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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

It’s “Black History Month”—but black conservatives needn’t apply.

One such black conservative is Ken Hamblin, “the Black Avenger.”  During the 1980’s and ‘90’s, Hamblin, labeled “the black Rush Limbaugh,” was a nationally syndicated radio talk show host heard on roughly 200 stations. He also was a columnist who authored two books, Pick a Better Country and Plain Talk and Common Sense from the Black Avenger. 

It’s a pity that about 10 years or so ago, Hamblin left the media world for a life of anonymity, for at no other time has our country been more in need of his “plain talk and common sense.”

From the perspective of the leftist, even the most pathological of blacks is a victim entitled to government assistance.  In glaring contrast, being the native of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and the son of West Indian immigrants that he is, Hamblin knows all too well that while some people really are deserving of compassion, others deserve condemnation.  In the latter group are those who he refers to as “black trash.”  Hamblin says that “the black underclass” that is “at the heart of the black welfare culture today” needs to be called out for what it is: “black trash.”

Against the objection that he “hate[s] black people,” Hamblin’s reply is blunt: If “human trash exists among whites, it also can exist among blacks.”  It is not poverty that distinguishes “human trash,” but, primarily, the “minimal regard for civilized society and the generally accepted rules of humanity” that characterize white and black trash alike.  Hamblin identifies the black teenagers who attacked the Central Park jogger, Reginald Denny’s assailants, and the black adolescent females who harassed and pummeled a white woman at a Detroit festival as examples of “socially and morally deviant black trash.”

The big difference between white trash and black trash is that while the former is called out for what it is, the latter is not only excused but affirmed by “white liberals and black community leaders” alike.  Some “attributes of this [black trash] culture—like its street argot and its high rate of teen pregnancies—are actually extolled…as perhaps worthy of consideration as multicultural counterparts to the values of the white American middle class.”

The legitimation of the black trash subculture has led to the idealization of “black thugs.”  Hamblin is indignant: “These black thugs, these street punks and predators, have been allowed—in some cases, encouraged—to believe that their acts of violence against innocent people and property are merely blows for justice” and “black liberation and black sovereignty.”  In reality, “these boys are a far cry from social crusaders.  These boys are empty vessels.”

There are other “fringe elements” that, when perceived as endangering American civilization, are either “scorned” or, in some instances, “snuffed out.” But the “black gangs”—which places “black trash on the map”—are “not only tolerated but excused by many.”

By romanticizing the black trash subculture, we also encourage and romanticize those young black single mothers who Hamblin refers to as “brood mares.”  The latter are “breeding in unspeakable numbers” with perhaps “more than 90 percent of their babies” being “born out of wedlock.”  While the gang members “are the foot soldiers of the black-trash welfare culture,” these young mothers “are the brood mares whose sole function is to keep replenishing the rank and file, collecting another welfare entitlement for each newborn.”

The glorification of the culture or subculture of “black trash” gives rise to the glorification of, not just “black thugs” and “broodmares,” but “the poverty pimp.”  Hamblin explains: “Poverty pimps are the grossest beneficiaries and purveyors of the Myth of the Hobbled Black,” the ideological narrative that blacks “can’t get ahead in America because white people have kept—and continue to keep—them down.”  Professionally and monetarily, this notion is a win-win for black poverty pimps, for it “is what generates the guilt that produces the dollars for their districts.” Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, California Representative Maxine Waters, and Al Sharpton are among those who Hamblin charges with being “poverty pimps.”

No peddler of the nonsense that has wrought such damage to his country is safe from the Black Avenger—including and especially those suspects to whom he refers as “egg-sucking dog liberals.”  These are “white liberals” who are guilty of “sucking the substance out of the promise America holds for its black citizens [.]”  Along with “black poverty pimps,” white liberals “spread the propaganda that black trash are in their sad predicament only because they are victims of racism [.]”  Their ultimate goal, Hamblin believes, is not to help blacks—they continue to harm them—but to “remake America” by way of a “very anti-American…socialist agenda [that] flies in the face of every piece of the American Dream that got me where I am today.”

At this time, when the left, “by whichever means necessary,” proceeds full steam ahead with the very “socialist agenda” that Hamblin detected back in the 1990’s, we can only long for a return of the Black Avenger.

February is Black History Month.  As those on the right (and even an increasing number of people elsewhere) know well enough, these four weeks are all too easily used by activists as an opportunity to promote a politics of victimhood congenial to a leftist agenda.

The famed black writer—and conservative—Zora Neale Hurston, frustrates this program.

Born in the early 1890’s in the lower South, Hurston would one day join the ranks of those black writers who became associated with “the Harlem Renaissance.”  Unlike most of her colleagues, however, she staunchly rejected the communism and socialism with which they sympathized.

Hurston resented the efforts made by black and white intellectual alike to make of black Americans a new proletariat, a victim class perpetually in need of an all-encompassing national government to ease the “lowdown dirty deal” that “nature has somehow given them [.]”  Hurston was adamant that she was “not tragically colored.” She insisted that “no great sorrow” lies “damned up in my soul, lurking behind my eyes,” and she placed a world of distance between herself and “the sobbing school of negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are hurt about it [.]”

For what contemporary black commentator Larry Elder refers to as the “victicrats” among us, Hurston had zero use.  “Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves,” she remarked.  Much to their chagrin, though, “it fails to register depression with me.”  Furthermore, she stated bluntly that “slavery is the price I paid for civilization.”

Our increasingly joyless generation is oblivious to another of Hurston’s insights: a sense of humor can bear most, if not all, painful things.  Regarding racial discrimination, she noted that while she “sometimes” feels “discriminated against,” she does not get “angry” about it. Rather, the experience “merely astonishes me,” for how, Hurston asks, “can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

As far as foreign policy was concerned, Hurston was of the old right.  She was what today we are inclined to call a “paleoconservative” or “paleolibertarian.”  With the Russell Kirks, Patrick J. Buchanans, and Ron Pauls of the right Hurston had much in common—especially when it came to foreign policy.

Of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, she spoke contemptuously as she identified what Hurston took as their hypocrisy.  Those “people who claim that it is a noble thing to die for freedom and democracy,” she asserted, “wax frothy if anyone points out the inconsistency of their morals [.]” The fact is that “we” also “consider machine gun bullets good laxatives for heathens who get constipated with toxic ideas about a country of their own.”  Roosevelt “can call names across an ocean” for his “four freedoms,” she added, yet he lacked “the courage to speak even softly at home.”

When Truman dropped “the bomb” on Japan, Hurston referred to him as “the Butcher of Asia.”

But Hurston blasted away at Big Government for domestic purposes as well. She was an adamant critic of the New Deal and jumped at the chance to support presidential candidate Robert A. Taft when the opportunity arose for Republicans to dismantle the house that Roosevelt built.

A big part of FDR’s legacy, Hurston complained, is that “the word ‘liberal’ is now an unstable and devious thing in connotation [.]”  What this means in practice is “Pinkos and other degrees of fellow travelers” have succeeded in convincing large numbers of people that a liberal “is a person who desires greater Government control and Federal handouts.”

Taft, though, could put an end to this, Hurston claimed, for Taft is a real liberal, a Jeffersonian liberal.

Interestingly, Hurston found Taft’s lack of charisma to be among his virtues, for she realized that those presidents who seduced the electorate with their charms were dangerous to liberty.  Taft, she thought, was more like “those men who held high office” before “the mob took over” with “the advent of Jacksonian democracy [.]”

An opponent of segregation, Hurston was just as much of an opponent of federal efforts—like Brown v. Board of Education—to end it.  She was bewildered by the idea that, as a black person, she should take comfort in the fact that there was now “a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them [.]”

Race relations in the South, through the “effort and time” of those who live there, “will work out all its problems.”

In short, Hurston was a devotee of liberty. She relished in her individuality while courageously discarding the collectivist, utopian fantasies of which the twentieth century was ridden:

“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”

During this Black History Month, all lovers of liberty would be well served to follow Hurston’s lead.    

 

 

Once again, “African-American History Month” is upon us.

Of course, these four weeks of February have little to do with actual history, and everything to do with ideology.  That this is all about the advancement of a decidedly leftist political agenda is borne out readily enough by the conspicuous absence of the names of once-famous blacks who refused to endorse the conventional wisdom on the “civil rights era.”

One such person is George Samuel Schuyler.

The reason is simple: Schuyler, in spite of being one of the most incisive and compelling popular writers of the twentieth century, wasn’t just black; he was black and conservative. 

Born in 1895 in upstate New York, Schuyler would eventually become associated with “the Harlem Renaissance.” And from the 1920’s through the 1960’s, he wrote for and edited The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the largest black newspaper publications in the country.  During this time, Schuyler authored what many regard as the first racially-oriented science fiction novel, Black No More. His 1966 autobiography, Black and Conservative, has been credited by no less a figure than the black Ivy League left-wing scholar Cornel West as a “‘minor classic’ in African-American letters.” The famed iconoclast H.L. Mencken, of whom Schuyler was a protégé of a sort, described the latter as perhaps the ablest writer, black or white, of his generation.

Besides being an ardent anti-communist, Schuyler also had little good to say about those of his contemporaries who lead the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Although he had been a tireless champion of racial equality for all of his life, he regarded the plans of the civil rights activists as inimical to liberty.

For instance, while it was still a bill in Congress, Schuyler argued powerfully against what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Schuyler readily concedes that the white majority’s attitude toward the black minority is “morally wrong, nonsensical, unfair, un-Christian and cruelly unjust.” Still, because “it remains the majority attitude,” the federal Civil Rights law would be but “another typically American attempt to use the force of law to compel the public to drastically change [.]”

Although race relations weren’t where Schuyler wanted for them to be at this time, he was quick to point out that they had improved markedly since slavery had ended.  He was equally quick to observe that “civil rights laws, state or federal, have had little to do with” such changes. Rather, it is “custom” that “has dictated the pace of compliance” with those civil rights laws that would have otherwise remained “dormant in the law books.”

The “principal case” that Schuyler makes against this proposed legislation pertains to “the dangerous purpose it may serve.”  Such a law “is still another encroachment by the central government on the federalized structure of our society.”

Schuyler is blunt:

“Armed with this law enacted to improve the lot of a tenth of the population, the way will be opened to enslave the rest of the populace.”  A federal civil rights law of the sort that was passed in 1964 strikes “a blow at the very basis of American society”—i.e. “state sovereignty and individual liberty and preference.”

Schuyler insisted on being even more graphic: “We are fifty separate countries, as it were, joined together for mutual advantage, security, advancement, and protection.  It was never intended that we should be bossed by a monarch, elected on born.  When this happens, the United States as a free land will cease to exist.”

That Schuyler had choice words for those men, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, who are have been canonized by our culture is alone enough to relegate him to the dustbin of official “history.”

When King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Schuyler was outraged. He wrote that King deserved, not this prize, but “the Lenin Prize,” for “it is no mean feat for one so young to acquire sixty Communist-front citations [.]” Schuyler lauded King’s objectives but deplored his motives. King’s “incitement,” he charged, “packed jails with Negroes and some whites, getting them beaten, bitten and firehosed, thereby bankrupting communities, raising bail and fines, to the vast enrichment of Southern Law and order.”

Schuyler debated Malcolm X on more than one occasion.  He had little regard for Malcolm, who he referred to as “one of the high priests of Black Power [.]”  Schuyler says of Malcolm that he “was a bold, outspoken, ignorant man of no occupation,” just one of the many “mediocrities, criminals, plotters, and poseurs” that had come to fill the ranks of this “past generation” of “black ‘leaders [.]’”

Upon meeting Malcolm for the first time, Schuyler admits that he “was initially astonished by his wide ignorance.”  He explains that when Malcolm “launched into an excoriation of white people in the name of Islam, I called his attention to the fact that the majority of Moslems were whites [.]”  Malcolm, he continued, was no better prepared to reply to this revelation than he was Schuyler’s assertion that Moslems were more involved in the African slave trade than were Europeans. “He was surprised to learn this,” Schuyler recalled.

Some years after his death when the movement to memorialize Malcolm was well under way, Schuyler said that “we might as well call out the school children to celebrate the birthday of Benedict Arnold.” He added:   “It is not hard to imagine the ultimate fate of a society in which a pixilated criminal like Malcolm X is almost universally praised, and has hospitals, schools, and highways named in his memory!”

Perhaps it’s for the best that George Schuyler’s is not among the names that we’ll be hearing this month.  Given the lover of individuality that he was, Schuyler would never have wanted to have been remembered as a black man.  

But we should remember him for the man that he was, a man who waged a relentless campaign for truth and freedom and against the fashions and cant of his day.

 

 

 

At a time when they seek to “unite” their party and regain the power that it squandered during the tenure of Bush II, the spectacle of Republicans shouting from the rooftops over the prospect of their fellow adult citizens being permitted to purchase pot appears singularly apropos.  Most Americans no more care about this than they care about deploying their sons and daughters throughout the world as missionaries to spread the Gospel of “Global Democracy,” or whatever we’re calling it these days.

Considering that neoconservative Republicans fear the “e” word—“extremism”—about as much as they fear the “r” word (“racism”), they should resist the impulse to wax hysterical over the fact that some American adults resent being charged with a crime for ingesting potentially harmful substances.

Even intellectually, however, the opponents of legalization are on shaky ground.

First of all, neoconservatives are both untruthful and unfair when they accuse their rivals of being a bunch of junkies whose sole motivation is the desire to use drugs themselves.  But even if it was true, it would still be logically irrelevant.  As the “father” of Western logic, Aristotle, noted, the circumstances of an arguer have no logical bearing on the soundness or cogency of his conclusions.  To suggest otherwise is to commit a special version of an ad hominem fallacy.

In other words, even if the champions of decriminalization were all stoned out of their minds, they may still be right.

Closely related to this first cheap shot is another to which many neoconservatives are all too ready to resort.  Not infrequently, they suggest that it is those “libertarians”—those unhinged, marginal, drug-happy “extremists”—who are pushing for all of this legalization business.  “Libertarian” functions as a subtle epithet here, just as dishonest and just as fallacious as any other ad hominem attack.

It is, of course, true that libertarians tend to overwhelming endorse the decriminalization of drugs. Yet this is because, like those of us conservatives who still want to conserve the civilizational inheritance bequeathed to us by our Founders, they value liberty. In fact, some of these “libertarians” are some of the brightest lights of “the conservative movement.”

Are Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell dope-smoking burn outs?

In September of 1989, Friedman wrote an open letter to Bill Bennett, who was then the “Drug Czar” of the first President Bush.  Friedman implored Bennett to radically reconsider his plans for combatting drugs, for, he alleged, they promise to produce “more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures [that] can only make a bad situation worse.” He assured Bennett that this “drug war” of his “cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.”

Friedman readily concedes that “drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society.” Yet he chastises Bennett for “failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore.” It is the illegality of drugs that “creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of drug lords,” “leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials,” and “monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.”

Friedman notes that had drugs—not just marijuana, mind you, but all drugs—been decriminalized 17 years earlier when he first called for it, crack cocaine never would’ve been invented, for “it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version [.]”  Thus, “there would today be far fewer addicts” and “the lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims” throughout America, particularly in its “ghettos,” and beyond “would have been saved [.]”

In “Drug Addicts and Busy Body Addicts,” Thomas Sowell echoes many of Friedman’s sentiments. He writes: “Bad as drugs are—and many of them are deadly—it is not the drugs themselves but the illegality of drugs that is corrupting individuals and whole communities” (italics original).

Sowell refers to the “morally anointed,” those “liberals” and “conservatives” who “will never give up their attempts to tell other people what to do—and get the government to impose their beliefs on others.” He calls them “crusaders” who “like to talk about ‘solutions’” while failing to recognize that “life is actually one trade-off after another.”

Sowell insists that if “the morally anointed” traded off their zeal to criminalize drug usage, then the rest of could receive in return “an end to drug-related murders of policemen and of innocent by-standers in neighborhoods where drug wars take place;” “a substantial reduction of the nation’s prison population, relieving over-crowding and providing space to hold violent criminals;” and “an end to drug-financed corruption of law enforcement officials, including judges, and of politicians here and in foreign countries.”

There are no “solutions,” here, only “trade-offs.”  Criminalizing drug use comes at a great cost.  While being bombarded by all of the rhetoric pervading this debate, Sowell interjects some sober thought.  It all boils down to one fundamental question:

“What are you prepared to give up in order to get what you want?”