The KKK — Unfortunate irrelevancy
day, in major cities across the country, the sound of gunfire disturbs
the tranquility of black communities. Young men have developed an ethos
that requires violent confrontation to resolve even minor
disagreements. The rising death toll includes innocent bystanders and
cases of mistaken identity.
The victims are usually
young men whose short lives have been terminated before they have made
a name for themselves. Their anonymity makes it easier for the
community to be indifferent about the loss. But when the deceased is a
person who has attained some celebrity, the incident cannot be easily
The recent murder of Sean Taylor at his home in Florida attracted
national attention. Although he was only 24, his outstanding play as a
safety for the Washington Redskins football team made him a star. This
death was too outrageous to ignore. A number of commentators felt
compelled to respond to this shooting.
Jason Whitlock, a sportswriter for the Kansas City Star and
FoxSports.com, gained public notoriety earlier this year for his
comments on the Don Imus affair. In a continuing journalistic tirade
against gangster rap and youth violence, he coined the term “Black
KKK,” which seemed to delight the talk radio audience.
Whitlock’s rationale is that black Americans organized opposition to
the racial oppression and lynching of the KKK and won that battle.
However, little is done to deter blacks who prey upon their own
Clearly, Whitlock wants an end to the carnage, but the term “Black KKK”
is an unfortunate diversion. The historical memory of the decades of
racial oppression and lynching by the Ku Klux Klan is still very strong
among African Americans. Consequently, mention of the KKK focuses
attention on that issue rather than on strategies to resolve the urban
In 1900, the federal government reported 106 lynchings in the U.S. In
1910, the number was 67. While undoubtedly some homicides that were
lynchings may have been omitted, that death rate is dwarfed by the
present-day killings in just one city in one year. In 2006, there were
596 murders in New York, 480 in Los Angeles, 468 in Chicago, 418 in
Detroit and 406 in Philadelphia, to list only some of the large cities.
While the significance of lynching must never be trivialized, the
magnitude of urban homicide in black America is too great for
rhetorical distractions to impede the search for solutions.
An avoidable crisis
substantial reduction in the level of urban violence requires an
effective police force. Close police-community relations would make it
more difficult for miscreants to commit crimes without being
apprehended. Unfortunately, while most police officers behave in a
highly professional manner, there are some who cause considerable
concern in the community.
It is bad enough that
some police officers are involved in illegal drug trafficking or are
guilty of using excessive force against citizens, but their misdeeds do
not stop there. An unidentified police officer recently notified the
Boston Herald that Rev. Bruce Wall’s 15-year-old son was a person of
interest in a series of armed robberies.
Every police officer worth his salt knows that an identification from a
photo lineup is very weak evidence of involvement. In fact, it turns
out that the identification was mistaken. The real suspect has been
apprehended. But in the meantime, the Wall family has been forced to
suffer the threat of their son’s arrest and the extensive search of
Such senseless acts by the police make the public leery of informing on
their neighbors who may be involved in criminal activity.
“If Taylor wasn’t a professional football star, nobody would give a damn.”