Giving aid to the enemy

Wiley A. Hall 3rd

September 10, 1991|By Wiley A. Hall 3rd

I suppose I could hang out with the winos somewhere, passing the bottle back and forth and shooting the breeze.

And I suppose if I stayed there long enough, I might eventually hear one of them talking like a victim, saying that the white man had held him back, that the white man had made him an alcoholic, that the white man would not let him get or hold a job.

Or I could spend a day at the courthouse, watching while the drug dealers are hauled in chains before a judge.

And if I listened real close, I might hear some of these pushers assert that they weren't the villains, oh no, it was the white man who made them do it.

But, contrary to popular opinion, winos and drug dealers do not represent the mainstream of black opinion and most black people do not sit around whining.

Most black people work hard to survive. True, most black people acknowledge the existance of racism and discrimination -- to the outrage of racists and those who discriminate who prefer to hear that such things do not exist.

But most black people do not let racism and discrimination rule their lives. They make the most out of whatever hand society deals them and they keep on pushing.

Historian Lerone Bennett Jr. put it best when he wrote, "No one in America has worked harder and for less reward than black people."

None of this is to suggest that there is not a multitude of ills besieging the black community.

But there are other, more complex reasons for these problems than sloth. At the same time, few groups can claim to have moved further in a shorter period of time once the artificial barrier of segregation was removed.

Uncle Thomas, who's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee began today, is a black man who has made much of the fact that he is a self-made man who has worked his way up from abject poverty.

He has argued that blacks spend too much time complaining about past discrimination and not enough time working for themselves. He has admonished blacks for relying overly much on government handouts.

He has damned traditional civil rights leaders for creating and feeding on a sense of dependency in their followers and, at times, he has even gone so far as to imply that the civil rights movement was nothing more than a bunch of lazy people begging for a handout.

Not surprisingly, civil rights leaders are outraged.

But their opposition is not because civil rights leaders are narrow-minded autocrats who cannot bear dissent. The movement, from its inception, has been rife with disagreement. That is why there has always been an alphabet soup of organizations -- each with its own set of agendas, priorities and values.

For the record, there is no "black" position on affirmative action, quotas or anything else. There is no manifesto that mandates that all blacks must register as Democrats. And there is no group or leader with the authority to enforce such a decree even if one was crazy enough to make it.

Also for the record, there has never been a credible black leader anywhere who has urged his followers to freeload off the government. Self-help and pushing for personal excellence are, and have always been, dominant values in the black community.

But Uncle Thomas deliberately feeds society's stereotypes about blacks and he does so for his own personal gain. Uncle Thomas denigrates the hard work, sacrifice and struggle of his own people. And Uncle Thomas negates the hard-fought gains black people have made by casting aspersions on their motives.

Drug dealers and thieves and crooked politicians commit acts of treason against blacks, but you rarely hear them tagged "Uncle Toms."

No. There is only one offense that inspires me and others to call Clarence Thomas Uncle Thomas.

It is the same offense committed by Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele and other so-called "black conservatives" who have been touted by the Reagan/Bush administrations as men of great vision and foresight.

Their crime: reassuring racists.

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