Ronald Hilton - 03/23/98
As President Clinton takes off for his tour of black Africa, it is timely
to reconsider negritude, a doctrine promoted by Senegal's first president,
Leopold Senghor 1960-80), a hero of French socialists and the first African
elected to the French Academy (1984). Negritude fed leftist propaganda
idealizing the blacks and blaming the whites, twisting evidence in the
process. This in the antithesis of the old line which blamed the blacks in
disregard of the evidence. This new line pops up in American life. The
consensus is that the O.J. Simpson verdict was a travesty of justice, but
what is seldom mentioned is that the March 1991 beating of Rodney King by
white police in Los Angeles resulted in an equally distorted verdict. King,
who had been driving while drunk at more than 100 mph, resisted arrest
violently. The senior police officer present, Stacey Koon, ordered the
group to holster their guns, judging that batons would cause less injury.
The villain in the reporting was Station KTLA, which cut out the first part
of the tape showing Rodney King's violence, leaving only the scene of the
beating. For this scandalous distortion of the facts, the station received
an award. The exoneration of the police led to a second trial in which they
were condemned; this in total disregard of the issue of double jeopardy.
The black riots which celebrated all this and which did enormous harm to
the blacks themselves were the direct result of the KTLA dishonest broadcast.
Negritude has virtually disappeared in France, but there is euphoria
surrounding Clinton's tour of Africa. Partly this reflects American desire
to promote democracy and wellbeing around the world, partly the hope that
Africa will provide markets for American goods, and partly the negritude of
much reporting. Clinton is also trying to please the black American
electorate. We should give the devil its due: the old apartheid regime in
South Africa was efficient. Travel there was much safer than it is today,
just as French Algeria was a much safer place than Algeria today.
We wish Africa well, but, as we watch the African scene develop, we need
balanced, factual reporting. Indeed such reporting is a global need.