While I have strong criticism of leftist black leaders who attack racism (whether real or not) as a reason to live, I do demand equal and fair treatment for everyone - so that would include blacks. I resist, ridicule, and reject any special treatment for any group, but since this is Black History Month, I want to praise my boyhood hero, Booker T. Washington - a fellow West Virginian who rose from slavery to scholarship, from poverty to prosperity, and from intentional humility to international honor.
Washington commented on the 'race-baiters' long before race-baiting was so profitable. He wrote, “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays.” (Let me know if you to hear that quote during the television spots supporting Black History Month.)
While I have no desire to be identified with radical leftists (whether black or white) I have always demanded that people be treated like people, not white people or black people but just people. Moreover, people of good will do not want to harm or hinder anyone but that does not mean such a person must defend and promote “Black Lives Matter” rather than “All Lives Matter.” Nor must we approve of affirmative action known by most thinking conservatives as “reverse discrimination.” We can even criticize forced busing as a flawed and failed social experiment not worth the social upheaval it caused when school choice would have promoted competition driving out the grossly inferior schools.
We can agree with some black positions and still disagree with some of their more outrageous positions such as reparations, defense of criminal blacks who resist police, support for every black demagogue such as Father Divine, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Maxine Waters, Sheila Lee Jackson, etc. Basically, I refuse to give any special treatment to blacks, Hispanics, or Eskimos simply because of their minority status. Likewise, I don’t want any special treatment because of my status - a white, elderly, conservative, gun-owning, family-oriented, and nation-loving Baptist.
There seems to be a tendency for Conservatives to reject a black leader without acknowledging that he may have some interesting and worthwhile positions that we should discuss while still being critical of much of his more extreme demands. For example, I think the Montgomery Bus Boycott was fair in that the bus company was city-owned. Blacks had as much right to sit where they wanted as any white person. Had the bus company been privately owned, I would not defend the boycott since a private business has a right to make its own decisions unless it was started with city funds or supported by city funds. In other words, a private businessman has a right to be blind, biased, and bankrupt if he desires.
While there were exceptions, most of the college students who supported the civil rights movement were noble, altruistic young people far more principled than their leaders. The London Daily Mail reported “As the veteran activist Michael Harrington delicately phrased it, the [civil rights] movement was ‘not at all a sour-faced, pietistic’ (sic) endeavour. ‘Everybody was out getting laid.’ Or trying to.” So, I respected the young devotees and disdained its leaders.
From my perspective, the scandal at the White House when the President had a black leader for dinner was a wonderful, if not overdue, example of sending a message to the haters. And I disagree with many of President Theodore Roosevelt policies. But not that day.
During Roosevelt’s presidency, a newspaper ran the headline: “It’s a crime worse than treason!” What was the crime? Teddy Roosevelt had invited a former slave for dinner in the White House—something that had never been done before. The object of the furor was a 45-year-old, mild-mannered gentleman named Booker T. Washington, known as the “Negro Moses.”
Washington was a spellbinding speaker, bestselling author of Up from Slavery, and had tea with Queen Victoria at Windsor Palace! But then, the white outrage against the dinner guest was “justified” since segregation was the law. A Negro had no “right” to dine at the White House. Both men laughed at the headlines.
Many Republicans were horrified at the news, especially in the south. Having a black man for dinner was recognizing him as equal with his host! The dinner invitation even suggested that maybe he could be considered as a possible son-in-law! The spin-masters of Republican politics suggested that it was only lunch, not dinner while others said that the meal was almost an accident. When Washington died in 1915, his obituary suggested the meeting was a “lunch.” Another source suggested that the president and the former slave were talking southern politics (most blacks were Republicans in the Democrat-dominated Southern states) and White House servants brought some sandwiches on a tray. No, that is piffle dust. A black man had dinner at the White House!
But it was more than dinner since it was a family and social affair which compounded the problem. Roosevelt’s wife and three children were there as well as an old friend visiting the city, so the message was “we are all equal.” Not in 1901. Both men received death threats. White southern demagogues spilled their bile all over themselves to pander to the haters.
Most Americans, white and black, recognized Washington as the spokesman for Negros. He was able to work with and gain the respect and support from America’s leading white businessmen. However, black militants in the North, with help from liberal Whites formed the NAACP in 1909 to be a more militant, strident voice headed by W. E. B. Du Bois, a black radical Socialist who joined the Communist Party in 1961. Du Bois was probably the best educated black in the past hundred years and a vocal critic of Washington. Du Bois left America for Ghana in 1961 and died there on Aug. 27, 1963.
James K. Vardaman who became Governor of Mississippi (and later a senator) and Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina (former governor of South Carolina) were white supremacist Democrats who reacted viciously to the White House dinner. Vardaman said, "If it is necessary, every Negro in the state will be lynched; it will be done to maintain white supremacy.” Vardaman suggested the White House was "so saturated with the odor of the nig*er that the rats have taken refuge in the stable," and declared "I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning. Neither is fit to perform the supreme function of citizenship."
What a jerk! It is amazing that our great nation survived such pariahs.
Democrat Senator Tillman declared that "The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nig*er will necessitate our killing a thousand nig*ers in the South before they will learn their place again." Such jerks did not qualify to polish the shoes of Booker T. Washington and should not have served as doormen at the U.S. Congress. (I disguised nig*er in my quotes only because this column would be rejected by some sources if it were spelled out. It is a perfectly acceptable word when not used by bigots in an offensive way.)
Booker had been a slave until the age of 9, and then worked in a salt-packing warehouse in West Virginia where his stepfather and his mother Jane had moved. His work started at 4:00 AM, so Booker could get to school on time. At age 16 he wanted more education, so in 1872 he showed up flat broke and hungry on the doorstep of the Hampton Institute in Virginia.
General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a former Union soldier, was the head of the Hampton Institute. He was not prejudiced against blacks as was common for that era. He believed black men and women simply needed education to succeed. He also felt blacks would learn best if taught by black teachers. So he asked his prized pupil Booker T. Washington to head up a new teachers' college down in Tuskegee, Alabama - the first ever aimed at educating black students. On July 4, 1881, the school opened its doors as Tuskegee Institute. You may have heard of George Washington Carver, one of its more famous teachers who became a world-renowned botanist.
Two men sat in the White House dining room, one black and the other white, one the President of the U.S. and the other a former slave, and a photo of Abraham Lincoln could be clearly seen behind and between their chairs.
Today, the issue is not black versus white, but collectivist versus conservative. Or Communist versus Christian. Or dictatorship versus democracy. The previous administration specialized in failure, fraud, falsehood, fiction, fakery, and fabrication. I choose freedom.
Proving that Americans are not racists (but are fools), American voters put a radical black president in the White House, and yet I wonder if he would have invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, what with Booker’s very Christian, conservative, and common-sense ideas? I wonder if blacks such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Dr. Benjamin Carson, or war veteran statesman Allen West, or successful businessman Herman Cain, or Ambassador Alan Keyes, or a host of other such outstanding black leaders were invited to have dinner with the Obamas. That kind of bipartisanship and balance would be scandalous to our progressive, willfully blind media!
Maybe it’s time for another scandal at the White House! How about President Trump recommending a day of honor for my boyhood hero Booker T. Washington!
After all, like me, he was from West Virginia, so maybe I too want this special treatment for minorities!