"Even if racism were to disappear overnight, this would do nothing to improve black test scores, increase black entrepreneurship, strengthen black families, or reduce black-on-black crime. These problems have taken on a cultural existence of their own and need to be confronted in their own terms." --Dinesh D'Souza in the Weekly Standard
A group of African-American intellectuals is mounting a behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush to speak out on what one sociologist has called "the unspoken domestic crisis of the next millennium": White criminals preying on white people.
These thinkers note that white sociopaths most often prey on people of their own race, citing the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo.; the Fort Worth, Texas, church massacre; and Donald Trump's presidential candidacy as examples.
"It's white people who are suffering disproportionately yet no white politicians want to talk about it," said Herman Pepper, a professor at the Eldridge Cleaver School of Law in Oakland, Calif., who has written extensively on the roots of white crime. "A generation of kids is growing up in fear and the traditional white leadership seems out of touch."
Pepper's arguments, while controversial, are based on a mixture of sociological data and political calculation that even his critics do not entirely dismiss. A 1998 Justice Department study of crime in 12 American cities found that 58 percent of white crime victims were victimized by fellow whites. And while crime has been decreasing, Pepper notes that it is falling most slowly among whites. The 1998 National Crime Victimization Survey reports that while the number of violent crime victimizations per 1,000 people fell from 49 to 42 among blacks, it only fell from 38 to 36 among whites.
Pepper is passionate that the issue must be addressed.
"Fifteen people died at the Columbine High shootings, all but one of them white," the genial, bearded academic said in a recent interview. "Liberals want to blame guns. Traditional conservatives blame a decline in moral standards, which is more on the mark. But guns and bad values don't kill white people. White people kill white people. "
I n a compilation of 22 prominent violent incidents between 1994 and 1999, Frank Blanco, a criminal justice policy analyst at the Institute for Reactionary Reform, a Washington think tank, noted that virtually all of the victims were white.
"From the Oklahoma City bombing to the Atlanta day trader's rampage, the pattern is clear," Blanco wrote in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. "The new cohort of amoral middle-class white male predators has a cultural existence of its own. It must be confronted in its own terms. But virtually no one in the political class will admit it. That vacuum creates an opportunity for real leadership."
Pepper and Blanco have conferred with Bush campaign officials in Austin twice since mid-August to discuss their ideas, according to sources on the campaign. While a Bush spokesman declined to comment, Pepper said that he and his colleague used the meetings to advance two ideas.
"First, we said the message needs to be that white people have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps," Pepper said. "Government is not the solution. For example, the idea of putting the Ten Commandments in every classroom is attractive but, in the long run, federally funded stone tablets will only breed dependency on the nanny state.
"Second, we said that government does have a limited role in addressing the problem. Maybe there should be block grants to the states that would enable them to give a tax break to every white teen-ager in America who buys a high-quality handgun. That would really deter the predators in the school corridors. At the same time it would teach today's youth about the real-life value of the Second Amendment."
Blanco said he emphasized the political potential of the white-on-white crime issue for a Republican presidential candidate.
"Fairly or unfairly, the Republicans have been pigeonholed as being soft on white lawbreakers, whether it's Oliver North or the Posse Comitatus," he said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. "Talking candidly about white crime is a way to break that perception."
Blanco said that while traditional interest groups in the Republican Party might be offended, the broader electorate would get the message.
"The issue is really compassion," he said. "After all, the vast majority of white people aren't deranged gunmen. They are hard working and pay their taxes too. They're the victims here."
Already some Republican strategists are objecting. The editors of the conservative journal Always Right wrote last week that Pepper's argument amounted to "a blame-the-victim-type approach that only serves to help those in the African-American community who want to avoid sharing responsibility for getting at the root causes of what is really a societywide problem."
The larger issue, says Kwame Jackson, professor emeritus at Morehouse College, is the culture of communities such as Littleton, Jonesboro, West Paducah, Edenboro, Springfield, Pearl, and Oklahoma City where the white-on-white crime epidemic is the worst.
"Let's face it, the pathologies are severe in these areas," Jackson said. "Young people grow up listening to country music lyrics that mock the sanctity of marital vows. The dependency on VA hospitals for free medical care is widespread. And the intellectual elites who once defended standards have proved all too willing to go silent in the face of deviant behavior like Newt Gingrich's affair with a staffer. Sophisticates will sneer but these things have an effect."
Jackson, considered the dean of African-American conservative intellectuals, introduced Pepper and Blanco to the Bush campaign staffers. He said he was confident the Republican front-runner would be receptive to their thinking.
"I get the sense of a magnificent, Ronald Reagan-like intellect absorbing the best ideas of a generation while remaining optimistic and inclusive," Jackson said.
Jackson sought to distance his efforts from the views of Murray Charles, who holds the Elijah Muhammad Chair for the Study of Racial Realism at Boston University. Charles' recent monograph The Caucasian Coefficient has triggered a fierce debate in academic circles. Writing for the American Statistical Science Association's Web site (www.ASSAnine.org) last month, Charles marshaled an array of data to argue that the appropriate response to the Columbine tragedy would be for the federal government to fund a study of the gene structure of whites.
"Is there a biologically based explanation for the tendency of white males to slaughter strangers in public?" Charles asked. "We need to ask the hard questions and not shy away if the answers are politically incorrect."
In an accompanying editorial, the ASSAnine.org editors said the author's views, "while offensive to some, deserve the utmost in thoughtful discussion" and announced that the next nine issues of the publication would be devoted entirely to debating Charles' thesis.
"Murray has some good ideas," Jackson said, "but I think he goes too far with the notion that white people are biologically disposed toward crime and violence. I mean, some of my best friends are white people. We need a more compassionate approach to white-on-white crime."