Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Old and New

That Jonah Goldberg is a moron and a hack is nothing new. And perhaps this piece attacking the new found respect for the 1968 "Black Power" Olympic salute is not actually particularly dumb so much as it is dumb in an area of particular interest to me.

But my God, is he ever an idiot.

Put aside the ridiculous demagoguery that these two athletes inspired the Munich massacre, and the patronizing tripe that Black people had nothing to protest because "this was 1968, not 1938." No, what really gets me wound up is that Goldberg has absolutely no idea about what Black Power is, mixing and matching two entirely separate ideological orientations:
In today's culture, is it even worth trying to remind people that the black power salute was, for those who brandished it most seriously, a symbol of violence -- rhetorical, political and literal -- against the United States? It was the high-sign for a racist militia, the Black Panthers, which orchestrated the murder of innocents and allied itself with America's enemies. (The Cuban 400-meter men's relay team gave its 1968 silver medal to Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael in the name of "Black America.") In today's lingo, you might even say black power was "divisive."

Stokely Carmichael was the founder of "Black Power", but he never formed a militia. The Black Panther militia Goldberg is referring to was Huey P. Newton's outfit. Carmichael did form the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), popularly known as the Black Panther Party (due to its mascot), but it was totally separate and unrelated to Newton's group (except that Newton took it as an inspiration), a point Carmichael was quite clear about it.

And this makes sense, given that Newton was communist and Carmichael wasn't, and given that Carmichael wanted to work from within the system while Newton wanted to overthrow it. Carmichael cast his entire project as increasing Black participation in democracy -- albeit with the caveat that insofar as Whites continued to engage in terrorist violence against Blacks, he saw no need to respond with non-violence. So in that sense, I guess Carmichael is a symbol of violence "against the United States", assuming that the Goldberg thinks "the United States" is fairly represented by the Ku Klux Klan.

I wouldn't expect Goldberg to grasp such subtleties, but only because I wouldn't credit Goldberg with having the intelligence of a pet rock. But certainly the LA Times can do better than to publish this tripe, and I'd hope that the conservative movement can find someone more erudite and attuned to the facts to represent itself on the public stage.


Unknown said...

Goldberg's a joke. My favorite little gem from him is his admission that he was wrong to support the invasion of Iraq, followed by the excuse of [paraphrased] "Aw, shucks, can ya blame me? All the people who were against it really hate America, and there's no way I could have agreed with them on anything."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for expressing the Carmichael-Lowndes County origins of the Black Panther symbol which is rarely discussed. Taylor Branch said to an audience recently that if any of us had been beated and jailed and beaten again as many times as Carmichael was (before '65) for simple voter registration than we might develop some different views of patriotism than Goldberg's Upper East Side literary world origins.