When I was living abroad, reporting on everything from the Soviet
invasion of Czechoslovakia to the fall of the Berlin Wall — while more
or less keeping up with major political developments in America — I
came across something in the American press that was, for me, a
novelty: “hate crimes.”
At first this was confusing to me. The implication seemed to be that
crimes could be the result of a variety of psychological states: love,
hate, boredom, good will. This didn’t make any sense of course. There
could be criminals who acted out of a simple desire for economic gain,
but the “hate” category still puzzled me — the implication apparently
being that if you killed someone for his wristwatch it was a far less
important transgression than if you’d killed him because you hated him.
There was no such distinction in the legal codes of any of the countries
in which I’d been living, so I was still mystified. Dead was dead,
Should all these countries have two trials for any grave wrongdoing?
First: Did the defendant do it? And second: What was in his heart?
Was his attitude toward the victim comparatively casual? Or was he
filled with hatred and loathing? Once the victim was dead, did it
Well, it really matters for film director Spike Lee, who has just
given us “Bamboozled,” a movie about a televised minstrel show set in a
watermelon patch on an Alabama plantation, the movie’s plot being rooted
in traditional, automatic race hatred. The movie, interestingly, has
been a spectacular failure.
When I first encountered Spike Lee, it was at some kind of film
festival where he not only won nothing but was parading around chewing
up furniture, complaining that the only reason his film hadn’t won
everything in sight was racism. In our day and age, this made no sense
at all. But, in his odious, fulminating way, Lee stuck to his story —
as he did regarding any failure of his that he could however tenuously
attribute to white racism. This very shortly became tedious, and I,
frankly, avoided him.
What’s singular about Lee’s new film is his obsessive conviction that
America is as racist and oppressive as it’s ever been. In a thoughtful
new book, John McWhorter, of the University of California, Berkeley,
singles out this “cult of victimology” as a central trait of black
culture today in America. Victimhood, writes Professor McWhorter (who
is black), is a far more serious impediment to black well-being than is
white racism. It has become a “keystone of cultural blackness,” he
writes, “to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved, but as an
identity to be nurtured.”
This has become a central tenet of that branch of business known as
black politics. Through Clinton’s entire show impeachment scandal,
black support for “their” president did not budge due, in part, to the
effective job of nurturing the harmful, self-destructive thinking that
Spike Lee peddles. Political liberals (and of course Hollywood) realize
that black support depends on black Americans seeing themselves as a
helpless and forever wronged people — and as supplicants to the
Democratic Party, which stands always at the ready to “set things
right.” Permanent affirmative action quotas and Washington’s “hate
crimes” legislation are only two of the recent Democratic efforts to
accomplish this worthy goal.
Crime is unquestionably a curse on many black communities in
America. But when it comes to homicide, who has been killing who?
Homicide remains the leading cause of death among black males in their
20s. But the overwhelming majority of crimes involving black victims
are committed by black assailants. And when interracial crimes do
occur, the victim is far more likely to be white and the assailant
black. In 1991, there were 55,000 violent crimes in America in which
the offender was white and the victim black. Reverse white and black
and the figure increases over tenfold — to 570,000.
Blissfully escaping “hate crime” legislation are drug abuse, school
dropout rates, unemployment, and illegitimacy. Since no one at least
nominally hates anyone in these situations, everyone is home free: drug
abusers, school dropouts, illiterates, 17-year-olds reading at the level
of 13-year-olds. All live in a happy, hate-free world.
Meanwhile, blacks remain extraordinarily vulnerable to the
blandishments of what Gov. Bush calls the “soft bigotry of low
expectations” — the lowest expectations of black achievement being held
by blacks themselves, of course. If some such black figure as Gen.
Colin Powell were one day to accept the Republican nomination for
president, it might provide — radically elevating black expectations —
the biggest and most beneficial shock to American race relations since
the Emancipation Proclamation.
But we should not overlook black Nobel Prizewinning novelist Toni
Morrison, who historically has already announced that Bill Clinton is
the “first black president of the United States.” So, you can see, if
Bill Clinton is black, things must be looking up.