BILL COSBY'S Wednesday visit to Baltimore did nothing for me but bring back a bad memory, one only a week old.
None of this was Cosby's fault, mind you. My experience occurred in Cambridge, Mass., during my three days at a liberal re-education camp. You know it better as the college formerly called Harvard University.
OK, so I'm kidding.
I spent three days in Cambridge, where members of the Trotter Group, an organization of black columnists, held their annual meeting. There were several symposiums held with liberal cognoscenti in the Charles Hotel and at several places on the Harvard campus. One was in the Nieman Foundation's Knight Center, where Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint led a discussion called "How Right Was Bill Cosby?"
After admitting that Cosby had erred in his assertion that teen pregnancy was rising and clarifying the comedian's data about the drop-out rate among black teens (it is as high as Cosby said) Poussaint, apparently assuming that all black columnists have liberal DNA, asserted that "You wouldn't expect [Justice] Clarence Thomas to love black people. You wouldn't expect black conservatives to love black people."
I felt compelled to mention to Poussaint that, as a conservative who loves black people, I had a problem with his assertion. At any rate, I didn't know there was a contest going on. Will all the winners of the "We Love Black Folks Contest" please raise their hands?
I don't know who started this nonsense about who loves black folks the most, but I do know this: People who don't give a tinker's damn about you will tell you what you want to hear, or what they think you want to hear. People who love you will tell you what you need to hear.
So who loves black people the most? Those of us, no matter what our politics are, who say that blacks can't blame white racism for all - or even most - of what afflicts us and that we have to take some responsibility for doing things ourselves? Do those blacks who say racism and the system hold black folks back while patronizing those black parents who have no interest in their children's education really "love" black folks?
Is loving black people telling them that pouring more money into public schools will save public education or is it those black conservatives who said, long before Cosby did, "Hey, it's the parents, stupid" who are showing the love?
Well, it can't be us black conservatives, according to Poussaint. We "don't love" black people. Poussaint isn't the first to utter this nonsense, of course. I've had some e-mailers, callers and letter writers tell me that all the time. When I remind them that two of the most famous black conservatives, Booker T. Washington and Birmingham, Ala., businessman A.G. Gaston, did more for black folks in one day than detractors of black conservatives have done all their lives, the commentators move the goal posts.
Washington and Gaston, they will contend, weren't "real" black conservatives.
Once they're done rewriting history with a wave of the hand, they get back to telling me how Mr. Justice Thomas has single-handedly reduced the quality of life for every black man, woman and child living in America. Thomas and other black conservatives "don't love" black people, you know, certainly not the way other factions within the black body politic love it.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Black Panther Party, the revolutionary faction, showed its love for black people by having its members intimidate, alienate and terrorize black nationalist groups the Panthers labeled "pork chop nationalists."
Renegade members of the Nation of Islam showed their love for black folks in 1973 by massacring several black women and children belonging to the Hanafi Muslim sect in Washington, D.C.
Several years later, Hanafi Muslims, seeking what they called "justice" for the 1973 murders, took several hostages and committed one murder. The victim? A black reporter for Howard University's radio station. I guess we could say the reporter was "loved" to death.
Two members of a "pork chop nationalist" group headed by Ron Karenga - the same guy who gave us Kwanzaa - shot two members of the Black Panther Party to death in 1968. In the spirit of love, of course.
Liberal blacks frequently show their love - as the Congressional Black Caucus did several years ago - by questioning the intellectual capabilities of black students and implying they'll flunk standardized tests not even created.
With love like this going around, maybe black folks need somebody black who'll hate us a little.