Readers: Think before you write

December 27, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

It was with much effort that I dragged myself back into work yesterday after a Christmas Day spent stuffing myself with assorted goodies. But readers are expecting a column today, and, darn it, a somewhat heavier Greg Kane is going to give it to them.

There is still more news from the mail front. Some of my letters you just have to read to believe. Take, for example, this one from my bosom buddy Leo Williams of Baltimore:

"Dear Mr. Kane:

You don't have the racial self-esteem of an illiterate Eskimo. I looked up the word 'jester' in the dictionary. It fits you to a tee. The definition is as follows: one who is given to witticisms, jokes and pranks. A professional fool or clown, kept by a prince or noble especially during the Middle Ages. White people are still using them for entertainment. (You)."

You just don't get it, Leo. If racial self-esteem is what you mean by it - hating white people and believing black people can do no wrong - then I don't want any racial self-esteem. And if you'd read your Shakespeare, you'd know that the court jester was often the wisest man around. You black folks who think you're blacker than all other black folks need to get out of the insulting business. You're really not very good at it.

Rudolf Friederich of Crofton wrote:

"I, for one, was very troubled by your editorial of Sunday (11/23/97). Although I feel deep empathy for Officer [Charles] Smothers, being a law enforcement officer myself, it is clear to me that had the officer involved in the Lexington Market shooting been white, you would likely be leading the parade to destroy him. ... I was very disappointed to see your selective standards."

Be careful of making quantum leaps of logic, Rudolf, unless you are sure of where you land. On March 8 I did a column in which I said the shooting of Sean Freeland by two police officers (both white) was justified. I can only conclude, Rudolf, that you didn't read that column or you read it and forgot what you read. As it happens, that was before the Smothers case.

My criteria in evaluating police shootings are based on one thing: Was the suspect armed or unarmed? In the Freeland and James Quarles cases, they were. In the cases involving Officers Stephen Pagotto and Edward Gorwell, the suspects weren't. That's why I haven't rushed to the defense of either. Pagotto at least had some mitigating circumstances: He wanted to see some hands after ordering some guys out of a car and drew his weapon when he didn't see any. Gorwell's case is the most disturbing: a 14-year-old boy unarmed and shot in the back.

You know there's trouble afoot when the editorial department forwards a letter that begins: "Please print my letter." L. Hall of Baltimore didn't get his or her letter printed by the editors, so I hope he or she puts me in the will for this.

"Dear Editor: Gregory P. Kane's article on self-hatred is purely tyrannical. Who is he to judge Malcolm X or anyone else! He complains about other black people being close-minded, well, what about his own close-minded mentality towards Malcolm X. Malcolm X died trying to make the world a better place, which is more of a sacrifice than Gregory P. Kane has ever made.

"The facts speak for themselves. A lot of the so-called black organizations today form their own 'personal' agenda. They are not concerned with making America better for everyone. They want to make it better for themselves and it is true - there are some Uncle Tom black people out there who sell out other blacks. There are light-skinned blacks prejudiced against dark-skinned blacks. There are financial[ly] successful blacks who hate poor blacks - economic racism. How dare you pretend that these things don't exist?

"Malcolm X was not perfect and neither are you. Mr. Kane, you need to learn to speak without offending and listen without defending. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Allow all blacks to the right to their own opinions and feelings without assuming they're pathological. No one calls the Jews pathological. It was nothing less than a Black Holocaust in America's history and how dare you take away the right of every African-American to their own beliefs without labeling them because they don't agree with you."

Well, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine! Hall is referring to my column of Nov. 1, in which I charged that those blacks who call other blacks Uncle Toms, handkerchief-heads and traitors are guilty of self-hatred. I stand by the charge. Hall uses Jews as a comparison - no one calls them pathological. That's because Jews can disagree without calling each other traitors. Jewish staffers on the Johns Hopkins University News-Letter had a nasty squabble in early November about the running of an ad that challenged some standard beliefs about the Holocaust. As rancorous as the debate got, the issue of ethnic loyalty didn't come up. Blacks couldn't have had that kind of argument without the issue of race loyalty being the first one to come up.

As for the matter of Malcolm X dying to make the world a better place: I beg to differ. Malcolm X died because for years he questioned the loyalty of other blacks. When he left the Nation of Islam, he found those who sought to take his life had decided he did not pass the litmus test of racial loyalty he himself had started. He sowed the wind. He reaped the whirlwind.

Pub Date: 12/27/97

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