Critiquing The "Left"
On These pages I have spent a lot of time critiquing the right, expecially those so called "Black Conservatives" who for the most part are simple mouthpieces for their white suitors. However, This publication is not partisan and though it has less ideological issues with the left, or more specifically the black left. This week I stumbled across an article discussing the indictment of Orlando, FL. mayor Buddy Dyer. Now why is this worthy of critique? Well last year Bob Herbert an Op Ed columnist for the NY Times wrote a piece about the FBI harrassing elderly black voters. It turns out that a large part of why FBI agents had shown up at the doors of elderly black voters was because Essie Thomas, who runs a non-profit organization that collects absentee ballots from African Americans, took payment from Dyer's campaign to the tune of $10,000. In the State of Florida it is illegal to pay for the collection of ballots. I wont even get into the partisan issues that could arise for the non-profit. Why is this an issue. Well the way Herbert had framed the issue it appeared as if we simply had FBI members rolling into black homes and intimidating people with the flimsiest of reasons. But in fact they had a very good reason to be seeking out potential witnesses and leads. If anyone should be at fault here it would be Essie Thomas who should have known not to take any money for his activities. The thing that gets me here is that When Armstrong Williams got caught out there accepting cash to promote the Bush agenda, the so called "Liberal Press" killed him. As far as I know what Armstrong William did was not Illegal. Un-ethical, but not illegal. In the case of Essie Thomas, there may have been laws broken. For this reason alone the issue should have been written about in a way more clear manner. There is enough fact twisting and convenient leaving out of facts done by the right it does us no good too be doing the same thing. Admittedly I could have researched the subject myself, but if I can't trust my comrades in arms to be open and honest with thier info then we have a serious problem.
Now onto issue two. Erik Dyson has written an entire book critiquing the commentary of Bill Cosby. I haven't read it, nor do I plan to but I did run a across an interview in the NY Times entitled: Bill Cosby's Not Funny
Your new book is a rhetorical screed against Bill Cosby, and the title alone is not exactly subtle: ''Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?''
When a comedian throws a pie in the face of a powerful person, it's funny. When he throws a pie in the face of a homeless mother with three kids, that's not very funny.
Ok. I'm not sure where Dyson is getting his facts from but I don't recall Bill Cosby throwing pies (literal or otherwise) at homeless people. But as documented here at Garvey's Ghost, quite a few people have taken to putting words into Bill Cosby's mouth and it would appear that Dyson is attenmpting to shove an entire book in there.
You're referring to Cosby's recent harangue about lower-income black people, whom he faults for neglecting their children, wasting money on expensive sneakers and glamorizing ghetto culture.
It's his Blame-the-Poor Tour. He should pick on someone in his own class. If he had come out swinging at Condi Rice or Colin Powell, they could defend themselves. But he's beating up on poor black people, the most vulnerable people in this nation. And why jump on them?
I've heard this argument from a few people. I'm not going to say what Cosby should or should not have said. We could write many columns about what we wish so and so would have or should have said, but I'm not going to go there. What I do think however, is that this "why not" arguement reminds me of a kid who's mad at his parents for punishing him for doind something that some other sibling appears to have gotten away with. I mean sheeeeeeeeet, If you want to have a go at Colin Powel or Condi, by all means write a book or two about them. There is plenty of material. But to waste time on Cosby over statements he didn't even make? Sounds like a waste of time to me.
On the other hand, many of us feel that his comments represent an admirable attempt at self-criticism and apply not only to blacks but also to whites in a consumer culture that has run amok.
Here's the irony: Mr. Cosby has been a supreme pitchman for American corporate capitalism for nearly 40 years. Had he come along now, he himself might have been promoting some gym shoes.
Cosby has pitched what exactly? Jello, Jello Pudding. That's about all I can recall. There are no Cosby Ads for Alcohol or Cigarettes (well you cant do the latter legally). There are no shots of Cosby selling Jeans like they were drug paraphenalia (ahem --50 cent--ahem). No Cosby BMW, Mercedes or Lexus Ads. There are no Cosby "Obey your thirst" ads. Cosby has only, to my knowledge pushed a snack (a low fat, low sugar snack at that). I hardly think that qualifies Cosby as a pushers of American capitalism. I mean surely Dyson could spedn his time writing a book about blacks who really push Corporate Capitalism, such as Bob Johnson and most MC's with varied vehicles, clothes and jewelry flaunted for the viewer who is admonished to be Ghetto Fabulous and "keep it real", "shine", "Bling" etc. ad neauseum.
I actually found your book alarmingly unbalanced. How can you write 200-plus pages on Bill Cosby without detailing the millions of dollars he has donated to colleges and other good causes?
I think I mention his $20 million gift to Spelman College. It's a well-known fact. There's no need to repeat it.
But he has given to so many other black causes.
There's a dark underside to philanthropy. People who give a bunch of money are deferred to, even when they are wrong. The emperor cannot be shown to have no clothes.
Oh never mind the millions to a black University. Question for Mr. Dyson, exactly which Black College do you teach for? Oh what scholarships have you given out to students? Oh? I thought as much. While I certainly agree that people can be deferential to those who have money (and want it), But one can disagree with Bill Cosby, or anyone else without belittling their achievements and philanthropy. In fact I thought the whole bone of contention here was the 'unneccesary" be litting of people. I guess I got that one wrong.
You, yourself, as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, know that Cosby's following is hardly based on his wealth. Why do you think the black middle class has been so moved by his call for individual responsibility?
Of course, taken in one sense, a lot of what he said we can agree with. None of us want our children to be murderers or thieves. But Cosby never acknowledges that most poor blacks don't have a choice about these things.
Here is why the black conservative movement is growing (despite the claims of some). Most poor blacks don't have a choice about being murderers and thieves? What? What are we on autopilot? Some kind of Murder or Theif gene that poor blacks have that is absent in other populations? Or maybe the poor, regardless of race have some predisposition to violence. Oh the Klan would love this. Or perhaps Dyson is trotting out the perenial excuse of systematic racism. You know the racism that every two bit thug can tell you about but still goes head long into anyways. I remember watching an episode of Like It Is with Gill Noble and he was discussing the growing crime problem in Hempstead NY. A part of his show was interviewing gang members who discussed how these gangs were "family" and how there's a code about not snitching and bus' first cause.... Their excuse for not going to school? Too crowded. Old building and the occasional " History not relevant to us." Hey if you want to look for an excuse not to go to school there are all kinds of excuses but let's make it plain. They didn't feel like it. They decided to not go to school. They decided to not do homework and the list of decisions goes on. This is not to minimize the very real inequities between affluent school distriicts and those in urban areas. This is not to excuse the poor representation of blacks in history, but they act like they are or were the first people born and going to school. Each of us has been there before them and made our way through and they are expected to do the same while we who went through prepare a place for them on the other side or help them through, wherever our skills and abilities place us. But lets not go giving excuses and dis-empower our kids.
So, then, how much do you think individual will counts for our success or failure in life?
I don't believe in that kind of American John Wayne individualism where people pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Someone changed your diapers. And if that's the case, you ain't self-made.
Mr. Cosby does not believe in the John Wayne individualism either. At least that is not apparent in his speeches. In the last speech I witnessed ( on TV) Cosby urged the audience members to embrace the children and to support them any how they can. At the same time he urged the kids to do their part. That's what Cosby and those of us who agree with him are about. We'll help you out but you got to put in dues. Those dies are what we refer to as the bootstraps.
In recovery programs the very first step is to admit you have a problem. Can you imagine if AA programs allowed the attendees to get up and say: "I'm an alcoholic and the reason I'm an alcoholic is because Budweiser and Coors keeps making beers. It's also the fault of the Liquor store owner and the bar owner. I cannot do anything to change my ways until the Beer companies stop producing beer and the bars and liquor stores are closed."
That's not acceptible in AA meeting firstly because it removes responsibility for charging your behaviors to external forces. Furthermore it depends upon the highly unlikely action that Beer companies will stop making beer.
Similarly we dealing with White Supremacy will not get anywhere by expecting it to just stop and "chill out." So to carry on as if we will somehow talk it down and that will solve all our problems (and mannah will fall from the sky too!!) is really a waste of time. In fact I believe it is the act of people who really don't want to do the hard task of building and maintaining instutions that will counter the forces of White Supremacy. After all, just like in Churches, once a person has "testified", "witnessed" and "repented" they are highly likely to go out and do the same sins again. The testifying" merely provided an emotional outlet. But back to the subject at hand.
So called Black Liberals are going to have to do better than the stuff described above. Our enemies are well organized, well funded and driven. Sloppiness on our part will be costly.