Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ron Miller - "Sellout: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch"

C-SPAN Book TV - Ron Miller video

I have applause and criticism for Ron Miller - Black Republican.

On the one hand his conversation shows the grinding damage that the "crabs in a barrel" syndrome causes to fellow Blacks.   His experiences in a Louisiana school system as a student (military brat) was akin to an African student coming to America and seen standing up as the teacher walked into the room, only to be laughed at for the "respect" that he showed to the teacher.

My criticism with Ron Miller has to do with the fact that he is ultimately a Republican.   He argues that the Republican Party has an obligation to reach out to the Black community and show itself as an option.  I strongly disagree.

It is the BLACK COMMUNITY, seeking to find a way to reconcile its desire for more healthy outcomes for our people that needs to look at its INVESTMENT STRATEGY and seek a greater "Return On Investment".    I personally believe that the "American Political Domain", our emotional attachment therein,  is the most destructive force to the "Black Community Consciousness" about itself than any other force that is present today.    Nothing about what Miller represents makes me believe that he, like a "Democrat Who Is Black", is less interested in his party being made strong as it also has Black members than he is in having a strong Black community who's governance defines the outcomes for its people.

There is no doubt that we need government and we need to vote.  My argument is that we do not need to be emotionally attached to the team sport that I call "The Malcolm X Political Football Game".

It should also be noted that the claim "Black people are a conservative people" does not stand up to a road test.   My larger point is that the Black community in our present condition does not have the means to OPERATIONALIZE our beliefs based upon the lack of infrastructure via institutions to achieve them.  Thus people mistake "Negroes talking" - espousing certain views that might seem "conservative" with the actual implementation of these theories - and being called "Troglodytes" as a result.  Their beliefs extending beyond their desire for popularity.

I make the case that the Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her push back on the attempts by an interviewer to indict her and her nation on its "gay rights" record.   President Sirleaf - otherwise a "liberal darling" did not attempt to spin the situation. She noted that her nation has a STRONG CULTURAL TRADITION in support of traditional male / female relationships and that open acceptance of homosexuality was an affront to this.     Tell me ONE Black Progressive operative in America who would are to be so clear and unapologetic.

(Note: I actually disagree that homosexuality or abortion should be a matter for the "law" to assign criminal punishment to.   In both cases these are CULTURAL issues and it is 'conservative' to demand that the government remain neutral and non-activist while the CULTURE of the society remain strong and clear on certain key issues. )

The Black American culture - in its present state, does not maintain the level of institutional integrity that it needs to escape the gravitational pull of populism as it focuses on long term, permanent interests of our community.   In as much as the activists now posing as "Black Leaders" have no interest in managing all of the key variables that impact our community - their marginal focus ensures that populism and cherry picking that our presence inside of a larger society will never create the infrastructure that can be pruned and grafted onto another Black diasporatic population of people around the world that need our structural support.

I believe that the Black community needs to define a better sense of itself, beyond the American political experience and then utilize the system to achieve these goals.  Today the political system is used as a protection racket for the incompetency that keeps us trapped.

While there is no doubt that the references to the Republican party and conservatism is a "conversation ender" for most Black progressives.   I don't believe that Ron Miller sufficiently builds up the independent interests of the Black community FIRST, before circling back around to the METHODOLOGIES that we popularly choose but which fails us.

With that being said - I have not yet read his book so this is speculation based on what I know of his arguments.


Ron on the Right said...

Thank you for your constructive criticism. While I simply answered the question posed to me about whether or not the Republican Party has a responsibility to reach out to the black community, I ultimately believe that we are and must be the masters of our own destiny. In the final analysis, we should not seek to be governed by Republicans or Democrats, but rather to govern ourselves. Political parties have a prime directive, and that is to win elections. I don't believe they are obligated to place any other interests, including ours, before that directive. I have always argued that my values come before my political allegiances. The former is a matter of deeply-held principle, the latter is a pragmatic decision to afford me an active role in the political process. A God-imposed timeout of sorts over the last few months has only reinforced my belief that politics is bereft of answers and we must seek them elsewhere. I have followed your words on the Booker Rising blog for a few years now, and I admire your intellect, independence and courage. I appreciate and respect your contribution to black ascendancy.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote] I don't believe they are obligated to place any other interests, including ours, before that directive.[/quote]

To be clear - I respect the Democratic and the Republican Parties for executing their mission - Convince People To Follow Their Tune.

I have little respect for either of them - with respect to the train wreck that our nation is heading on fiscally (and socially for that matter).

With that said - My #1 enemy is the "Embedded Confidence Man" who PRETENDS that a Political Party - of course we are talking Democrats in reference to Black people - is going to one day translate into "The Black Community's Salvation" IF we invest our "Community Development Consciousness" into helping it win in the "American Political Domain".

We find ourselves with a "Community 401K Portfolio" that has a lot of receipts for the investments of our 'Equal Black Ballots' but shamefully little to show for it if we look outward into our communities.

Shamefully, the "Congregational Unity" effect ensures that these failures are covered for.

I wish you success on your book. I will even purchase an electronic copy and read it for myself.

I still believe that Black people must ultimately be convinced to break free of the current "congregational agreement" that forces from the past weigh more upon us than do SQUANDERED INSTITUTIONS of the present day. The "Little Black Baby" born today is the greatest hope for the future of our community and our country. Some people see their task as being the education of these youth about the history of our oppression.

I see the need to reverse engineer their pathway to greatness and then walk them toward that prescribed path.

Ron on the Right said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron on the Right said...

Amen to that! I noted that you are an admirer of Carter G. Woodson. Last year, I read "The Mis-Education of the Negro," and it was a profound experience for me.

His work is so often upheld to justify radical "African-American Studies" programs at colleges and universities that focus on the oppression and victimhood of the black community, that I never realized that he, like Frederick Douglass, believed in black self-sufficiency and self-respect, and decried those who supposed the black man couldn't succeed in America's capitalistic society on his own.

I have quoted him often on his disdain for socialism and his absolute confidence in black people to not only survive, but thrive in America if they were 1) given the opportunity, and 2) freed their minds to believe themselves the equal of any man. He was enamored of the West Indian black for that very reason - they were free and saw themselves as equal to, rather than lesser than, their white brethren.

Keep up the excellent work!

Black Diaspora said...

@Ron Miller: "I don't believe they are obligated to place any other interests, including ours, before that directive.

I, too, will seek out your book, but for the moment, let me offer my comments on your responses.

If, as you say, political parties, are self-seeking, rather than focused exclusively on the constituency at whose behest they serve--and I don't disagree with your conclusion--then that becomes the seed of our national destruction, a seed that will one day germinate (if it hasn't already) and flourish.

"[P]olitics is bereft of answers and we must seek them elsewhere."

It can be the answer, save for the reason you've already cited, "Political parties have a prime directive, and that is to win elections."

I submit: When a political party places its needs (that of survival) above the interest of those they say they represent, it's virtually impossible for that party to continue to exist--whether it originates on the Left or on the Right.

"His work is so often upheld to justify radical 'African-American Studies' programs...."

I can't speak for what's taught at every college and university in this country, but my African American studies weren't radicalized, and neither were they whitewashed, but presented with as much historical accuracy as is possible, speaking candidly of the black condition, and not focusing on any one aspect to elicit a particular response, as you've suggested.

"[Carter G. Woodson] decried those who supposed the black man couldn't succeed in America's capitalistic society on his own."

As suggested, I don't believe that "black self-sufficiency and self-respect" are the exclusive domain of black conservatives, nor the sole possession of conservative values.

If I inferred wrongly, I stand corrected.

I reside so far to the left of most political parties, that I defy labeling.

That said, I believe that capitalism is fatally flawed, and will in time either be self-destroyed, or quietly interred.

No doubt "the black man could[...] succeed in America's capitalistic society on his own," but I'd like to think that we, as a people, can do better than an economic model based on greed, and the vagaries of the "invisible hand" to provide a panacea for society's growing ills--the accumulation of wealth and the top, and the concentration of poverty at the bottom.

Were it not for that dreaded "socialism," the stark contrast between the halves, "the have-mores," and the have-nots, would be even more pronounced--and the defects of capitalism more on display.

Black Diaspora said...

@C.F. "My #1 enemy is the "Embedded Confidence Man" who PRETENDS that a Political Party - of course we are talking Democrats in reference to Black people - is going to one day translate into 'The Black Community's Salvation.'"

C.F., this is an overstatement. If you ask the average black person whether he believes there are "political solutions," Right or Left, that will transform black communities into oases of opportunities, you won't receive affirmative answers.

I agree with Ron on the Right when he states: "In the final analysis, we should not seek to be governed by Republicans or Democrats, but rather to govern ourselves."

What's at issue is the form that that governance will take, but the goal is admirable--if not readily attainable--as it puts power back into the hands of those who can best wield it, provided there's consensus on how best to use that power.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ron on the Right: "I don't believe they ['political parties'] are obligated to place any other interests, including ours, before that directive ['to win elections']."

The Republican party, I submit, has aligned itself with the Religious Right in ways that are unprecedented--attacking marriage equality, abortions, contraception, Planned Parenthood, and, at the state level, forcing women to undergo transvaginal and/or transabdominal ultrasounds as a way to discourage abortions, a Constitutionally-protected right.

This attack on women's reproductive rights seems to counter Republican's insistence that they're the party of "personal freedom."

These are not the acts of "small government," but the hubris we associate with big government.

If the Republican party can alter one of its major premises, that of "personal freedom," creating policy positions that intrude, as it were, between doctors and their women patients--the doctor-client--privilege, then it can expand its tent and embrace concerns of interest to blacks.

The Republican party loses credibility when it capitulates to the needs of one segment of its electorate, and insist that others must either take them as they are, or leave.