It is an historical irony that African American conservatives have become such a minority within the Black community today. Modern American Conservatives is arguably as rooted in the antebellum African American community as it is in the Coolidge 1920s or the 1950s, which saw the emergence of such figures as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, and Senator Barry Goldwater.
That Conservatism, with its focus on self-reliance and the rights of the individual, should be embraced so passionately by a people that saw so many enslaved and oppressed because of the color of their skin is hardly surprisingly. Who yearns for freedom more than a former slave? And with this embrace of Conservatism came a loyalty to the Republican Party, not simply because it was the party of Lincoln, as historians typically suggest, but because it was the party of liberty, or as Frederick Douglass called it, “the party of freedom and progress.”
In 1865, 58 years before Vice President Coolidge famously said in a speech that “Self-government means self-reliance,” Douglass also said “Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, ‘What should we do with the Negro?’. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall….And, if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!”
The sort of ideals found in the work of Frederick Douglass are the very ideals which have made African American conservatives outliers in the Black community today, and were once not very long ago commonly held by many in the Black community. They were principles that sometimes seemed as familiar at our barber shops on Saturdays as they were at our churches on Sunday. These were the principles embraced by our community leaders; our leaders in academia, business, civil rights, law, and Christianity. They were taught to us in our schools, at our jobs, and, most importantly, we learned learned these principles in our homes.
Not long ago, for example, African American leaders argued against abortion. Jesse Jackson called it “Black genocide” in 1977, asking “What happens to the mind of a person and the moral fabric of a nation that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience?”
Now of course it is difficult to mention this “Black genocide” without being called racist. In 2011 a billboard featuring an African American child with a caption “The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb” – words that echo Jackson’s – was removed after Sharpton (and Bill de Blasio, who is now NYC mayor) led protests against it because they found it “offensive.” Much less offensive to them, I suppose, since they are not leading protests against it as they did that billboard, is the fact that in NYC more Black children are murdered in the wombs than are allowed to be born. Wombs are indeed a dangerous place for African Americans.
Similarly, not long ago, African American leaders argued against illegal immigration. Dr. King ally Reverend Ralph Abernathy joined Cesar Chavez on the Mexican border as part of a protest against the illegal immigration that was suppressing wages and employment for Americans, particularly for Hispanics and Blacks. Coretta Scott King as part of the Black Leadership Forum similarly argued that “America does not have a labor shortage. With roughly 7 million people unemployed, and double that number discouraged from seeking work, the removal of employer sanctions [on hiring illegals] threatens to add additional U.S. workers to the rolls and drive down wages. Moreover, the repeal of employer sanctions will inevitably add to our social problems and place an unfair burden on the poor in the cities in which most new immigrants cluster.” In fact, according to another King ally, Clarence B. Jones, Dr. King would compare the illegal immigrant to a common thief.
Unfortunately, on these issues and on others, Black leadership has “evolved” away from Conservative principles in favor of a sycophantic relationship with Progressivism. Incredibly, to argue against abortion now is to be called anti-women, and to argue against illegal immigration is to be called anti-Hispanic. And those who argue against either will incur the wrath of the Black leadership.
Much like President Obama’s view on *** marriage, this evolution was not purely ideological. In fact, in return for the usual political rewards such as campaign donations and voter support, and faced with the various intimidation tactics of the Left, many Black leaders have effectively abandoned the people they have promised to represent, and have become, essentially, a sales staff for Progressivism.
Progressivism has long made infiltrating the African American community a priority, and the primary entry point has been through the Black leadership. And the deleterious effect of Progressivism on the Blacks these Black leaders supposedly represent are not always taken into consideration. It is often the role of these Black leaders to hide, or to lie about, these deleterious effects.
Why else would the Congressional Black Caucus boast on its website that its members “unanimously support” a “path of citizenship” for millions of illegals, despite warnings from everyone from Reverend Abernathy in 1969 to Coretta Scott King in 1991 to the Congressional Budget Office today that this sort of path to citizenship would hurt the Black community?
Why else would they ignore Congressional testimony that as much as 40% of the 18 point decline in African American employment from 1960 to 2000 was due to immigration, much of it illegal immigration?
Why else would John Lewis, a man still physically scarred from marching with men like King and Abernathy to improve conditions for Black Americans, and who now represents Georgia’s 5th congressional district, tweet “We can’t just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open”? Rep. Lewis represents a district that has a 60% Black population, a median household income 28% lower than the national average, and an unemployment rate a staggering 154% higher than the national average.
Margaret Sanger, a founder of American Progressivism, who favored eugenics and abortion, announced how Progressives should influence African Americans in a letter she wrote in 1939: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
Progressives have since been successful in ‘hiring coloreds’ to do their bidding and to further the Progressive agenda. And, although the days of actual cross burning on the lawns of African Americans who do not further the Progressive agenda has long passed, other intimidation tactics continue.
Glo Smith was a victim of these intimidation tactics not long ago when someone painted white paint over her face on her campaign posters. Ms. Smith is a Black woman running as a Conservative Republican to represent Florida’s 5th district in the House, and the message the person or people who vandalized her posters — that she and her Black supporters who stand with her against Progressivism are not welcome in the Black community — is clear.
Just recently AFSCME, a major union with 1.6 million members, publicly cut ties with the United Negro College Fund to punish it for accepting $25 million dollars from the decidedly anti-Progressive Koch Brothers, instead of shunning the Kochs, as the Progressives want. The primary justification of this severing of ties is that the Koch Brothers are racist, as evidenced by their support of voter ID laws, though the argument that voter ID laws are racist is a specious one, since they do not discriminate against Blacks, nor has there been any evidence that they suppress Black voting participation. Furthermore, if the Kochs wanted to be racist, donating to the UNCF is a terrible way of doing so, since it hurts no African American, except of course for those who were hoping to benefit from the AFSCME/UNCF Union Scholar program, which will be no more.
RebelPundit.com recently posted a startling video of Chicago African Americans asking Obama to “do something for our children. Have the same love for these young people that you have for those across the border.” Another equally compelling recent video featured another African American woman, Bernadette Lancelin of Houston, asking, regarding the current wave of illegal children flooding our borders, “Why can’t they go back? I’m sorry that the parents are in poor living conditions or surroundings or whatever is going out there. I don’t care. I care about what’s going on right here.” The message of both videos is clear: What about us?
African American leaders such as Obama, the CBC, and others believe that as the leaders of the Black community they will be able to continue to guide Blacks like a flock of sheep into Progressive pastures. But as Ms. Lancelin (and Mr. Orwell) make clear, the flock won’t be lead by the shepherd indefinitely, not when it is being led to slaughter.