Wise and thoughtful commentary by Elder Eddie Griffin.
As an ambassador of good will and advocate of human rights, I always welcome the opportunity for peace and understanding between people, races, and nations. Therefore, I welcome the olive branch extended by David Webb, co-founder of TeaParty365, who appeared on CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday. He proposes a Tea Summit on Race Relation, in response to the NAACP resolution against racism within the Tea Party movement.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, according to the Wall Street Journal report, was “open to the idea”. He wishes, however, that such a forum should address issues other than race.
Even so, I would welcome the idea of holding a joint town hall meeting, as proposed by Webb, on any terms, for the sake of putting animosities behind us.
NOTE: David Webb is African-American, the same as Benjamin Jealous. And, it appears that only the African-American members of the Tea Party are willing to step forward to deal with racism within the organization. The rests seems more inclined to find a fault with the NAACP and spin cases or instances of “black racism”, to counter the damage done to the party’s image.
Nevertheless, there has been progress since the release of the resolution. The North Iowa Tea Party billboard in Mason City, depicting President Barack Obama as Hitler, has been taken down and replaced with a public service announcement. Tea Party Express activist Mark Williams has been expelled from the Tea Party Federation for a demeaning racial satire posted on his website.
These corrections in organizational behavior clears the way for people of good will to move forward toward racial reconciliation, and yet with freedom to air our legitimate political differences.
“There is no debate about racism,” says Jealous. I agree.
Some people would go tit-for-tat on instances of racial bigotry, both white bigotry and black bigotry. And, some African-Americans would fend that they have been more assailed with white racism since the founding of this nation, and point out slavery and lynching and violent oppression and white terrorism, as proof.
These arguments rub raw the wrong way. To get caught up in tit-for-tat acrimony would be fruitless. However, beware that it is the only term with which some can discuss the issue.
Therefore, my advice to the NAACP would be to accept the Tea Party’s invitation to a summit with grace and dignity. Take the high road and not condescend to tit-for-tat on bigotry. Remember: Racial bigotry is only the outward expression of a subjective idea. In this case, when we speak of racism, we speak of the ideology of white supremacy and the discriminatory and prejudicial practices that grow out of it, and how the state apparatus becomes an institution of oppression by it. Everything else is a diversion.
Give all due respect to your adversary, remembering that the bigot is not the enemy, but a victim of a misguided idea. The enemy is the foundation of ideas that lead to hateful and prejudicial behavior. Study from whence these ideas of white supremacy come and how they innocuously and subtly interject into today’s political arena.
FOR EXAMPLE: Tea Party Express activist Mark Williams, in his satire, insinuated that black people were lazy, shiftless, and irresponsible. Needless to say, this is a popular idea within the movement, and forms the basis of why some people think that the government is taking their hard earned wealth and giving to an unworthy group of people.
It is also a popular idea that providing poor and unemployed people with welfare (or “extended unemployment”) creates a disincentive to work, and such assistance, such as free food stamps encourages “welfare mothers” to reproduces.
These are very old ideas, dating back to the debate on English Poor Laws in 1536. In 1834, when another round of Poor Laws was introduced, Thomas Malthus, the father of birth control and family planning, opposed the new laws for the very same reasons listed above: that it would encourage the poor to become lazy, irresponsible, reproduce like rabbits, and eventually become a burden on the state.
Today, we have code words like “welfare state”, “entitlement programs”, “socialized medicine”, all with the same underlying meaning that hard working Americans are being robbed by the government to support lazy and irresponsible welfare recipients. Unfortunately, the modern day stereotype is not the British poor, but poor minorities, the faces of which are mostly black.
Thomas Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principal of Population” (1798-1826) was a series on political economy based upon population growth of the “unworthy” people, who would overpopulate the world and consume more food than the earth could produce. The solution was to cut off support for the lazy poor, keep wages at subsistence level, and put malaria in the water of African natives. In short, let the “unworthy” population die off, by natural attrition and haste.
The current debate over government spending is primarily aimed at the programs that helped the poor, unemployed, and aged. The arguments are the same now, as in 1834. Technically, this is not racism, until combined with the goals and aspirations of white supremacy.
In rebuking the NAACP for its resolution, a FOX commentator questioned if the black community did not have enough problems for its organization, such as poverty, unemployment, teen pregnancy, crime, etc.
Somehow, we assumed that these were common problems to America as a whole, not just an isolated group or race of people. To say that these are black problems, instead of America’s problems, puts the onerous African-Americans to build bricks without straw (as in, no government help or assistance). The above arguments stymatizes helping the poor and undeserving. Instead of a theme of Saving America, we see slogans like Save White America in the Tea Party movement.
This is what divides us: that we are not One Nation, but a nation of competing interests along the color line. There must be reconciliation beyond the color of a person’s skin, and one community’s problem must be looked upon as a problem for the nation, as a whole.
“When you hold a winning hand, you do not have to shake your fist and shout. Give your adversary all the rope they need. REMEMBERING: You hold the winning hand.” Eddie G