Monday, March 31, 2008

How the Leftist Churches Set a Time Bomb for the Democrats

Until the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama's spiritual mentor in Black Liberation Theology, popped out of the woodwork, I didn't even know about BLT -- Black Liberation Theology. But the doctrines of Black Liberation have been preached since 1966 in black churches, with the enthusiastic support of white churches of the Left, notably the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Wright runs an official UCC church.

Though I am not a professional theologian, I daresay that Jesus would not, repeat not, approve of BLT. Because Black Liberation Theology seems to go straight against every single word in the Sermon on the Mount. Odd that the UCC has never noticed that over the last fifty years. In fact, the liberal churches have bestowed great influence and prestige on the inventor of Black Liberation Theology, a Dr. James Hal Cone. Writes Dr. Cone, among other things,

* "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

* "All white men are responsible for white oppression."

* "While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism."

* "Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil.""

* "The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples."

* "We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal."

Apparently liberal religious authorities like those at the United Church of Christ love this preaching so much that they have made Dr. Cone a professor at the Union Theological Seminary, the "Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology." It is a stamp of official approval for a peddler of race hatred.

What would Jesus say? Well, we may never know that, but in a month we'll know what Pennsylvania Democrats will say. And if they turn thumbs down on that grandchild of Black Liberation Theology, Senator Barack Obama, the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves. Including the Churches of the Left, which have reveled in rage-mongering radical chic since the Sixties.

If you've ever wondered why black people in America have had such a hard time rising in society, even after slavery ended in 1865, even after the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s, even after affirmative action tilted the playing field in their favor, the answer has to be found in the doctrines that have been preached to blacks by their most powerful leaders. If Black Liberation Theology is to be believed, blacks can never make it on their own. They have to rely on a separatist, rage-filled ideology, supported whole-heartedly by white Leftist churches.

The Left has a long, long habit of shafting the very people is purports to love. Instead, the Left only empowers Leftist elites. Look at the history of the Soviet Union, of Maoist China, of Fidel Castro. Who profited from those regimes except the elites, dining on caviar while ordinary people starved? Today Hugo Chavez is squandering Venezuela's oil wealth on his personal ego trips. It is the poor who suffer from Chavez' caudillismo.

What the Church of the Left have done to poor blacks is just like that. Instead of supporting messages of hope and strength, they celebrated the rage demagogues who keep people in thrall. "Black Liberation" is an enslavement of the mind. If you keep black people popping with anger at whites, half a century after the end of Jim Crow, you are not helping them. You are hurting them.

For the Democrats, who have knowingly supported this corruption of the poor for decades, the churches of Left have set a time bomb. Next month we'll see if it explodes. Maybe it's Divine justice.


Whites Can't Make Blacks Happy

One of the creepy things about our "need to have a conversation about race" is the assumption that whites can somehow make blacks feel better, or be happier, or be more self-accepting. Nobody has the power to do that, except what individuals do for themselves, one person at a time. Most people don't come close to lasting happiness in their own lives. So the popular Leftist charge of America's "institutional racism" comes down to saying that "The Great White Conspiracy is responsible for rescuing you from your bad feelings." That is just cockeyed.

Far too many black people don't feel good about themselves, and are constantly looking for answers from somebody else. That quest for the impossible has been turned into an accusation against the invisible but all-powerful white racist establishment. Michelle and Barack Obama were indoctrinated with those toxic beliefs at Princeton and Harvard, so that they are now making more than a million bucks a year, living in a mansion in Chicago while still feeling sorry for themselves. Give me a break. (Michelle Obama's salary increased by almost 200,000 dollars in one year at the University of Chicago. How many people get that kind of raise?)

No doubt the Obamas tell themselves that they are the lucky exceptions, and that they are just identifying with poor blacks, who surely are out there in the hundreds of thousands. But that's just the self-serving generosity of politicians handing out taxpayer money. The Obamas are rich, highly educated, extremely successful professional politicians. They are the darlings of white liberals. Are they anything more than that?

For politicians, voter dissatisfaction is the fuel of personal careers. You can't get anywhere by promising all the answers to people who don't need you. So the first order of business is to find dissatisfied voters, and if they're not there, stir up some dissatisfaction. That's why Obama needed the Rev -- to get him in good with a proletariat, any proletariat, in this case a black one. If Obama had stayed back in Hawaii or Indonesia, he would suddenly have discovered his inner Hawaiian or his authentic Balinese. Now he is "authentically Black," and the Rev guarantees his blackness. That's why Obama can't renounce the Rev. The Rev is his meal ticket.

Now a preacher in America is very much like a politician. He or she has to get the congregation stirred up, at least enough to pay for his upkeep. The Rev Wright is a fantastically successful politician. The Trinity UCC is a family business, and with DVD sales and televangelism it's making a mint. That's why the Rev has to be so provocative --- to keep his congregation clapping and cheering. Obama learned his rhetorical cadences from the Rev, and probably much else besides. It's been one pro teaching another.

The very notion of "whites" versus "blacks" being like so many M&M's in different candy boxes is a purely political creation. Humans are enormously variable. It makes about as much sense to divide people into sports fans versus music lovers, or fatties vs. skinnies. If politicians could get voting mileage from those divisions, the Left would be telling us all about the oppressive conspiracy against the fat, or the persecuted skinnies all over the world. "Divide and conquer" still works like a charm.

If you think that's exaggerated, just look at the famous classroom experiment in which blue-eyed kids are separated from brown-eyed kids, and one of the two groups is told it's better than the other. It really makes the "bad" group feel terrible about themselves. That's how easy it is to stir divisions among people. Give human beings a flag and a baseball cap with a flashy logo, tell them it's their team, and you can manipulate them for life.

Politicians are expert manipulators, and manipulation works best when people don't think they are being manipulated. That's Obama's biggest talent -- to make the suckered masses feel good while playing on them like an old banjo. So far there's no there there at all -- no substantive ideas that make Mr. Obama any more interesting than the standard-issue ultraliberal Democrat. Oh yes, there's the color of his skin. Big deal.

No, it all goes back to the usual race politics of the post-Civil Rights era, which always needs to pick at that old scab of racism, remind blacks of their old injustices, and convince them that white racism is still keeping them down. It's a disgusting political trick, and many blacks are catching on. If a genuinely self-determining black person ever runs for president without the usual race games, I'll vote for him or her in a minute.

Let a black man say it -- as so many already have, without media support and coverage. Larry Elder's "personal pledge" is one great example. This is the real key to black liberation, just as it has been the key to all the oppressed and persecuted people who rose from poverty and low self-esteem in America.

1. There is no excuse for lack of effort.

2. Although I may be unhappy with my circumstances, and although racism and sexism and other "isms" exist, I know that things are better now than ever, and the future is even brighter.

3. While I may be unhappy with my circumstances, I have the power to change and improve my life. I refuse to be a victim.

4. Others may have been blessed with more money, better connections, a better home environment, and even better looks, but I can succeed through hard work, perseverance, and education.

I'll vote for that.


Looking Past Race: Too many blacks are obsessed with racism

A BOOK REVIEW by John H. McWhorter of "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card-and Lose"

Larry Elder is the black conservative people love to hate in Los Angeles, where he hosts a top-rated radio show. He is actually more of a libertarian, but even so he voices the heresy that racism is no longer black people's main problem. Presenting these and other forbidden views in his 2000 book, Ten Things You Can't Say in America, he took his place on the list of traitorous black pundits.

But Ten Things You Can't Say was only partly about race issues. In his new book, Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card-and Lose, Elder zeroes in on what ails black America: an obsession with racism. Elder repudiates the "Sharptons, Jacksons, Clintons, liberals who prattle about the `unfinished' business of racism in America, and other public figures, including some sports figures and entertainers-all claiming to `keep it real' by stirring the pot and keeping blacks angry." Even President Bush, when he spoke before the NAACP for the first time in 2006, made headlines by acknowledging that racism still exists. Among race-conscious liberals, acknowledging racism seems as important as being repulsed by the Holocaust.

But is it? Elder quotes James Q. Wilson's 38 most important words for black Americans: "Finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after the age of twenty. Only 8 percent of families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor." Few could deny the wisdom of that counsel, but many fail to see that it logically requires letting go of the racism fetish. As Elder puts it: "Racists do not prevent kids from studying, racists do not demand that men father children outside of wedlock." And further: "Complete and total eradication of racism cannot instill the necessary moral values that create healthy, prosperous communities." Besides, Elder observes, "if racists hold blacks back, they're doing a bad job." In 2003, total earned income by blacks was $656 billion, a sum so large that this "black GDP-if blacks represented their own country-places them within the top sixteen countries in the world."

The book offers Elder's take on almost all of the race-related media dustups over the past several years, from reparations to Barack Obama, and we learn much. For example, shortly before the Duke lacrosse incident, four students from historically black Virginia Union University, two of them football players, were accused of raping a white University of Richmond undergraduate after a party. While the case against the lacrosse players was revealed as a tissue of lies, two of the Virginia Union men were actually convicted, while one pled guilty to lesser charges. Yet there were no aggrieved statements about the culture of football and its link to the abuse of women and other social ills. Because the Virginia Union story was about black-on-white crime, the media had as much interest in it as in a PTA meeting in Akron.

Another lesser-known story encapsulates what irks Elder. In 2005, black baseball great Frank Robinson said of black player Charles Murray, who left the game in the sixties because of racist abuse, "He wasn't strong. He went home. He didn't pursue what he wanted to do in life. He let a barrier prevent him from doing that." The story's reporter, on the other hand, was surprised by Robinson's attitude, seeing Murray's withdrawal as "a sign of quiet dignity."

The reporter would likely see the same dignity in Cornel West's flight from Harvard after the university's president, Lawrence Summers, suggested that he produce academic work rather than rap CDs. For West, the Frank Robinson approach would have been to inform Summers of the three academic books he claimed to be writing at the time, and stand firm. But West chose to decamp to Princeton instead, and it's an indictment of our times that his Murray-like flight seemed, to many, the proper response.

Yet Elder's analysis only takes us so far. He asks: "If so-called black leaders and other influence-makers can simply halt the widespread use of the n-word by rappers and others, why not use this power to deal with urban crime?" He thinks it's because they're lazy: "Crying racism takes less effort than exploring why black children underperform compared to their white and Asian counterparts." Elder fails to see that self-doubt cripples many blacks, leading them to mistake weakness (crying racism) for strength.

The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 suddenly left black people responsible for proving themselves before they had had a chance to overcome their internalized sense of inadequacy. After centuries of marginalization, this should not have been surprising. There were now two ways for a black person to make his way. He could embrace accountability and work to take advantage of the new opportunities. Or he could fashion a sense of legitimacy by playing the noble victim, exploiting white America's new susceptibility to such postures.

The damaged black soul settles for doubletalk and elided moral vision in seeking self-affirmation. The "victicrats" whom Elder describes are insecure people who would be best off in twelve-step programs. But Elder also implies that such people are more important to the current racial conversation than they actually are. Most are getting on in years, having reached adulthood just as the whites who once barred them from Holiday Inns became hip to "the Negro problem." For blacks of this vintage, the empowering novelty of thumbing their noses at whitey imprinted their worldview permanently. They will remain forever on the barricades, but they are no longer the future.

Black congressional representative Diane Watson, who tartly criticized Ward Connerly for having a white wife, is 74. Charles Rangel, who said after Hurricane Katrina, "George Bush is our Bull Connor," is 77. Al Sharpton is a younger fiftysomething, but old enough to have drunk the sixties Kool-Aid: he has recounted how Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. passed the torch to him during that era.

The important thing to note is that there are no new Al Sharptons or Cynthia McKinneys. Elder's depiction of victimology as common coin is therefore a bit pass,-a good decade behind the times. The race debate has shifted to the center, so that a book like Elder's is no longer even regarded as a dramatic statement.

In any case, to understand that the people Stupid Black Men describes are hurting inside is to understand as well that Elder's title is infelicitous and risks preaching mostly to the converted. That would be a shame, because plenty of black readers, especially of a younger generation, could benefit from the truths he tells.


Of Governors and Call Girls: Some thoughts upon Eliot Spitzer's downfall


No doubt it signifies a mixture of moral frivolity and profound lack of sexual imagination, but one of the first questions that occurred to me when I read of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's involvement with a high-class (or perhaps I should say expensive) prostitution ring was: What acts does a woman perform to be worth $3,000 per hour, compared with one who charges "only" $1,000?

Of course, I have long realized that there is a hierarchy among prostitutes, as there is in all professions. My first patient with tertiary syphilis, for example, was an old prostitute, impoverished, raddled, and toothless, who still plied her trade on waste ground for the price of a cigarette. Her pimp was also her husband, and her cries of despair when he abandoned her still ring in my mind's ear. I have never encountered desolation deeper than hers.

Another of my patients was a smartly dressed black woman whom I initially took to be a business executive. She was a dominatrix. She had her own website and flew around the world flogging the prominent of many nations. She was particularly proud of her connection, if that is the word I seek, with a senior judge in one of the southern states of the U.S. She had a large house and an expensive car and was proud of her success. It was skilled work, after all, and she provided value for money, or else her clients would not have retained her services. Many of them, indeed, were in love with her. She was so amusing that I could not condemn her, even in my heart.

This reminds me that prostitutes in literature have generally been treated kindly. No literary intellectual ever won his spurs by denouncing what everyone else had already denounced with pursed lips and a tut-tut. We do not think of Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet as wicked, but rather as good-time girls with hearts of gold. Maupassant's stories favor prostitutes over their respectable, bourgeois clients. In Russian literature, fallen women serve to illustrate the possibility and power of redemption (and the generosity of authors). The demand for paid sex has generally been more severely condemned in literature than the supply.

One might have supposed that in a relatively liberal sexual environment such as ours, the demand for prostitution would decline, but that does not seem to have happened. This suggests that raw, biological frustration of the sex drive is not at the root of the demand. Appetites not only grow with feeding, but diversify with it. The limits or boundaries of licit and illicit change, but the demand for the illicit remains constant.

Mr. Spitzer can hardly have been driven to act as he did by the kind of sexual frustration that is said to be common in Muslim countries, where all contact with females before and outside of marriage is forbidden. He is both rich and powerful, and in our society men of that sort do not usually have much difficulty finding someone with whom to have an affair, if they feel the need. Moreover, one might have expected a man like Mr. Spitzer - who built his career on the prosecution (or was it the persecution?) of very rich men who supposedly had broken the rules without any compelling need to do so - to behave with circumspection, if not extreme caution, with regard to breaking rules, moral or legal. He who rises by moral outrage, after all, tends to fall by moral outrage.

On the other hand, the very dangerousness of what Mr. Spitzer did may have been what made it so exciting to him. For those with such a turn of mind, there are few pleasures greater than that of breaking rules and getting away with it; it heightens the esteem in which they hold their own intellects.

But there are other advantages in resorting to a prostitute. Prostitutes exact no emotional commitment; unlike in a proper affair, the balance of power remains firmly and predictably in favor of the man who hands over the cash. Not only can he suit his tastes and indulge his fantasies, but the possibilities of blackmail, emotional and financial, are much less than with an affair of the heart. Spurned lovers are notorious for seeking vengeance, but prostitutes are professionals, to whom a reputation for discretion and the hope of future business are important. They do not recriminate when their clients no longer come to see them. So there is safety as well as excitement in the transaction.

What of the supply - that is to say, of the prostitutes? Why do they become prostitutes? If there were no necessitous women in the world, would prostitution survive?

It would. Although middle-class sentimentalists like to think that all prostitutes are driven to the profession as snowflakes before the storm, with absolutely no choice in the matter (because no one would do voluntarily what prostitutes do), a moment's reflection shows that this cannot be so. For even if some young women are brought into Europe from Africa and Latin America and forced into sexual slavery, the fact remains that most prostitutes were not forced by circumstances but chose voluntarily to ply this particular trade. No one's circumstances are so dire that they lead to prostitution as surely as life leads to death; if desperate circumstances inexorably made prostitutes, after all, we would have more prostitutes rather than fewer.

Besides, whatever the social origins of most prostitutes, by no means do all of them come from backgrounds of deprivation. Recently in England, in the small town of Ipswich, a man was convicted of murdering five prostitutes (serial killers quite often choose prostitutes, as if to avenge some terrible sexual humiliation). Two of his victims, at least, were of middle-class origin; one had spent her childhood playing the piano and riding ponies. Interestingly, prostitution disappeared from the town in the wake of the murderer's activities, suggesting that this way of earning a living was not an unavoidable reaction to circumstances.

Quite near where I once lived, by a reservoir around which I often took walks, the body of a 16-year-old girl was found. She had run away from her middle-class home to what she thought was the glamour of the streets and of prostitution; she was bored by respectability and the prospect of a normal career. Her pimps had plied her overenthusiastically with heroin; she had died, and they dumped her body in the hope that it would not be found.

The supply side of prostitution, therefore, is not to be laid wholly at the door of desperate material circumstances. How, then, is it to be ranked with mankind's other moral weaknesses? I have discussed this matter with quite a few prostitutes in my clinic, and even those who have not studied moral philosophy have been able to justify their ways to me, if not to God, with plausible and even sophisticated arguments. They would not have been prostitutes, they said, if there had been no demand for prostitutes; and many of their customers, perhaps even most, were drawn from the supposedly respectable portions of society. From what standpoint, then, did society look down on them?

For Mr. Spitzer, I suspect, they would have had nothing but contempt: a stern moralist who was no better than the pathetic traveling salesman who wants a bit of furtive fun, or sexual release, with a rather less expensive prostitute on his nights away from his wife.

"You men!" says Sadie Thompson at the end of Somerset Maugham's great story "Rain," about a Protestant missionary seduced by a prostitute in the South Sea. "You filthy, dirty pigs! You're all the same, all of you." The prostitutes would agree with her: For them, Mr. Spitzer would be the exact moral equivalent of the missionary Davidson, who is seduced by Sadie Thompson while he tries to convert her to virtue, and then kills himself by cutting his throat in the tide. He, like Mr. Spitzer, did not live up to his own standards because, in the jaundiced view of the profession, no man ever does.

Besides, asked the prostitutes, in what way is it worse to sell one's body than to sell one's soul? How many people have never done something they knew to be wrong, merely to continue in employment? How many women, not considered prostitutes, have let the material prospects of their suitors affect their decisions to marry them?

All this rationalization, however, founders on one simple question: Would you, I asked them, want your daughters to follow in your footsteps, even if they could earn a lot of money by doing so? Not a single one has ever replied yes to that question; all were vehemently against.

We can call prostitutes sex workers, and prostitution the sex industry, but the oldest profession is also the oldest subject of opprobrium. I shall never forget the immortally distasteful words of a 15-year-old patient of mine, who was very easy with her sexual favors, and who may very well one day have decided to do for money what for the moment she did for fun. "My mum," she said, "calls me a slut. But I'm good at what I do."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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