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No Time For Hate Conspiracies

CONCERN about US racism is renewed by the political campaign of David Duke and the nod it gives to white racial anger.

But what about new forms of black racism?

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Black anger is understandable. But racism, and the discontent it spawns, is wrong in every form.

That's why New York City College President Bernard Harleston is right to remove Dr. Leonard Jeffries Jr. as head of the African-American Studies Department. Dr. Jeffries would still teach.

A conspiracy theorist, Jeffries plays something of the intellectual harlequin to his classes (blacks only, please) and the public. His ideas, which as department head he sanctions as "academic freedom," run from kooky to dangerous: As "sun people" blacks are superior to "ice people" (guess who) because of a chemical in the skin named melanin missing in whites. Or, that AIDS was put in Africa by whites in the World Health Organization to attempt genocide. And this is the tame stuff.

While it's true, as the white male Shakespeare said, that "there are more things in heaven and earth ... than are dreamt of in your philosophy a factual basis for Jeffries's ideas is probably not among them. Yet sadly many blacks - 40 percent in a Harlem poll - believe this conspiracy theory.

Jeffries, like grandstander Al Sharpton, has a following. But most New Yorkers are uncomfortable with Jeffries's message. Last summer he went too far. In an anti-Semitic public speech he conjured up a movie industry conspiracy against blacks planned "by people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani" that Gov. Mario Cuomo denounced.

No faculty would allow David Duke to teach the thinking that made him a Grand Wizard; CCNY must discipline Jeffries. By demoting him, Dr. Harleston (himself black) can send a needed message that there are moral and academic standards.

Now is a time for blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, and others to respect diversity. No nation has ever done so. It can only work by seeing that all folks under the sun are brothers and sisters.

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