THE FAVORITE THUGS of the Left, the Black Panthers, are once again raising their fists in angry protest. The "New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense," a Washington, D.C. group, is not currently battling the "Establishment" or "Whitey." Instead they are focusing their rage on one of the most en vogue scapegoats of racist blacks: the Korean shopkeeper.The target of the Panthers’ anger is Frank Han, the owner of A-1 Grocery in Northeast Washington. On November 22, three black teenage girls cut class and went to A-1, a popular target of young shoplifters, where one of the girls apparently tried to get an ice cream bar. According to Mr. Han, 14-year-old Tieera Richardson put a quarter on the cashier’s counter and tried to leave, even though the ice cream cost 65 cents. District police officer Lt. Scott Dignan told both the Washington Post and Washington Times that the surveillance video shows Han trying to detain the girl and her striking him in the face. Han struck back, and soon a melee ensued, with the other two girls and several others joining in. "Other people came in and ransacked the store, even took products from the store," Dignan was quoted as saying in the Post.
Of course, the truant girls and their Black Panther allies have a slightly different version of what happened. According to them, Han grabbed Richardson as she tried to leave the store and struck first, hitting her in the face. The D.C. police don’t seem to be giving much credence to this claim, as they are recommending that the three girls, not Mr. Han, be charged with crimes in the incident.
Fact and truth seldom get in the way of righteous indignation, and this incident is no exception. The Panthers are staging a boycott of A-1 Grocery, gathering in front of the store in an attempt to dissuade shoppers.
Demonstrators chant "black power" and "death to the bloodsuckers." Some express their intent to close A-1 by "any means necessary." On the morning of November 30, things went one step further. A pipe bomb was thrown at the store’s entrance, burning part of the storefront. There were no injuries. In case there was any doubt as to the bomber’s intent, a message scrawled on an outside wall read, "Burn them down, Shut them down, Black Power!"
Black resentment and violence against Asian-Americans, and Korean-Americans in particular, is nothing new. In 1990, blacks boycotted a couple of Korean stores in Brooklyn for a year. One boycotter at the time used a megaphone to scream, "Koreans must go!" A black teen was so inspired by this sentiment, he smashed the skull of a local Vietnamese-American with a hammer, while his buddies shouted, "Koreans go home!" The stores lost thousands of dollars in revenue, staying in business mostly with the help of Korean merchant associations.
The L.A. riots witnessed even greater savagery directed at Korean-Americans by blacks. Two thousand Korean stores, three-quarters of all wrecked businesses, were destroyed. Nearly half of the 850 million dollars in damages incurred during the riots was sustained by the Korean community. (Incidentally, many shop owners avoided destruction of their property by defending themselves with now-banned "assault weapons.") Not wanting to be left out of the fun, a gang in the Bronx vandalized a Korean dry cleaner out of solidarity with the California rioters.
Anti-Korean sentiment is so ingrained in the black community that there have even been songs expressing it. On his 1991 album "Death Warrant," critically-acclaimed rapper (and now actor) Ice Cube had a tune called "Black Korea." The song refers to "Oriental one-penny-counting motherf**kers" and their "little chop suey asses." Korean shopkeepers are warned to "pay respect to the black fist" or "we’ll burn your store right down to a crisp."
This anger also manifests itself in films, such as the Hughes Brothers’ well-received 1993 picture Menace II Society. In an early scene, a Korean grocer makes the mistake of muttering an insult at "O-Dog," a young black thug played by Larenz Tate. O-Dog shoots the grocer in the head, then runs to the back of the store to kill the grocer’s wife and steal the surveillance video. He watches the video over and over, showing it to his friends, lingering over the shooting scene.
Black racism against Asian-Americans doesn’t simply manifest itself through boycotts and riots. It can take place in smaller, more personal ways. Chinese immigrant Ying Ma wrote in The American Enterprise magazine of her childhood in predominantly black Oakland, California, where she was frequently called "Ching Chong," "Chinagirl," and "Chow Mein." As she grew into her teens, the racial insults were combined with vulgar sexual taunts.
Any attempt to respond would be greeted with physical threats. On the streets, Ma would see, "black teenagers and adults creep up behind 80-year-old Asians and frighten them with sing-song nonsense: Yee-ya, Ching-chong, ah-ee, un-yahhh!" Asians would be told "Why the hell don’t you just go back to where you came from!"
Yet the racism of blacks against Asians remains something not talked about in the political or media mainstream. Why didn’t Bill Clinton address the problem when he was promoting his "Race Initiative?" How can prominent figures like Spike Lee still get away with claiming there is no such thing as black racism, despite the evidence to the contrary? Why do journalists overlook the bigotry behind actions such as the boycott of A-1 Grocery, but remain perfectly happy to harp about the policies of Bob Jones University? How can the NAACP virtually blame George W. Bush for the slaying of James Byrd, but still remain silent on the racial violence perpetrated by the very people they claim to represent?
A possible answer: Blacks currently enjoy political clout stemming from their image as perpetual victims of bigotry. The anti-Asian racism of some blacks and the violence it breeds shows how victim can become victimizer, thus losing the coveted status of underdog in the eyes of the public. If more people were aware of the violence and hostility Asian-Americans have to deal with in the inner-city, the the political tide would turn, leaving the NAACP and Co. out in the cold. But as long as our politicians and media ignore the problem, most Americans will remain in the dark, and the black community will continue to be unaccountable for the racism in its midst.