Here follows an open letter to all defenders of liberty.
I have found myself in a very uncomfortable predicament. You see I celebrate Kwanzaa. I do so for all the best reasons you might imagine, including the rather unique fact that my parents and I were there at its inception. Because I am a blogger and have no mainstream media credentials, there isn't much that I have been able to do to correct the revisionism attending much of the publicity given to Kwanzaa by certain Christian activists and their defenders on the web. Yet I feel very strongly that there should be some balance given the distortions of this tradition and its meaning, and so I appeal to you.
The difficulty with defending Kwanzaa is part of its redeeming quality. As with Christmas, there is no central authority that controls the way its celebrants behave or what they think. People come up with all kinds of reasons and ways, some good some bad, but not strictly dictated and controlled to spend Kwanzaa week. And yet the primary attack on this meek celebration presumes that very thing - that all of us who enjoy Kwanzaa are under the spell and thumb of its primary founder, Ron Karenga. There are plenty of ugly things to say about Ron Karenga, and the enemies of Kwanzaa have spared no details. I think it is sufficient to say that he was a convicted felon. But those who continue their attacks on the holiday have found no end of ways to putting their interpretations of his intent on center stage in their rants against it. To say that Karenga's definitions of Kwanzaa supercede all others is very much like saying there could be no improvements to America and those who celebrate it based on the sins of Thomas Jefferson - whatever those sins might be. Literally that the sins of Karenga should and do haunt everyone who celebrates Kwanzaa.
This is particularly distrubing and hurtful to me, not only because it indicates the depths to which people will debase themselves to smear others, but because of my personal connection to it and my relative inability to counter the onslaught. In a very real and significant way this has come to represent to me a failure of the blogosphere to live up to its promise of getting useful information to the public by people who are personally invested but not attached to some media machine. But I hold out hope.
My initial inclination is to find some blogging allies to spread the word, and I'll probably continue to do that, but my first move is going to be getting my own blog in order. There's no easy way to describe my relationship to the holiday other than mostly good, as with Christmas, and I cannot say at this moment that I'm in a charitable mood. Part of me is saying, what is the point of explaining something like this to these morons. Yet I have to recognize that people may come here with an open mind. Anyway, I'm creating a Kwanzaa category under which you'll find a bunch of related blog entries. I've left everything in it's original form including my defense of Karenga when I didn't know what had gone on years after my parents and he parted company.
So I think I may have said enough over the past two or three years to show a nuanced appreciation for the holiday, its strengths, weaknesses, origins and practices, but I hope to get some intelligent questions and maybe a trackback or two.