Last May, firefighters at a Baltimore, Md., fire station came under scrutiny for displaying a deer with an afro wig, gold tooth, gold chain and a cigarette hanging from its mouth.
Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, went ballistic, charging, "There is now and has been a culture of racism and white supremacy within the Baltimore City Fire Department."
As it turns out, it was a black fireman who dressed up the critter. Cheatham refused to apologize for his accusations of fire department racism, maintaining "there is now and has been a culture of racism and white supremacy within the Baltimore City Fire Department."
On Nov. 21, a hangman's noose was found at the fire station with a note, "We can't hang the cheaters, but we can hang the failures. No EMT-1, NO JOB." The noose and note turned up on the heels of an investigation into allegations of cheating on the test that emergency medical technicians must take for certification.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a black, in a written statement said, "I am outraged by this deplorable act of hatred and intimidation. Threats and racial attacks are unacceptable anywhere, especially in a firehouse." Doc Cheatham said, "We're going to demand that this be handled as a hate crime. This thing really needs to end here in Baltimore city." The incident prompted a federal investigation.
Last week, Donald Maynard, a black firefighter-paramedic, confessed to having placed the noose, note and drawing depicting a lynching on a bunk in the firehouse. City officials said Maynard was recently suspended, prior to his confession, from the department Friday for failing to meet requirements for advanced life-saving training. A spokesman for Mayor Dixon said there would be no criminal charges filed.
In response to Maynard's confession, NAACP President Cheatham still blamed white racism, saying, "It really saddens us to hear that evidently things have reached a stage that even an African-American does an injustice to himself and his own people as a result of a negative culture in that department."
Doc Cheatham is a poster boy for demonstrating a much larger problem, namely that the once proud and useful NAACP has outlived that usefulness and has in some instances become an impediment to black progress. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black liberal-to-moderate Washington-based think-tank, reported that 88 percent of blacks favored educational choice plans. A Gallup Poll found 72 percent of blacks support school choice. The NAACP, acting as handmaidens for the teachers' unions, is solidly against school vouchers. A Gallup Poll shows 44 percent of blacks are for the death penalty and 49 percent against it, but the NAACP is solidly against it.
The major problems confronting a large segment of the black community have little or nothing to do with racism — problems such as unprecedented illegitimacy, family breakdown, fraudulent education, crime and rampant social pathology. If white people became angels tomorrow, it would do nothing to solve problems that can only be solved by blacks.
But I'm somewhat optimistic. More and more blacks are seeing through race hustlers such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Doc Cheatham. An even more optimistic note is the financial decline of the NAACP. Declining black support is good evidence that the civil rights struggle is over and won. That's not to say there are not major problems but they are not civil rights problems.
Today, most civil rights organizations get their financial support from white businesses and foundations caving in to intimidation or seeking to sooth feelings of guilt. For them, I have a cheaper alternative, "Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent," available at walterewilliams.com.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.