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Monday
Jul092012

Discussion About Douglass Differentiates Dour Liberals from Lively Conservatives

source: iStockPhotosIn his 2008 book Makers and Takers, Hoover Institution fellow (and National Center board member) Peter Schweizer concluded in part that being liberal or conservative is “not simply [about] political ideologies, but represent ways of life.”  Conservatives, he suggested, are happier and more optimistic — among other quality-of-life factors — than their liberal counterparts.

This behavior trait that Peter pointed out in his book was proven again last week in a coincidental clash of opinions involving politically-engaged blacks.

On July 4, comedian and successful voice actor Chris Rock chose to use the occasion of our nation’s birthday to dredge up and complain about terrible racial acts that were outlawed almost 150 years ago.  In what appears to be a crass attempt to perpetuate the notion that there is a conspiracy to keep black Americans in an untenable economic and social ghetto, the celebrity one-percenter tweeted:

Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks.

As the tweet created news, the folks over at MSNBC rushed to defend Rock and his comment.  Guest-hosting for liberal firebrand Ed Schultz, the equally controversial Michael Eric Dyson said the next day that “[w]hat Rock alluded to is hardly new.”  Slavery?  Yes — not new.  But there was a war that was fought, in part, to get rid of it.

Guest James Peterson additionally called Rock “sharp, smart and intellectual.”

Really?  Really!?  This is the same Chris Rock who talked about how he “love[s] black people, but… hate[s] niggas” in his 1996 “Bring the Pain” stand-up special on HBO.  In that same special, Rock suggested hiding money from burglars in books because “books are like kryptonite to a nigga” and they “don’t read.”  And Rock’s biggest movie role lately has been a talking cartoon zebra.  This stuff is hardly intellectual.

But I digress.

In his defense of Rock, Dyson cited “The Meaning of July Forth for the Negro,” a speech by black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, as a justification for Rock’s tweet.  Douglass did complain mightily — and with good reason — about the status of blacks as others celebrated independence.  The problem with Dyson’s equivocation is that Douglass gave the speech in 1852 — more than ten years before the Emancipation Proclamation freed blacks from bondage in the American south.  Rock’s ill-conceived tweet was two days before Dyson’s 2012 show.

Project 21’s Stacy SwimpDyson, however, did successfully and unwittingly set up a great analogy that makes Schweizer’s case in Makers and Takers.  It just so happens that, the day before Rock’s comment and two days before Dyson invoked the Douglass speech on MSNBC, Project 21 member Stacy Swimp used the same Douglass speech to laud the progress and expansion of American freedom and opportunity.

In his New Visions Commentary “What, to Black Americans, is the 4th of July,” Stacy excerpted portions of the Douglass speech (including the paraphrasing of it in the title).  But Stacy noted:

[Douglass] would more likely be proud of how far America has come in ensuring equal protection under the law.  There are now many reasons to celebrate Independence Day.

Citing the participation of blacks in the Revolutionary War on the side of the new American nation, and the new opportunity and equality that has blossomed in the post-slavery era, Stacy added:

Responding to Douglass today about the meaning of and reason to celebrate Independence Day, we ought to proudly stand tall and respond: We have everything to celebrate — for we played a big part in the independence in this great nation.

Two days.  Two very different political views.  Two different interpretations of the Douglass speech.  One very astute observation by Peter Schweizer validated.

Stacy is never going to say that America is a land without racism or discrimination, but he recognizes the opportunity that is now available to virtually every American.  Stacy insists that someone take advantage of every opportunity that they can before complaining about being held back because of their race.  The Dysons and Rocks of the world — despite their own personal success stories — seem to go in the opposite direction as they infer the system is rigged against them.

Stacy and other Project 21 members, on the other hand, see America as a place where the glass is half full.  And that’s why they are conservative.

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