August 23, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 2
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Melvin B. Miller
Editor & Publisher

Out of control

No issue is more distressing to African Americans than the high rate of homicide in the black community. Murder is such a horrendous crime that even one is too many. Consequently, there has been no elation among blacks because of the drop in the number of murders over the past 10 years.

According to a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 10,400 blacks were slain in the United States in 1995. Ten years later in 2005, the number had declined to about 8,000. That is a significant drop, but is still no cause for exultation. While only 13 percent of the U.S. population is black, African Americans accounted for almost 50 percent of murder victims in 2005.

Another disturbing fact from the report is that the number of murders of black men is beginning to trend upward. In 2004, 6,342 black men were killed. A year later, this number had increased to 6,783, a jump of 7 percent in one year. Even worse, 51 percent of black murder victims were in their teens and twenties.

There was a time in the Jim Crow South when the life of a black man wasn’t worth a plug nickel. There were a number of dramatic lynchings, but black troublemakers were also likely to disappear or be found shot or beaten to death. The painful memory of this era induces many blacks to be very sensitive even today to the murder of blacks by whites. But that is no longer the major problem. According to the report, 93 percent of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

Unwittingly, young blacks are now implementing a strategy more characteristic of neo-white supremacists. The Ku Klux Klan would probably not oppose the forceful elimination of threatening gang bangers. Ironically, many elderly blacks are now more afraid of the young thugs in their own neighborhoods than they are of whites.

There was a time, not too long ago, when blacks did not fear one another. People did not even feel that they must lock their doors. Those days will never return. Black leaders must focus their time and attention on the threat of murder from within rather than being distracted by the few assaults from whites.

A tarnished reputation

American law permits anyone to form a human rights organization. The hard part is for the organization to earn and retain the respect of the broader community. Since its establishment in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been effective and well regarded. But now it has demonstrated weakness on a profoundly moral issue.

Few matters have been more important to the ADL than to impress an awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust on the conscience of the world. And the ADL’s efforts have been effective. There is a greater intolerance today among civilized people for genocide of any group.

Jews who suffered in the Holocaust certainly do not want the evil deprivation of their human rights to be demeaned by the world. It should be easy, therefore, for Jews to understand the refusal of Armenians to permit their genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire to be trivialized.

Armenian Americans have rejected the ADL’s anti-bigotry program, “No Place for Hate,” because of the ADL’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, which began in 1915. The response of the ADL’s national director is that the organization has taken this position to preserve the geopolitical relations between Israel and Turkey.

After such an unrelenting campaign on the Holocaust, it is morally reprehensible for the ADL to refuse to acknowledge the suffering and genocide of others. And it is unacceptable for the ADL to inflict emotional distress on American citizens for the geopolitical benefit of a foreign nation, no matter how close an ally.

Perhaps the ADL needs a new national director — one who is more diplomatic and more sensitive to the many racial and ethnic issues in the world today.


“That doesn’t make me feel any safer.”

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