William F. Buckley, the father of the modern conservative movement and my intellectual godfather, once stated: “We eschew the recital of our credenda.” I used those august words for the first quote in the first chapter of the first book I ever wrote, “The Devil is in the Details: Essays on Law, Race, Politics & Religion” (1999). I didn’t understand those words then, but now I see. The Buckley quotes means “I hate to do what I have to do, but this is what I must do.”
At the beginning of 2007 America viewed that farce of a coronation the Democrats held in the nation’s Capitol Jan. 5, a day that saw the 110th Congress ascend the steps of Parnassus to pass lobbying and ethics reforms. I witnessed the Congressional Black Caucus, or CBC, (the so-called representatives of my people) give a standing ovation to one of their members, Rep. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, D, La. The occasion was presided over by none other than that ubiquitous, silver-tongued orator, Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who, as an ordained minister, shamelessly boasted, “The haters … and negative nabobs … the people who spoke against him couldn’t prevail against the people who spoke for him.” I was shocked. To add insult to injury, on Feb. 16, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed William Jefferson to a coveted seat on the Homeland Security Committee.
As the assembled CBC members exulted over their perceived victory at getting majority voting power in the House of Representatives, I thought of two black leaders of a long-forgotten era, two giants of intellectual thought, two forgotten prophets that set the paradigm of today’s ideas for my people in politics, science, philosophy, economics, education, law, religion and employment – Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Could it be proper that the American public witnessed Rep. Jefferson take the coveted congressional chair? William Jefferson, a man all but convicted of receiving a $100,000 bribe from a Nigerian businessman in exchange for business contracts to be sent his way – $90,000 of which was found by the FBI neatly wrapped inside his freezer? A man that is now not cowering in fear from the law or fleeing in shame into the abyss of obscurity; nay, but re-elected to office by his majority black constituency in Louisiana and now stood proudly waving his hands before his CBC colleagues in exultant triumph with the blessings of a Christian minister though he would be indicted six months later? This is beyond the pale.
Who is this forgotten prophet that black people should have followed, but now have utterly ignored and disdained nearly 100 years since his death in 1915? I speak of none other than Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), that great intellectual, orator, educator, leader, philanthropist, black people’s “Elijah,” former slave and self-educated man that pulled himself up by his bootstraps through sheer will power, eventually became founder of Tuskegee University. A man that tirelessly preached the gospel of Horatio Alger: self-help, moral uprightness and individual responsibility in the face of the naked racism of his day. This great black prophet who once extolled:
The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.
Instead, black people have followed an intellectual and political false prophet, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) – that erudite, effete black academic who was the first black person to earn a graduate degree from Harvard (1895). A man that was one of the founding members of the Niagara Movement (1909), which later became the premier civil right group, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Race hustlers and demagogues like Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucus and black elites that believe that their salvation is in another government program, another minimum wage increase, another welfare handout, or artificially forcing white people to accept blacks as equals via litigation (“artificial forcing”) will fail. Their tactics are diametrically opposed to what Booker T. Washington taught, and thus, what I believe.
To summarize his views about the direction black people should go, Du Bois once stated the following:
We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a free American, political, civil and social, and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America.
These words are courageous and eloquent, but foolhardy, for they fail to delineate a key issue – what are black people’s responsibilities to themselves and to society? On this point, Du Bois and the contemporary black elites are unusually silent. Why? Because, it takes the blame off white people and puts it squarely on the backs of black people.
Du Bois frequently lambasted Booker T. Washington as being “the first Uncle Tom” and other vile, false epithets. Until late in Du Bois’ life (the early1960s), when the vacuity of his “Talented Tenth” theory, his litigation = salvation philosophy, and the Sisyphus-effect of government programs were seen as self-evident failures, black regression and black pathology was made more acute as other races and ethnic groups who instinctly relied on Booker T. Washington’s precepts without knowing the man ascended the ladder of prosperity, passing many blacks who in vain and in smoldering resentment still wait on handouts from the white man until this day!
Even the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and his minority black Muslim organization, who openly patterned their economic, political and business programs after Booker T. Washington’s self-help philosophy, had more to show for their efforts than the vast multitudes of black people (educated and uneducated) who languished in the ghettos of small towns and big cities and throughout America since the 1930s; who increasingly produced fatherless babies with no shame, who annually committed crimes at a brazen rate, who made a religion out of idleness, ignorance, crime and promiscuity. Nothing the white man could or could not do to my people would change these facts.
Also, let us not forget Du Bois’ “Talented Tenth” philosophy whereby the black educated class in complicity with black ministers, in their lust for political power and ambition, treacherously sold out their own black brothers and sisters and convinced black people to abandon the Republican Party that freed their forefathers from slavery, and instead in the early 1930s made a traitorous, Faustian bargain with FDR and the Democratic Party – that Leviathan, socialist big government was the only way to help black people succeed in America … in life. It was all a colossal deception for the na?ve, for the indolent and for those who despise history because they don’t read history. It was in the words of poet Langston Hughes, “A Dream Differed.” This is the Big Lie that exploits my people, a seducing lie that continues until this day.
Finally, perhaps my people can learn a lesson from ancient Israel when in the midst of apostasy (as narrated in the book of 2 Kings 22), one of the scribes “found” a copy of the Torah, which set the stage for a glorious religious reformation of the Jewish people that lasted a generation. Likewise, I pray that my people will one day find the words of that venerable prophet, Booker T. Washington, and take heed of them before black people go the way of the Canaanites and the Philistines.
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