Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled? Part IV–Honor Thy Father and Mother

Note: This is the fourth of a series, “Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled?” The previous installments can be found here.

I have often recounted that my conversion to conservatism began in my late teens, after I left home and began to examine what I believed and how that compared and contrasted with the platforms of the predominant American political parties.

I concluded that the values instilled in me by my parents, who were and are lifelong and loyal Democrats, were more representative of the Republican Party than the Democrats. My parents responded to my question about this dichotomy with the statement, "Republicans hate black people," a statement at odds with history, my own personal experiences and even my parents' history since they grew up in a South that was Democrat and hostile to black freedoms and aspirations.

I decided I couldn't compromise my integrity in that manner, and reached my own conclusions. I've learned and experienced so much more since then, but nothing has caused me to deviate from my decision to live out my values in every area of my life, including the political arena.

What astonishes me is how vicious black people on the other side of the political divide can be toward their brethren who don't toe the party line. It makes me wonder about the values with which they were raised. After all, my parents were quite typical for working and middle class black families of that era, so I don't think their instructions to us were much different than what other black parents taught their children. If that is the case, then why do they seem unconcerned about the lack of intellectual coherence between the values with which they were raised and their political and philosophical allegiances? Or did they reject their parents' teachings when they got older?

I guess a good place to start is to present to you what my parents raised me to believe. I think you'll see why I was quickly confronted with the dissonance between what they taught me and what the political parties profess to believe.

I think the first and most important lesson my parents taught me is to put God first. This lesson was reinforced by my grandfather, who I write about in my book as a major influence in my life. He was a deacon at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana for as long as I knew him, and my great-grandfather was a deacon there as well. My grandmother and great-grandmother were deaconesses in the church. While we traveled often as a result of my father's military service, and I didn't spend a lot of time at Mount Calvary, it was there that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of nine, and it was there that I was baptized.

Every conversation in my home referred back to the Bible or spoke to God's power, love and grace in our lives. They ingrained in me the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Nothing came before God.

The second lesson grew from the first; we are all equal in the sight of God. It always shocks me to see and hear the bitterness and hatred coming from people toward one another based solely on race, because that animosity simply didn't exist in our home. After I came of age, I learned that some of the adults in my life had done a great job of hiding certain prejudices they harbored in their hearts, but I never heard or witnessed them as a child, and so I grew up without a shred of malice or resentment toward anyone, believing that none of us are more worthy of glory or more deserving of shame when standing together before a holy God.

My experiences as a military dependent traveling around the world only reinforced this lesson, because my exposure to people of different races and backgrounds was broader than that of many of my peers, and with few exceptions, we lived in harmony with everyone. Even after I grew up and witnessed some of the evil that people are capable of inflicting upon one another, I remained steadfast in my beliefs because I was taught to measure people not in relation to one another, but in relation to God.

The third lesson is a derivative of the second, which stems from the first. In that regard, these first three lessons established what my pastor calls my "positional relationship" with God and mankind. The third lesson is best illustrated by one of my favorite Bible verses, Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." My father's way of putting it was more quaint but no less accurate; "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Try not to focus on the reasons why anyone would want to attract flies, or the fact that vinegar apparently attracts fruit flies! It's a metaphor for how human beings should respond to each other.

Incidentally, some would question whether or not I've fully embraced this lesson since I've become a political pundit, which often puts me in the position of criticizing policies and people with whom I disagree. In examining the life of Christ, He demonstrated a boundless compassion and love for everyday people. In Matthew 9:36, it's written, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Like my Lord, I strive to show the utmost compassion for everyday Americans of all persuasions as they endure the trials and challenges of this life. In fact, I believe God has taken me through my own dark valleys so that I may empathize with those who are hurting and hopeless.

The religious and spiritual leaders of Jesus' day, however, were not spared His wrath:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” ~ Matthew 23:27-28

In Luke 12:48, he says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." The Bible is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that it is God that grants rulers, regardless of their sphere of influence, their authority, and they are expected to exercise that authority in accordance with His will. Jesus did not hide his anger and disgust for the leaders of His day because, in His words, they "shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces." For those of you who believe Jesus was a spiritual hippie speaking peace and love to everyone, I recommend reading the 23rd chapter of the Book of Matthew in its entirety.

Jesus did not tolerate those in authority who led the people astray, and His language was more harsh than what I typically use. He is entitled to speak as He wishes, of course - He is the Lord!

So with this strong spiritual foundation I inherited from my parents, they instilled in me the practices and principles that would ensure for me a good life:

Education is the key to success

My parents dreamed that I would be the first in the family to graduate from college, and they stressed education throughout my life. They admonished us to stay in school, get the best grades we could, and never stop learning. I never doubted that my destiny was to go to college and get my degree, and their support and encouragement shielded me when my peers accused me of “acting white” because I was studious, spoke well, and respected my teachers and school authorities. I got my bachelor's and master's degrees because they gave me a gift that continues to give, the love of lifelong learning.

Work is its own reward

My parents always worked, and worked hard. They emphasized to us that we owed our employers an honest day's work for an honest day's wage, and welfare was only for people who weren't able to work. Charity was for those who really needed it. Even now, with my father past retirement age and in declining health, he still puts in his hours at a local general store. I don't think he knows how not to work. The genuine devotion my father's employers have always had for him is directly attributable to the fact he shows up on time, works hard, never stole from his employers, and built a reservoir of good will and trust. Even at this late stage of his life, the owners of the general store made him a manager, and they trust him to mind the store while they are on vacation.

Family matters

My parents, especially my mother, instilled in me the belief that only God comes before family. "Blood is thicker than water," my mother would say and, although sometimes that devotion to family led to my parents being exploited by their own flesh and blood, they never wavered on the importance of marriage, parenthood and children. in that order. We didn't need a politician to tell us what marriage, parenthood or children looked like. When someone was pregnant, we knew their unborn child was a baby, not a fetus. We knew that a boy wasn’t a father unless he took care of his children and their mother, and when someone said they were married, we knew that meant their children would have a mother and a father.

No one owes you anything

Life isn't fair. Jesus said, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45)." Read the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Job to get the unvarnished truth of what it means to live on this planet. It doesn’t matter how good or wise or deserving you think you are, for the Lord promises that “in this world, you will have trouble (John 16:33).”

Jesus Christ was the only perfect man to walk this world, and he spent three years wandering the Holy Land as a homeless preacher - “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58).” He was reviled by the authorities, and eventually by the masses who once adored Him, and for whom He professed His love, and they arrested Him on trumped-up charges, beat and spat upon Him, and executed Him.

He didn’t complain about the unfairness of the world, however. He simply overcame the world. My parents taught me that it didn’t matter what other people did – "If everyone else jumped off a bridge,would you do it too?"  Your parents said it to you, too – you know they did! They taught me to do the right thing, regardless of what happened around me. Jesus taught his followers the same thing. When Jesus was describing to Peter the hard life upon which he was to embark in His name, Peter looked at John and asked, “Lord, what about this man?”, to which Jesus said, “…what is that to you? You follow me!” In other words, it doesn’t matter what other people do – mind your own business.

There were other lessons as well. I learned through my father’s military service a deep and abiding love for my country, and it was his example that led me to serve as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. My parents were descended from people who farmed and hunted the land in southwestern Louisiana and east central Georgia, so from them I learned about our right to acquire and possess our own guns. As I recounted in my book, “In short, if you stripped away race, we would be considered a staunchly conservative family.”

I am so blessed to have had parents who not only taught me valuable lessons, but modeled those lessons for me. My parents have been married for 52 years, and in all that time, I watched them work and sacrifice to give us the best life possible, I watched them love their family, their friends and their neighbors, and I watched that love come back to them from so many people, black and white and everything in between. Everyone who knew my parents loved them, and they loved me, and still do. As the years have passed, my experiences have multiplied and my faith has deepened and broadened, the lessons my parents taught me are constantly validated, as is my decision to practice the politics that most align with my upbringing.

My mother has always been especially puzzled by my political alignment, so I used to walk her through a quiz where I’d ask her a series of questions about where she stood on specific issues. When I would tell her at the end that she had just agreed with the major planks of the Republican Party platform, she would always get annoyed with me!

Nowadays, when she asks me why I’m a conservative, I simply say, “Mom, you raised me that way.”

Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled? Part III–The False God

Note: This is the third of a series, “Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled?” The previous installments can be found here and here.

Before I begin this next article in the series, I want to point out that, judging from some of the responses to my initial posts in this series, there are still a lot of people out there who think if they shout loudly enough or respond viscerally to my statements, I will either be cowed or won over to their side.

What many of these folks fail to realize about me and most black conservatives is that we were not born with the worldview we currently hold. We used to be them. There is no argument or ad hominem attack directed toward us that we haven't heard before, or used ourselves. Bob Parks, who thinks conservative/GOP outreach to the black community is an utter waste of time, put it this way:

I’ll venture to say that most black Republicans weren’t born that way. It took some life-altering revelation and a good amount of cojones to put oneself into the pariah column. Remember, blacks may be the only group in this country not allowed to have a diversity of political opinion. It’s Democrat or be damned. If you become a Republican, you can (and will) be ostracized by friends and family and be called racist names by the political left with impunity.

For that reason, GOP “outreach” in the black community is an exercise in futility that also puts the Republican Party in a position of weakness. Why would you be expected to reach out to a group that has consistently maligned your character?

I understand Bob's frustration, but I'm stubbornly pressing ahead in the hope that I will break through to enough people to prove it can be done. He likens the transition from liberal to conservative for a black person to "a kind of spiritual conversion," so a lot of prayer is involved as well!

Mark Twain famously said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” One lie that has made more revolutions around the globe than the International Space Station is the one that claims the Tea Party movement in America is primarily motivated by its opposition to a black man in the White House.

You mean the black man who got a higher percentage of white voters than any Democrat not named Jimmy Carter (1976) or Bill Clinton (1996) since Lyndon Johnson, the last Democrat to win a majority of the white vote? The black man whose approval rating two weeks before he took office and actually started doing things was at 82%?

The black man who was the most revered political figure since the assassinated John F. Kennedy, and was essentially deified by his supporters, so much so that the search “Obama Messiah” brings up some of the most audacious and ridiculous words and images one can imagine, worshipping a mere human being?

That black man?

Grow up. It wasn’t until he started doing things that people began to oppose him, and while the list of policy disagreements the Tea Party has with the president is long, I can fundamentally sum them up in one paragraph.

According to U.S. Treasury numbers, President Obama has increased the national debt by an amount higher than the accumulated debt of the first 41 presidents, from George Washington, who took office in 1789, to George Herbert Walker Bush, who stepped down in 1993 – and President Obama’s first term is not even complete. President George W. Bush added $4.9 trillion to the national debt during his eight-year term, which was a record. In 31 months, President Obama added 4 trillion to the debt and will surpass President Bush’s record in less than half the time. According to a CBS News report, “It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.”

To most Americans, this is an irresponsible and reckless spending spree that expands the role of government in our economy and our lives to unprecedented and unacceptable levels, shifts the balance of power in America away from the states and the people, in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and threatens to bring an end to America as we know it. We don’t want our nation to go bankrupt, we don’t want to be servants to government, and we don’t want government doing for us what we can do for ourselves. Race has nothing to do with it.

But what if I told you that when it comes to the role of government and federal spending, in the minds and hearts of most black Americans, it’s all about race?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said what most black Americans believe when he equated “big government” to black people. “Big Government is us by another name.”

If you listen to the video, which is admittedly difficult because, if you’re like me, demagoguery and false accusations set you on edge, you will discover some deeply held beliefs that will make it clear to you how we’ve gotten to this place where racial tension is higher than anyone expected it to be following the election of the nation’s first black president.

The first one is this: “States rights” is a codeword for slavery and Jim Crow.

Current presidential candidate and Texas governor Rick Perry discovered this when he made himself into a spokesperson for federalism, which is essentially the one-word description of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I have written several articles on this topic, most recently a few months ago, for I believe federalism is a sound and moral concept. Power corrupts, and diffusing power so no single entity has more of it than any other is the only way to protect liberty.

Federalism even has roots in the Catholic social teaching, which I addressed in another article:

Catholic social teaching captures the essence of lanes in the role in the principle of subsidiarity, “according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.’”

In America, the states preceded the federal government, and created it with specific and limited duties, reserving rights for themselves and the people.

If you haven’t read them in their entirety, I encourage you to read my articles, “Pleading the 10th” and “Lane Violation,” They will give you a solid foundation on which to build your understanding of federalism and its virtues.

Here’s where the divide begins, however.

Federalism – “states rights” – is what history tells us led some states to keep slaves and treat them as property rather than human beings.

“States rights” is what led some states to institute legal barriers that segregated and disenfranchised black Americans, and exposed them to a reign of terror where black lives were at the mercy of white people who, according to “progressive” writer Hamden Rice, “occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them” and “also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.”

A political offshoot of the Democratic Party, colloquially referred to as the Dixiecrats, was officially designated the States Rights Party.

Can you understand why black Americans don’t share the Tea Party’s affection for federalism?

Gov. Perry experienced a backlash from the black community for his embrace of federalism, and I quoted a black leader from Texas to encapsulate the reaction of the black community:

Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas chapter of the NAACP, speaks of the mindset of most blacks toward calls for greater state sovereignty:

I realize it was the federal government that freed my ancestors. It was the federal government that got rid of Jim Crow. It was the federal government that seeks to protect my right to vote. So these things are really sacrosanct. So that states’ rights thing does have a really negative connotation.

This brings me to the second barrier that separates us: The federal government saved us.

Yes, the federal government brought an end to slavery in America. The federal government declared blacks were entitled to all the rights of American citizenship. The federal government offered jobs to a largely unskilled black workforce suffering from the Great Depression. The federal government intervened and ended legal discrimination across the nation. The federal government enforced the integration of public schools, integrated the armed forces, and created affirmative action programs to increase the number of blacks in public jobs. The federal government employs a significant number of black Americans compared to other demographic groups.

The federal government also put off resolving the issue of slavery in America and allowed it to continue until the nation could no longer bear it, and it took the blood sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of young Americans in battle to bring it to an end.

The federal government also walked away from the South after Reconstruction and looked away while that region embarked on a reign of disenfranchisement and terror that left black people afraid and helpless. This led to the great migration of blacks to the North, where they struggled against European immigrants for jobs and housing. Historian Robert A. Gibson was unflinching in his condemnation of the federal government's actions at that time:

Immediately following the end of Reconstruction, the Federal Government of the United States restored white supremacist control to the South and adopted a “laissez-faire” policy in regard to the Negro. The Negro was betrayed by his country. This policy resulted in Negro disfranchisement, social, educational and employment discrimination, and peonage. Deprived of their civil and human rights, Blacks were reduced to a status of quasislavery or “second-class” citizenship. A tense atmosphere of racial hatred, ignorance and fear bred lawless mass violence, murder and lynching.

It took a civil rights movement that originated not with the federal government, but at the grass roots with women like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white man, men like Oliver L. Brown  who, along with twelve other parents in Topeka, Kansas, challenged school segregation in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, and eventually struck down the "separate but equal" precedent of Plessy vs. Ferguson, and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who resolved to be the conscience of a nation when the federal government stood mute.

The federal government didn't save us. If anything, they failed to live up to their charge in the Declaration of Independence to "secure these rights" for all people, and they allowed the 10th Amendment to be used by the southern states to violate the 14th and 15th Amendments, despite the fact their duty was to enforce them all. This is why I find the black community's dependency on the federal government so disturbing. If we are looking to them for salvation, then we worship a false god.

So what saved us? We were saved by an idea, first brought to life with the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This idea hovers over America, inspired the great freedom movements of our history, from the abolitionists to the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement, and will not let us rest as long as there is a threat to liberty. I made a similar point in my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch:

I don’t see the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the end of Jim Crow laws and the ascension of a black man to the White House as steps taken reluctantly, but rather the inevitable consequence of a nation whose constitutional law is ordered to the dignity and worth of the individual human person.

Our Founding Fathers were troubled by slavery even as they drafted the U.S. Constitution, and although they made concessions in the interest of preserving the Union, they knew it was a moral evil that could not long survive in a nation founded in liberty. America’s history tells me that its good-willed citizens are always straining, stretching and clawing toward the ideal under which our nation was founded, and we will not cease until that ideal has been reached.

Most importantly, though, we were saved by ourselves and our faith in a just and powerful God. Government moved only because we became its moral conscience, not because government is inherently good and therefore worthy of our worship, as I also pointed out in my book:

Blacks who believe they owe their allegiance to the federal government because of its intervention on their behalf against slavery and discrimination are missing this point. Government’s intervention when justice is denied is a constitutional duty, not a gift that was given to us. My wife doesn’t reward me for household chores—they are my obligation for living in a shared household. Neither do I reward government for doing its job, nor should you.

Our black forefathers understood that government wasn't our savior, and one of the most famous retorts to the notion that government needed to "help" us after the Civil War came from none other than Frederick Douglass.

This man who overcame bondage, racism, a lack of formal education, and a complete absence of family to become one of the greatest orators, writers and statesmen in American history, had every reason in the world to decry the circumstances he had to endure to reach the pinnacle of success. Moreover, he still lived in a time when racism was prevalent and socially acceptable. Yet, he exploded in anger over a simple question from well-meaning white people:

“Everybody has asked the question, … ‘What shall 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!”

"Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us."  Douglass resented the question, because it smacked of the same paternalism and condescension that declared slavery essential to black well-being because they were like children who couldn't care for themselves. I challenge anyone to tell me how today's insistence that the black community is helpless without the intervention of government is any different.

When black elites began flirting with international socialism and communism because they were frustrated with the pace of change in America, other black leaders warned against a philosophy that gave government more dominion over us. Black historian G. Carter Woodson said:

If the excited whites who are bringing to the Negroes such strange doctrines are insane enough to believe them, the Negroes themselves should learn to think before it is too late.

History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning. Even if the expected social upheaval comes, the Negro will be better prepared to take care of himself in the subsequent reconstruction if he develops the power to ascend to a position higher up after the radically democratic people will have recovered from their revelry in an impossible Utopia.

To say that the Negro cannot develop sufficiently in the business world to measure arms with present-day capitalists is to deny actual facts, refute history, and discredit the Negro as a capable competitor in the economic battle of life. No man knows what he can do until he tries. The Negro race has never tried to do very much for itself. The race has great possibilities. Properly awakened, the Negro can do the so-called impossible in the business world and thus help to govern rather than merely be governed.

In the failure to see this and the advocacy of the destruction of the whole economic order to right social wrong we see again the tendency of the Negro to look to some force from without to do for him what he must learn to do for himself.

Woodson warned us that  "it looks silly to see them taking up the cause of others who pretend that they are interested in the Negro when they merely mean to use the race as a means to an end."  Amen to that.

There is a term in psychology that I think is instructive in teaching us how to "work out our own salvation," to use a Biblical phrase.

"Locus of control" speaks to the extent to which individuals believe they control events that affect them. Those who place their locus of control externally believe they are controlled by people, institutions or powers outside of themselves. Those with an internal locus of control, conversely, believe they have control over their behavior and actions.

A healthy balance is one in which we understand and acknowledge that we do not control everything in our world, but we do control ourselves and our response to the world. Our ancestors had an unshakable faith in what we, the black community, could do in America because they themselves overcame the impossible to do great things. To read the history of blacks in America is to read a story of strength, persistence and triumph in the midst of adversity, and were many of the great black leaders of the past here today, I suspect they would tell us to "man up" and stop waiting for government to act on our behalf.

Big Government is not me by another name. I am a unique individual, "fearfully and wonderfully made," and I am a child of God who "created my inmost being" and "knit me together in my mother's womb."

It is when we encourage our full development and potential as the individual human beings God created that our entire group ascends. When we demand conformity, we bring ourselves down to the lowest common denominator in the group, and this "crab bucket" mentality holds us in a place of dependence, where government rushes in to fill the vacuum we created for ourselves.

 Next: What my parents taught me.


"Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled?" Part II–The Great Flim-Flam

Note: This is the second of a series, "Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled?" The previous installment can be found here.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s accusation that the black community has been “brainwashed” into supporting the Democratic Party and liberal policies exposed to the world a frustration with which most black conservatives are all too familiar.

Contrary to the stereotype, we care deeply about the ascendancy of the black community in America, and it is heartbreaking for us to witness what we perceive to be our willing participation in our own destruction.

Fifty years and tens of trillions of government dollars have bought three-fourths of our children without fathers in the home, an unemployment rate that, even in the very best of times, has been slightly more than one and a half times that of white Americans, more than half of our young black men not finishing high school, and more of us murdered through abortion than all other causes of death in the black community combined. And those are just some of the depressing statistics, most of which I can recite from memory.

It seems impossible, at least to conservatives of color, that any thinking person could examine this dismal record and the tragic waste of human capital, and be anything less than outraged. We should be questioning the approach we’ve been taking, and asking hard questions of our supposed benefactors, who have been telling us that they have the best answers for us. Clearly, they do not.

In fact, they’ve perpetrated upon us the greatest lie in American history, a lie that has essentially erased well over a century of civil rights achievements by one political party, and brutal oppression of our race by the other.

I would love to give a history quiz to every black child in America, and it would have only two questions:

1) Which political party or its members:

  • Was established in 1854 explicitly to fight slavery in the United States?
  • Issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in the Confederate States of America free?
  • Wrote and instituted the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which permanently outlawed slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave the freed slaves full citizenship, and the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting?
  • Wrote and enacted into law the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957 and 1960?
  • Desegregated the Arizona Air National Guard two years before the U.S. armed forces were integrated?
  • Sent troops into Arkansas to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock in 1957?
  • Established the Revised Philadelphia Plan in 1969 and ushered in affirmative action as we understand it today?
  • Instituted busing to desegregate schools, contributing to a decline in the percentage of segregated public schools in the South from 68 percent to nine percent in five years (1969-1974)?

2) Which political party or its members:

  • Tolerated the practice of slavery in America and fought to allow its spread into new territories?
  • Looked the other way while its southern wing sanctioned nearly hundred years of terrorism against and disenfranchisement of black Americans, to include the establishment of the Ku Klux Klan terror group, the lynching of 3,447 blacks and 1.297 whites, and the enactment of Jim Crow laws to effectively deny blacks the right to vote or to be treated equally in public places?
  • Had a president who was a leader of the Progressive movement and promised to do more for black people, yet was responsible for essentially re-segregating the federal civil service, and became indignant when a black civil rights leader called him on his treachery?
  • Gave birth to the Dixiecrats in 1948?
  • Had a nominee for president in 1960 who voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act while a senator and, as president, condemned the Freedom Riders for distracting him and the nation from the international crises of the day?
  • Filibustered the 1957, 1960, and 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act?

My guess is that most black children would give “the Democratic Party” as the answer to the first question, and “the Republican Party” as the answer to the second – and they would be wrong.

The president who was a leader of the Progressive movement, from which today’s liberals have appropriated the name for branding purposes, and who, according to historian Eric Foner, "imposed full racial segregation in Washington and hounded from office considerable numbers of black federal employees", was Woodrow Wilson – a Democrat.

The nominee for president in 1960 who voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act as a U.S. Senator, and who was angered by the actions of the Freedom Riders, was John F. Kennedy – a Democrat.

The number of prominent Dixiecrats who left to join the Republican Party? Three – Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Mills Godwin. In fact, most of the southern politicians who became Republicans were post-1965 “new South” politicians for whom integration was settled law.

But what about the “Southern strategy” that presidential candidate Richard Nixon employed to persuade racist southerners to join the GOP?

Nixon lost every state in the deep South to independent candidate George Wallace in 1968, and part of the reason, other than Wallace’s segregationist history and its appeal in that region, was that Nixon refused to abandon his civil rights agenda:

“The deep south had to be virtually conceded to George Wallace. I could not match him there without compromising on civil rights, which I would not do.”

Doesn’t sound like a man bent on exploiting race to win over the South, does it? In fact, Republicans didn’t win a majority in the South in congressional elections until 1994, 26 years after the “Southern strategy” was supposed to have been launched.

In fact, much of what we’ve been told about the “Southern strategy” is myth, one that even I bought into and referenced in my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch. In accepting the conventional narrative, I violated my own personal rule of doing my own homework and not accepting what I read or hear from others at face value, especially when it comes to politics, where agendas take priority over truth.

What does this all mean when it comes to race and the political parties? Writer Jay Cost, in a well-written rebuttal of the whole “southern racist Republican” myth, put it best:

Almost every national leader played both sides of the issue at one point in their careers. I can really only think of two definite exceptions: Woodrow Wilson, who was an out-and-out racist and saw to it that African Americans were left genuinely worse off, and Benjamin Harrison, who was the last president to make an all-out effort for voting rights before the 1960s. (Dwight Eisenhower might belong with Harrison, as he passed the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, desegregated Washington, D.C., and finished desegregation of the military; however, it's fair to argue that he could have done more.) Pretty much everybody else tried to have it both ways, at one point or another – including the liberal Democrats. FDR refused to back the Wagner-Costigan Anti-Lynching Bill, Truman opposed the liberal civil rights plank in the 1948 platform and wrote in his diary that it was a “crackpot” idea, JFK voted to water down the 1957 Civil Rights Act, and LBJ led the charge to water it down.

I would never make the argument that the Republicans are pure as the driven snow, but I wouldn’t put a halo over the Democrats’ heads, either, especially with the ugliness of their history, for which they’ve never apologized. The Republican Party didn’t beat, bomb, lynch, terrorize or disenfranchise black people - ever.

The GOP’s greatest racial crime, if there is any to be found, is indifference, and that’s because the Democrats have done such a masterful job of rewriting history and persuading the black community that they, not the Republicans, own the legacy of emancipation and integration. As a result, Republicans have no hope, and therefore no motivation, to pursue the black vote.

I like to use a sports analogy to make my point. If you’re willing to offer a hometown discount to the team for which you play, and you have no interest in testing the market to see what you’re worth, your current team will string you along because it knows your loyalties are fully with them and, for that same reason, no other team will give you a look. If you’re a free agent, however, teams have a reason to compete for your services, and you have the potential of getting a more lucrative deal.

We’ve been giving the Democrats a hometown discount out of loyalty, and the Republicans aren’t competing for your services because you’re not even on the market.

Let me make clear that I’m not trying to convert blacks to the Republican Party. Despite my own party affiliation, I have a very Machiavellian perspective on political parties, and that is this.

Political parties exist to win elections and keep power.

That is their prime directive, and no one should be confused and think they have any affection for a particular group beyond what that group can do to help them accomplish the goals for which they exist.

We in the black community, however, have lost sight of this hard truth.

In 2006, Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele was running for the U.S. Senate against Ben Cardin, a white Democrat who most blacks in the major population centers of the state had probably never seen nor heard before that election. Steele, a long-time resident of the DC metropolitan area, was endorsed by the black members of the Prince Georges County Council, which embraced his platform of black economic empowerment. They didn’t endorse any other Republican but him.

You would think, however, that they had donned white robes and hoods, given the reaction from their constituents. After the election, they were called to account by the voters and, in one particularly telling town hall meeting, a black woman stood up and declared to her council member, “You don’t go against family.”

And this is why we are lost.

When we begin to equate a political party with family, when we forget that political parties, like nations, do not have friends, only interests, then we have lost our political objectivity and are ripe for exploitation.

There is one more aspect of this great flim-flam by the Democrats that needs to be noted. They would like you to believe that the GOP of yesterday is not the GOP of today when it comes to the topic of civil rights. I would contend, however, that it’s not the GOP that has changed but rather, as Cost suggests, the definition of “civil rights”, thanks to the Orwellian workings of the so-called progressive party.

You see, the Republicans believe civil rights are those “unalienable rights” in the Declaration of Independence to which all men are entitled. The legal rights that allow our full participation in the civic affairs of our nation, and the freedom to pursue our lives to the full extent of our potential, were what the civil rights movement was all about. That battle was won, and we are free to exercise the same rights as every other American citizen.

When the definition was altered to encompass the distribution of wealth by the force of government, however, it went against deeply held Republican principles that also date back to the party’s first campaign in 1856 - "free labor, free land, free men." From the beginning, they believed in the freedom to work for yourself, the freedom to own property, and the freedom to keep the fruits of one’s labors. That’s what Frederick Douglass, the nation’s first black leader, believed in when he said of the black man:

All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs. Let him alone! Your interference is doing him a positive injury…If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as a white man.

It’s not the GOP that has changed, as much as we have.

By that token, we are strangely incurious or disinterested in knowing the full story of the political parties that have so affected our lives since 1854. I wouldn’t call that brainwashing, however, because I’m not a prophet.

Prophets are the ones who speak candidly and aren’t focused on winning popularity contests. Jeremiah and John the Baptist were prophets and, as any Bible reader will tell you, they weren’t particularly subtle in their condemnation of their people, nor were they well-received.

Prophets are necessary because we all need someone who will tell us the truth without embellishment and won’t pander to us.

My role, however, is that of a teacher and an evangelist, and my goal is to instruct and reach out, to build bridges rather than walls. That’s why I’m trying to lay out the truth as I understand it – one step at a time.

Next: Government didn’t save us.

Brainwashed, Incurious, Hard-Hearted or Bamboozled? Part I: Setting the Stage

In some respects, it’s a good thing that Herman Cain’s recent surge in the GOP presidential race gave him the platform to make the statement he did about black Americans being brainwashed into voting for Democrats and not considering conservative candidates. It was probably a statement born of frustration. Conservatives of color genuinely care about the well-being of the black community, see the problems with the path we've been on for fifty years, and see a way out that is not only proven, but has worked for them personally, but no one will give them a hearing.

Herman Cain is an American success story, and when I was coming up, my parents would have pointed to him as an example to follow. To recap, his father worked three jobs, including one as a chauffeur, and his mother was a domestic, and their efforts enabled him and his brother to go to college. He graduated from Morehouse College, which has produced dozens of notable black leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., graduated with a master's degree from Purdue University while working full-time for the U.S. Navy.

He became a corporate success at Coca-Cola, took over a failing Burger King regional franchise for Pillsbury and made it the best in the nation, turned Godfather's Pizza around from near-bankruptcy to profitability in 14 months and bought the company from Pillsbury,  ran it as president and CEO, headed the National Restaurant Association, served as chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, and became a successful speaker and radio host.

Yet, the black orthodoxy crucifies him, and the names he is called in blog posts and reader comments can't be repeated in a family-friendly blog.

A black conservative friend running for Congress in Virginia described how an elderly black woman with a cane spotted him at a gas station minding his own business, and came at him with the cane swinging! Such hostility is irrational and unwarranted, and anyone who attempts to truly know us would grasp that - if they wanted to.

If his use of the term "brainwashed" has accomplished anything positive, it has led to a conversation, a heated one in many instances but a conversation nonetheless, about the lack of political diversity in a community whose monolithic support for one political party is, at least to me, one of the great enigmas of American politics.

Why? Simply put, there is no demographic group in America that agrees 88-96% on anything. Even the self-identified gay community is more politically diverse in their voting patterns than blacks. In 2004, 23% of self-identified gays voted for Republicans, and those percentages increased to 24% in 2008 and 31% in 2010.

Conversely, the last time a Republican candidate for president received more than 15% of the black vote was in 1960, when 32% of black voters cast their ballots for then Vice-President Richard Nixon.

I know the answer that most black pundits, preachers and politicians will give you to explain this phenomenon is "Republicans hate black people."

Sorry, folks, that answer didn't satisfy me when my parents gave it to me back in 1978, when I asked them to explain why we aligned ourselves with a political party, the Democratic Party, that opposed nearly everything we believed as a conservative Christian family, and which was responsible for the discrimination and racism they grew up with as children of the Deep South. It doesn't satisfy me now.

I am, by temperament, education and training, an analyst and project manager. I've been an intelligence officer, a business manager, a chief information officer and senior information technology executive,  and now an associate dean and assistant professor at a large university. None of those roles permitted me to use emotion as a primary determinant for decision-making or action. In fact, I was taught that emotions clouded sound judgment and rational decisions. If the numbers didn't add up, or the expected results weren't delivered, or the mission failed, no one cared how I felt about it.

My personality lends itself well to these kinds of tasks. I am a genial person, not particularly demonstrative, and calm and measured in the way I present myself to others. I try to keep my head about me, and I try to live by the edict of Romans 12:18, which states, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." I am also someone who is comfortable with leadership and taking on big challenges. This blend of classic phlegmatic and choleric temperaments has been my hallmark as a manager and leader.

Because of what my wife calls my "flatline" personality, however, my energy is quickly depleted when I encounter dissonance in my life. My emotions come out in my deep desire for affection and my love and compassion for people. As a result, I abhor conflict, even though I know it's an inevitable and necessary part of life. Like most people, I want to be liked, and assaults on my personality and character hurt me to the quick. Again, I endure it because it is inevitable, and I must be faithful to the task that has been given to me.

In short, my talents are well suited to what I believe is God's purpose for me on this planet, but my emotions can and have derailed me, and even harmed me. I have learned that in order to make sound decisions, I must engage the whole person, and not just my mind or just my heart. God asks us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and that is good advice for all of life - give it all you've got, but don't leave your brains at the door.

Please forgive me for baring my soul just a little bit, but I do so to offer context to the words that follow in this piece and the others to come. I became a Republican in 1978, and concluded that I was a conservative, because I made sure my mind was clear and my feelings acknowledged but examined critically before I made a commitment. It's also how I came back to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ in 1993 after I walked away from Him more than 12 years prior to that. Once my intellect was satisfied, the commitment was easy, and the feelings flowed from that. I don't know if other conservatives of color arrived at their point of decision in a similar fashion, but I'm willing to bet many of them did.

That also enables me to avoid the distractions that politics can place in one's path. After all, politics is about persuasion to support one idea or person over another, and there doesn't appear to be a single rulebook that both sides follow, unless it's The Art of War by Sun Tzu or Machiavelli's The Prince (grin)!

One distraction that is particular pervasive in the black community is a propaganda ploy that my intelligence training helped me to discern - the association fallacy. Cults of personality are common in politics, in a positive and negative sense, and people will embrace or reject an entire political party or philosophy because of their attraction to or revulsion for one or a few prominent individuals associated with them.

To me, that's irrational. Both parties have people in them that are either charismatic and appealing, or revolting and objectionable, and unless they are in a decision-making role within the political party, or they can change the direction of an entire political philosophy virtually overnight, how they make you feel is irrelevant.

Does the fact your fellow churchgoer is a jerk implicate Christ and His teachings? Of course not. Christ Himself said:

Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

So don't try to sully a 157-year old political party or a centuries-old political philosophy that dates back at least to the time of Aristotle by pointing to your "go-to" conservative or Republican lightning rod today, and smearing those who claim the same associations with the same ugly brush. Your mind is powerful enough to work past the failings of men, all of whom without exception are sinners, and get to what matters.

If you use the association fallacy to justify stonewalling the GOP or conservatism (note how I make a distinction between the two - there is a difference,and it matters, as I will explain later), not only are you employing a tired old propaganda tool, you are betraying yourself and the people about whom you claim to care, and who deserve better from you than simplistic appeals to emotion.

This post begins a dialogue that I hope will be conducted on both sides of the political aisle. I couldn't tackle the "brainwashing" comment in one post, so I'm going to try and address it in a series of as few posts as possible. I make no promises, however! The issues raised by Mr. Cain's comment are too important to be given short shrift, in my opinion, and I have a burning desire to effect change with my words.

I am reminded of what Dr. Ronald Godwin, the provost here at Liberty University, said to us at this year's faculty orientation about the difference between the rear-view mirror and the windshield when it comes to God's work in our lives.

When describing the amazing growth of Liberty University over its 40-year history into the largest university in Virginia, the largest non-profit university in the United States, and the largest Christian university in the world, he said when he and the founders of the university look behind them, they see ample evidence of God's work in their lives, and how He has brought them through many trials and tribulations, and blessed them and the university in the process. When they look ahead, however, the vision is a little murky and they're not always certain about the direction they're taking.

Dr. Godwin encouraged us by saying that our look in the rear-view mirror ought to give us enough confidence in God's plan that, when we look ahead through the windshield, rather than saying, "I can't see what's next and I'm afraid," we'll say instead, "I can't wait to see how God's going to work this out."

That's kind of how I feel about this series. I can't wait to see how God's going to use it to accomplish His plan, and I'm excited about it.

Next: Exposing the biggest flim-flam in American politics - the erasure of 111 years of American political history, and why it's important to know why they did it.