Philadelphia story




On August 22 the Philadelphia Daily News, The People Paper, published a cover that contained mug shots of fifteen African American males with outstanding warrants for murder. The accompanying story was titled "The Fugitives among Us." The fifteen were selected from 41 Hispanic and African Americans sought by the Philadelphia police. Apparently no European American or Other American white men were being sought on murder warrants at that time.

The purpose of the story was to help police and citizens rid city streets of murder suspects — and shortly after publication, two suspects were arrested. But on August 30 the managing editor of the Daily News ran an abject apology following a furor in the African American Community. She wrote:

The front page photos ... sent a message to some readers that only black men commit murder. That was a mistake. In addition, the stories didn't address a key question: Why are there no white suspects on the loose?

That also was a mistake. Our first story should have looked harder at this question. The Daily News apologizes for the error.


That sent me back to John Fonte's short article "The Ideological War within the West" in the Foreign Policy Research Institute newsletter (vol. 3, no. 6, May 2002), where Fonte addresses the role of what he terms the "transnational progressives" in the post-modern world. (Let's just call them TeePees.) Fonte writes:

It is entirely possible that modernity — thirty or forty years hence — will witness not the final triumph of liberal democracy, but the emergence of a new transnational hybrid regime that is post-liberal democratic, and in the American context, post-Constitutional and post-American. This alternative Ideology, "transnational progressivism," constitutes a universal and modern world view that challenges both the liberal democratic nation-state in general and the American regime in particular.

According to Fonte, one of the many goals of the emerging new order is that

the values of all dominant institutions [are] to be changed to reflect the perspectives of the victim groups. Transnational progressives insist that it is not enough to have proportional representation of minorities in major institutions if these institutions continue to reflect the world view of the "dominant" culture. Instead, the distinct world view of ethnic, gender, and linguistic minorities must be represented within these institutions.

So there you have it. We are already in the age of the TeePees. Truth is no defense when the world view of the "victims" is not respected. The Daily News should indeed hang its head in shame. What would the paper have said if it had a chance to do the story over? White people don't kill? Not likely and not true. White people don't know how to hide, always give themselves up, or are always ratted out by their friends and relatives? Or is there a conspiracy? White people who murder and go underground are never the subject of fugitive warrants because they will, in time — wink-wink — turn themselves in?


Race relations have been turbulent in the City of Brotherly Love over the past three decades. One of the contributing factors was, no doubt, Frank Rizzo, the tough-talking former Philadelphia police chief, who became mayor in the 1970s and may have encouraged the police department to engage in "street justice." Whether intentional or accidental, the police firebombing of MOVE headquarters (a tenement housing the "John Africa MOVE" family and their arsenal) in 1985 was a colossal blunder, resulting in the deaths of 11 cult members. According to CNN, "The fire destroyed 61 row houses, including MOVE's, and left 250 people homeless. Of the 11 people killed in the fire, five were children." ("Philadelphia, city officials ordered to pay $1.5 million in MOVE case," June 24, 1996)

Now, that atrocity did not capture the imagination of the TeePees. It is just barely possible, one proposes with hesitant trepidation, that the TeePees' imagination proved elusive in the MOVE case because the man in charge by then was not the despised reactionary white-ethnic Rizzo but the Democratic African American liberal W. Wilson Goode. (A complaisant judge gave Goode a walk in the case.)

But the TeePees' imagination was ignited when Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was loosely affiliated with the John Africa family, was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal has become a cause célèbre for Amnesty International-USA and other so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although convicted and sentenced to death, Abu-Jamal yet survives, bolstered by legal help and the support of the TeePees. An amazing number of Websites, in many languages, are dedicated to his cause.

The facts are highly unfavorable to Abu-Jamal. That must be thrilling to the conspiracy theorists among the TeePees, who have leapt to the challenge. Police responded quickly to the murder scene, a seedy part of downtown Philadelphia where Faulkner had made a traffic stop around 5 a.m. on a dreary December morning. The police found Abu-Jamal 10 feet away from the dead officer, wounded by a bullet from the officer's gun. Abu-Jamal was wearing a shoulder holster, and the murder weapon, a sidearm registered to Abu-Jamal, was found at his side. Ballistics evidence supported the state's case. There were also four eyewitnesses, three of whom identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter within an hour of the murder. (Admittedly, the denizens found on the street in the predawn gloom were not of sterling character.) Abu-Jamal also made incriminating statements to the responding officers (whom, they alleged, he tried to shoot when they arrived at the scene) and to the staff of the hospital where he was treated.


In his article, Fonte observes that

before the mid-twentieth century, traditional international law referred to relations among nation-states. The new "international law" has increasingly penetrated the sovereignty of democratic nation-states. It is in reality "transnational law".... Transnational progressives excoriate American political and legal practices in virulent language, as if the American liberal-democratic nation-state was an illegitimate authoritarian regime.

Now, hold on a minute. I'm a constitutionalist republican who believes there's life in the old girl yet, but I suspect that the Controlling Anarchs of TLD would say that the U.S. nation-state is an illegitimate authoritarian regime — with a liberal-democratic patina. However, they are libertarians who don't want to see Americans ruled or judged by any state authority, including one run by foreigners. The TeePees look on things a little differently. When they cannot arrive at their desired result in the U.S. system of justice, they seek what I shall call a wider forum. It would not seem to bother them if an American citizen were compelled to stand before a bar composed of jurists from states where Anglo-American juridical traditions and premises are quite unknown.

Washington is currently attempting to negotiate the terms of the International Criminal Court, which is in its formative stage. Article 98 of the Rome Statute that formed the court would bring former civilian and military officials of all co-signers within the purview of the court. The U.S. strategy appears to be to limit the applicability of Article 98 through a large number of side agreements granting impunity in specific situations. The law does not anticipate that ordinary citizens will be brought before the court, but it is not difficult to imagine that happening down the road if the court expands its powers, as courts are wont to do. One possibility would be to bring jurists up on corruption charges if they demonstrated a pattern of not deciding in favor of certain minorities.

Patterns are, of course, subject to interpretation. One of the more interesting patterns concerns the application of the death penalty in the United States. The European states do not have the death penalty, and their elites appear to be appalled that the United States reinstated it in 1976. (It had been found to be unconstitutional, in its operation, in 1973.) The TeePees, particularly those populating such NGOs as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have become obsessed with the death penalty in America and, using somewhat delusional arithmetic, have interpreted it as an act of discrimination against African Americans. While it is evident that the rich get better legal representation than the poor, it is not so clear that blacks are treated unfairly in this respect when one looks closely at the numbers.

As of December 31, 2000, state and federal death rows contained 1,990 whites (including 339 Hispanics), 1,535 blacks, 29 American Indians, 27 Asians, and 12 individuals of unknown race. In 2000, 49 whites, 35 blacks, and one American Indian were executed. Of victims of all violent crimes in 2000, per 1,000 in each racial group, 35 were black, 27 were white, and 21 were people of other races. (Bulletin, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) That is not an unexpected ratio if one accepts the widely held rule of thumb that blacks are seven times more likely to murder (and to be victims) than whites.

Perversely, the anti-death penalty camp finds it unfair that fewer blacks get the death penalty for killing blacks than whites get for killing whites. That is seen as placing a lower value on the lives of black people. But surely they would not be happy, either, if blacks were to attain parity in this category. The arguments of the TeePees do not seem to be straightforward.


Something is rotten in the cradle of liberty, and the TeePees are spreading the stench far and wide.

September 19, 2002


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