Why are you a Republican, Bob?
Black Republicans need not apply
Robert George is a black Republican columnist in these parts. He mentioned my name in a post and I had to reply to him. Now, I like Bob, because he's generally a nice guy, but he should be ashamed to be a Republican.
Why Am I (Still) A Republican?
That's a good question.
The president finally spoke to the country Thursday to outline his plans for rebuilding the Gulf region -- at a cost of well over $200 billion: "As emergency expenditures soar -- with new commitments as high as $2 billion a day -- some budget analysts and conservative groups are warning that the Katrina spending has combined with earlier fiscal decisions in ways that will wreak havoc on the government's finances for years to come."
Not surprisingly, there are many GOPers gasping at the divergence between Republican principles and the nation's actual spending record under several years of Republican majority status.
But, my concern goes beyond simple philosophical discussion over budget priorities: Yes, I have a certain set of beliefs related to the size of government, the appropriateness of certain social welfare programs and the proper level of taxation. But, it's also more than that. My Republican sensibility extends beyond just basic values and personal preference. I happen to be a black person who's invested a fair bit of time actively involved in this "party of Lincoln."
That time (approximately 18 years and counting right now) has been spent as something of a translator -- official or otherwise -- between the party and the black community. In many ways, this is just an extension of the position many professional African Americans find themselves in the context of American society -- "explaining" some black sentiment or reaction that their white colleagues might not understand.
Similarly, working in a Republican leadership office AND for the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, one becomes a "spokesman" for the party whether that happens to be in the job description or not.
I don't exactly like talking about this in public. I mean, why give Steve Gillard the satisfaction? (Hey, Steve, if you're going to do an all-out slam on black conservatives, at least spell the names correctly: It's Deroy Murdock. The fact is that, with respect to those on the right, Steve has as good/evil Manichean worldview -- "you're either with us or your against us"-- as the president he so despises.)
We've been down this road before. But, it's seen as an isolated incident -- except, how isolated can it be when it occurs over and over again. How long can all this same BS go on? How long before the Republican Party gets it? What if it never does?
The newest buppie kid on the block, the National Black Republican Association, managed to implode less than a month after it's much ballyhooed launch, primarily because of a difference of vision -- though the Katrina political aftermath is said to have something to do with it:
[T]here also were questions surrounding approval of the latest news release issued by the NBRA, praising President Bush's leadership after Hurricane Katrina. "President Bush is to be commended for deploying all of the resources of the federal government to help the refugees," [Chair Frances] Rice stated in the release.
Christopher Arps, the group's former communications director, disputes that characterization:
This is not the case! The disagreement was a question of style and content of the press release more than the substance. I felt it was reprehensible for the Congressional Black Caucus and similar groups to use the disaster for partisan advantage to foster more racial divide. In a time of such a momentous disaster, I felt the NBRA should take the high road and encourage our citizens to give their time, money, and other resources to help the victims of this tragedy.
I take Christopher at his word, but even in the context of his own personal post, it's clear that Katrina created some tremors that were uniquely problematic for black Republicans.
The truth is that I had two fairly lengthy conversations with two African American men last week (before Bush's speech). They are both in their 50s and have been Republican their entire lives. They both currently live in the Washington, DC area but have never met.
From each, there was a sense of sad resignation, a feeling of, "How can we going through this one more time -- after we've had to so many times before?"
To use the tortured metaphor of the moment, one could say that if the initial Katrina response could be considered, "the hurricane" -- something that caused a fair bit of damage -- well then, what can we call the continued outpouring of rhetorical stupidty pouring from the mouths of prominent Republicans?
Bob, don't you dare suggest that my opnion on you people is a solitary one.
You know damn well that it isn't, and it's not my fault your loyalty is to people who don't respect you. Most black people are ashamed of black Republicans and you know it. Maybe in your little parties you might buck each other up, but in the real world, you're just pathetic clowns, begging for scraps at massa's table. And believe me, I despise Bush a lot less than those people who's kids are in Iraq. Those black people detest Bush in ways you cannot imagine.
My father was a Republican when blacks couldn't be Democrats. He stopped voting for them years ago, because they moved away from him. I don't know about you new Black Republicans, always running after people who could care less about you or your people.
Come on, Bob, we both know that you're the token Republican negro on TV. At least you're honest, unlike Armstong Williams. Murdoch, Murdock, it's still spelled s-l-a-v-e in the end. Because he works for racists, and not the subtle kind either. If he were a man, and not a slave, he would have quit NRO a long time ago, but espeically after Derbyshire's little rant. I mean he works with a black man and still thinks he's inferior. A normal person would have more pride than that. What kind of self-hatred would keep a man working there when his coworkers think black life has no value.
Some problems? Are you joking? Most black people believe Bush left those people to die and plans to steal their land for gentrification. They don't believe there no accident in this, and there is not one of your motley crew with the credibility to speak to Black America without a snicker to your face to counter that. Condi showed her love for black people by seeing Spamalot. I don't think Eric Idle would have done that.
I don't take any satisfaction in your plight, I am just ashamed you people are all so spineless, hoping the GOP will finally love you, we the rest of us can see that they never will.
Why are you still a Republican, Bob? You're a bright guy. You know the GOP stabs black people in the back like the bayonet course at Parris Island. You think you're some kind of bridgehead for black people in the GOP? Are you insane? The GOP loves to run against black people, like we're making their lives harder. Sure, they smile at their house negros, pat y'all on the head, but they won't ssacrifice the time of day for you. Some people, like Kemp and McCain mean well, but they're outnumbered and outgunned by the redneck coalition. Lincoln's been dead a long time and he didn't like black people all that much to begin with. I'd rather be a member of the party of Roosevelt, Franklin, that is.
Bob, you misunderstand me.
It's not with or against us, us being black people, not the Democratic Party.
It's that I don't respect you and your friends, because none of you act like men and women. You act like servants to the man in the big house.
Do you think we're blind? We see what happens to you when you expect to be treated like a Republican. You get treated like a bad puppy, shoved in a corner and hit with a rolled up newspaper. The GOP doesn't even respect you enough to talk to you when they need advice. They rather talk to their bought and paid for ministers. But then, it's not like black people will send any of you to Capitol Hill.
When was the last time you or any Republican did black radio? If you had to rely upon the black community for support, you'd be as broke as a junkie.
You even list the comments of your GOP "friends" about how they could care less about dead black people, forget the living ones.
Bob, do you know why most black people have no respect for black Republicans? Did it ever cross your mind?
You're listing insult after insult and you're still defending the party? What the hell is wrong with you? You're wondering about defending the GOP after they have verbally smacked black people in their face during their worst time since Reconstruction? I mean, you have to think about this?
Black people would respect you if you just stood up for us. You never confront your racist party members, you never challenge their racist words and plans, and you wonder why most black people hold you in contempt?
Please, Bob. We can't respect people who don't respect themselves.
Update: Lower Manhattanite posted a brilliant comment which deserves to be seen up frot
Damn, Steve! That was a rough takedown. Poor Bob was crossin' the middle looking upfield and as soon as the ball settled in his grasp--BAM! The Gill(i)ard clothesline shiver! Snot, sweat and clumps of turf a 'flyin in super slo-mo.
Give that poor kid some smelling salts. Whew!
On the serious tip, I almost feel a little sorry for ol' Bob. I see him all the time on NY1 defending this indefensible GOP position and that one, looking oddly sad and out of place--his froggy, little visage in a perpetual state of furrow as he tries to spin imbedded, ten-ton blocks of blatant hypocrisy and racism. He always looks a little bit besieged, like small ghosts only he can see of dead Black martyrs and leaders are flitting about him, clucking their tongues, pinching and kicking him for his self-destructive shilling for the GOP.
Reading the article, the l'il fella does seem somewhat conflicted. It's as if he's been hanging out with a vampire mentor for 18 years, unbitten and in denial about all the blood-drained deaths in the village. Then, while walking past a mirror with the mentor, he sees--holy sh*t!--his mentor has no reflection. The sight was over in a moment. Did it happen? Of course it did. He's not prone to hallucination. And now all those blue-faced corpses make sense--but no!--it just can't be, can it? Wouldn't that make all his mentor taught him, everything he's benefitted from just a lie?
What would that say about the value of the lie of a life/mindset he's led and promoted/"translated"?
The myth of a groundswell of Black Republicanism is just that. A sorry, tawdry little fable. There have always been just enough racism and self-hate damaged Black folks to replace the dinosaur Toms who die off, stuck in the tar pit of their own misguided beliefs. "Boy" George and his little buck-dancing band of replacements seem upset that they have to still act as bridges (lures), translators and spokesmen. Why do they have to work so damned hard when the message they bring is "soooo gooood"? Where are the numbers? Why can't they grow their group? (How small is the Black Republican wave? Let Bobby say it himself: Two lifelong African American Republicans the same age in D.C. who've never met? As sparse as Black GOP'ers are in D.C. and these guys have never crossed paths? Case rested, baby.) Bob gives away the game with his own words as he runs down the litany of disses, slights and outright smackdowns he and his fellow noir knockdown clowns face from his GOP patrons. Black folks in general know the deal about the GOP, what it stands for and who it tends to kick squarely in the nuts.
And they don't cotton (pun unintentional) to their own siding with the crew that screws 'em over. Think for a moment as to why Bush, knowing he was hated in NoLa couldn't send Condi or as a big favor to the ol' boss, Colin down there as a proxy. Because those desperate, dissed and dumped-on folks would've kicked their *sses as hard as Dubya's. They are seen, and rightly so as pawns, marketing tools and shifty, Black, open back doors to somehow sneak the GOP agenda through. Folks ain't buyin' it and Katrina just removed any impulse to even window shop.
How hard are Black folks on the GOP and the little lawn jockeys who shill for it? Even Black Democrats who cozy up too close to the GOP lose almost all credibility. Witness the case of Floyd Flake, onetime "Dem" congressman from St. Albans. Leader of the massive Allen AME church there with a flock in the thousands. Always leaning a bit conservatively, he started palling around with Al D'Amato, George Pataki and worse, Rudy Giuliani in return for pork leveraged from a GOP congress and soon took to visibly supporting them. Once he did that, this leader of one of the largest Black congregations in NY, a gifted orator, in the media capital of the world found that he had NO pull beyond his little bourgie South Jamaica fiefdom.
He was seen as an Uncle Tom for his cozying up and has never recovered from it--in spite of his remaining if in name only, a Democrat. Black folks look at the GOP and see Helms, Thurmond, Lott, Nixon, Reagan, white robes by cross-light and "Black bodies swinging from the poplar trees." And if you're a Black person who deigns to ally him or herself with said GOP you're looked at as either dumb, a joke, a mercenary and often all three.
How many times have I heard Black folks mock the odd, glassy-eyed, almost holographically projected look Black conservatives have when called on to be on camera and explain away this GOP gaffe or that one? Too many to mention. I was in Augusta a few years ago for a function when on the TV appeared Shelby Steele, trotted out to deflect the GOP indignity of the week against Black folks. A woman I did not know and assumed to be in Shelby's camp politics-wise commented venomously about how he appeared unreal and "computer generated". "All these Uncle Tom negroes have that look...kinda blurry, like they're not actually there, y'know?"
The crowd erupted into derisive laughter at the poor brow-furrowed Steele's expense. They then for the next fifteen minutes pointed out a slew of these "computer-generated" negroes and how ridiculous they seemed.
Someone goofed about them being little more than computer files the GOP punches up, like the holographic message from Princess Leia in "Star Wars".
When one person said "Let's see...lemme scroll through...ah! Here it is! Ward Conerly 2.0! Let's use that one!" the room collapsed into guffaws.
Black folks for the overwhelmingly large part have no use for the GOP and it's wooly-headed minions of bridge-building. Bob knows it, knows why, and it pains him...moreso than his fellow minions, but his pain is palpable and apparent in his questioning column title.
Like I said...I almost feel a little sorry for the kid.
posted by Steve @ 1:42:00 PM