By Editorial Staff
Published April 7, 2008
By Clarence Thomas
U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Much has been said about blacks and conservatism. Those on the Left smugly assume blacks are monolithic and will by force of circumstances always huddle to the left of the political spectrum. The political Right watches this herd mentality in action, concedes that blacks are monolithic, picks up a few dissidents, and wistfully shrugs at the seemingly unbreakable hold of the liberal Left on black Americans. But even in the face of this, a few dissidents like Thomas Sowell and J.A. Parker stand steadfast, refusing to give in to the cult mentality and childish obedience that hypnotize black Americans into a mindless political trance. I admire them, and only wish I had a fraction of their courage and strength.
Many pundits have come along in recent years, who claim an understanding of why so many blacks think right and vote left. They offer “the answer” to the problem of blacks failing to respond favorably to conservatism. I, for one, am not certain there is such a thing as “the answer.” And, even if there is, I assure you I do not have it.
I have only my experiences and modest observations to offer. I was raised to survive under the totalitarianism of segregation, not only without the active assistance of government but with its active opposition. We were raised to survive in spite of the dark oppressive cloud of governmentally sanctioned bigotry. Self-sufficiency and spiritual and emotional security were tools to carve out and secure freedom. Those who attempt to capture the daily counseling, oversight, common sense, and vision of my grandparents in a governmental program are engaging in sheer folly. Government cannot develop individual responsibility, but it certainly can refrain from preventing or hindering the development of this responsibility.
Animosity from Other Blacks
I failed to realize [early in my conservative years] just how deep-seated the animosity of blacks toward black conservatives was. The dual labels of black Republicans and black conservatives drew rave reviews. Unfortunately the raving was at us, not for us. The reaction was negative, to be euphemistic, and generally hostile. Interestingly enough, however, our ideas themselves received very positive reactions, especially among the average working-class and middle-class black American who had no vested or proprietary interest in social policies that had dominated the political scene for the past 20 years. In fact, I was often amazed with the degree of acceptance. But as soon as “Republican” or “conservative” was injected into the conversation, there was a complete about-face. The ideas were okay. The Republicans and conservatives, especially the black ones, were not.
Our black counterparts on the Left and in the Democratic Party assured our alienation. Those of us who were identified as conservative were ignored at best. We were treated with disdain, regularly castigated, and mocked; and of course we could be accused of anything without recourse and with impunity. I find it intriguing that there has been a recent chorus of pleas by many of the same people who castigated us, for open-mindedness toward those black Democrats who have been accused of illegalities or improprieties. This open-mindedness was certainly not available when it came to accusing and attacking black conservatives, who merely had different ideas about what was good for black Americans and themselves.
The flames were further fanned by the media. I often felt that the media assumed that, to be black, one had to espouse leftist ideas and Democratic politics. Any black who deviated from the ideological litany of requisites was an oddity and was to be cut from the herd and attacked. Hence, any disagreement we had with black Democrats or those on the Left was exaggerated. Our character and motives were impugned and challenged by the same reporters who supposedly were writing objective stories.
Unfortunately, it must have been apparent to the black liberals, and those on the Left that conservatives would not mount a positive (and I underscore positive) civil rights campaign. They were confident that our central civil rights concern would give them an easy victory since it was confined to affirmative action – that is, being against affirmative action. They were certain that we would not be champions of civil rights. Therefore, they had license to roam unfettered in this area claiming that we were against all that was good and just and holy, and that we were hell-bent on returning blacks to slavery. They could smirk at us black conservatives because they felt we had no real political or economic support.
GOP’s Failure of Principle
But conservatives must open the door and lay out the welcome mat if there is ever going to be a chance of attracting black Americans. There need be no ideological concessions, just a major attitudinal change. Conservatives must show that they care. By caring I do not suggest or mean the phony caring and tear-jerking compassion being bandied out today. I, for one, do not see how the government can be compassionate and then only with their own money, their own property, or their own effort, not that of others.
According to our higher law tradition, men must acknowledge each other’s freedom, and govern only by the consent of others. All our political institutions presuppose this truth. Natural law of this form is indispensable to decent politics. It is the barrier against the “abolition of man” that C.S. Lewis warned about in his short modern classic.
This approach allows us to reassert the primacy of the individual, and establishes our inherent equality as a God-given right. This inherent equality is the basis for aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws and equal employment opportunity laws designed to protect individual rights. Indeed, defending the individual under these laws should be the hallmark of conservatism rather than its Achilles’ heel. And in no way should this be the issue of those who are antagonistic to individual rights and the proponents of a bigger, more intrusive government. Indeed, conservatives should be as adamant about freedom here at home as we are about freedom abroad. We should be at least as incensed about the totalitarianism of drug traffickers and criminals in poor neighborhoods as we are about totalitarianism in Eastern bloc countries. The primacy of individual rights demands that conservatives be the first to protect them.
Responsibilities of Freedom
But with the benefits of freedom come responsibilities. Conservatives should be no more timid about asserting the responsibilities of the individual than they should be about protecting individual rights.
The principled approach would, in my view, make it clear to blacks that conservatives are not hostile to their interests but aggressively supportive. This is particularly true to the extent that conservatives are now perceived as anti-civil rights. Unless it is clear that conservative principles protect all individuals, including blacks, there are no programs or arguments, no matter how brilliant, sensible, or logical, that will attract blacks to the conservative ranks. They may take the idea and run, but they will not stay and fraternize without a clear, principled message that they are welcome and well protected.
Conservative Gadget Ideas
I am of the view that black Americans will move inexorably and naturally toward conservatism when we stop discouraging them; when they are treated as a diverse group with differing interests; and when conservatives stand up for what they believe in rather than stand against blacks. This is not a prescription for success, but rather an assertion that black Americans know what they want, and it is not timidity and condescension. Nor do I believe gadget ideals such as enterprise zones are of any consequence when blacks who live in blighted areas know that crime, not lack of tax credits, is the problem.
Blacks are not stupid. And no matter how good an idea or proposal is, no one is going to give up the comfort of the leftist status quo as long as they view conservatives as antagonistic to their interests, and conservatives do little or nothing to dispel the perception. If blacks hate or fear conservatives, nothing we say will be heard.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Black America
Your comments are welcome!
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)