More Success for BNP
After achieving its first electoral successes in nearly a decade last year, the British National Party ran a record number of candidates — 221 — in this year’s local government elections. When the count was over, the BNP more than tripled the number of council seats it held, going from five to sixteen. It’s greatest success was in the northwest English city of Burnley, where it added five more seats to the three it won last year, making the BNP the second largest party in the city. BNP spokesman Simon Bennett says of the Burnley results, “I’m delighted … I just hope other parties will accept that we are a part of the political landscape in Burnley and work with us.”
Such cooperation is unlikely. Labour MP Peter Pike, who represents Burnley in Parliament, calls the BNP “racist” and “divisive.” Shahid Malik, a former member of the Commission for Racial Equality, notes that the BNP holds only a small fraction of council seats nationwide. Still, he says, “One BNP councillor in this country is one too many.”
“It’s not a question of them being racist or us being racist. It’s just saying things as they are,” says one local supporter. Winnie Hales, a former Labour voter, feels no qualms about voting BNP for the third straight election. “Why should I?” she asks. “… All I want is fairness … It’s only the BNP who are sticking up for us.”
In addition to the seats in Burnley, the BNP picked up two seats in nearby Sandwell, and one each in Calderdale, Dudley, Stoke-on-Trent, as well as one in Broxbourne, a district in Hertfordshire near London, well outside the region where the party has enjoyed most of its recent success.
The BNP did suffer some disappointments. It ran candidates for all 25 council seats in the city of Sunderland, in the hope of gaining a foothold in the northeast of England. It came in second in five wards, but won no seats. BNP leader Nick Griffin also lost his bid for a seat in Oldham, scene of the 2001 race riots, coming in second behind the Labour candidate. [British PM Survives Local, Regional Polls Despite Some Labour Losses, AFP, May 2, 2003. Philip Johnston and Paul Stokes, BNP Gains Give Party First Taste of Power, Telegraph (London), May 2, 2003. Simon Parker, BNP Trebles Seats, Guardian (London), May 2, 2003. Nigel Bunyan, BNP Built Success on White Voters’ Resentment, Telegraph (London), May 3, 2003.]
King of the Road
On April 13, a police officer in the LA suburb of Rialto spotted a 2003 Ford Expedition SUV traveling at nearly 100 mph and weaving in and out of traffic. Before the officer could begin pursuit, the driver lost control. He hit a tree and a utility pole, went through a fence, and crashed into a house with such force police assumed the crash was fatal. They got two surprises: the driver was alive, and turned out to be habitual black criminal Rodney King. At last report, he was in the hospital in fair condition with a broken pelvis. No one else was hurt in the crash.
Mr. King has had numerous brushes with the law since he received a $3.8 million settlement from the city of Los Angeles in 1994 for his well-publicized beating in 1991. In 1999, he served 90 days in jail for a conviction of spousal abuse. In 2001, he was arrested twice for suspected PCP use, and sentenced to a year in a drug treatment facility. [Rodney King Injured After Smashing Car Into House, Reuters, April 15, 2003. King Recovering After Slamming His Vehicle Into House, AP, April 15, 2003.]
The Dangers of Candor
On March 13, a 17-year-old white girl and her mother complained to Cedar Grove, Florida, Police Chief John Ferrick that the girl’s black former boyfriend had beaten her. The girl’s mother, Cherry Sherman, says Chief Ferrick told her daughter, “Let me give you some advice — you need to stay away from black boys. You are lucky that you didn’t get your throat cut, because that’s what they do to white girls.”
The girl took offense, and filed a written complaint. On April 9, the city’s Civil Service Board ordered Chief Ferrick to write letters of apology to the girl, her mother and a friend who also heard him. Chief Ferrick, 67, admits he advised the girl to stay away from blacks, but denies he said anything about getting her throat cut. [Police Chief Must Apologize, Orlando Sentinel, April 12, 2003.]
Elsewhere in Florida, Republican state Rep. Fred Brummer was forced to apologize for joking that an upcoming basketball game between Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature would be unfair “because all the blacks are Democrats.” “It was not my intention to be insensitive,” he now says. [City Link Magazine (Ft. Lauderdale), Newswatch: Quotes, Apr. 16, 2003, p. 10.]
Out of Gas
Nigeria exports two million barrels of oil a day, and is the fifth-largest supplier to the US, but imports some of its gasoline. When the international supply dropped just before the Iraq war, Nigeria ran short. Many motorists had to wait up to three days in gas lines that stretched for miles, and often got into fights over line-cutting. In the southern city of Asaba, a police officer shot and killed two people who told him he had to wait in line like everybody else; the angry crowd then attacked the policeman and beat him to death. Nigerians often take justice into their own hands.
Black market sales made the shortage worse. The official government price for gasoline is about 80 cents a gallon, but fuel-hungry Nigerians were prepared to pay up to ten times that much — in a country where 70 percent of the population earns less than $1 per day. Some gas station owners diverted fuel to the black market, and made huge profits by shorting their customers.
Many sellers on the black market were soldiers, policemen and government officials. Men driving cars with government license plates were seen trading barrels of gasoline in the parking lot of the Public Enlightenment Department, which is part of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission. [Davan Maharaj, Oil-Rich Nigeria Plagued by Gasoline Shortage, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2003.]
The federal government likes to send refugees to Clarkston, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta with a population of 7,200. Its foreign-born population increased 350 percent in the 1990s, and is sure to rise, since Clarkston will get many of Georgia’s initial 620-650 allotment of the 12,000 Somalis the feds are bringing in (see May issue). With one in three residents already foreign-born, townspeople worry their city is turning into a resettlement camp.
On March 31, Mayor Lee Swaney hosted a public town meeting with representatives from refugee and resettlement agencies. The public was not allowed to question the representatives directly; Mayor Swaney asked prepared questions, based on inquiries from constituents. They wanted to know who chose Clarkston for resettlement, why the town wasn’t reimbursed for costs, and whether refugees would get job and language training.
The bureaucrats weren’t happy. Jasmine Majid, Georgia state refugee coordinator, says the questions “reflect a very sad and negative aspect of Clarkston.” Many residents didn’t like the answers. Greg Perry, who lives just outside Clarkston, thinks the refugee agents dodged questions and gave “canned” answers, evading queries about costs by saying refugees are an asset because they pay taxes and run businesses. He thinks residents should have asked questions themselves. “Everything was skewed the way they wanted to present it,” he says. “They weren’t really interested in the concerns of the community.” [Mark Bixler, Agencies Try to Reassure Clarkston, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 1, 2003, p. B5.]
Just over 600 Somalis live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some were originally resettled there but most came from other cities for jobs. In 2000, Somali leaders formed a non-profit group called the Somali Community of North Carolina, to help new arrivals and lobby city hall. Later, Charlotte’s economy slowed, and many Somalis lost their jobs. In 2002, Somali Community was evicted from its office for failing to pay rent, and now meets in a grocery store. It is asking for $100,400 from the city to rent a new office, hire a director, and buy computers, hinting Somalis might take their lovely diversity elsewhere. City officials say they’ve never heard of an immigrant group making demands like these, and point out that Charlotte faces an $11 million deficit and doesn’t have the money. [Christina C. Breen, Somalis Striving to Retain Identity, Charlotte Observer, Apr. 20, 2003.]
Race Is What Matters
On March 10, 2003, two policemen died in a shootout at the Stapleton Houses in New York City. Almost everyone who lives there is black. Grace Watkins, an 18-year-old resident, explained that when most people learned about the killings they said they thought the policemen got what they deserved. “I think a lot of people out here weren’t worried about [the shootings] because they thought they were white cops, but when they heard the cops were black, their attitude changed totally,” she said. “And they started expressing concern for the police officers’ families.” [Douglas Montero, Surprising Sympathy Dawns in Projects, New York Post, March 12, 2003.]
During the first six months of 2002, 56 Florida hospitals spent $40.2 million on unreimbursed medical care for non-citizens, many of them illegal aliens. These institutions represent only one fourth of the acute-care hospitals in the state. There were 705 indigent, foreign patients found in a study of those hospitals. The average bill for each was $63,155 and the average stay was 22 days. Eleven patients were hospitalized for six months or longer, and the most expensive patient was a Jamaican who had run up a $3.3 million bill and spent more than a year in bed. Hospitals are desperate to get these people out, but are required by federal law not to turn them away, and once they are in they can be very hard to discharge. Government programs pick up only a small part of the tab, so the job of paying for patients who stiff hospitals falls mainly on people under age 65, who face higher insurance premiums for themselves. [Liz Freeman, Hospitals Wrestle With How to Handle Millions in Unpaid Bills of Noncitizens, Naples News (Florida), Jan. 12, 2003.]
Racial Quotas in Brazil
More blacks live in Brazil than in any other country outside of Africa. Forty-five percent of its 175 million people are said to be black to some degree. Brazilians often claim their country is free of “racism,” though blacks are at the bottom of a society in which wealth and power are almost exclusively white. The new leftist government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva plans to change this, and is pushing a law that would set strict racial quotas in university admissions, hiring, and even in television programming. Quotas have already been established at two public universities, which recently set aside 40 percent of their freshman classes for blacks. In the highly competitive Brazilian system, which admits students on the basis of test scores, only three percent of college students are black. White students are fighting quotas, claiming they are being denied equal access to education. The Supreme Court is likely to rule on the question, but since the Chief Justice recently ordered hiring quotas for the court, black activists are confident of a favorable ruling.
There is considerable public opposition to the campaign. “Do they want racial war in Brazil?” asked a recent article in the daily O Estado de São Paulo, which has complained in an editorial that the government was “officializing racial discrimination.” Some black activists realize that an immediate push for 40-percent quotas might fail, and are asking for 20 percent to start with. Also, there is some question as to who is actually black. In Brazil there are more than 300 terms to describe different mixtures of black, and light-skinned blacks often do not consider themselves black as they do in the United States.
In university admissions, preferences go to people who claim African ancestry, so many people are suddenly claiming to be black. Some people have proposed a scientific criterion for determining blackness, but Justice Minister Márcio Thomaz Bastos disagrees. “A black person is someone who feels black and lives as a black,” he insists. “I don’t believe there is any objective, scientific criteria.” As in the United States, activists are essentially unopposed when they point to racial differences in education, earnings, and arrest rates as proof of racial discrimination for which quotas are the only remedy. [Larry Rohter, Racial Quotas in Brazil Touch Off Fierce Debate, New York Times, April 5, 2003.]
Race-Mixing and Marriage
People who cohabit without marriage are twice as likely as married couples to cross racial lines. According to the 2000 census, 15 percent of the nation’s 4.9 million unmarried heterosexual couples are racially mixed, compared to about seven percent of the 54.5 million married couples. Slightly fewer than 15 percent of the 600,000 same-sex couples are racially mixed. Just over five percent of America’s 105.5 million homes have an unmarried couple living in them, and just over 50 percent are headed by married couples; single people head the remaining 44 percent. Race-mixing is most common in Hawaii, where more than one third of married couples and more than half of cohabiting couples are interracial. For the nation as a whole, about ten percent of couples who live together are unmarried. The figure is lowest in Utah, where only five percent of cohabiting couples are unmarried. Rates are highest in Alaska, Nevada, and Vermont, where more than 12.5 percent of couples are unmarried. [Census: Interracial Couples Married and Unmarried, AP, March 13, 2003.]
|Yrs. of School||Household Income|
There are now 1.7 million blacks living in the United States who are of Caribbean origin. Seventy percent are first-generation immigrants. They stay in school longer than American blacks, and earn more money. The 500,000 Africans now living here, of whom 85 percent are foreign-born, do even better. A large number of them come to go to college, and they average more years of education than even whites and Asians. It is generally agreed that black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are of considerably higher ability than the countrymen they leave behind.
This table is in descending order of median household income, with Asians well in the lead. There is a correlation between years of schooling and income, but it is hardly perfect. Africans have the most education but not the highest incomes. Hispanics have the least education but do not have lowest incomes. [Darryl Fears, Disparity Marks Black Ethnic Groups, Report Says,” Washington Post, March 9, 2003.]