Keeping It Right

Keeping It Right is for thought provoking conversationist. It's for those who love to talk about today's issues, yesterday's history and tomorrow's future.

Location: Moreno Valley, CA

Friday, December 29, 2006

Racism - Fact or Faith?

Racism -- fact or faith?
The truth is, in today's America, intolerance is no longer tolerated.

By Shelby Steele, SHELBY STEELE, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the author of "White Guilt," published earlier this year.

December 23, 2006

FROM A POLICE shooting in Queens, N.Y., to a racially charged legal battle involving the Los Angeles Fire Department, from the self-immolation of comedian Michael Richards to the failed Senate campaign of Tennessee's Harold Ford, race is back in the news, bringing with it a batch of new and disturbing questions. Is racism now a powerful, subterranean force in our society? Is it so subtly infused into the white American subconscious as to be both involuntary and invisible to the racist himself? A recent CNN poll tells us that 84% of blacks and 66% of whites think racism is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem in American life. Is this true? In attempting to answer these questions, we must acknowledge one of the most profound achievements in recent human history: the death of white supremacy. Here was an event far more world-altering than the collapse of communism, and yet, out of a truly extraordinary historical blindness, it has gone utterly unnoticed. Possibly it was an event too conspicuous to see. Many believe that it is racist for whites to say white supremacy is dead, and that it is Uncle Tomism for blacks to say it. But it is dead nevertheless. Once a legitimate authority with dominion over all the resources and peoples of the world, it is today universally seen as one of history's greatest evils. It is dead today because it has no authority anywhere in the world and no legitimacy out of which to impose itself. It was defeated by revolutions in the last half of the 20th century that spanned the globe from India to Algeria to the United States. It was defeated by the people who had suffered it. And even if it survives in some quarters as an idea, as a speculation, it now stigmatizes anyone associated with it to the point of ruin. When Richards blasted forth with the "N-word" at a comedy club, his language met with universal condemnation. Today's acts of racism play out within an American society obsessed with purging itself of racism, a society that measures its very legitimacy by its intolerance for racism. When I was growing up in the last decade of segregation, even violent acts of racism were no threat to American legitimacy. When Richards said to his hecklers, "Fifty years ago we would have hung you up by your feet," he was longing for the days of my childhood, when blacks would fear to heckle a white comic — a time when violence enforced a much larger pattern of black subjugation. But Richards' hecklers only laughed at him. The difference between the two eras is the death of white supremacy. This does not mean that racist behavior today is somehow benign. It means that today racism swims upstream in an atmosphere of ferocious intolerance. Moreover, today's racism is no longer in concert with an overt and systematic subjugation of blacks. While racism continues to exist, it no longer stunts the lives of blacks. Yet a belief in the ongoing power of racism is, today, an article of faith for "good" whites and "truth-telling" blacks. It is heresy for any white or black to say openly that, today, underdevelopment and broken families are vastly greater problems for blacks than racism, even though this is obviously true. The problem is that this truth blames the victim. It suggests that black progress will come more from black effort than from white goodwill — even though white oppression caused the underdevelopment in the first place. In other words, this truth is unfair. And when whites or blacks utter it, they are instantly identified with the unfairness rather than with the truth.So it propriety causes us to say that racism still explains black difficulty. This explanation is also a source of power because it portrays blacks as victims. And wherever there are victims, there is justification for seeking power in their name. Thus the specter of black difficulty has been an enormous source of power for the left since the 1960s. To say racism is not the first cause of black problems is to put yourself at odds with the post-'60s left's most enduring fount of power. This of course means that racism in the United States has parallel lives. In one life, it is the actual instances of racism on the ground. But, in its parallel life, it is a time-honored currency of power that still trades well in the United States. Here, racism lives as faith rather than fact. It is something you believe in out of unacknowledged self-interest. So when race gets in the news, it is hard to know whether we are dealing with fact or faith. Was the political ad that some say defeated Harold Ford in Tennessee really racist, as the NAACP suspects, or was this old civil rights group ambulance-chasing for power? Did racism motivate the police shooting in Queens? Was the recent defeat of affirmative action at the polls in Michigan an example of racism or of an insistence on fairness? As we look at such events, are we judging facts or practicing a faith? The great mistake Americans made after the civil rights victories of the '60s was to allow race to become a government-approved means to power. Here was the incentive to make racism into a faith. And its subsequent life as a faith has destroyed our ability to know the reality of racism in America. Today we live in a terrible ignorance that will no doubt last until we take race out of every aspect of public life — until we learn, as we did with religion, to separate it from the state.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Entertainment: Joyner Can't Make It In L.A.



It seems that the "flyjock" Tom Joyner can make it everywhere in these United States, except for Los Angeles. This will be Joyner's fourth attempt and fourth rejection from the Los Angeles Market. And within those four tries, those rejections occured on both AM and FM dials.

What is it about Tom Joyner, who was out and about meeting new friends and trying to make some from his lofty station studio in Dallas, TX, that us folks in the Los Angeles market don't like. He has comedy, he has community awareness, he has Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley.

And let's not push aside his tireless work for our Historically Black Colleges, by raising money to give to students who attend these schools. His activism for the black community and although I don't agree with his politics, he is out there spreading community awareness.

Joyner brings and continues radio soap operas like "It Your World, " I thought for sure the ending plots would have folks tuning in the next day to see what happened to one of the characters. Well I guess in some cities they still do.....But not in Los Angeles.

Joyner article:

Blacks and Death....


A new study shows that blacks are not as likely as whites to want to walk into the light. Reuters: Blacks more likely to want end-of-life intervention. For such a Christian country, with so many of us believing in this perfect Heaven, we are really reluctant to leave this very imperfect earth. "While more than half of black individuals surveyed said they would want life support if they had a chronic condition and were brain dead, just 11 percent of whites would want this intervention. Nearly three quarters of blacks said they would want life-sustaining care if they were terminally ill and had senile dementia, compared with 22.2 percent of whites." Sorry, I'm with the minority on this. Life is for living, not just being here.

Gerald Ford

President Ford passed on Tuesday. He was the country's 38th president. He was the first official to hold two of the highest offices in the land, without being elected.

James Brown

“He was dramatic to the end — dying on Christmas Day. ... He’ll be all over the news all over the world today. He would have it no other way.” - Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Al Qaeda & Democrats

What's more embarrasing for Democrats? dealing with crooked congressmen who hide money in their fridge, a feisty former congresswoman whose only agenda is to impeach the president and erect a statue of slained rap / movie star Tupac Shakur. Or that the group that is responsible for 9-11 and participating in an attempt to take over Iraq, is now telling your party that in November, you didn't win......

They did.


So Long Lionel....

It was reported that Mike Evans, who is best known as playing the part of "Lionel" on All In The Family and the Jeffersons has died, he was 57.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When The Levees Broke...

When Spike Lee's documentary on the floods from Hurricane Katrina was presented. We were told the heartbreaking story of many displaced families and the deaths of many of it's elderly. And as heartbreaking the stories are from 'Nawlins to Mississippi, we are not getting the documentary on what's going on in the City of Houston, TX. Houston, like the rest of country, opened up it's city borders to the many now homeless that were huddled in the Super Dome seeking relief. Now Houston is seeking relief, cause when the levees broke, and the damage to New Orleans ninth ward was washed out, it washed indiscriminately all the bad elements right to Houston. And now there is noone to film the documentary of New Orlean's bad apples that is adding to Houston's fight to control crime. Except if you still watch "Cops"

Houston Crime Woes"

Who's Hungry?

Who's Hungry?

Sen. Ted Kennedy was recently quoted as saying that there are 36 million people going to bed hungry everyday...That is seven days a weeks, 365 days a year, 52 weeks in a year and so on and so on. Well, as luck would always have it, and I'm sure the good senators heart and passion to fight poverty with throwing more money at it is in the right place.

But he's wrong and he's guilty of feeding misinformation to the public:

First Article hattip:
America's overweight poor
By Rich Lowry
Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The problem with America's poor kids is that they're too fat. Few policy-makers are willing to say this rather obvious truth, which is why America's nutritional programs are caught in a 1930s time warp that amplifies the chief health problem facing poor children -- namely, that they're overweight. Liberal advocacy groups, stuck in a gruesome nostalgia for a bygone era of deprivation, still talk of hunger as if it stalks every poor household in the country. They maintain that there are 13.6 million children hungry or at risk of hunger in America, one of the great bogus statistics of our age. As poverty expert Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explains, malnutrition, understood as a significant dietary deficiency, essentially doesn't exist in America except in small pockets of the population with other problems, e.g. drug addicts or anorexics. Hunger, defined as going without a meal at least once in the past month, is also extremely rare, according to the Department of Agriculture, affecting roughly one-half of 1 percent of American children. Advocacy groups get their higher number by resorting to a category in Agriculture Department surveys measuring "food insecurity without hunger," meaning the worry that it might be hard to find a meal. This statistic tries to capture a psychological state rather than anything real, and contradicts the harder (or at least pudgier) evidence on the ground. According to Rector, the average poor child is, in fact, supernourished. On average, he consumes twice the daily recommended allowance of protein. By age 18, he will be an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the average teenager in 1950. This is all to the good, except that this positive trend has been supersized. Douglas J. Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute notes that 65 percent of Americans are overweight, and the poor are even more so, by an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent. Adolescents from poor households, Besharov reports, are twice as likely to be overweight. This reflects a worldwide trend. In poor countries, it's the rich who tend to be disproportionately overweight, while in advanced, rich countries it's the opposite, since it takes so much time and effort not to be overweight (rich urbanites, for instance, have the fancy gym memberships). Excess weight is, of course, associated with the increased incidence of all sorts of health disorders, from coronary disease to type 2 diabetes. It's important, therefore, to get kids on the right nutritional path. "The simple fact is that more people die in the United States of too much food than too little," said Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in 1998, "and the habits that lead to this epidemic become ingrained at an early age." The federal government helps ingrain them, as Besharov argues. Food stamps can't be used for anything other than food, forcing some recipients to buy more than they need. School breakfast and lunch programs are stacked with calories on the assumption that kids will go hungry the rest of the day. The Women, Infants and Children food-support program -- roughly half of all newborns are enrolled -- also favors high-calorie, high-cholesterol food. Besharov suggests substituting cash for food stamps, slimming down school meals and focusing the WIC program more on fruits and vegetables and on sound nutritional counseling. Doing any of this, however, will require prevailing over the howls of liberal advocacy groups, which love to feel as if they are "crusading against hunger" in a callous country two steps away from the starvation of Zimbabwe. Such groups are increasingly disconnected from the real problems of the urban poor. They talk about hunger and housing, which are conveniently susceptible to big-government solutions (more food programs! low-income housing!). The real problems of the poor tend to be crime, failing schools, out-of-wedlock births, sexually transmitted diseases and poor eating habits. It's time for liberals to upgrade their image of America. We live in such a splendidly abundant nation that even the poor are overweight. Get over it.

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .

More on the issue: Teddy Kennedy's big fat lie:

Army Times: Where They Come From (Why They Died)

Army Times Article: Where They Come From (Why They Died (Graphic))

My Comments: The Army Times has come out with graphics showing the how, the who, when and where our brave soldiers made the final sacrifices to prevent radical islamic terrorists from once again attacking us, when we are busy taking things for granted...You know like.....Life. Oh, you can bet Charles Rangel, John Kerry or John Murtha won't have this information, cause as sure as death and taxes one of them is going to say that blacks from the inner cities are dying more than whites from the rurals...So when one of them attempts to go on the race baiting offensive...You will have the information to say, "Ay man! that's bullbleep and misleading."

Army Times Story:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Small Businesses Bracing For Min. Wage Hike

Now the media wants to look at the effects of legistlative mandates to raise the minimium wage and how small businesses will have raise their prices or even lay off the small workforce it has.
Again, politicians are wrong on this issue and especially Ted Kennedy and the President who is pushing this issue. Raising the min. wage will sink a lot of small businesses and how much do you wanna bet that most of the casualties will be the now booming black owned businesses?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

L.A. Times: For Firefighter, Sense of brotherhood shattered

For firefighter, sense of brotherhood shattered
Before he was Big Dog in the fire station, he was Big Fella because of his giant frame and Bigfoot because of his size 15 boots. Before there was the dog food in his spaghetti, there was the noose draped over his station locker and the white flour sprinkled in his bed. >> (registration req'd)

My Response: Wahhhhhh!!! Wahhhhhh!!! Wahhhhhh!!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So Long Frank!!

Today, "Everybody Loves Raymond" Co-Star Peter Boyle has died.

"What in God's Hell kinda of contest, did I win"
Frank Barone - Everybody Loves Raymond

Got Health Insurance?


I guess politicians don't have more on their table in regard to the goings on or not goings on in their own districts. Things like crime or the substandard performance of some it's school districts apparently does not "move" them. Instead these politicians want to continue to find a way on how to bring a whole state to it's knees. For example, one state politician is joining the sensationalism of bringing everybody, who don't have health insurance, health insurance. And of course the question of who is going to flip the bill for the uninsured...We get the usual ahh ummm ahhhh the tax payers! and the businesses, big or small, with the knowledge that some don't give health benefits.

So the equation is that tax payers have to pay more taxes on top of the state taxes in which indigents and their children get checks and free medi-care. And businesses that have a low overhead, pay minimium wage and upon offering their potential employees a position within their company made it clear that health benefits or other benefits would not be available or the employee would have to pay out of their pocket for health benefits.

You know for some strange reason, I always thought that once you interviewed and asked to return for a probable additional interview, which is followed by a JOB OFFER from the employer, which during that JOB OFFER, you are offered to work for "X" amount of dollars and if any, benefits may be offered. YOU in turn, if not desparate, either have the option of negotiating for a few dollars more, which, if the employer is really really, I mean really interested in your talent and skills, would probably squeeze a couple dollars out their backside and give it to you and if you're satisfied with that offer...You either ACCEPT or TURN DOWN the OFFER. Now if your desparate, you obviously can't be choosey and you can't turn down any type of income to FEED YOUR FREAKING FAMILY or prevent someone from repo'ing your car in the middle of night..You do after all, have the option of accepting or declining the position. But if you do accept, and you are aware that the job does not pay for your medical benefits or additional benefits such as 401K...You are saying that your okay with that situation for now...

Now lets look at the for now, if you are unhappy with not having medical benefits and can't afford to pay for health insurance...You have the opportunity to look for something that does meet your needs....No one is holding a gun to your head or sitting on a horse with a whip in their hands forcing you to work in their company. However on the flip side, just because you uninsured, does not mean you are entitled to healthcare. The right to healthcare or a job is no where in the constitution.

We live in a capitalistic society that is unique in it's own...It's often imitated, but it hasn't been duplicated nor has anyone shown a better system.

California State Senator Plan for Healthcare for Everybody:,0,2494886.story?coll=la-home-local

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Let McGwire In...

Sports Talk:

Let McGwire In
RF23 -

Ahhhh!!! can you smell the distant air of spring coming upon us? Whatever! lets talk baseball, specifically the Hall of Fame. As most of you know, Mark McGwire is eligible for the Hall of Fame and media hacks and "purists" are up in arms on whether he should be allowed with their game's immortals.

Why? because he is a cheater. His homers weren't natural, they were enhanced by steroids and therefore he should not be allowed around the "immortals." I say that's all bush league and the man should be let in for what he did after these purist's game was suspended due to a strike. A strike that saw the World Series canceled and followed up with an All Star game that ended with a tie....McGwire, along with Sosa did something in 1998 that basically put baseball, in it's rightful place ahead of I dunno hockey!

I submit without the feats of these two men and other exciting players in 1998, baseball would be dying a sports spectators death like boxing. Oh! wait it is. The game is suffering lows from fans that refused to watch or attend. I for one am boycotting baseball because of these self righteous purists who refuse to see the hypocrisy and sublimal racism that another ball player is receiving for his alleged steroid use. This same player, before the alleged steroid use IS A HALL OF FAMER WITH OR WITHOUT STEROIDS, but since he refuses to "bojangle" for sports reporters and cameras and last checked is not some democratic politician hooking for votes, kissing the bee-hinds of babies, he is labeled a bad guy or a malcontent. Whatever.
I say it's pure jealousy and social justice coming to kick these purist in the asss!!!! for their games history of not including participants of different colors to play along side them. It's social justice to see the numbers put up by these same players who made no social impact on who plays with them, be demolished. And the irony of the whole thing, is that since segregation was the law of land during their playing days. Steroid use and other supplements was perfectly legal and fair in the game in which these players saved baseball with.

Sorry. Let McGwire in.

Denial of the Holocaust...

RF23 -

Yesterday, Iran's little president and some people who have been banned from all discussions met to deny the actual happening of the holocaust. As most of you know, in WWII Hitler and his regime set out and put to death an estimated six million Jews. Historical footage and my personal touring of the death camps in Germany proves that something happened to the Jews. It's a numbling experience to see the ovens and the grounds in which malnurished, hell basically starving men, women and even children endured. I've seen the gas shower area and rooms in which the bodies were dissected. No! anyone who denies that is awfully dangerous and what's next the denial of American Slavery.

Read Material:

The Denials:


Monday, December 11, 2006

Now Which Story Will You See Most Of...

In order to show how the main stream media is biased on it's reporting is this tale of two stories. On one story, we have the City of Philedelphia who is experiencing a record breaking murder rate and is citing that most of the crime are from young black men and most of the victims are young black men...I always have said we won't find or better yet see, community activist out there protesting or putting the spotlight of shame on these offenders....But what we will see on the news or newspapers is black vs. cop brutality or shooting case and of course the shame and energy of these activist are utilized full blast.

Here's a story we won't see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton protesting about:

Here's a story in which they will protest about,1,5449565.story

World Event: Crisis in Darfur

Darfur Crisis Crosses Borders Violence Threatens to Drag Chad and Central African Republic into Regional War.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Affirmative Action Hall of Famer?

RF23 with portions of Kansas City Star and sports Columnist
Jason Whitlock

Okay I am going to suggest some of you old timers take your pills or whatever supplement you take to calm your nerves. It's almost Christmas and I want you to enjoy it with your families and be around to have more dialogue of what it was like in your day, when dinosaurs roamed the jungles in front of your cave...

Kansas City Star sports journalist and AOL Sports columnists Jason Whitlock is suggesting that San Diego Charger running back LaDanian Tomlinson is better than......

Jim Brown.

And I'm inclined to agree with him, as a matter of fact, I think Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Earl Campbell is way better than Brown. And you can throw Tony Dorsett, OJ Simpson (pre double murder days) and Barry Sanders in it too.


As Whitlock suggests, Brown like other highly revered sports legends didn't play against the best competition. For instance, let's take the example of baseball's single season homerun record. We have purists who rely on statistics to base their opinion of whose the greatest and some of these purists are quick to slam an asterik on players that break these highly heralded records. Take Roger Marist for instance, he broke Babe Ruth's single season homerun record and just because the amount of games in the season increased, Marist's record was unfairly hit with an asterik. And since these purists are quick to slam asteriks, I think it's fair to slam an asterik on the purists favorites such as Ruth. Besides, Marist faced something Ruth had not, minority players. And this is why I am quick to hit baseball's segregated best with an asterik.

Which brings me to this, and this is the pill popping point here, Whitlock submits that the NFL allowed each team to have 8-12 black players on their squads in the 60's, the era Brown played in and solidified his greatness, amongst old timers who were around to see this man do the things he did on the field. But there's a problem, the level of competition. Now like Whitlock, I'm not saying whites are inferior to blacks when it comes to athletics, I'll leave that to Michael Irvin. But when Brown played, what was the percentage probability that he faced a defense that was majority white? How about the high nineties? So all the highlights of Brown running past, dragging and running over defenders would not have happened as often as we've seen, if the playing field and the squads were equal. Even Brown has said so, so what about backs like Tomlinson? who faces competition on a level ground with players who are good enough to compete? Do we place them ahead of Brown?

Maybe so...

Portion of Jason Whitlock's Article:

It’s OK to suggest that LaDanian Tomlinson might be a better running back than Jim Brown.

For years NFL experts have pretended that it’s sacrilege to put any running back on the same pedestal as the great Jim Brown. If you suggest that Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell or even OJ Simpson were just as good – if not better – the people who saw Jim Brown play would label you as a young fool.Out of respect to Brown and fear of being pegged an idiot, I’ve always pretty much abided by the unspoken rule that no running back compares to Brown.

Well, I’m now ready to break free and say what I really think.Jim Brown was the greatest running back/football player of the segregation era. Payton, Campbell, Sanders and Tomlinson were/are as dominant as Brown. They might even all be better than Brown. They’ve certainly all faced much stiffer competition.

When I was a kid, I read a book about Jim Brown. In the book Brown stated that one of the things that bothered him about playing for the Browns is that he knew the team (and the league) had a quota system for the number of black players.

Brown said that when he played for the Browns (1957-65), he knew the team would keep six, eight or 10 black players – an even number so every black player had a roommate for road trips. This week I found a couple of Cleveland team photos from Jim Brown’s playing days. Sure enough, the Browns kept eight (of 36) and 12 (of 40) black players on their roster.Jim Brown’s point was that the NFL at that time wasn’t about employing the most talented players.

In my mind, this segregated/quota system gave Brown, one of history’s most supremely gifted athletes, a huge advantage over modern-era running backs.

When LaDanian Tomlinson lines up on Sundays, he looks across the line of scrimmage and sees Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Jason Taylor, Champ Bailey, Dwight Freeney and an assortment of other equally freakish athletes trying to stop the LT express.

I mentioned Urlacher specifically to convey that I’m not stating that black athletes have a lock on freakish athleticism. What I’m trying to convey is that it’s impossible to deny that today’s NFL caters to America’s most gifted athletes regardless of color.

That was not the case when Jim Brown played.When I look at footage of Brown’s exploits, I’m always impressed with Brown’s speed and brute strength. But Brown didn’t set up his blocks as well as Tomlinson does. Brown’s moves weren’t near as nifty as Barry Sanders’ cuts and turns. Brown was no more relentless than Payton and no more powerful than Campbell.

Brown looked like a man among overmatched boys. He looked like a guy who was playing against guys who had never seen anything like Jim Brown. And for the most part, Brown’s competitors hadn’t seen anything like Brown. Brown’s competitors played in segregated high schools and on all-white or token-blacks college teams.

You stick Brown in today’s NFL, and he wouldn’t be near as intimidating. Oh, he’d still be a great player, a Hall of Famer. But he wouldn’t be regarded as head and shoulders above Payton, Campbell, Sanders and Tomlinson. Brown would be on their level or maybe even a cut below.

If Tomlinson remains healthy and keeps scoring touchdowns, he might have a legitimate claim to the throne that was given to Brown.

Consider this: Marty Schottenheimer, LT’s coach and a former linebacker for the Bills, entered professional football during Brown’s final season. Ask Marty how many yards LT would roll up if Tomlinson could face Marty in his prime.


Quote: "There are few better examples of how out of touch liberals are. They go right to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and expect Americans to be outraged that he may have been waterboarded.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks and is believed to have played a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Bali nightclub bombings, the filmed beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a thwarted 2002 attack on a bank tower in Los Angeles, and Operation Bojinka, a plot to blow up 11 commercial airliners simultaneously. Oh, and he took home the coveted "world's craziest terrorist" prize at al-Qaida's end-of-season office party last year."

Ann Coulter

Elder: If War Is Not The Answer, What Is?

Radio Host and columnist Larry Elder spotted a bumper sticker questioning the reasons for war and as usual, he wanted an answer to the question in light of all the threats this country and our allies are receiving...,_then_what_is&ns=LarryElder&dt=12/07/2006&page=full&comments=true

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heather McDonald: No, The Cops Didn't Murder Sean Bell

Heather Mac Donald writes....

No, the Cops Didn’t Murder Sean Bell
And here’s what decent black advocates would say.

4 December 2006

New York’s anti-cop forces have roared back to life, thanks to a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man a week ago. The press is once again fawning over Al Sharpton, Herbert Daughtry, Charles Barron, and sundry other hate-mongers in and out of city government as they accuse the police of widespread mistreatment of blacks and issue barely veiled threats of riots if they do not get “justice.”
The allegation that last weekend’s shooting was racially motivated is preposterous. A group of undercover officers working in a gun- and drug-plagued strip joint in Queens had good reason to believe that a party leaving the club was armed and about to shoot an adversary. When one of the undercovers identified himself as an officer, the car holding the party twice tried to run him down. The officer started firing while yelling to the car’s occupants: “Let me see your hands.” His colleagues, believing they were under attack, fired as well, eventually shooting off 50 rounds and killing the driver, Sean Bell. No gun was found in the car, but witnesses and video footage confirm that a fourth man in the party fled the scene once the altercation began. Bell and the other men with him all had been arrested for illegal possession of guns in the past; one of Bell’s companions that night, Joseph Guzman, had spent considerable time in prison, including for an armed robbery in which he shot at his victim.
Nothing in these facts suggests that racial animus lay behind the incident. (Though this detail should be irrelevant, the undercover team was racially mixed, and the officer who fired the first shot was black.) But even more preposterous than the assertion of such animus is the claim by New York’s self-appointed minority advocates that the well-being of the minority community is what motivates them. If it were, here are seven things that you would have heard them say years ago:
1. “Stop the killing!” Since 1993, 11,353 people have been murdered in New York City. The large majority of victims and perpetrators have been black. Not a single one of those black-on-black killings has prompted protest or demonstrations from the city’s black advocates. Sharpton, Barron, et al. are happy to let thousands of black victims get mowed down by thugs without so much as a whispered call for “peace” or “justice”; it’s only when a police officer, trying to protect the public, makes a good faith mistake in a moment of intense pressure that they rise as vindicators of black life. (As for caring about slain police officers, forget about it. Sixteen cops—including several black policemen—have been killed since 1999, not one of whom elicited a public demonstration of condolence from the race hustlers.)
If the city’s black advocates paid even a tiny fraction of the attention they pay to shootings by criminals as they pay to shootings by police, they could change the face of the city. If demonstrators gathered outside the jail cell of every rapist and teen stick-up thug, cameras in tow, to shame them for their attacks on law-abiding minority residents, they could deglamorize the gangsta life. Think you’ll find Sharpton or Barron patrolling with the police in dark housing project stairways, trying to protect residents from predators? Not a chance. Among the crimes committed in minority communities since last week’s police shooting of Sean Bell there has been a 26-year-old man fatally shot in the Bronx; another man hit by stray bullets; a sandwich shop in Brownsville robbed by thugs who fired a gun; and three elderly men robbed at knifepoint by a parolee in Queens. Those minority victims who survived will have to rely on the police and the courts, not the race “advocates,” for vindication.
2. “Police killings of innocent civilians—each one of them a horror—are nonetheless rare.” The instances of an officer shooting an innocent, unarmed victim are so unusual that they can be counted on one’s fingers. Last year, of the nine suspects fatally shot by the police, two had just fired at a police officer, three were getting ready to fire, two had tried to stab an officer, and two were physically attacking an officer. Far more frequent are the times when the NYPD refrains from using force though clearly authorized to do so. So far this year, officers have been fired upon four times, without returning fire. In 2005, there were five such incidents. And the NYPD apprehended 3,428 armed felons this year, 15 percent more than last year. Each arrest of a gun-toting thug involves the potential for the use of deadly force, yet is almost always carried out peacefully.
The Department has dramatically driven down the rate of all police shootings—justified and not—over the decades (in 1973, there were 1.82 fatal police shootings per 1,000 officers; in 2005, there were 0.25 such shootings per 1,000 officers, bringing the absolute number of police shootings down from 54 in 1973 to nine in 2005). The NYPD’s per capita rate of shootings is lower than many big city departments.
Yet New York Times columnist Bob Herbert charges the police with an unbroken pattern of “blowing away innocent individuals with impunity.” The “community,” he wrote on November 30, “which is sick of these killings, is simmering,” What are “these killings,” about which the “community” is simmering? Herbert reaches back over three decades and adduces five prior to the recent shooting of Sean Bell. Each was a disaster that provoked the NYPD to scrutinize its tactics. But the number of innocent bystanders killed by criminal thugs in New York dwarfs the number of innocents killed by the police. Sharpton recently said that the minority community has to fear police officers as much as robbers. This is a groundless charge. What is true is that stoking the myth that the police are a threat to blacks harms the minority community by inflaming anti-cop sentiment and retarding community cooperation in the fight against crime in inner-city neighborhoods.
3. “The police work every day to save lives.” If New York City murders had remained at their early 1990s highs, instead of dropping from 1,927 killings in 1993 to 540 in 2005, 13,698 more people—most of them black and Hispanic—would have been dead by last year. They are alive today thanks to the relentless efforts of the NYPD to bring the same level of safety to poor minority neighborhoods as to Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side.
The undercover officers who killed Sean Bell over the weekend were working the strip club in Queens where the incident occurred at 4 AM because of its record of illegal guns and drug sales. Their intentions that night were to protect the residents of Jamaica and the occupants of the club from violence; that they ended up killing an unarmed man is undoubtedly a nightmare for them almost as horrific as it is for the victim’s family.
It may turn out that the officers failed to follow departmental procedures during the incident (though the NYPD’s rule against firing at cars that are trying to run an officer over seems highly unrealistic). If so, the city will hold them accountable. The criminal justice system may even find them criminally liable. But there is absolutely no evidence that racial hatred lay behind either the officers’ presence at the club or their behavior once there—contrary to the outrageous slander of New York City Councilman Al Vann, who called the shooting of Bell and other police shootings the product of “a discriminatory mind, a prejudiced mind,” adding, “We have to admit [that] the problem is . . . institutional racism.”
A New York Times reporter, Cara Buckley, coyly echoed this inflammatory charge on Wednesday. In referring to the undercover officer who fired the first shots at the car, she says: “The officer’s fear, if that was what motivated him, was unfounded” (emphasis added). We will leave aside the spurious judgment that just because no gun was ultimately found on the car’s occupants, the officer’s fear of a gun was “unfounded.” The officer, after all, had heard Sean Bell say, “Let’s fuck him up,” and Bell’s friend, Joseph Guzman, respond, “Yo, get my gun.” That officer was then the target of an oncoming vehicle driven by Bell. The most offensive part of Buckley’s statement, though, is her suggestion that the officer might have been motivated by something other than fear—and what else could that be but racism or some kind of violent animus?
The New York Times, Al Vann, and other City Council hotheads such as Helen Foster notwithstanding, someone who believes that black lives are worth less than white lives is not going to put his own life at risk working in dangerous environments trying to get guns away from criminals.
4. “If you witnessed a crime, help the authorities solve it.” The police could probably lock away just about every dangerous thug roaming the streets if they got more cooperation from witnesses and people with knowledge of the crime. Instead, they often encounter a wall of hostile silence in minority communities. Bystanders sometimes deliberately block officers chasing a criminal. The stigma against helping the police—referred to derogatorily as “snitching”—is pervasive. “If you’re a snitch, people want to kill you,” a teen robber in a Brooklyn crime rehabilitation program that I observed this spring explained. Helping the police is seen as helping the enemy, defined in racial terms. Even black officers are part of the hated white establishment. “Black cops, I disrespect them. They sucking the white man,” asserted another juvenile delinquent in the Crown Heights rehab program.
Many law-abiding residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods buck this self-defeating social norm. They attend police-community council meetings in their local precinct month after month, learning about police initiatives, and they report anonymously on drug deals and vice hot spots. They are the eyes and ears of the department, and without their help, the NYPD might not have achieved the unmatched crime drop of the last decade. It would be astounding if any of the anti-police activists leading protests about the Sean Bell shooting had ever attended a precinct community meeting or offered to help the police solve crimes. Presumably, they have more important things to do than work to improve the quality of life in minority neighborhoods. Let the police take care of that. But even if the anti-cop activists can’t be bothered to give a few hours a month to fight crime, they could at least use their bully pulpit to call on others to share what they know about criminals and to help get violent offenders off the street before they injure more people and property. Instead, their opportunistic cop-bashing only increases the hatred of the police and the stigma against cooperating with them. As a result, more lives will be taken by cop-eluding barbarians.
5. “The NYPD and the criminal justice system investigate every police shooting with profound seriousness; they will not rest until the facts are uncovered and justice done.” The premise of the current grandstanding by “minority advocates” is that the authorities would shrug off the recent shooting without heat from the street. One thinks of the rooster in the fable, who believes that his crowing raises the sun. “Business will not go on as usual until we get justice for Sean Bell,” Sharpton said on Wednesday. It is not Sharpton and his cronies who are getting justice for Bell, however. The street agitators could all go home (sometimes, as in the case of Sharpton, to suburbia) and wait quietly for a resolution, and the system would proceed just as diligently to assign fault if fault was present and to hold any wrongdoers accountable.
Other publicity-hungry politicians are just as desperate to add their voices to the post-shooting hue and cry. New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement on Wednesday: “It is of the utmost importance that the investigating authorities, led by the Queens district attorney, conduct an aggressive, impartial investigation to ferret out the facts.” What do they think would have happened without this self-righteous piece of boilerplate? That the “investigating authorities” would have conducted a biased, half-hearted investigation?
Every time the anti-police lobby issues superfluous demands for a “full investigation” and threats of violence if “justice” is not done, they send the destructive message that the police are indifferent to the loss of life. Or worse: “I’m not asking my people to do anything passive anymore,” said City Councilman Charles Barron. “Don’t ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered. We’re not the only ones that can bleed.”
6. “Police officers make mistakes; tragically, those mistakes are sometimes deadly.” Perhaps Al Sharpton, Charles Barron, and Jesse Jackson have never made an error of judgment, except for Tawana Brawley and such like. Perhaps, too—though this is truly unlikely—they have had to confront the possibility that they are facing someone about to shoot them and in a split-second to decide whether to shoot first. Perhaps in such circumstances, they would never ever make the wrong decision. If so, perhaps they are justified in strutting around like beings of superhuman prescience and infallibility.
But most police officers are like other human beings: they do make mistakes. And because they are carrying lethal weapons, in order to counter the illegal firepower packed by lowlifes, very occasionally those mistakes take an innocent life. The Police Department works incessantly to make sure that its officers never make a fatal error. It tries to drill into officers reflexes that will guard against wrong split-second judgments. It constantly reviews its training and official procedures to improve those reflexes. But out in the field, even the best training can prove inadequate to the pressure and confusion of a possibly deadly encounter.
This is not to say that the public and elected officials should automatically excuse every police shooting—which they are obviously far from doing. But to presume that every mistaken shooting represents a system-wide failure is inaccurate and unrealistic. The New York Times darkly commands: “[T]he Police Department must . . . confront the fact that a disaster that everyone swore to prevent seven years ago has repeated itself in Queens.” But because cops are humans and therefore fallible, it is impossible to prevent every wrongful shooting—without emasculating the police entirely. The New York Times has itself made a few mistakes over the last seven years; perhaps it, too, needs to confront its persistent fallibility.
7. “The police concentrate their efforts in minority communities because that is where the crime is.” Race hustlers accuse the police of “racially profiling” and targeting minorities for unjustified police action. After showing up in New York for his time in the Sean Bell spotlight, Jesse Jackson announced: “Our criminal-justice system has broken down for black Americans and young black males. We’ve marched and marched, bled too profusely, and died too young. We must draw a line in the sand and fight back.”
Memo to Jackson: The police have a disproportionate number of interactions with blacks because blacks are committing a disproportionate number of crimes. That fact comes from the testimony of the victims of those crimes, themselves largely black, not from the police. In New York City, blacks committed 62 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults from 1998 to 2000, according to victim and witness identification, even though they make up only 25 percent of the city’s population. Whites committed 8 percent of those crimes over that period, though they are 28 percent of New York residents. These proportions have been stable for years and remain so today. It’s not the “criminal-justice system” that has broken down for young black males; it’s families and other sources of cultural support. Changing the subject and blaming the police just perpetuates the problem.
The furor over the Sean Bell shooting shows no sign of abating; if anything, the specious racial rhetoric is becoming more ugly and dangerous. To the extent that the exploitation of this tragic event makes the police think twice about engaging with possible criminals or turn a blind eye to crime in the ghetto (as was once the case), the most direct victims will be the hundreds of thousands of innocent, upstanding minority New Yorkers.