Monday, August 22, 2005

Quote of the month

“That’s my job. I’m a newsman. That’s what I try to do, is make news. And you try to avoid news. That’s your job.”

— CNN’s Wolf Blitzer‘s response to former President Bill Clinton during a recent broadcast of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” after Mr. Clinton accused the popular TV newsman of trying to get him to say something he didn’t intend to say.

All about Hillary

Inside the Beltway has received a nice note from Gregg Birnbaum, political editor of the New York Post, who you might recall reported extensively on Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s first Senate campaign in 2000.

Now that the New York Democrat is running for re-election — some speculate as a steppingstone to the White House in 2008 — Mr. Birnbaum is helping Americans track her every move by creating, comprehensive and up-to-date reports as she hits the campaign trail — from Elmira, N.Y., to beyond.

“It’s all about her,” says Mr. Birnbaum, describing his private venture as “straightforward … favorable, critical and everything in between.”

Family breakdown

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, says “the destruction of the black family” today can be traced to a single man from England who purposely paid a visit to Virginia during the early 18th century.

“In 1712, British slave owner Willie Lynch was invited to the colony of Virginia to teach his methods of keeping slaves under control to American slave owners,” Mr. Rangel says. “Almost 300 years later, the techniques that he prescribed seem to have not only been successful in controlling slaves, but lasting as a means of weakening and destroying the black family.”

Mr. Rangel explains that in slavery, “families were purposely divided, with husband and wives separated from each other and their children. Black males were humiliated and whipped in front of their wives and children. Stripped of their power and pride, black men were seen as weak, and black women had to be the strength of the household, distorting the traditional family structure.”

Absolutely fake’

As it turns out, the “Willie Lynch” cited by Rep. Charles B. Rangel in the preceding item is an urban legend based on a document widely circulated via the Internet in recent years. “There are many problems with this document — not the least of which is the fact that it is absolutely fake,” explains Jelani Cobb, a professor of history at Atlanta’s Spelman College.

“In the few years since the speech on how to train slaves first appeared, it has been cited by countless college students, a black member of the House of Representatives and become the essential verbal footnote in barbershop analysis of what’s wrong with black people,” the historian writes on his Web site (

Detailing evidence of the Lynch letter’s falsehood, Mr. Cobb notes that this document was unknown to historians before its appearance on the Web: “Considering the limited number of extant sources from the 18th century, if this speech had been ‘discovered’ it would’ve been the subject of incessant historical panels, scholarly articles and debates. It would literally be a career-making find. But the letter was never ‘discovered,’ but rather it ‘appeared’ — bypassing the official historical circuits and making its way via Internet directly into the canon of American racial [conspiracy theories].”

Shock value

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is calling on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to apologize for a recent 12-panel display (part of its “Animal Liberation” tour) that compares animal abuse to the indignities of American slaves in previous centuries.

“The PETA campaign shows images of black people in shackles juxtaposed with chained elephants, and a black civil rights protestor being beaten at a lunch counter beside a photo of a seal hunt,” the alliance recalls. “The group even went so far as to show a graphic photo of a lynch mob surrounding two black bodies that were hanged in a tree next to a picture of a cow hanging in a slaughterhouse.”

The display was put on hold by PETA after criticism by civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Bud Pidgeon, president of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, suggests PETA, for publicity’s sake, purposely shocks the public and then “feeds off of the controversy.”

Still, he says, the animal-rights group “apologized earlier this year for a campaign that compared the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust with animals in agriculture, and hopefully the same will come of this.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide