Well, this certainly ups the level of discourse: “Simple Sambo Wants to Move into the Big House.” Not. Be advised, the content might make your boss believe think that you’re surfing a white supremacist or neo-Nazi site, so you might want to wait until you get home to check it out. [The photo has been removed. You can see the update further down; however, you can also see the original photo at the bottom of this post.] That site isn’t white supremacist or neo-Nazi, however; it’s run by Steve Gilliard, a man of the Left who happens to be black. For those of you who are unwilling to go to the site, the post refers to the US Senate campaign of Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-MD), who is also black. Mr. Gilliard has Photoshopped a Sambo-like blackface over a photo of Lt. Governor Steele, complete with huge rosy-red lips; one is reminded of the song “Old Man River” when looking at it, if one is of a certain age.
He went on to accuse Frank J. of being racist for the latter’s running gag regarding monkeys, because—according to Mr. Gilliard—the word ‘monkey’ is Frank’s code-speak for the n-word.
That gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with here.
This also gives you an idea of the state of much of the dialogue between black liberals and their conservative counterparts. Many (not all) black leftists don’t want to hear the theme of self-reliance; not unless it’s couched in anti-white rhetoric and practices (see the Nation of Islam), and even then it’s rarely a go. Often, when a conservative Republican of any color talks about the Republican method of self-reliance, some blacks on the Left don’t hear the words said; they hear whatever ideas that exist in their own mind about the Right. Hence we get posts like that of Mr. Gilliard’s, designed to inflame rather than to convince or reasonably oppose or encourage dialogue (he admits that he doesn’t want to talk). After all, who wants to get called offensive names or caricatured in the manner specified?
(Side note: white liberals take their cues on how to treat black conservatives from black liberals. Hence, white cartoonists like Jeff Danziger think it’s okay to liken Condoleezza Rice to Butterfly McQueen’s Prissie from Gone With the Wind.)
If this were the only type of dialogue between this ‘family,’ (sometimes literally family), I’d be very depressed. Fortunately it isn’t.
The Cobbfather (thanks, Avery) has long been at the forefront of intelligent dialogue between liberals and conservatives who happen to be black. (From the Left, Tony Pierce has also been very civil, at least to me.) Here is an excerpt from one of Cobb's most recent posts.
In my case, I found it rather sad that the cat engaging me was literally screaming for the answer to the question - What is the Republican plan for helping blacks in the ghetto? The quick answer to that question, any conservative will tell you in well rehearsed soundbites: We need you to help yourself out of the ghetto - it's a plantation of dependency from which you must escape. Of course when you get down into the details there's much more nuanced stuff to say, but there is one basic undeniable point on which most all on the Right will agree. America is not responsible for solving the ghetto dysfunction. In the infamous post-Katrina phrasing: "You're on your own".So, instead of letting the emotionalism provoked by Steve Gilliard’s post overwhelm you, go read Cobb’s post. Perhaps it will enlighten some who are willing to be enlightened.
This really sounds harsh to progressives, who are looking for ways to improve life through innovation and reform in government. It sounds downright evil to liberals whose expectations of government are to manage the problems of the relatively indigent. To conservatives, it sounds bracingly honest, forthright with a minimum of BS. It is the political equivalent of spinach, an ugly vegetable that actually is good for you and makes you stronger.
But here's where it get's particularly ugly - we inject race into it. And with race comes identity. As soon as you say 'black progressive' or 'black conservative' you've raised the complexity and volume of this simple ideological conflict. Here's why.
UPDATE: Actions have consequences. Virginia gubernatorial Democrat candidate Tim Kaine has pulled his ads from Mr. Gilliard's site.
(Thanks to Expertise)
UPDATE: Story here. Now Mr. Gilliard says that Lt. Governor Kaine is racist for pulling the ad.
The blogger, Steve Gilliard, said the Kaine campaign had paid for a month of ads. He defended his attack on Steele and, after the Kaine campaign's action, changed the Web site again to feature an attack on Kaine as a "coward" for pulling the ads.What a charming fellow this Gilliard is.
"I guess they have a problem with black people expressing themselves in print," Gilliard said. "At no point did they bother to ask me what I thought or why I did it."
It's pretty plain what he thinks.
UPDATE: David Anderson, noted man of the Left, also black, also hasn't let our ideological differences get in the way of his being a gentleman. I've even been a guest poster at his place.
UPDATE: Mr. Gilliard has taken down the altered photo, apparently at the behest of the Washington Post who owned the original.