Conservative? liberal? It all depends

September 20, 1995|By GREGORY KANE

Regular Sunpapers readers will no doubt have a query: Who is the four-eyed, aesthetically challenged guy pictured in this column, and why is he uglying up my newspaper?

Some readers may already be familiar with me. I have incensed and befuddled several with opinion/commentary pieces through the years. Jamil Muhammad and my good friends in the Nation of Islam come immediately to mind. Mr. Muhammad was the minister of the local NOI mosque in March of 1994 when I wrote a less-than-flattering commentary about his "leader" -- Louis Farrakhan.

Mr. Muhammad and some 20 of his followers converged on the Sunpapers building, clearly incensed with my piece. I'm not sure which part upset them most -- they had much to choose from -- but I suspect it was the passage in which I referred to their leader as a "thug." I will make no apologies for that characterization, because in a testy bit of invective published in a letter to the editor one week later, Mr. Muhammad acknowledged that Mr. Farrakhan wrote in 1964 that Malcolm X was "worthy of death." That's thug talk.

Local members of the NOI should face up to the fact that I may know more about their "leader" than they do. I was attending mosque meetings, reading "Muhammad Speaks" and "The Final Call" while, I suspect, they were still whippersnappers.

I don't know where Jamil Muhammad or his replacement, Carlos Muhammad, were on Feb. 26, 1975, but I was at the NOI Savior's Day Convention at the Baltimore Arena, where I watched the ceremonies in Chicago on closed-circuit television. I clearly heard Elijah Muhammad's son Wallace designated the new leader of the NOI. I certainly didn't hear Louis Farrakhan proclaimed the leader.

In July of 1994, I tackled the issue of the Confederate flag, claiming it represented a government committed to white supremacy. I even quoted Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, who said as much. Disgruntled latter-day supporters of the Confederacy claimed Stephens' view was the minority one, implying that the Southern states were a paradise brimming with racial justice and equality. Someone in this debate is clearly not dealing with reality, and it ain't the bearded guy you see in the picture.

George B. and Betty L. Merrill -- an interracial couple -- chided me for my "bigotry" in a May 24, 1994, commentary in which I observed that America's real objection to interracial dating and marriage is an almost stark terror of black male sexuality. I received several more critical letters on that column, but none, interestingly enough, from black men. They at least knew what I was talking about.

While I'm on the subject, my opposition to interracial dating and marriage has nothing to do with bigotry. It has to do with history, culture and worldview. I believe every black person in this country owes a debt to those ancestors who survived the middle passage. And I don't think the debt is repaid by marrying or dating whites.

George Robertson wrote in May of 1994 to accuse me of "mindless thinking" and using "stupid analogies" in a column I wrote suggesting that warrantless sweeps might be the way to deal with gun violence in a Chicago housing project. Of course, Mr. Robertson wrote his criticism from the pristine, serene, bucolic surroundings of Hunt Valley -- where nary a drug dealer has been found nor drug-related shooting has been known to occur.

In January of 1994 my son was arrested for carrying a gun. I wrote about the incident in a July 1994 Perspective piece in which I explained his justification for getting the gun: for protection against a thug who promised to blast him into eternity. The hood made the threat after robbing my son previously. Two city police officers showed no interest when my son tried to get them to take a report.

George Martin -- writing from the comfortable suburb of Bel Air -- wrote to question why neither my son nor I filed a complaint with the police or mayor's office. I know young black men are perceived as stupid, but they're not quite that stupid. They certainly know that the primary purpose of city police and the mayor -- no matter whether it's Kurt Schmoke or Mary Pat Clarke -- is not protecting young black men. So they do what the boys in the National Rifle Association suggest and opt to protect themselves.

And I think the NRA is right on this issue. The organization may not have the moral high ground in the gun control debate, but it has the pragmatic high ground. Bottom line: don't expect to see my face at any gun control rallies.

So now you know a little more about Gregory P. Kane: lifelong Baltimore resident, liberal on some issues, conservative on others, a veritable fascist on the topic of crime.

Gregory Kane's column appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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