American Morning

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June 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen!

The bulk of the American Morning response revolved around the Holocaust Museum shooting and hate speech. Most believed the museum shooter received far too much coverage, while a minority felt that such exposure would prevent future hate groups from hiding on the Internet. Banishing “hate speech” was considered to be the solution for preventing further violence, while others voiced concern over “thought crime” legislation leading to a more “Orwellian” society.

  • Dan: Like Blitzer yesterday, Roberts is asking what can be done about the haters and the violent extremists. Cohen gave you the answer....expose them, shine a light on them. These people are well known by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their bile is all over the Internet. It's the job of the media to expose these homegrown terrorists to the general public. You may not stop all their vile acts, but it's the best, and most necessary start. Get on it! And maybe we can stop the next attack.
  • Jared: If there is one certain truth in world politics, I believe that one thing to be that true, real democracy is expensive. From time to time there have been occasional tragedies in our history as a nation, and my heart goes out the family of the officer killed, but it will not help democracy to invoke "thought crime" legislation; that is the stuff of George Orwell.
  • Steve: RE: Hate Crimes. When I see these many hate crimes against Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, Jews, etc. I can't help remember the line from "America The Beautiful" – "And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea". Unfortunately that's a bunch of hooey!
  • Bernadette: Jim Acosta, Lit the fuse, not! The fuse has been at a low burn for years just awaiting the right opportunity to strike and explode!
  • Darryl-pa: What about that hate group called librals and the way that the Palins are treated.

Will exposure for such hate crimes as the killing of Dr. Tiller and the shooting of the guard at the Holocaust Museum help to deter such hate crimes in the future, or will they incite others to follow in the hopes of gaining exposure for their personal causes? Is there an appropriate way for the U.S. to regulate “hate” speech without infringing on our First Amendment Rights to freely express our thoughts? How would you solve this dilemma?

Filed under: We Listen
June 11th, 2009
11:28 AM ET
June 11th, 2009
11:26 AM ET
June 11th, 2009
10:19 AM ET

Commentary: "Lone wolf" most difficult threat to fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Frances Townsend says the 'lone wolf' represents the most difficult problem for law enforcement."]

An 88-year-old Maryland man with a long history of ties to white supremacist groups is the suspect in Wednesday's fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, two law enforcement officials told CNN.

Experts say there are an estimated 926 hate groups operating in America right now. Back in May, the Department of Homeland Security reported that hate crimes were on the rise and that some of that was likely fueled by the election of a black president.

Now the question is being raised yet again – how serious is the threat of domestic terrorism here at home? Frances Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

Kiran Chetry: This suspect is an 88-year-old man. He had been in prison for a prior armed kidnapping. He tried to kidnap some members of the Federal Reserve in 1981. But then he seemed to be off the radar for decades. How do you increase the odds of being able to flag whether someone is prone to violence again in the future?

Frances Townsend: The “lone wolf” represents the single-most difficult problem for law enforcement. Of course, the FBI has joint terrorism task forces across the country; over a hundred of them. Each of those has got a domestic terrorism component to it. They infiltrate these domestic terror groups. They talk to people. They surveil them. They watch the Web sites and the rhetoric. We did see an up-tick during the primaries before the actual general election. We were worried about the up-tick in violent rhetoric of these supremacist groups.

But it's very difficult, if somebody is not sort of affiliated with one of those groups or not really active in them, to track the “lone wolf.” As you say, Kiran, this guy doesn't fit what you would imagine the supremacist would look like or be like when he walks into the museum yesterday with a rifle at 88-years-old, a former veteran himself. It's very disturbing. That's why you really have to give the security guards credit. They reacted so quickly and saved the lives of many people inside visiting that museum, especially children.


Filed under: Crime • Terrorism
June 11th, 2009
09:17 AM ET
June 11th, 2009
06:41 AM ET

"Ghetto loans” allegedly target minorities

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon alleges Wells Fargo violated the federal Fair Housing Act."]

From CNN's Bob Ruff and Carol Costello

Once upon a time, many banks didn't loan money to minorities seeking home mortgages.

The practice is called "redlining." The name comes from the notion that some banks and real estate agencies drew a red line around parts of the map where minorities lived so that they wouldn't do business with them.

The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to stop redlining and prohibit all housing discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability, or ethnic origin.

So, what's up with "reverse redlining"?

This variation on redlining describes banks who target parts of a city with significant minority populations in order to sell them costly sub-prime mortgages, even if they can afford cheaper prime mortgages.

Beth Jacobson knows all about it.

At one point she was the top salesperson selling sub-prime mortgages at Wells Fargo. One year she made $700,000 in salary and commissions by just selling the sub-primes. Now that she's left the bank she and another former Wells Fargo mortgage officer are spilling the beans by alleging reverse redlining on the part of their former employer.

"Wells Fargo," Jacobson told CNN's Carol Costello, "set up a whole platform called ‘emerging markets’ that was geared to the African American." She says the bank's goal was to sell them sub-prime mortgages, which are much more profitable to the banks than prime rate mortgages. But the problem, says Jacobson, was that Wells was so single-minded about this that "we had products where you didn't have to disclose income…and they would loan up to 95% (of the mortgage total)." When temporary low teaser rates were replaced with much higher rates after two years, she says, the defaults mounted.

The city of Baltimore has been closely watching the effects of this alleged reverse redlining.

In January 2008, Baltimore sued Wells Fargo for violating the Fair Housing Act with "discriminatory lending practices." The case is before Federal Judge Benson E. Legg, who is considering affidavits from Jacobson and Tony Paschal, another former Wells Fargo loan officer, which describe in detail what they say is reverse redlining by the bank.

Paschal, who is African American, claims black loan officers were hired to gain the trust of the black community in order to sell them on high interest loans. He also describes how he often heard employees – whose job it was to target African Americans for subprime loans – jokingly refer to doling out “ghetto loans” to people with “bad credit.”


Filed under: Controversy
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