RE: politically insane

From: Jonathan Davis (
Date: Fri 12 Sep 2003 - 10:38:10 GMT

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    Hi Scott,

    Looks like some of the issues we are discussing are quite topical: .

    -----Original Message----- From: Scott Chase [] Sent: 12 September 2003 06:11 To: 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 suffered.

    [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 history month?

    [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 interesting.

    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 women.

    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 cultural unity.

    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 bucks."

    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 labelled). "

    [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 disappeared?

    [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 Africa.

    [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 problem?

    [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 Powells.

    [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.


    [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.

    Kind regards


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