It happens to be a picture from 2005, but some things never change. And so I reflect on Unity this year.
As I'm writing, I happen to be listening to David Allen White's second hour of Shakespeare from the Hugh Hewitt show, but the writer who most made me think about the cause of unity was Yukio Mishima. From him I got the concept of the unity of pen and sword. The fact that White's a professor at the Naval Academy is not lost on me. He says his students pay particular attention to the History plays as do I, and Taymor's Titus has been spinning in my DVD player lately.
But today I am struck by the necessity for Christian unity, especially in light of the extent to which claims on the soul of African Americans are tied up in that which is honest about the Conservative Christian anti-Kwanzaa agenda.
I do not take it for granted that Kwanzaa is racialized as do most people. And my eyebrows have been recently raised by the observance of my daughter's Barbie play in which they have declared that various of their dolls 'look Jewish' and thereby have play-marital consequences. More on that as I investigate. But clearly the elementary school take on Kwanzaa for these people, Hanukkah for those, Christmas for them is pervasive.
Lastly as a preface for the conclusions to follow, I offer in recent recognition of a fairly well-put post from last year the following excerpt from a comment I made:
From the perspective of liberty for the African in America, the single greatest Christian prophet was John Brown. I judge every anti-racist and every would-be liberator of Africans in American history against his standard. Brown, like few before or after him recognized the absolute equality of all men before God and considered any society that made legal, or political distinctions as an affront to God. He dedicated his life, not only as a member of the Underground Railroad, but to the point of armed rebellion, to the purifying of America of the great sin of racism. In the end, of course, John Brown failed. And there is no Church in his honor because America failed too. The great accommodations made by this nation on behalf of the liberty of the African has come by legal fiat. These may have been inspired by the same type motivations of John Brown, but we know there is no single denomination of American Christians whose laity was thusly committed. There is no American Church who made its congregants more Christian than White. That remains an affront to God for which those Churches and laity will account - especially those who boldly claim to work to make this a Christian nation.
So the tasks of liberation, both large and small, have fallen primarily on the African Americans themselves. The history of freedom in the contemporary West is significantly their story, without which any American claims of diversity would be a mockery. America is a global melting pot, not merely a western European melting pot, owing to the successful freedom struggle of the African American. If this were still the home of the Colored, and the land of Post-Reconstruction injustice, no Indians, Muslims, Asians or any other group would be in any position to enjoy the liberty they do.
And so we owe more than a little bit of respect for those freedom struggles, not only specifically to those historical figures who make headlines and history books, but to the families who carried the torch for liberty in their hearts and homes.
At such time as I see clear signs of a reconciliation between the black and white Christian Church over the matters of the history of African liberation in America, then I will put aside any controversy. But for now I hold the majority of Christian Churches and the Negro Church responsible for foot-dragging and intransigence and of leaving aside worldly concerns in sanctimonious vanity.
Liberation Theology is not a new idea, and there are many Christian denominations who profess it. I have been a fan of Cornel West's in this regard, and I expect that Liberation Theology might be a cornerstone of a proper multiculturalism. But in my opinion, Conservative Christians are a great deal more forward in their efforts to minister to the nation than those Christian liberators.
I happen to be one of those people who believes that a significant minority is enough, even in a plural democracy, so long as their resolve goes to the death. We owe most of that which is tractable in history and morality to those who would die trying. It is truly the only bar for the measure of man. Yet there are clearly things that are highly valuable but not worth dying for. More importantly there are those inevitable conflicts thrust upon us for which others are willing to die for in defiance of things we may not have held so dear. And this, I would hope more astute readers have already surmised, is the cause of liberty for which so much blood, treasure and jawboning has been expensed our War on Jihidis in the theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan. (It may yet become the Muslim War).
I have no desire to declare or take up the cudgels of Crusade, for it is not Christianity that the world needs so much as it is the freedom to choose Christianity or not. The divine gift of free will has been denied and there are a thousand reasons to restore that gift whether mercenary or ordained. But the ability to recognize the value of liberty in the affairs of men needn't owe to Christian evangelism, in fact it doesn't. I have no doubt that somewhere in the Neoconservative mind is a willingness to give props to various interpretations of Christian duty, but I cannot be convinced that the geopolitical expertise and guidance given George W. Bush amounts to a missionary exercise. Liberty is not a sacred covenant. It is a contract between men.
This is a contract that was broken in America that has been mostly restored. And although I choose to deem John Brown as the prophet, one could hardly count Frederick Douglass an infidel. Douglass sent his sons upright into battle, Brown's were covert agents. In matters of honor, the soldier always stands taller than the spy. Be that as it may, the reasons for African participation in their own liberation came without the need for Christian charity, evangelism or even participation. Men know when they aren't free and need no divine intervention to get such an understanding. Men will fight for their freedom whether or not they acknowledge God, and all who champion the causes of freedom are equally right. There are no bonus points for divine recourse. There are however double strikes for religious foot-dragging.
And it is religious foot-dragging that I intend to indict when it comes to matters of unity. For all the talk of what Conservative Christianity should be, they have no Church. The enemy of 'secular humanism' too has no Church, and it doesn't need one because its doctrine is not disciplined; it's adherents have no loyalty oaths and most likly don't even know who they are. The extent to which Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists attempt to be an overweaning force in the affairs of this nation are evident, but they do so as a scattered force. What we need is a singular target and focus, an alliance of fatwas as it were. We need a singular uniting dogma for those who would align themselves as Conservative Christians in order to make this movement clear because it is poisoning Christianity.
My vehemence against the Protestantism of Creflow Dollar is not unrestrained, but all such faithdome ministries do very much get under my skin. I see them as a diasporic blight, and I grow quite weary of their haughty appropriation of all claims to morality and Christian ethics. Loudmouths, the lot of them.
For Christian unity and for the unity required of the defenders of liberty we need appropriate places in struggle. I have no idea where such order may come. It cannot come from the Presidency because we are not suited to be an Empire as we are currently Constituted. None of us has that much loyalty, or vision quite frankly, as much as I'd like it to be - we don't have the right stuff as did other Empires in their day. And it's not going to come from the Christian Right or their influence over the Conservative Movement.
So the great unity required of the West to survive the War against Jihadis will not come about through the vain political overproductions of the Rove-assembled Big Tent. When they swoon over the potential death of the Senator from South Dakota you know desperation rules the day. The forward efforts of the Christian Right suffers from arrogance and an ill-defined set of goals which are stepping on the toes of righteous defenders of liberty from all quarters as well as other good Christians. Somehow that has to be set right.
A unity of purpose for the aims of our government's defense of our liberty would be sufficient. Such a thing might even be possible for 2008, but there's a lot of work to be done. And if Democrats take the Presidency, then the Christian Right will hopefully become as wise as Ralph Reed became as he stepped back from his provocative role of whip-snapping over political work.
One can dream.
As for black unity... As I mentioned last week, I see a very important role for a righteous cultural nationalism that takes some responsibility for the Sound of the Drum. I put it like this:
More simply said and exemplified. What continues to be considered culturally black for the next generation of ever-increasingly successful African Americans depends upon what we successful blacks cosign. What's difficult about this is maintaining the kind of relationships that keep such existential juices flowing because we are a diaspora. There are real geographical, political, educational and cultural hurdles to overcome.
This is something of a different tack than that I've been taking with regard to the Old School, which has appears somewhat defensive and combative. You have to admit that works well in blogospheric context. I think that is part and parcel of the way this kind of writing works, in contrast to what comes across when I compose video blog entries. For me personally, I am much more the person you see than the persona you read. In text, I can get right down to business.
There are two primary assertive conclusions to be drawn from these observations.
- From a black perspective, the only benefit to be gained from anti-racism owes to a positive forthright engagement with non-blacks in the spirit of direct action.
- Within African America the value of culture is higher than that of politics.
There are some very profound consequences that I see for black politics that flow from these axioms which will change the direction of Cobb with regard to blackness. From time to time I will bring to light the assumptions that undergird this thinking.
For now I think I will express blackness in the Old School form of 'soul'. Because I am beginning to believe the post-soul brotherhood was a bit too post-modern. Chuck D ain't no James Brown.
We've got to get a lot of unity into the pen, the cross and the blood before we can bring it to the sword. Aluta Continua