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Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2003/ 13 Shevat, 5763

Larry Elder

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Is filmmaker Michael Moore a bigot? | America's alleged excessive gun ownership results from an inordinate, unfair and implicitly racist fear of blacks.

Michael Moore, producer of the anti-gun documentary, "Bowling For Columbine," so argued in his appearance late last year on The Oprah Winfrey Show. To Winfrey's in-studio, attentive, predominantly white female audience, Moore intoned, "What I feel is so sad about this, Oprah, is that we're at a point where it's almost like a mental illness with us, a collective mental illness, that we see a black person and we suddenly get afraid. Those of us who are white, ask yourself, who do you think it is that might harm you if you walk out of here at night? Is it little freckle-faced Jimmy? Is that the image that pops into your head? Or is it Hakim, or Jose? You know, if we're honest, we know the answer to that question." Really.

People who keep guns at home, maintains Moore, do so for fear of blacks, rather than for self-protection, irrespective of the race of the bad guy. OK, let's play that game. Let's assume whites do, in fact, fear "black perpetrated crime" more than "white perpetrated crime." Is that really irrational, if not racist? Just how often do blacks victimize whites?

Twenty-five percent of young black men possess criminal records, according to government studies, either in jail, on parole or on probation. For the most part, murder victims are killed by a member of their same race. But, although blacks comprise only 12 percent of the population, economist and columnist Walter Williams writes, "According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, blacks commit 54 percent of murders, 42 percent of forcible rapes, 59 percent of robberies and 38 percent of aggravated assaults . . . In the case of interracial violent crime, blacks are 50 times more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than whites against blacks."

Williams also notes, "Since 1972, the U.S. Department of Justice has conducted a National Crime Victimization Survey to determine the frequency of certain crimes. One category is interracial crimes. Its most recent publication (1997), 'Criminal Victimization in the U.S.,' reports on data collected in 1994. In that year, there were about 1,700,000 interracial crimes, of which 1,276,030 involved whites and blacks. In 90 percent of the cases, a white was the victim and a black was the perpetrator, while in 10 percent of the cases it was the reverse." For the year 2000, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, blacks committed over 1.5 million violent crimes in 2000, with half of those involving white victims.

Now get this. Incredibly, Moore, in another setting, suggested people should fear blacks.

The "documentary" maker, late last year, gave a series of talks in England, where he discussed "Bowling" while offering his views on America, crime and guns. Columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown of The Independent (UK), wrote, "I took my son to see Michael Moore live at the Roundhouse, in North London, before Christmas. The U.S. radical and author of the best-selling book 'Stupid White Men' was (mostly) clever, funny, angry, sharp, iconoclastic and skeptical about the lies and humbug processed by the U.S. government and big business . . . What we did not expect was to feel so enraged at one point that we almost walked out. It was when Moore went into a rant about how the passengers on the planes on 11 September were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white. If the passengers had included black men, he claimed, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody . . . "

Moore, on the one hand, criticizes the Oprah audience for their alleged unfair and irrational fear of blacks. But then he flips, and celebrates this alleged perception of black aggressiveness -- wishing more blacks had been on the Sept. 11 hijacked planes -- and chastises weak-kneed whites for their passivity successfully exploited by the Sept. 11 hijackers. Tell that to the widow of Flight 93's Todd Beamer and the other heroic passengers who stopped that plane from its likely Washington, D.C., destination.

Not that Moore cares, but it was America's gun-control movement that sprouted from racist soil. Infamous Chief Justice Roger Taney, of Dred Scott fame, wrote that if blacks were "entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens . . . (i)t would give persons of the (N)egro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one state of the union, the right . . . to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the state . . . "

Meanwhile, Moore's "Bowling" recently received an award for best documentary of all time from the International Documentary Association, despite the film's deceit, half-truths and distortions.

There are lies, damn lies, and the insufferable Michael Moore.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America. (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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