Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King's Dream vs. Black Liberation Theology

This is a reprint of my January 19, 2009  post, Does Barack Obama Believe In Martin Luther King's Dream? The subject is the theological foundation of Obama's church home of 20 years, and its incompatibility with Dr. King's dream.


I ask because the president-elect devoted 20 years of his life to a church pastored by a man who does not believe in that dream.

I base that statement on the fact that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a disciple of theologian James H. Cone.

So where does Professor Cone differ from Dr. King? Cone views race relations in terms of class warfare, a notion King rejected.

Last March [in 2008], in this post I linked a telling article in Asia Times, and excerpted a passage of Cone's own words:

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.

Dr. King did not blame whites as a whole for the pervasive racism. In his Letter From Birmingham Jail, he acknowledged both strong allies and lukewarm supporters among whites. Furthermore, he counted whites - even unfriendly ones - as brothers and sisters. No class warfarist uses language like that.

It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.


I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "An Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.


And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies [earlier he cites "Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement"] a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.


I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother."

Five paragraphs above that last quote is this passage:

I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some-such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle---have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Contrast with this passage from Page 2 of Stanley Kurtz's article 'Context,' you say? A guide to the radical theology of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (article hosted on BNET):

Indeed, one of the most striking features of Black Theology and Black Power is its strident attack on white liberals. According to Cone, "when white do-gooders are confronted with the style of Black Power, realizing that black people really place them in the same category with the George Wallaces, they react defensively, saying, 'It's not my fault' or 'I am not responsible.'" But Cone insists that white, liberal do-gooders are every bit as responsible as the most dyed-in-the-wool segregationists. Well before it became a clich,, [sic] Cone boldly set forth the argument for institutional racism--the notion that "racism is so embedded in the heart of American society that few, if any, whites can free themselves from it."

The liberal's favorite question, says Cone, is "What can I do?" He replies that, short of turning radical and putting their lives on the line behind a potentially violent revolution, liberals can do nothing. The real liberal question to blacks, says Cone, is "What can I do and still receive the same privileges as other whites and--this is the key--be liked by Negroes?" Again, he answers, "Nothing."

Unfortunately this quote doesn't tell us what these privileges are that Cone believes while liberals receive from racism and are unwilling to give up. It would shed light on his thinking.

Cone plays down his allusions to violence, but the word "necessarily" as it appears in this statement (on Page 3) suggests he doesn't rule it out entirely:

To revolutionize or eliminate these faulty "white values," black pastors and theologians must reject the influence of "white seminaries with their middle-class white ideas about God, Christ, and the Church." "This does not necessarily mean burning of their buildings with Molotov cocktails," says Cone. But it does require the replacement of middle-class consciousness with "black consciousness," with "a theology which confronts white society as the racist Antichrist, communicating to the oppressor that nothing will be spared in the fight for freedom."

Earlier on that page is this choice quote:

"Theologically," Cone affirms, "Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man 'the devil.'"

Contrast with King's epistle (emphasis added):

I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency...The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have a difficult time believing that Rev. Wright could immerse himself in this theology and not make it a cornerstone of Trinity United Church of Christ. I also have a hard time believing that Obama would spend 20 years in a church whose theology he finds largely offensive.

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The Kobayashi Maru Scenario Of The Middle East

Reason headline: 8 Reasons Not to Go to War in Syria.

To sum up the first two points, there's nobody to root for. As George S. Patton said, "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser." The only way American interests (and the interests of all civilized peoples) come out on top is if ALL factions in the Syrian civil war lose - which requires a new entrant, one that the West can tolerate. Who's that gonna be?

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Rodeo Clown Interview

Watch the video, and note that Tuffy Gessling's act has poked fun at several Presidents in this fashion over the years.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maybe This Is A Good Development

Headline: Saudi Arabia to Step in and Cover Lost Western Aid to Egypt.

More than one commenter likes the idea of somebody other than the US sending the foreign aid.

Whether or not we send foreign aid, we need to pick a side:

And there’s no doubt which side we should pick. The Muslim Brotherhood is the enemy of the U.S. and what’s left of the West. The Egyptian military is not. The Muslim Brotherhood is, as Steve says, “a fascist political faction with murderous intent.” The Egyptian military is not.

And there’s an even more fundamental consideration. World peace and order depends on the extent to which key nations are ruled by governments with no strong desire to wage or promote war. These days, fortunately, nearly all key nations are so ruled, including, I submit, Russia and China. Iran and, arguably, North Korea are the two exceptions.

Egypt’s military leadership has no strong desire to wage or promote war. We see this from its willingness to crack down on Islamist militants in the Sinai who are committed to provoking Israel.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ABC Repeats Itself

Years back, the network staged a fake anti-Muslim incident at the Czech Stop bakery in West, Texas.

This year it staged a fake anti-gay incident at Norma's Cafe in Farmers Branch, Texas.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lessons From Elysium

I take some risk drawing lessons from a film I haven't seen, save the trailer below:

Synopsis: Earth is a slum. By government fiat, the elite few live in a posh space station with all sorts of amenities that include some really astounding medical technology, which - by government fiat - is unavailable on the surface. The protagonist wages a personal war to get access to said medical technology for himself and others.

I can't find the article, but I recall reading an interview of director Neill Blomkamp in which he stated that the film touches on universal themes of the haves keeping the have-nots down by force, that it is not intended to be analogous to any specific conflict. Personally, I think the atmosphere resembles that of East Germany more than anything else, with Elysium in the role of Waldsiedlung, the "secure housing zone" for the Party elite.

I also think of the third-season episode "The Cloud Minders" from the original Star Trek series, but the commonalities are only superficial - a flying city (atmospheric and not orbital in this case) and a laborer/elite caste system. The similarities stop there. Stratos city dwellers are a decent folk defending themselves against the violently antisocial Troglyte miners, not knowing that the Troglyte barbarity is a product of the psychoactive xenite gas in the mines. Once Kirk discovers the root cause and makes it known, the problem is easily solved with gas masks.

The haves can't keep the have-nots down by force unless they have the power to do so. How do they get such power in this film?

Not having seen the film, I lack a critical piece of information: how Earth managed to become a gigantic Somalia. I suspect that Blomkamp neglected to think this through, as Gene Roddenberry and J. K. Rowling had failed to conceptualize the economic systems within their respective franchises. From history we know that only command economies (especially Communist or Fascist) or constant warfare can create entrenched poverty on such a scale. Elysium seems to have managed to completely eliminate the middle class.

Thus the lessons boil down to these two: free markets and freedom from war.

While the causes of Earth's rampant poverty may be nebulous (at least they are to one who hasn't seen the film), other economic unfreedoms are easily spotted. First and foremost, government has allowed monopolies of technological know-how, particularly that behind the Med-Pods. Realistically, such inventions would have been developed simultaneously by different parties scattered among different nations. The government managed to corral and/or eliminate all that talent, like a cross between a medieval guild and the Mafia. So next time someone talks about regulating the Internet, slap them silly with a Matt Damon poster.

Second, the government has managed to prevent non-elite Earthlings from colonizing space. (Rand Simberg, please pick up the courtesy phone.) This may have been accomplished by a combination of anti-space-emigration rules and monopolies on key technological advances necessary for cost-effective space settlement. The decay of Earth would have occurred over a long time, and assuming sufficient technology, many in the middle class would have settled the "suburbs" of the Solar System - moons, asteroids, Mars, lower Earth orbit, etc. Some might have built cushy underwater habitats - a far easier task than going off-world.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013


How Islam views the concept.

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