and as a black Moses who will deliver his people from nationalrnbondage. His anti-Semitic outbursts, for example, warmrnthe hearts of black nationalists who demonize Jews as thernquintessential white oppressor, and his apologies and explanationsrn—ignored b}- his followers—reassure liberals that he eitherrnknows his place or is only jiving. “Why doesn’t he repudiaternLouis Farrakhan?” ask his critics. Because Farrakhan is the mostrndynamic black leader in America, and even blacks who do notrnfollow him into Islam respect him for his courage and for thernterror he inspires in white America (according to a study byrnMichael Dawson, 62 percent of black Americans describernFarrakhan as a positive influence).rnRecently I have had the misfortune of trying to get journalistsrnand publishers to take separatist movements seriously.rnWhatever the subject—Southern secessionists, Latino orrnAfrican nationalism—I am always told the same thing: thesernare small fringe groups that have little or no influence on mostrnmembers of the minority. In some cases this may be true, butrnwhere there is a general ideology subscribed to by a majority ofrnblacks or Southerners or Evangelical right-to-lifers, and wherernextremists are justified or defended by ordinary people, as LouisrnFarrakhan and Leonard Jeffries are, then you have the ingredientsrnnecessary for a nationalist revolt. Talk show hosts havernspent the past six or eight months kicking around statistics thatrnshow that most American blacks think O.J. is innocent. “Howrncan anybody be that stupid?” shrieks Roe Conn on Chicago’srnWLS. But it’s not a question of intelligence. Blacks have beenrntaught all their lives that whites have robbed them of theirrnbirthright. These arguments used to be confined to churchesrnand political rallies, but now they are part of the school curriculum,rnand there are whole departments of Black Studies thatrnteach nothing but the historical struggle between whiterndemons and black angels. It doesn’t matter if O.J. murderedrntwo white people, because a) a black man cannot get justice inrnthis country, and b) the “victims,” as white people, probablyrnhad it coming.rnObviously, not all black Americans feel this way, but increasinglyrnit seems that skin color is the only quality that matters inrnpolitics (where blacks vote solidly, 90 percent or better, forrnblack candidates), in law (for example in the Reginald Dennyrncase), and in education (desegregation suits have e erything torndo with color and nothing to do with educating children). Howrnare European-Americans to respond? Most liberals are offendedrnby any nationalism, including black nationalism: How darernthey—Serbs, Southerners, Quebeckers, Christians, WASPs,rnblacks—cling to their particularity, their provincialism, theirrnsense of who they are? “If they think they are different fromrnme, that means they think they are better than me in some respect.rnHaven’t they heard that all men are created equal, whichrnmeans all men, women, and in-betweens are exactly the samernregardless of race, color, or creed?”rnAnyone who regards himself, however vaguely, as on thernright will have the opposite instinctive reaction. He will exult inrndifference, will love women as women, honor men for beingrnmanly, and politely ignore the sports and freaks of nature andrnsociety that divide the hoof but do not chew the cud. He willrninevitably think his own nation, however lowly and downtrodden,rnthe greatest in the wodd, but if he is a man, he will respect,rnperhaps admire other nations, even his enemies, for their peculiarities.rnI have heard, time after time, from Serb and Italianrnsoldiers—people who hated the Germans for what they did torntheir countries—that the soldiers of the Wehrmacht were thernfinest fighting men in the wodd, maybe in the histor- of thernwodd. It is only Americans, uncertain of their nationality, whornsay otherwise.rnLet us agree, then, my readers, that you and I shall respectrnthe efforts of American blacks, including Mr. Jackson and Mr.rnFarrakhan, to redefine themselves as a nation. But let us also bernclear what this would mean. On a trivial level, it would meanrnthat Afrocentrism should be banned from schools and universitiesrnthat are funded by a white majority. With a clear consciencernwe can say to black Americans: we are free to respectrnyour identity and even your hatred of ourselves without beingrnunder any obligation to subsidize it. What are Afrocentricrnblacks doing in white institutions, in the first place?rnBut the same argument applies to affirmative action, welfarernpolicies, and indeed, to all civil rights legislation. It is one thingrnto ask me to help my fellow citizens, no matter how fantastic orrnhow remote the basis of their claims might be. The argumentrnfor national socialism—our present form of government—hasrnalways been that we as a people owe certain things to ourselves,rnsuch as a decent minimum standard of living, a public educationrnthat will enable every child to grow up into a productiverncitizen. But if American blacks are willing to divest themselves,rneven in principle, of their American identity, then they have nornbetter claim on me than Mongolians or Somalis.rnLet us put the argument in the form of a simple proposition:rnany claim on my pocketbook or on my sympathy advanced inrnthe name of Afrocentrism or Afro-Americanism is self-refuting,rnand it will not be very long before black Americans who engagernin this rhetoric will discover, to their sorrow, what self-reliancernis all about.rnI admire Mr. Jackson as the leader of his people, and I respectrnthe desire of African-Americans for independence and self-determination.rnI only wish they would return the compliment.rnAs Jesse Jackson so memorably remarked in reference to thernJewish Holocaust, “Other people have suffered, too.” My father’srnfamily were Scots, from a nation that has suffered fromrnthe imperial and occasionally genocidal attentions of thernEnglish for over 500 years. If I have any time or resources tornsquander on ethnic liberations or social justice, I shall send myrnmoney to the Scots National Party and demand reparations forrnthe “Tory” Scots whose property was seized bv American rebelsrnin the 1770’s. Some of my people had to flee to Canada to escapernpersecution, and I cannot begin to describe the sufferingsrnof the Irish, the Poles, the Armenians, the Greeks, and—mostrnrecently—the Bosnian Serbs.rnAll of these groups have suffered. None of these groups hasrnits hand perpetually stuck out in expectation of a tip; nonernof them demands a special status because of its sufferings. Irishrnterrorists might blow up buildings and kill innocent people, butrnthey do not wallow in self-pity or sue for the privilege of associatingrnwith the English. At the root of so much Afrocentricrnposturing is not the defiance of a proud people, but the kindrnof self-pity that invites contempt. In 1955 Zora Neale Hurstonrncriticized the ruling in Brown v. The Board of Education withrncharacteristic bluntness: “The American Indian has never beenrnspoken of as a minoritv and chiefly because there is no whine inrnthe Indian.” Apart from a few “Red Power” leaders, there is stillrnno whine in the Indian, and when there is no whine in African-rnAmericans, perhaps they will be mature enough either to securerntheir independence or to live with us on terms of equality.rn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn