Buchanan meltdown: Pundit rails against black 'illegitimacy' and 'gang rapes'
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Saturday February 21, 2009

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When Eric Holder, Obama's Attorney General, called America a nation of "cowards" when it comes to matters of race, Patrick J. Buchanan must have taken it as a challenge.

To the man who once called Adolph Hitler "an individual of great courage," Holder's comment seemingly set a time-bomb ticking in his head. On a Thursday MSNBC broadcast, it exploded.

Seething about about crime rates among African American communities, Buchanan gave conflicting figures of black "illegitimacy" and railed about black "gang rapes." The entire episode seemed to evoke the underlying reasons why Buchanan's writing so often ends up cross-posted on ex-Klansman David Duke's Web site.

Speaking to Eric Michael Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, Buchanan asked for a moment to "tell some truths."

"White folks in America are not responsible for the 70 percent illegitimacy rate in the black community," he said. "We are not responsible for the fact that African-Americans commit crimes at seven times the rate of whites. We are not responsible for the fact that many more children in the African-American community, 75 percent, are born out of wedlock, as I've said."

Michael Lind, author of "Up From Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America," took issue with this very assertion (p. 170).

"There is no illegitimacy epidemic," wrote Lind. "Poor black people are having babies out of wedlock at only slightly more the rate they did in the early twentieth century, when there were no federal welfare programs, when the media were heavily censored, and when, in addition, black Americans were persecuted in a police-state regime of racial segregation."

"All of these things are the responsibility of the African-American community and its leaders should address the problems in their own community and stop believing ..." trailed Buchanan as Dyson moved to cut him off.

"First of all," he began. "First of all, Jessie Jackson has been responding to that issue for the last 40 years. Many people have been having a vibrant, vital, consistent conversation about the necessity for self-responsibility. What I didn't hear you say is that black people are not responsible for Oscar Grant, when he goes out in Oakland and gets viciously assaulted by policemen.

"We are not responsible for chimpanzee cartoons put forward by the New York Post that draw an implicit relationship between the president and ..."

Mid-sentence, Dyson's image froze. The host backtracked and apologized for technical difficulties in the video stream. "Go ahead, Pat," he said, even as Buchanan had already re-launched.

"In the statistics on group crime against individuals, gang rape and grang, ah, gang assaults, the numbers are almost 100 to one," he said. "Fourty-five percent of African American crime is committed against whites. Whites commit three percent of their crimes against African Americans. All crimes should be condemned, but it seems to me, in the African American community, you're [inaudible] your own responsibilities instead of your faults."

Of course, Buchanan did not mention that, according to the Violence Prevention Institute, the majority -- 52 percent -- of the "24,950 juveniles ages 12-17 who were murdered annually between 1980-2000" were African American.

Dyson, shaking his head, had already begun his retort.

"First of all, people commit ... See, you're trying to ..." he said as Buchanan concluded. "What you've done ... You're trying to derail ... Saying responsibility ... According to you, the entire problem of racial fascism in this country rests upon the backs of black people. You have not owned up to, at one point in this conversation ..."

Buchanan was already several words into a rebuttal.

"... Owning up to anything, fella," he said.

"... The reality that the dominant American culture has fed and fueled the viciousness," said Dyson. He was cut off again.

This time, Buchanan was yelling.

"Stop blamin' everybody else," he said. "You continue to blame ... Look, the African American community is far more law abiding ..." Then Dyson returned the favor, injecting himself back into the conversation.

"I'm not blaming anybody," he said. "When black people talk about honest feelings, it's called blaming. When white people talk about it, it's being called held responsible."

The line caused Buchanan to pause and chuckle before defending his position yet again. By this point, the conversation had devolved into both commentators simply speaking at the same time: Dyson agreeing with Attorney General Holder's assessment of America's racial cowardice and Buchanan making a muted reference to segregation.

Saying the African American community of 1948 was "far less criminal than it is today," Buchanan was concievably evoking a report issued in 1948 on "Segregation in Washington [D.C.]," a city which was not desegregated until the mid-50s.

"... If we can't be honest about that," said Dyson. "Many black people are used to hearing negative things about them every day in the press. Many white people are not. It's time that we shared the burden and redistribute the pain and all of us engage in a convincing, open, cogent explanation about why we are where we are racially. Eric Holder has done that with his brilliant comments."

This video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast Feb. 19, 2009.

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An earlier version of this report said the Buchanan segment aired on Friday.

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