Are We Becoming What We Hate?
Last November I, like so many of my fellow conservatives, especially black conservatives, rejoiced and reveled in the astounding victory we achieved on election day. As quickly as I found myself drenched in euphoria, however, I became concerned and was also struck with a sobering thought that this was not a time for pride or boasting. Instead it was a time of great responsibility and for some sober reflection. Reflection on what course we need to take to build upon this conservative victory as a foundation for future achievements.
I was not wrong to be concerned. Recently I have been very much reminded of the famous POGO comic strip quote in which he says: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Just recently I attended a “Black Conservative” forum in Washington, D.C.. I was expecting or really hoping for inspiration, some direction and good networking opportunities. As I sat, watched & listened I was disappointed as I saw “Brothers” that I highly respect slump to what I considered to be pitiful mediocrity. It would be one thing if this were a unique instance, but on a regular basis now I am seeing black conservatives become something that I do not find particularly attractive. And I know that if I am struggling with it, those outside the fold are finding it even harder to want to join us.
I believe that it might be a case of abused child syndrome. You have a child raised in a home where one or both parents are alcoholics, and abusive. The child grows up swearing it will never grow up to be like that, then fast forward 20-30 years and they have become exactly what they hated. Black conservatives appear to be headed in that direction.
Two weeks ago I tuned in to the FOX News Channel, not the typical evening fare but a morning slot, and saw a black conservative spokes person asked a simple question that should have been answered in 5 seconds. Instead this “Brother”, hymned and hawed for several minutes, never actually answering the question. The question was, “will the recent accusations against Bill Cosby hurt his message?” The simple answer was or should have been, “yes, it will.” The speaker could then have had an excellent opportunity to say that, “Bill is a man respected in all circles and his challenge to the Black community gives the message more power. However, when a powerful messenger is wounded, the message suffers. It does not mean that the message is wrong, but the delivery and impact will be hurt. It just means we will have to go back to the tough grass roots work and not give up on that message.” That is what I believe should have been said, but the speaker went all around the question, and therefore, never made his point and lost not only the audience, but even the Fox News host in the process.
Then we get to the recent meeting in D.C. It was slated to be, and I had assumed it would be, a forum on what the future holds for the conservative Black movement; with positive, forward thinking. It ended up, however, being a backward looking and a negative gripe session. The moderator spent most of his time in attacking the person of Jesse Jackson and other black liberals. His attacks were so ferocious that I, no fan of Jesse’s, was offended. I think the “Brother” forgot the scriptural admonition that “we wrestle not against flesh & blood.” He was out for blood that day. Another participant spent many minutes telling us that we (black Americans) are the problem, as though this is news, and that there is little or no responsibility or burden on the part of society at large for the plight of black Americans? It is well known and documented that black conservatives believe there is a new day in America and that we can make it with hard work and perserverence. But that does not mean we stick our heads in the ground and pretend there are no hindrances and problems that the larger predominantly white society is at some level responsible for. The event, despite having some surprising high points, left an overall unsatisfied taste in my mouth.
Then on the heels of this meeting, I saw another good and well known conservative “Brother” on TV asked about Donna Brazile’s article, which takes surprising notice of the GOP’s inroads to the Black community. This Brother only heard Donna Brazile’s name and went off in an attack on her, not hearing the real question and missing the entire point of the question.
What I am saying is this, for many years black conservatives have felt like the abused stepchild. We got no attention, when we did it was usually the wrong kind, and we had to struggle for every thing we got. Yet, since the most recent national elections we are feeling more empowered and are finally getting some attention. Instead of remaining cool and calm, while quietly, yet strategically moving our agenda forward, we seem to be taking on the characteristics of our abusers, who were mostly our brothers and sisters on the “Left.” We are beginning to do the things we have been railing against for years.
At a time when we should be moving forward in strength and humility, we act proud yet weak. When we should be listening and looking for bridges into the Black Community, we are hard of hearing and on the attack.