February 15, 2007
Obama, Lincoln and the Reformation of Black HistoryBy Marc Sheppard
On the 10th day of this year's Black History Month, C-SPAN's coverage of the State of the Black Union conference was preempted in midbroadcast. The spotlight departed the Hampton University forum to journey to the site of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous house-divided anti-slavery speech in 1858. Here, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was about to employ a similar unity theme in announcing his quest to become the first black man in American history to make an earnest, rather than merely symbolic, run for the presidency. While the imagery of the moment totally enraptured
the mainstream media, the stage 750 miles to the east was decidedly less giddy.
Before a crowd of between 15,000 and 17,000 shivering supporters, the freshman Senator from Illinois took full advantage of the political significance of the time (2 days before Lincoln's birthday) and the place of his historic speech.
Now, the stated theme of the Hampton, VA symposium was the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement and its historical significance to the slave trade. With that in mind, one might expect Obama's effort to emulate and honor the "Great Emancipator" with these remarks to be well received there.
So, you may imagine the surprise the reaction from Rev. Al Sharpton evoked in this white byproduct of the NY public school system who had naïvely presumed that Lincoln was accepted as a hero by all Americans of color:
Heavy fare, indeed. But this would be only the beginning of the panel's black history revisionism and my consequent reeducation. Lerone Bennett of Ebony Magazine repeated the theme of his batty book Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream which paints Lincoln as a life-long white supremacist whose actual goal was the deportation of blacks back to Africa. According to Bennett, were it up to Lincoln, the black Senator would not be allowed to live in America, much less run for its highest office:
.Bennett declared that Lincoln's role in emancipation was mostly emblematic, and offered this tale of 2 cities as evidence:
The indignity of my ignorance was, thankfully, somewhat assuaged by the fact that Obama himself appeared no better informed as he continued his speech.
Princeton's resident white hater, Cornell West, went so far as to question the Senator's decision to announce on the same day as the forum which had been a year in the planning.
Listening to these words, one gets the distinct feeling that the nutty professor stopped just short of invoking the name of a not-too-celebrated Harriet Beecher Stowe character. And that was prior to his warning that you can't take black people for granted just because you're black and questioning just what Obama was willing to sacrifice. And, let's not forget the root of all white evil:
West's payoff also questioned the Lincoln overtones:
Sharpton didn't seem particularly concerned with the furtherance of racial harmony either:
It's striking that those who are more concerned with the black about his face than the green about his gills are members of his own race.
In closing, West cautioned the crowd about optimists, claiming them to be "not in touch with reality." Despite this uplifting sermon, one quite optimistic black Senator's voice resonated through the cold Illinois air.
Dr. Julia Hare, National Executive Director of The Black Think Tank, told the all but exclusively black audience that "integration is the illusion of inclusion."
When the reverend Al actually condemned integration as a racist concept, his words elicited an enthusiastic standing O from the crowd.
Of course, it's difficult to imagine that Dr. Hare wasn't characterizing any of her fellow panelists when she warned the audience to never confuse leading blacks with black leaders.
Hare then affectionately named those media puppeteers:
Healing is a wonderful process, isn't it? To hear Hare tell it, leading blacks sneak into boardrooms and tell them they can put down up and coming black leaders who don't suit their corporate purposes. Of course, at least one man sitting on that stage has forged a booming personal-wealth industry by shaking down big-business through racial politics. Unruffled -- Obama maintained his pledge of unity.
Addressing Obama's mixed lineage, Jesse Jackson's words have been either wholly overlooked or strangely misquoted.
The panel included black men and women of varying skin tones and it appeared obvious that Jackson's words were crafted to imply them to be the progeny of behavior even more sordid than the institution of slavery itself. Is there no limit to this man's outrageously irresponsible and divisive accusations?
Then, in a strange response to the evils of white supremacy, Jackson offered sports as an example of black superiority. He said "we win" whenever "the playing field is even, the rules are public and the goals are clear," and predicted the same outcome one day in science, math and business when such an opportunity is extended.
The twice failed presidential candidate also took a stab at Lincoln's emancipationist saga, but it's difficult to assess whether or not he broke any white skin:
Can we ever hope to be "one people" while black leaders (and leading blacks?) focus their masses on hatred and the squalid legacy of slavery; even resorting to dishonoring the man credited with its fall?
Unfortunately, we witnessed little hope in Cathy Hughes of Radio One ranting about the benefits of blacks doing business exclusively with other blacks. Or Dr. Hare calling deductions from the paychecks of black men returning to the workforce after incarceration "taxation without representation," as their felony convictions stripped them of their voting rights. Or Malika Saada Saar equating imprisoned pregnant black women to slaves forced to lie with their pregnant bellies in holes while being whipped.
However, Cornell West's words notwithstanding, some optimism did manage to flow from the HU stage. We heard from Tim Reid and his wife Daphne, both strong proponents of education -- particularly in the black community. Tim, who you may remember as Venus Fly Trap in the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, lamented that one of the most popular tee-shirts in Africa bears the face of thug rapper Tupac Shakur. He added that it was time for young black men to aspire toward a better image than that of "violent buck." There was also Dr. Mae Jemison who discounted her distinction as the 1st black woman in space, saying the better goal is to be the 1st human to achieve, rather than the 1st subclass to do so.
Regrettably, those promoting education and individual achievement were not nearly as well received as were their racially antagonist counterparts.
And, so, while these words came from Obama in Springfield, IL:
These came the very same day from Sharpton in Hampton, VA:
It's becoming abundantly clear that this multicultural experiment has forged a melting pot short the heat necessary to incorporate its ingredients.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards preaches of "Two Americas."
Candidate Obama will be forced to deal with the likelihood that his fellow presidential hopeful's count isn't even close.
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.