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Jewish World Review /July 17, 1998 / 22 Tamuz, 5758

Larry Elder

Larry Elder Camille Cosby's carelessness

CAMILLE COSBY, the day after the conviction of the man accused of murdering her son, wrote an astonishing article published in "USA Today." It begins, "I believe America taught our son's killer to hate African-Americans. After Mikhail Markhasev killed Ennis Williams Cosby on January 16, 1997, he said to his friends, 'I shot a nigger. It's all over the news.'"

The "nigger" reference, Mrs. Cosby reasons, shows hatred towards blacks. And, America, says Mrs. Cosby, taught Markhasev his anti-black hatred.

She continues, "Presumably, Markhasev did not learn to hate black people in his native country, the Ukraine, where the black population is near zero. Nor was he likely to see America's intolerable stereotypical movies and the television programs about blacks, which were not shown in the Soviet Union before the killer and his family moved to America in the late 1980s."

Well, Markhasev indeed appears to hate blacks. But, in a taped telephone conversation, Markhasev referred to a female witness as a "ruca," a pejorative term for women, similar to "bitch." Did America teach him to hate women? Did American movies with female stereotypes push him into becoming sexist? (Must have missed "Thelma and Louise.") And, Markhasev derisively referred to an Asian informant as a "chino." (Too many Charlie Chan movies, perhaps.)

Several months ago in North Hollywood, California, a Romanian immigrant, along with an accomplice, tried to rob a bank. Armed with flak jacket, combat fatigues, and semi-automatic weapons, the immigrant staged a shoot-out injuring eleven cops and six civilians. Why did he do it? His father said America taught him violence. Oh.

Now, the Cosbys, in their grief, must be accorded great consideration. The unspeakable horror of the murder of a beloved son causes unimaginable pain. But the assertion that America is somehow responsible for Ennis Cosby's death is not only wrong, but dangerously so.

The gross domestic product of American blacks is over $400 billion, ranking it among the top fifteen nations in the world. Most blacks are middle class or better. Blacks attend college in percentages equivalent to the national black population. In comparing a black educated couple to a white educated couple, where both have worked for the same period of time, the black couple out-earns the white one, and black women have long out-earned white women.

Comparing black workers with the same education, training, and years of experience on the job to white counterparts, economists find no difference in black versus white incomes. Blacks now graduate from high school at rates equivalent to that of whites.

Did America teach the black child-killer, Wayne Williams, to stalk and kill black children in Atlanta? Did America encourage the black thug to break into the apartment and mug Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement? Was it America that taught the two minorities to kill Michael Jordan's father? Did America teach the black man to shoot Martin Luther King's mother as she sat in church? Did America inspire the black murderers convicted of assassinating Malcolm X?

Camille Cosby also said, "Yes, racism and prejudice are omnipresent and eternalized in America's institutions, media, and myriad entities." Eternalized? This means forever.

How, one wonders, does Mrs. Cosby explain her husband's success? Bill Cosby did not become one of the richest and most beloved celebrities in the history of American entertainment without the broad-base support of non-blacks. Mr. Cosby's position as "America's dad" stood firm even after his admission of an extramarital affair. Somehow, some way, racist America allowed the Cosbys to amass a fortune large enough to include them among "Forbes 400" list of richest Americans.

The black monthly magazine "Ebony" once ran a series called, "If I Were Young Today," asking several successful blacks, including a lawyer, union organizer, and judge, to give advice to today's black children. Their advice and optimism were strikingly similar. Today, they said, you make your own way. Work hard, stay focused, stay positive, and you can make it. When did the series run? 1963! Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Open Housing Act of 1968, and before the widespread implementation of affirmative action.

Contrast that optimism with the you-owe-us pessimism from the Black Congressional Caucus, the NAACP, Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Urban League, and others who view the world through race-tinted glasses.

I recently received a letter from a woman who works in a police anti-gang unit. She wrote, "The kids parrot (Mrs. Cosby's) remarks, and their mantra is 'I'm never gonna make it in whitey's world, so why bother?'"

Why should a "disadvantaged" child put in two good hours of homework every night? More fun to party and shoot hoops. After all, effort is futile. Camille Cosby said so.


7/17/98: Camille Cosby's carelessness
7/9/98: Moses mugged
7/2/98: Al Campanis -- forever a racist?
6/25/98: And you thought "coke" was worse than smokes
6/19/98: Is Jasper ‘America'?
6/12/98: Guess who's not coming to dinner
6/5/98: What now, NOW?
5/29/98:What's next, ‘burger busters'?
5/21/98: 'Stuff' happens
5/18/98: This just in
5/11/98: Stepping up
4/30/98: Who's faking whom?
4/16/98:To spank or not to spank

©1998, Laurence A. Elder