IN the June issue of Vanguard I reviewed Tom Wolfe's latest best-selling novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities.
The novel itself was a negrophobic nightmare with the white minority, encased claustrophobically in lavish apartments near Park Avenue, surrounded by a hostile Third World. The Mayor is driven off a platform in mid-speech by a roaring and chanting black mob who see him as a symbol of white domination. The mobs are not spontaneous, but assemble at the command of 'Reverend' Bacon, a black preacher, Fuhrer and entrepreneur.
The plot thickens when Sherman McCoy, the book's hero, drives over, and accidently kills a negro who attempted to mug him. The black preacher, 'Reverend' Bacon, leaps at this latest opportunity to make political capital and the story is soon front-page news. Seizing the propaganda potential of the whole affair, Bacon orchestrates more demonstrations for the TV cameras, one in front of McCoy's apartment where they chant through the night.
It all sounds like a terrific yarn, the stuff that best-sellers are made of, but isn't it all a trifle far-fetched? Well, as the saying goes, fact is stranger than fiction and recent bizarre events in New York bear a stunning similarity to Wolfe's novel. The parallels are, indeed, remarkable.
The Tawana Brawley affair, a bizarre New York rape story which developed into a highly charged racial drama, exploded onto the front pages and television screens across the United States in June, after allegations that the whole saga was a politically-inspired hoax.
The drama began last November, when Tawana Brawley, a 16-year-old black schoolgirl, was found in a plastic rubbish bag outside her mother's former home in Wappinger Falls, upstate New York.
She was covered in excreta and had racist slogans, including 'KKK' and 'nigger' daubed on her body. Tawana was reluctant to talk, but she indicated that she had been abducted by four white men, then repeatedly raped and assaulted.
The local police, however, could find little evjdence to support her story. Medical tests showed no sign of rape or physical abuse, and Tawana refused to co-operate with the investigation. Local teenagers claimed to have seen her at a party when she was supposed to be missing, and a nearby resident claimed she saw Tawana crawl into the bag herself.
In January, Alton Maddox and C Vernon Mason, two controversial black New York lawyers who specialise in cases involving inter-racial violence, took over the Brawley case.
Maddox said the white authorities had conspired in a high-level cover-up to protect Tawana's attackers, whom he named as a local prosecutor, a part-time policeman and a state trooper.
The lawyers' attack was spearheaded by the 'Reverend' Al Sharpton, a New York Baptist preacher who has quickly become one of the most controversial figures in America.
A rotund, roguish character, rarely seen without his Martin Luther King medallion or his James Brown 'Godfather of Soul' hairdo, Sharpton has effectively kept the Brawley case on the front pages with ever more outlandish statements.
The 'Reverend' Al Sharpton leads Tawana Brawley from his church
He has compared the prosecutor in charge of the case to Adolf Hitler, suggested the IRA, the Ku Klux Klan and the mafia were all involved in the rape, and compared Mario Cuomo, New York's fawningly multi-racialist governor, to the bigoted southern governors of the civil rights era!
Besides his inflammatory rhetoric, 'Reverend Al' also possesses real radical chic. He flits between 'Day of Outrage' street demonstrations, Mike Tyson world title fights and black-tie tea parties for Donald Trump, a New York property tycoon.
The case itself took another dramatic turn when the prosecutors subpoenaed Tawana's mother to appear before a grand jury investigating the charges. Mrs Brawley, on the advice of her lawyers, refused to co-operate. A New York judge found her in contempt of court and sentenced her to 30 days in jail. The sentence caused an uproar in New York's black community: many blacks rallying behind Sharpton, Mason and Maddox, believing that an innocent black woman would go to jail.
Then, in the middle of June, a bombshell hit the Brawley camp. One of Sharpton's former aides told a New York television station that Tawana's story was "nothing but a pack of lies". Perry McKinnon told his television audience that Tawana's three 'advisers', i.e. Sharpton, Maddox and Mason, had doubts about her story but decided to exploit the case anyway.
"The story do (sic) sound like bullshit, but it don't matter," McKinnon quoted Sharpton as saying. "We're building a movement. This is the perfect issue, because you've got whites on blacks. That's an easy way to stir up all the deprived people."
McKinnon also quoted Sharpton as saying: "If we can win this Tawana thing, we will be the biggest niggers in New York."
McKinnon's statements caused a national uproar. Within hours, Sharpton was branding McKinnon a "bald-faced liar" and telling the millions of people watching across the nation that New York was "a corrupt and racist state, dominated by the mafia".
Hundreds of black supporters cheered Sharpton to the rafters, chanting "No peace; no justice" and "Cuomo, Cuomo, have you heard? This is not Johannesburg".
For Cuomo, an erstwhile champion of New York's multi-racial society, the charges of racism and comparisons with South African premier P.W. Botha, though amusing to Nationalists, can do little good for his future political chances of securing black support. Yet the multi-racial chickens have come home to roost.
Meanwhile, the state attorney-general is investigating whether Sharpton, Maddox and Mason "have been perpetrating a hoax, not only on the black community, but on all the people of the state of New York".
One wonders what master story-teller Tom Wolfe would make of the bizarre 'rape' of Tawana Brawley. Surely even his lurid imagination couldn't match the nightmarish reality of New York today.
As I stated at the conclusion of my review of Wolfe's book, "multi-racialism, like murder, makes good fiction but nightmarish fact".