YEAR'S END usually means a time for reflection. As I think back on 1998, I have to ponder if Greg Kane was as downright ornery as some readers said he was.
Why, one critic wanted to know, did I single out Camille Cosby for criticism in a couple of July columns, which were written in response to her USA Today column charging that America had taught the killer of her son, Ennis Cosby, to hate blacks.
I wrote those columns because the last I checked, Camille Cosby had not cornered the market on grief. When she went public with her feelings about how institutional white racism -- pictures of slaveholding presidents on our currency, holy images of whites in churches, the dictionary definition of black as evil, etc. -- had taught her son's killer to hate blacks, she left herself open for some well-deserved criticism.
I challenged Camille Cosby to document her claim that President Ulysses S. Grant was a slaveholder -- which she did. I could have asked her the more difficult question: Just how does Grant's kisser appearing on a $50 bill connect with Mikail Markhasev shooting her son to death? Feelings of racial superiority do not necessarily lead those holding them to murder.
Several blacks praised Cosby's column and elevated her to near goddess status. Camille Cosby had spoken an undeniable truth, her supporters insisted.
If they want truth, let's talk some. If white America taught Markhasev to hate blacks, black Americans taught the killer of Towson University Korean student Joel Lee to hate Asians. We -- through our continued support of a liberal black leadership that is weak-kneed on the crime issue -- taught those gunslinging drug dealers who put a bullet through the head of 10-year-old Tauris Johnson back in 1993 that it was perfectly acceptable conduct.
Ah, the accusatory finger doesn't seem quite as righteous when it's pointed in our direction, does it?
My column on "Gone With the Wind" generated the most response. Devotees of the film are fiercely loyal, though I suspect some are quite certifiable and probably want its theme music to be our national anthem. The responses changed my mind not one iota. The film is still execrable dreck, racially offensive, and doesn't even work as a love story. The cynical, worldly character of Rhett Butler simply doesn't fall for a spoiled, ditzy brat like Scarlett O'Hara.
It's just fiction, some of the defenders proclaimed, as if fiction has no worldview and does not mold public opinion. GWTW did both, so much so that it is time to reveal a story that came to my attention after my column appeared.
It seems that Atlanta officials, at GWTW's premiere, wanted a group of blacks to dress as slaves and sing spirituals outside the theater. They asked all the black churches in Atlanta to supply the necessary Negroes for the endeavor. All but one refused.
Wait. It gets better. Or it gets worse, depending on your perspective.
The only church that agreed was pastored by a man named Martin Luther King Sr. At the premiere, his son, 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr., was dressed as a slave, sitting on a bale of cotton.
So much for GWTW being "just fiction." For some folks, it's a vivid reminder of those hallowed days of yesteryear when blacks were happy to be held in benevolent and benign bondage.
Not harsh enough
An early November column about Gov. Parris Glendening's flagrant race-baiting in Maryland's gubernatorial campaign caused distress among some black readers. Could it have been the phrase "the collective lips of black Maryland voters are now permanently sutured to the rump of the Democratic Party jackass"?
Could have. One woman called to say she'd never read the column again. Well, you gain some, you lose some. Others called or wrote and insisted they had voted for their interests in casting their ballots for Glendening.
After much reflection, I've concluded my language wasn't quite harsh enough.
Let me explain the consequences of electing a liberal, gun-control Democrat to an executive office.
As you read this, some young black man probably has a gun stuck in his face and is being mugged. He, and others like him, will arm themselves for protection, convinced that neither Glendening nor the blacks who voted their interest can protect them.
The "get guns off the street" mentality of liberal Democrat executives and law enforcement officials will mean many of these young black men will be arrested and given criminal records, when their only "crime" is trying to protect themselves.
Such a state of affairs is not in my interest. I eagerly await hearing from those black Marylanders who voted for Glendening on how it's in theirs.
Pub Date: 12/27/98