From: Jonathan Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 12 Sep 2003 - 10:38:10 GMT
Looks like some of the issues we are discussing are quite topical:
From: Scott Chase [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 12 September 2003 06:11
Subject: RE: politically insane
[Jonathan 2] Some African Americans give thanks that they were lucky
enough to descended from those who were sold to the white slavers.
[Scott 2] But the migration of their ancestors was not voluntary and the
life their ancestors was subjected to was hardly similar to that of
people who migrated voluntarily and were more easily assimilated into
American society because of relatively less discrimination being
[Jonathan 3] Voluntary immigrants suffer[ed] discrimination too. Bring
to mind the Irish.
[Jonathan 2] They are after all the richest and most successful group of
black people in the world. Incidentally, do you not think that "separate
but equal" is
>the core philosophy animating multiculturalism (the opposite being
[Scott 2] I don't see multiculturalism as being a threat. It can be
taken to extremes, but appreciating cultural and individual diversity
and the treatment of these cultures equally doesn't seem to me to be
that bad a thing. Do you see anything wrong with Kwanza or black
[Jonathan 3] I have a certain amount of automatic respect, yes. I
believe in human universals, and that people are usually trying to
respect them even though their methods vary (Europeans respect the
egression of dead through burial, some Indians do so by funeral pyre -
both respect the egression the dead). I also know that values need to
prevail. As Shaw observed, "The smoker and the non-smoker cannot be
equally free in the same carriage". So it is with other freedoms and
values. In a shared geographical space, some values must prevail. This
is the core of politics.
Do I object to Kwanza? Not really. I know it is a fraud, a convenient
mythology which helps unite a community, but it is deeply racist. The
'founder', Ron Everett (aka Dr Karenga), is a gangster and bigot. Here is an excerpt from So This Is Kwanzaa by Lynn Woolley
"The story behind the holiday and the man who created it is most
Forget the notion that Kwanzaa is a holiday for all people. Dr. Karenga
states that he created it at the height of the black liberation movement
as part of a "re-Africanization" process - "a going back to black."
Dr. Karenga, still just "Ron Everett" at the time, was heavily involved
in the black power movement. He started an organization called US. The
letters have nothing to do with "United States" but mean simply "US," as
opposed to "THEM."
He dropped the Everett name, adopted the Swahili one, which means
"master teacher," shaved his head, and began wearing traditional African clothing. US members, similarly attired, often clashed with other black militant groups such as the Black Panthers. The fighting was about which group would control the new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA.
There were incidents involving beatings and shootings, including one in
1969 in which two US members shot and killed two Black Panthers. Dr.
Karenga had other run-ins with the law, including charges that he abused
In 1971, he was convicted of assaulting female members of US, and he
served time in prison. An LA Times snippet describes the torture of the
women as involving a hot soldering iron placed in the mouth of one,
while the other's toe was mashed in a vice.
Dr. Karenga says that he is the victim; he was quoted in the News: "All
the negative charges are in fact disinformation and frame-ups by the FBI
and local and national police."
One thing that's interesting to note about the inventor of Kwanzaa:
Practically all of his crimes were committed against black people. And
yet, today, he is simply known as an academic who created a holiday for
Nine years after Kwanzaa was invented, Dr. Karenga decided to moderate
his views and became a Marxist. In 1979, he was hired to run the Black
Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach, in all likelihood, the first
ex-con to do so.
And so this is Kwanzaa. The militant past of the creator is now ignored
in favor of the so-called seven principles of Nguza Saba - principles
such as unity, family and self-determination that could have come from
Bill Bennett's "Book of Virtues." The word "Kwanzaa" is Swahili, meaning
something like "fresh fruits of harvest."
No one remembers the part about "re-Africanization" or the sevenfold
path of blackness that Dr. Karenga once espoused. Hardly anyone
remembers the shootings, the beatings,the tortures and the prison terms
that were once the center of his life. It's just not PC to bring that
sort of stuff up now that Kwanzaa is commercialized and making big
So there you have it. As I wrote when I first read that article, "The
inventor of this fake ethnic holiday is a racist, alleged torturer and
convicted criminal. It just goes to show that virtually any old bollox
will become accepted if it is presented earnestly by a protected
minority and appeals to their chauvinism (or pride as it is politely
[Jonathan 2] There is almost certainly still be a legacy from slavery.
The questions is ask are: How much of it is relevant to contemporary
problems? How is this legacy neutralised? How are the deleterious
cultural artefacts rooted out? Is it overused as an excuse for social
pathologies that may have other causes?
[Scott 2] How about the legacy of racism? Has this pathology
[Jonathan 3] Tell me what the legacy of racism is and I will tell you if
it is still here or not. As for the whether racism has disappeared or
not, no. Amongst the educated, racism is nearly completely dead. But
ingoup/outgroup formings are part of our primitive psychological makeup.
As long as people can be distinguished by "race" there will be some sort
of racism. I think racism is a massive problem in minority communities
because it articulates and easy to adopt set of unifying beliefs in the
face of a majority threat real or imagined. Think the Boers of South
[Scott 1] One of the relatively unknown pioneers of civil rights, Harry
Moore, was *killed* by a bomb in 1951 not far from where I live a little
before Parks and King made themselves be known. The civil rights
movement helped turn things around for the better, but occupies just a
small portion of the American historical timeline since slaves were
brought over from Africa. An eyeblink really.
[Jonathan 2] No, not an eye blink really - 52 years. During which time
a destroyed Europe went from moonscape and 100 million dead to its
current world ranking just behind the US.
[Scott 2] Wasn't there a rebuilding effort that helped get Europe back
on its feet? I think you are comparing apples and oranges here anyway,
because we are not taking about nations being rebuilt and revitalized,
but people who suffered slavery, racism, Jim Crow laws, lynchings and
exclusion from the social power structure for so many years in a country
that cared more for how Europe played out in the card game of the Cold
War than the plight of her own African American citizens.
[Jonathan 3] The African-American community has floundered whilst other,
similarly discriminated against communities have managed to overcome the
same obstacles. This leads me to think that the real legacy of slavery
is a set of pathological cultural artefacts that continue to retard that
community. The problem is how do you separate pathogen from core
cultural identity marker? Have things like Welfare aggravated the
problem? Does the racism within the African-Community cause part of the
[Scott 2] At the same time the US was engaged in WWII, blacks were given
marginal tasks in the military. One chance was given some black pilots
at Tuskegee and they exceeded expectations and despite a racist power
structure, were able to prove themselves doing bomber escort. Yet when
black soldiers returned home to the States, they were hardly given the
same welcome as white soldiers.
Germany and the rest of Europe could rebuild. African-Americans still
had to force the issue to get themselves heard and to turn the tide of a
social climate that had long been against them.
[Jonathan 3] You restating what we already know. We could trade horror
stories about racism for years. Yes African-Americans still had to force
the issue to get themselves heard and to turn the tide of a social
climate that had long been against them, but that tide turned. What
happened then was that the Civil Rights movement was lost to radicalism
and corruption, leaving the black community leaderless and stuck in the
70's. What is needs are fewer Sharptons and Jacksons and more Colin
[Jonathan 2] Need I point out the other social and cultural
transformations that have taken place in the half century? US slavery
was abolished 139 years ago. I think the excuse may be wearing thin.
Black conservatives seem to think so.
[Scott 2] How long ago was segregation ended? Emancipation was just one
step in a long process of blacks gaining access to a piece of the pie.
[Jonathan 3] Nearly 50 years ago. A half century. My European reference
above was to help show what massive changes can and have taken place
during that time.
SNIP AGREEMENT ABOUT GARVEY
[Scott 2] Given the context of history, I can understand why some blacks
would become disillusioned and turn towards radicalism, though I would
disagree with this radicalism.
[Jonathan 3] me too. I can fully understand it, but ultimately it is
unhelpful to continue with radicalism when it is aggravating and
separating rather than unifying and progressing.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri 12 Sep 2003 - 10:41:14 GMT