Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ta-Nehisi's Blood of Martyrs

I just read over Krissah Thompson's piece at the Washington Post, "Blacks at Odds Over Scrutiny of President." It's a decent article - rather interesting, enlightening even. Thompson indicates that President Barack Obama's honeymoon is wrapping up for a growing and critical black constituency that wants action on a number of pressing issues facing black Americans:

As the nation's first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over ....

... a growing number of black academics, commentators and authors determined to press Obama on issues such as the elimination of racial profiling and the double-digit unemployment rate among blacks.
Ms. Thompson highlights some prominent radio and television personalities, like Jeff Johnson and Tavis Smiley. Folks like this are facing pushback from the hegemonic "blood of martyrs" old-boys' club of corrupt left-wingers in the Democratic Party's race-hustling shakedown machine.

Interestingly, it turns out that Ta-Nehisi Coates,
at the Atlantic, is an aspirant-in-good standing of the Democratic blood of martyrs patronage regime. Ta-Nehisi takes exception to Thompson's piece not be refuting her argument, but by excoriating her as an illegitimate journalist, dismissing her as among a class of "young reporters whose editors don't care enough" to smack down." Ta-Nehisi provides only one example for such demonization, which is that Thompson's use of Tavis Smiley's "Uncle Tom" quotation is weak, and from that Ta-Nahisi can write off Thompson, saying she "does no digging to see if there's more to the story."

The problem here?

The story obviously isn't Smiley's alleged bogus story (to which Ta-Nehisi provides no counter evidence or links). The issue is that Thompson's story challenges the Obamessianism among the far-left civil rights activist contingent - and Ta-Nahisi's obviously down with them "boyz n the hood."

The "Blood of Martyrs" refers to the chokehold the far-left grievance masters have on the post-1960s Democratic Party. As told by Juan Williams, in
Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America - and What We Can Do About It, the story goes back to Al Sharpton's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where Sharpton attacked President George W. Bush for taking the black vote for granted:

"Our vote is soaked in the blood of martyrs, the blood of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama. This vote is sacred to us. This vote can't be bargained away...given away. Mr. President, in all due respect, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale!"
But as Williams asks, what record of achievement could the Democrats claim to justify continued black partisan support?

The answer: absolutely nothing. But by waving the red flag labeled "blood of martyrs," Sharpton diverted all attention from dealing with bad schools, persistent high rates of unemployment, and a range of issues that are crippling a generation of black youth. Somehow, "blood of martyrs" remains the anthem of black politics at the start of the twenty-first century. Black politics is still defined by events that took place forty years ago. Protest marches are reenacted again and again as symbolic exercises to the point that they have lost their power to achieve change. As a result, black politics is paralyzed, locked in a synchronized salute and tribute, by any mention of the martyrs, the civil rights workers who died violent deaths at the hands of racists. The major national black politicians invoke these icons and perform shallow reenactments of the powerful marches of the movement as hypnotic devices to control their audiences. And if people try to break the spell by suggesting we move beyond these ancient heroes and their tactics, they are put down with language that implicates them as tools of the white establishment, reactionaries who've "forgotten their roots." Race traitors.
Or "truly lazy journalists" not "smacked down" by the editorial bosses. Right, Ta-Nehisi? .