July 1, 1994
There are people who peddle hate in the same way as some
preachers peddle love. They can always find people who will convert
to their way of thinking.
It was about thirty years ago and I was visiting New York City. I don't remember why I was there, but I vividly remember one Easter Sunday afternoon. I wanted to see a matinee performance of a highly-touted play in Harlem. I told a friend who lives in New Jersey what I was planning and he warned me that it could be very dangerous. I poo-pooed it. Didn't we used to go to hear jazz concerts in Harlem when we were in high school? "It's a lot different now," he said.
I walked through Central Park, where there was a "love-in," or something of the sort, with lots of hippie-type people having fun. Harlem was quiet, with two armed white cops, with night sticks, at each street corner. When I got to the theater, I found that it had burned down; apparently accidentally. I looked for a telephone to find out where they were performing the play, only to find that every public phone had been ripped out. I walked into a bar and was greeted by the bartender who said that he didn't have a phone that I could use. His bemused look said, "You must be crazy, white man!". I was in a war zone.
I don't remember how, but I finally found the theater. The play was worth the trouble. It was a history of the civil rights movement, which started with the time that Joe Louis won the heavyweight boxing title. It dealt with the emotional aspects of the civil rights struggle. At one point in the play there was an argument between the ultra-militants and the moderates. The moderates were pointing out the help that they had received from white people, many of whom were Jews; while the militants said that all white people were the enemy and should be fought. At this point, the militants jumped off the stage and strode up and down the isles glowering at the audience. It was frightening; sort of like the tigers in a zoo suddenly being released from their cages.
What brought this incident to mind was the Donahue show that featured Khaled Mohammed, a white-hating, Jew-hating Black Muslim. At the same time, there was a mural of Malcolm X at San Francisco State University that featured stars of David with dollar signs inside of them. Khaled Mohammed spewed hatred, as did the artist who painted the mural.
Michael Griffith shot and killed an abortion doctor. Griffith had been incited to his murder by a hate-spewing anti-abortionist named John Burt. Burt was an accessory to that murder, but he got off unpunished, while his protege will go to prison for a long time. The message to me is that there is little justice in our land. Burt, it seems to me, was as guilty as someone who hands a child a gun and says "Kill him!" He was clearly an accessory to murder.
The president of S.F. State ordered the offensive mural eliminated, and it was. There were cries of the constitution and free-speech. No one's right of free speech was violated. The artist is free to paint what he wanted, and Khaled Mohamed is free to say what he wanted. There is no reason why a university has to display it; nor is there any reason why TV has to provide a forum for hate mongers.
Adolph Hitler and Adolph Eichmann never actually killed anyone. Top rank criminals hire or persuade other people to do their killing for them.
I don't believe that our founding fathers had hate-mongers in mind when they sanctified freedom of speech -particularly people who incite to murder.
Return to the Race, Class, Culture, Religion Home Page
Return to Ira's Home Page