Letter From NewnYork Citynby Murray N. RothbardnIt Was a Long Hot SummernI returned to New York at the end ofnMay for my summer stint to find thatnboth bellwethers of New York life, thenfar-out left Village Voice and the chicnliberal New York, were headlining (respectively)n”Race Rage,” and “ThenRace Mess.” Yes, the fabled andnmuch-dreaded Long Hot Summer wasnalready well under way.nIn fact, the “summer” had beennraging ever since February, when anstill-continuing boycott was launchednagainst two Korean fruit stores by militantsnin a black neighborhood innBrooklyn. Details of the February incidentnare murky, especially since, as onenof the baffled Brooklyn district attorneysnput it, “the Korean and the blacknwitnesses say the opposite things, andnthere is no way of deciding betweennthem.” All sides agree, however, that atnthe root of this and many other incidentsnis a “clash of cultures” betweennblacks and Koreans. The blacks claimnthat the Koreans “never smile,” thatnthey “dis” (show disrespect for) feistynblack women, and that the Koreansndon’t understand the West Indian (thenblack woman in the February incidentnis a Haitian) proclivity for higgling andnhaggling over prices.nThe first point to note is that then”never smile”.charge can only be calculatednto impress non-New Yorkers.nSince when do any retail clerks in NewnYork smile? In fact, the New Yorkncustomer, in any retail dealings fromn”Bloomie’s” on down to the supermarket,nconsiders himself lucky if the clerkndoesn’t chew gum in his face. I remembernthe first time that I, a bornnand bred New Yorker, lived in California.nIt was a real shock when bankntellers said to me, “Hello, sir, how arenyou?” and “Have a nice day.” Mynimmediate reaction was, “What’s shen42/CHRONICLESnCORRESPONDENCEnup to?” and “What scam is she pulling?”nIt took months outside of NewnYork to decompress.nFurthermore, how come that Koreansnare not systematically rude to whitencustomers, be they male or female?nAnd how come that blacks, even Haitians,ndon’t expect to higgle over pricesnat any other stores? No, the real culturenclash is very different from what hasnbeen portrayed in the left-liberal media.nOver 200,000 Koreans have migratednto New York City in the lastndecade, and they have opened upn4,000- greengrocer stores throughoutnthe city. Not only that: the storesninvariably have far better vegetablesnand fruit (though of course at highernprices) than the quasi-garbage offerednat the supermarkets, they are open 24nhours a day, and Korean families pitchnin and work 18 or more hours a day. Innshort, the Koreans have not only revivednthe old, much-lamented Momand-Popnstores outcompeted by thensupermarkets, but they have provednthat hard work and thrift is the path tonsuccess and upward mobility. Typically,nthe Koreans spend next to nothingnout of their modest revenues and, in anfew years, save enough money to opennup other stores. In the classic immigrantntradition, the Koreans have overcomenthe great barriers of languagenand lack of capital (even though theynwere middle-class and well-educated inntheir native land, the South Koreanngovernment, until recently, onlynallowed them to take a maximum ofn$5,000 per person out of the country).nLeftists see this phenomenon asnanother race “exploiting” the “blackncommunity.” But why do blacks flocknto buy the Korean wares? And whyndon’t consumers in white neighborhoodsnfeel they are being “exploited”?nAnd why can’t blacks open up storesnand work hard? Liberals counter thatnwhite racist banks refuse to lend moneynto stores in neighborhoods with highncrime rates and declining property values.nHow then do Koreans get thencapital? From a network of Koreannfamilies and self-help organizations,nwhich pool their savings to lend moneynnnfor precisely such purposes. There isnno reason why blacks couldn’t formnsimilar organizations.nBlack activists also complain thatnKorean stores in black neighborhoodsn”don’t give any money back to thencommunity,” which in plain Englishnmeans hiring blacks and paying moneynto black churches and other “communitynorganizations.” The Koreans answer,nand quite rightly, that their familynlabor force is extremely dedicated andnlow-cost, and that unlike large corporations,nthey can’t afford such thinlyveilednblackmail in the name of altruism.nBesides, they resent such demands.nWhich brings us to another “culturenclash.” The February incident innBrooklyn occurred when a Haitiannwoman, exasperated at standing in line,ndecided to walk out of the Korean fruitnstore. Suspicious that the woman hadnpurloined some of their fruit, the Koreannowner and his workers demanded tonsee her bag. She refused (even thoughnevery large store in New York displays ansign proclaiming the store owner’snright to search a customer’s bags). Anscuffle then ensued, during which shenclaims that she was knocked to thenfloor (and suffered a slight cut finger)nand the Koreans claim that they discoverednin her bag three dollars worthnof fruit.nIn short, part of Korean “culture” isnto resent theft of their property veryndeeply. Trained also to be suspicious ofnany police, the Korean storekeepersnprefer defending their property themselves.nThese storekeepers, either outnof bitter experience in New York ornbecause they have imbibed white racistnstereotypes (take your pick), are particularlynsuspicious of black customers,nand are therefore possibly more readynto “dis” them than whites. And therenwe have it.nThis black boycott has become annintegral part of rising black militancy innBrooklyn. Mayor David Dinkins — thenfirst black mayor in New York historyn— and his administration are caughtnbetween two opposing sets of expectations.nHis white liberal supportersn