrorizing black people, there was no one else doing it. Nonetheless, for decades, the media would highlight every apparent white-on-black crime, treating each such incident as the Crime of the Century.
White-on-black crimes were, and are, freakishly rare. But the media weren’t showcasing these one-off events as man-bites-dog stories, but rather as dog-bites-man stories in a universe brimming with packs of rabid dogs. According to liberals, whites attacking blacks was an epidemic — a nationwide “cancer,” in the words of erstwhile New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
In December 1986, a gang of white toughs were roaming around Howard Beach, Queens, brawling with anyone they met. They beat up an off-duty white fireman. They attacked a couple of Hispanics. But it was only when the young delinquents fought with three black men — Cedric Sandiford, Timothy Grimes and Michael Griffith — that they secured their place in history and became the literary event of the season!
After the initial encounter between the black and white punks — there were epithets exchanged and criminal records on both sides — the white gang returned with a baseball bat, spoiling for a fight. Grimes ran off unharmed, Sandiford got beaten, and Griffith tried to flee by climbing through a hole in a fence — and ran directly into a busy six-lane highway, where he was hit by a car and killed.
The police summarily concluded that the white gang’s other fights that night had “no racial overtones.” Only the fight with the blacks constituted a hate crime. The FBI opened an investigation and 50 police officers were assigned to investigate. Hollywood made a movie about Howard Beach. The New York Times still celebrates anniversaries of the Howard Beach attack.
News stories were brimming with references to Birmingham and Selma. Columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote, “Howard Beach suddenly has become what Birmingham once meant.” (A few years later, the ethnically sensitive Breslin was suspended for denouncing a young Korean-American colleague in the newsroom as a “slant-eyed b***h.”)
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Atlantic editor Jack Beatty blamed Howard Beach on the Republican Party: “From Richard M. Nixon’s ‘Southern strategy’ to Ronald Reagan’s boilerplate about ‘welfare queens,’ the legatees of the party of Lincoln have wrung political profit from the white backlash. Howard Beach shows that the politics of prejudice may have some vile life left in it yet.”
In 1986, only 2.6 percent of all homicides in the entire country were white-on-black killings. Black criminals killed nearly three times as many white people (949) as whites killed blacks (378) and they killed 16 times as many black people (6,235) as whites did.
Mayor Koch called the Howard Beach attack “the most horrendous incident of violence in the nine years I have been mayor.”
Earlier that year, a 20-year-old white design student, Dawn Livecchi, answered the doorbell at her Fort Greene, Brooklyn, townhouse and was shot dead by a black man, Anthony Neal Jenkins, who had followed her home from the grocery store.
One Queens woman interviewed by the Times about the Howard Beach attack mentioned that her husband had been beaten so badly by a group of blacks that he remained in a coma two years later.
In one of dozens of “retaliatory” attacks that invariably follow these media-created racial incidents, the day after the attack, a black gang beat and robbed a white, 17-year-old boy sitting at a Queens bus stop, shouting, “Howard Beach! Howard Beach!” “He’s a white boy, and they killed a black boy at Howard Beach.”
Just a week before the Howard Beach attack there was another interracial crime in a neighborhood only slightly farther away from The New York Times’ building than Howard Beach is. A 63-year-old white woman, Ann Viner, was attacked at her home in New Canaan, Conn., savagely beaten, dragged to her swimming pool and drowned by two 20-year-old black men.
It was the first murder in the affluent town in 17 years. That seems like a newsworthy event to me.
But the Times mentioned Viner’s murder only in three short news items, totaling less than a thousand words. The longest piece, 500 words, was an initial report on the murder — when there was still hope that the killers were white! No other major news outlets in the country mentioned Viner’s murder.
So if you’re confused by the blanket coverage of the Trayvon Martin case — attracting even the attention of the president of the United States! — while far more common and more vicious black-on-white murders are ignored, try to understand that liberals are frightened by change. They are desperately clinging to a world that never existed.
Their fantasy of an America bristling with racists allows them to portray any criticism of our massively incompetent and dangerous president as just another sad episode of oh-so-typical white racism. They have to protect Obama, so the rest of us have to get Mugged .