One of the toughest things about being particularly literate and attempting always to be well read upon the subtleties of the day is that one often finds oneself in the company of those who are not. I am reminded at this particular moment of my first visit to Fenway Park. Not being a huge baseball fan, I wasn't particularly interested in buying expensive tickets, and so I found myself in the bleachers. If you've ever been in the bleachers at a Red Sox game, you must know what it's like to be surrounded by loud, rowdy fanatics on the very borderline of public drunkenness. Not my crowd. But it was still a good game and I rooted for the home team.
It's often like that when I present myself as a Republican or as a conservative. I'm not so fanatical about it that I buy the expensive placements, but it doesn't mean that I particularly enjoy being associated with the rowdies. I'm a conservative and a Republican because my experience and thinking dictate that I should be. I didn't do it for the company.
So this puts me in the odd position of, well, being a bloody individual who chooses what he chooses as an expression of will, not as some existential crutch. I do so with the express understanding that some conservatives have unfairly earned all conservatives the reputation of not having such a vocabulary as 'existential crutch'. Then again, there's a certain kind of projection going on in the minds of the opposition.
It is with this sort of situation in mind that I deal with the loaded brickbat terms 'Tea Party' and 'Runaway Slave'. You see, this week I intend on attending an event with 'Runaway Slave' in the title. A certain minister C.L. Bryant is making a film about black American conservatives, and I'm very curious to check it out. Having been apprised of the situation, I'm going. It turns out that Breitbart is involved, as is Jesse Lee Peterson, two lightning rods.
I've encountered Peterson only briefly, and about 20 years ago through his association with BOND. It was at a Black Family Reunion in Exposition Park back in the days when that was going strong in Los Angeles. BOND reminded me of a gang for squares, a kind of bush league Alpha Phi Alpha for the kids who never made it to college. Snob that I am, and liberal that I was, it was easy for me to look down my nose at the whole program. But I did respect the young man I did meet, took his business card and smiled at the thought that there were still some people around who believed in the propriety of marriage, wearing a shirt and tie, and minding one's English. One is hard pressed at times to deal with the reality of hard knock cases trying their damnedest to become and remain respectable in a slavishly cynical society as ours can be. Such young men are so vulnerable. You never want to see their modest dreams upset, and wonder if they are properly self-possessed rather than merely enchanted by such a fearless leader as Minister Peterson.
Without going back into the sort of scathing excoriation I might have served up to Peterson in my early days of 'black' conservatism, I know that he is not the sort who inspire the loyalty of bloody sophisticates such as myself. So I'll not belabor the analogy to Fenway Park. But we are on the same side, and we root for the same team. Or perhaps I should say we are in the same American League. But, truth be told, I'm more of a Yankee fan.
The same kind of disdainful fellowship I share with those addicted to analogies to slavery when speaking of the fate of contemporary black Americans. Powerful, tired, over-freighted metaphors keep peppering the dialog - enough to make me sneeze. How many times have I heard 'off the plantation' or 'house vs field' or 'Uncle Tom'? But there it is. And so it is with 'Tea Party' and other symbols of liberty and freedom that are abstracted into abuse by every partisan who joins the fracas.
There's no way around the history. You can't avoid the terms, but I hope that Bryant and his collaborators can move beyond them quickly and smartly towards issues of import. Yet and still I know that it is impossible to corral all of the African American interest in the broad Right. So I'll be checking out the general progress of black conservative politics as it becomes manifest in its various ways, especially in Los Angeles.