Dedicated to the memory of the fearless Andrew Breitbart.
Note: I began composing this essay some months before the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman shooting, but, in its wake, I felt that it was time to finish it and post it.
Usually I’m reading several books at once and using Kindle for Blackberry iPhone has exacerbated this low level of ADD.
One of the opened books on my device is Lee Harris’s The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West. The subject matter is obvious; however, in the preface and the first few chapters, Harris barely mentions Islam at all. Instead, he does two very valuable things: he defines his terms and lays the ideological foundation for those terms as they relate to his subject. The two sets of players in the scenarios that Harris describes are: rational actors and tribal actors or fanatics. All of the following excerpts are taken from the book’s preface.
Throughout most of human history, men have not behaved like rational actors but like tribal actors; and in many cultures of the world today, they continue to behave that way. They have no choice. When everyone around you is a member of a tribe, you must either belong to a tribe or be an outcast. Whereas the rational actor asks himself, “What is best for me,” the tribal actor must ask himself,” What is best for us?”
[W]hat limits [the tribal actor’s] freedom is not so much the pressure of the tribal mind applied externally, but rather the fact that the tribal actor thinks with the tribal mind, and so cannot even imagine doing things differently from the way they are done by his tribe.
The rational actor has the luxury of appealing to his conscience in order to condemn the behavior of his own community.
The tribal actor, on the other hand, cannot take a moral stance outside the perspective of his tribe. For the tribal actor, the highest ethical idea is: “My tribe, right or wrong.” The mere idea that his tribe could be wrong is unthinkable for the tribal actor, since he defines as right whatever the tribe deems right, and wrong as whatever the tribe deems wrong.
So let’s see how these observable truths relate to black Americans.
We have seen black Americans like former presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-GA), Rep. Allen West (R-FL), and Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC)--people who are obviously black and of African descent, using the eyeball test and known heritage--be deemed "not really black.” i Men like the foregoing are those who are not Democrats, who oppose the policies supported by the Democrat Party and who do not politically support Democrats of any race or color, not even the present President of the United States of America. But how can black Americans who are not Democrats or Liberals or Leftists become not themselves? And what gives Democrats—even white ones—the authority to determine who is black and who is not?
The following videos have a common theme.
The pride/shame dynamic is what is on display here. This feature is used rein in members of a tribe who step outside of pre-defined tribal boundaries.
Black Americans are, for the most part, a tribe. Some will take offense to that opinion, but if we look into the specifics of our existence as Americans since the practice of enslaving imported Africans became widespread, we see that there is nothing else that we can be called.
Remember, our ancestors, of various West African tribes, were bought here, sold, and forcibly stripped of their various names, languages, cultures, and religions. That conditioning created a new tribe: the Negro. And even after the abolition of slavery, Americans of African descent were confined to a certain level of society. A few managed to break the barrier, but the vast majority remained in the legal, economic, educational social and tribal space into which the US Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson allowed state and local governments to pen them.
But along came the Civil Rights Era, really beginning in the 1940s and reaching its apex in the 1970s. The Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Acts heralded the end of our status as a tribe within a nation and they harkened to the objective ideals on which this nation was founded.
These landmarks of legislation stated that we belonged to the American “tribe” all along. But, concurrently, another idea—an ideology--was on the ascent as well: Black Pride.
Pride. When we hear the word, we interpret it in two ways.
So-called benign pride is represented in the following example: we are proud of ourselves when we achieve hard-won goals-- educational, personal, etc.; we are proud of cherished relatives and friends who do the same.
The not-so-good type of pride is that which the Bible warns against--"the high look," “the up-tilt of the chin.”
Recall that in the days before the Civil Rights Era, being a black American was a matter of shame and degradation, but the idea of “Black Pride" served to counter that. The concept of Black Pride, while initially a good thing, has, however, brought black Americans from one extreme mindset and deposited us into another. It took us away from the shame of being black to a place in which no one may criticize a black person who is deemed to be in good standing with the “tribe.” Many (most?) black Americans believe that blackness is a way of thinking and a political position and, stemming from these ideas, that any black person who deviates from the “black” mindset and political position—a black conservative--isn't really black. This idea stems further from the Left co-opting "black pride" and using it to keep anger and grievances alive long past their dates of pertinence. The purpose of this tactic is to keep the wedge open between black and white Americans, drive it wider, and produce violence. We've seen it happen many times. The ultimate purpose, taken together with many other tactics, is to destroy America.
Pride is what is always has been: inordinate high opinion of one's superiority and goodness; the preening to appear better than on-lookers. (My great-aunt calls it “floor-showing.") That we had to use pride--a sin--to “rid” ourselves of the mindset of shame and degradation is the problem. We went too far in the other direction, so far in that direction that the things which are destroying us--the things which we should be ashamed of--we have deemed inherent to blackness and called them good. We call the chains of the New Slavery--bastardy, illiteracy, mis-education, self-genocide, etc.—our due, our rights. And we believe that any of our number who breaks free ideologically and tries to tell their brethren how to be free is a traitor to the tribe. (Harriett Tubman would understand.) Shame is no longer an option, except as a cudgel for those who point this out. ii
In addition, we deem the New Slavers--the modern-day Democrat Party--to be our friends even though their forebears were always the perpetrators of overt black American slavery and oppression and they have lured all too many of us into contemporary bondage. This sort of tribal pride blocks the ability to see what's right in front of one’s face and the ability to accurately map out the future. It blocks reality.
Herman Cain was dead on when he called it brainwashing and it has been a decades-long process, coinciding with the Left's agenda to hollow out the institutions of this country.
Here’s the thing: I think that certain types of tribalism are beneficial to those within and even without some sets of tribal boundaries. Some years back, Bill Whittle famously expounded on the tribe of Sheepdogs, those rough men—and, sometimes, women--who make it their business to protect sheep from the wolves of this world. “You choose your tribe,” said Bill, and allowing oneself that choice is the province of rational actors. This isn’t to say that one should separate self from one’s racial, ethnic, national, or ideological tribe. However, it is to say that blindly following each one of the presumed norms of the tribe into which one was born is folly and it is the province of tribal actors. That is the place where into which all too many of my fellow black Americans find ourselves locked, mentally and emotionally.
Through this mindset, black Americans have become the organized Left's shock troops in latter’s war against America and all too many of us have become the Left's overseers, tasked to force the "deserters" back into formation using the tools of ridicule and shame. I almost said that the Left was at war with black people, but the Left doesn't esteem blacks enough to deem us as their enemies. We are merely tools to be used for the task at hand—to foment violent racial discord which will have to be put down using infinitely stronger government violence--and to be discarded when the task is completed, assuming that there will be any of us left after the New Civil War. And we let ourselves be used for one reason: tribal vengeance; for slavery and for oppression.
I submit that the Obama Administration, representing black Americans and no others, declared a tribal war against white Americans when Attorney General Eric Holder refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party after the latter's blatant violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Department of Justice’s inaction sent a message mirroring that of the US Supreme Court Dred Scott decision (1857): that the white man has no rights which the black man is bound to respect. Leftist ideology has been inculcated into black Americans for quite some time now and one of the strategies of this process has been to keep alive racial anger and the desire for tribal vengeance for past oppression. The Obama Administration's inaction in the above matter was merely a formal declaration, but the anger has long been simmering and, all too often, it boils over. Am I exaggerating? I don’t think so. And I think that many Americans have gotten the message.
Assuming that the above is true, let’s leave aside morality and conscience for a bit and look at this declaration strictly from a strategic point of view. Leaderless families and the resultant black-on-black killings are prevalent among black Americans and directly attributable to the lure of LBJ’s New Slavery Great Society programs. (I contend that these two features are merely the aforementioned ‘shame and degradation of being black’ re-packaged and internalized. If the leaders of a people—men—don’t love their progeny enough to marry the women who bear their children and/or remain in the lives of those children long enough to bring them into functioning adulthood, why would those children love themselves or those who look like them? And abortion is merely the black female method of black-on-black killing.)
So we black Americans murder ourselves within in womb and without, assert the former as our right, and ignore the latter. These methods of self-genocide have greatly thinned the “troops.” Taking this into account, one logically concludes that starting a war with a “tribe” that outnumbers us 12-1 and outguns us is pure folly.
It will bring the tribal suicide which we’ve been slowly committing, to a quick and devastating conclusion.
Turning back to conscience and morality, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob reserves vengeance to Himself, and instructs Jewish and Christian believers to forego it. But even if one does not believe in Him, it’s easy to see the chaos which is nearly always brought about by the unending cycle of human vengeance. You murder/enslave/oppress mine, then I take vengeance and murder/enslave/oppress yours. Then you take vengeance and murder/enslave/oppress more of mine. Then I…
Is this what you want, Americans? I do not.
Harris points out that rational actors can only live as rational actors if those around him—those in his society—continue to behave as rational actors as well. He also says that, when a rational actor finds himself surrounded by tribal actors—fanatics—it becomes rational for a rational actor to revert to being a tribal actor. The alternative is to perish.
We all tend to forget that all human beings are only a few steps away from reverting to the Law of the Jungle. Twentieth-century Europe demonstrated and the Muslim world still demonstrates the truth of this. Will we Americans—all of us--continue in the way of most of humanity? Everyday, I pray not.
[i] It’s interesting that Liberals think that black people have a certain way of thinking embedded in the DNA. White supremacists think this as well.