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December 29, 2005

The Truth about Kwanzaa Attackers

My third day into my mission of being a one man hit squad has yeilded some interesting insights. I can state them as the axioms of opposition.

1. Karenga is an athiest, therefore Kwanzaa is anti-Christian.
2. Karenga is a criminal, therefore Kwanzaa is illegitimate
3. Karenga is a racist, therefore Kwanzaa is racist.
4. Karenga is Marxist, therefore Kwanzaa is Anti-American.

That's it. This is basically what all the fuss boils down to. You'll notice the pattern Karenga is therefore Kwanzaa is. It's a clever little trick that really boggles the mind of someone like me. You see I would expect more cogent arguments to say something about the people who celebrate Kwanzaa, rather than the guy who kicked it off.

Secondly, you would think that people who go one step beyond the ad hominem would say something substantial about the Nguzo Saba. That is to say that they might show their reasoning that Kuumba, for example, defies one of the Ten Commandments. Not that anyone swears a sacred oath to Kawaida or the Nguzo Saba. But perhaps they think that even repeating one of those 'East African' words might send them straight to Gehenna. Who knows? There's plenty of credibility in the vaguely stated arguments that Karenga is Marxist and therefore Kwanzaa must be Anti-American in some way, but nobody has really mentioned 'Ujamaa' itself. The irony is that they'd get no quarrel from me. I think Ujamaa is provincial and that most ideas about 'recycling black dollars' are impractical and of very little use. But it's one thing to say that going to black barbershops, black car washes and putting your money in black banks is useless as a basis for economic uplift in the American context, and another altogether to say it is racist or un-American. It's simply a level of discussion these folks don't wish to pursue.

So what is unsaid give rise to speculations about the considered yet unexpressed. Perhaps there's something sinister that nobody really wants to say straight out. It's implied with the Ham story but not said much. Yes, there have been people who have said 'Happy Kwanzaa, Niggers' and such rot. But for the most part these attacks, owing primarily to Mulshin, Horowitz, Ham, Barber & Coulter are skating around the issue. What issue is that? The issue of race of course. Put plainly, only bad negroes celebrate Kwanzaa, good negroes don't. Why are they bad negroes? Because they follow Karenga, who is clearly a bad negro. Oops. Did I say negro? Let me put this politically correctly... The truth about Kwanzaa is that it was invented by Ron Everett who calls himself 'Maulana Karenga' who is a psychopathic FBI stooge and torturer..blah blah blah... So is this a truth that Kwanzaa celebrants know? Or is it a truth that good people are supposed to know? What is the point of bringing the ugly facts about Karenga front and center as they have on a regular annual basis?

Which brings us to a very interesting conundrum. What are we to make of all of the corporate and commercial and government co-sponsorhsip of Kwanzaa? When the guys at The Gap and your local PTA and Virgin Mobile stick Kwanzaa into their agendas, what does it mean? Are we to assume that they are endorsing the bad negro(es)? Do the anti-Kwanzaans expect to criminalize Kwanzaa, are they working to take Kwanzaa out of the public domain? Do they wish to make Kwanzaa an enemy of the state? Perhaps all Kwanzaa celebrants should be shipped to Gitmo? Really, what is the point?

I think there are two things going on. The first insidious but predictable, the second less obvious but equally pathetic.

1. (Insidious & Predictable) Black people should....
2. (Obvious & Pathetic) Multiculturalism sucks...

What's insidious about the 'black people should' in this equation is that it's basically a Christian Fundamentalist thing. The rest of the story is that Black People Should Dismiss Kwanzaa. There are about a thousand reasons why that is completely wrongheaded, not the least of which has to do with the regressive nature of the provincial Negro Church. I will discuss this at length, but the summary of that discussion is this: The Negro Church stands in political opposition to Black Power and Black Liberation. Kwanzaa is a little piece of Black Liberation. There are lots of ways to come at that, but I'll want to talk about the specifics in the context of black intellectuals in the 60s who wanted to break the monopoly of the Negro Church on black political organizing, cultural expression and economic habits. In other words, that kinda transformation Malcolm X went through once he broke with the Nation of Islam is what black intellectuals would have ordinary Negroes do in breaking with the Negro Church. To become citizens of the world, or at the very least an African Diaspora was the aim of such intellectuals, who in the 60s saw a bigger role for African Americans than just in the margins of society. They were making way for the Bill Cosbys of the world. To criticize the Negro Church in any context is to pick a bone with Christian Right and, via their crude calculations, make one an Enemy of Christ(mas), which is the victimology du jour for 2005. It's an interesting form of patronization that seems to work, at least for the likes of Jesse Lee Peterson and those who find him refreshing.

I am only marginally conflicted on this score as a Conservative, that is because I am a civil libertarian and I believe strongly in the idea of a global presence for African Americans. I don't think we should view the world strictly in provincial religious terms or be represented strictly through the Negro Church but through a variety of modes. But like I said, more on that later.

As for the Obvious and Pathetic whinging against Multiculturalism... well what else can you say? It's obvious and pathetic. At least with the Nguzo Saba you have something concrete to base your whining against. It's not like trying not to insult Native Americans because of some sports teams logo. What can be said for Kwanzaa unlike other squishy PC garbage is that Kwanzaa actually states what it is all about. This is something declared and principled, not something ineffable and essential. Anybody can be equally into Kuumba, just like anybody can eat Thai food. It's about something whereas a lot of PC nonsense is about nothing at all.

And this is where the enemies of Kwanzaa fall flat. I mean how could you not see that huge softball teed up and not take a swing. What is Kujichagulia and why is that Anti-American? Well, Kugjichagulia is Self-Reliance. Oops, can't go there. How about Ujimaa? Well, that's Collective Work and Responsibility. Hmmm. Can't really knock that. How about Umoja (Unity), Kuumba (Creativity). Imani (Faith), Nia (Purpose).. Damn, strike six. All anyone can really point an accusatory finger at is Ujamaa, the little Marxist problem child of Kwanzaa. But when you really look at where Marxist and socialist influence comes from in American politics, it ain't Kwanzaa. So there's a bit of a chicken and egg problem here. Simply stated, Democrats are more influential on black politics than Kwanzaa, so tearing down Ujamaa (which most Americans have never even heard of) is kind of a non-starter, propaganda-wise.

Therefore the criticism of Kwanzaa can't get most of its weight from the substance of Kwanzaa itself. Much better to go after Karenga, a convicted felon.

This year, however, the litany of complaint has got a new twist. Without really talking about the substance of the Nguzo Saba, the Korageous Kwanzaa Killers have decided to go bring up another American nightmare and use the old guilt by association trick:

Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Least-Great Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani – the same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.

I'm quite sure that this is what my local Rite Aid had in mind when they stocked the shelves with Kwanzaa cards, and what the PTA of my school was all about when they taught the kids Kwanzaa songs in Swahili. Coulter and her ilk are so lunatic on this because they can't stand the idea that the President is actually a Compassionate Conservative who does actually care about black people. Even us bad negroes who celebrate Kwanzaa.

Posted by mbowen at December 29, 2005 10:28 AM

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I can't speak Symbionese. Do they speak English in Symbion?

Posted by: Scott Ferguson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:00 AM

You have to put the little symbiot worm in your ear, then you can understand it.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:04 AM

Don't have none here in Milledgeville, Georgia. Oh wait, the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Hwy 440 might. Or maybe Lowe's down the road apice.

Posted by: Scott Ferguson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:09 AM

Telecommuting from my Dad's place ain't all it's cracked up to be. (banging head against wall)

Posted by: Scott Ferguson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:11 AM

Hot DAMN!!!! as we used to say back in the day.

Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:39 AM

I am just tripping that you said Gehenna :)

A brother on Shays site attempted to point out how the tenents of Kwanzaa were anti-biblical. I hopefully put a stop to that nonsense.

You know the bad part about this whole discussion Cobb, is the primary talking bobble heads on this subject fail to truly engage in any serious debate or discussion on this subject.

It is as you said, Karenga is bad, therefore Kwanzaa is bad, and blacks who support Kwanzaa or supporting Karenga, therefore they are bad.

How non-sensical. But that is how you know that they have no legitimate concern for blacks (the talking bobble heads) as they refuse the dialogue to create true transformative change and instead embrace the rhetoric.

Such is the state of modern media.

Posted by: Dell Gines [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 11:53 AM

That's tight bruh...nice work...I give you a hard time on certain things, but never when you come with a straight argument - regardless of whether or not we agree.

Posted by: Temple3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 12:42 PM

x is y, therefore all x-related things are y.

it's the same issue people have with separating a religion from its practitioners. the people/person from the idea/l.

some other in some other thread brought up history of kwanzaa. that's another battle (perhaps THE battle), over whos perception is to reign.

some folk forget that it's quite natural (tho, no, not necessary) for a thing or concept to mutate over time and take on meanings/associations much different from those at concept's conception. i hope none of the kwanzaa bashers drive volkswagens.

p.s. i do wonder tho, if Cobb would feel the same way about kwanzaa if it were invented by Tookie W. i keed. a little.

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 01:14 PM

If I were to discover tomorrow that in fact Kwanzaa were invented by Tookie, my head would explode. I'd make sure I did it next to my father and take him out with me.

I'm really going to have to start talking about 'the Founders' of Kwanzaa. That means I'm going to have to bring in people like the Watts Poets, more on Ligon, talk about the Black Arts Movement in LA including Taifa dance, distinguish between the progressive black church and the Negro Church in LA (Father Hannibal comes to mind, but there were plenty of others), and yes the movers and shakers who got MLK hospital built and those who brought black student unions onto college campuses and started black studies departments. At least this is stuff I am directly aware of because of my parents' involvement.

The other thing I think that has to be stressed here is what relatively little work was involved by today's standards, and yet how barren the landscape was at the time. Today it's a no-brainer to think about an engagement of intellects surrounding black culture and politics. We do it here online all the time. But in those days it was a much rarer thing, and I think because of it, those who pioneered were a bit more accomplished and serious than we are. Completely off topic of Karenga, I am talking about folks like Hoyt Fuller and Richard Wright, John O Killens and LeRoi Jones. It was the establishment of the mindset of the New Negro, the Black Man, that was the great creation. Karenga certainly wanted to be a philosopher but more a political leader via US as rivals to the Panthers. He was clearly outclassed on all sides, but it was the coming together of these communities that made Kwanzaa take off.

But understand that Kwanzaa as a ritual has legs because it is a ritual. The real irony is that it was a downscale creation, it was designed to be something for the masses, but not a high expression of black thought. I'm sure in everyone's mind, and certainly my parent's minds that the higher expression was in literature and music as well as dance and theatre, and the the purpose of the politics was to serve the welfare of the unserved black masses. Then again, they were college educated sociologists and civil servant social workers, how could they think otherwise?

In that regard, as a creation for the masses, some black Christians have a legitimate beef with Karenga's intent with Kawaida. But to over or under-emphasize its role in the context of Black Consciousness is the mistake that folks are making. I mean the whole deal about not being from Africa is completely wrong. It doesn't have to be anymore 'from Africa' than speaking French is 'from Europe'. The point is that American (black) intellectuals of the time engaged in the transition from Negro to Black were in real dialog with African intellectuals. The OAAU was not a figment of people's imaginations. Wole Soyinka didn't ignore America. The Bandung Conference happened.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 01:47 PM

Speaking of the Bandung Conference, raise your hand if you had a Nehru jacket. Me!!

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 01:49 PM

Amen Cobb. Amen. I'm speechless.

Posted by: T-Steel [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 08:22 PM

I'm sure the Germans, Norweigns, and others appreciate seeing your Black face wearing thier cultural outfits and your children wearing the headgear of the frozen northern mountains of Europe.
What you said abot Kwanzaa...........

Posted by: Dessalines at December 29, 2005 09:51 PM

Bad day at church? What do antlers,German caps and the other things you/your childern wear/ mention have to with Jesus Christ or his message?
You must be a friend of Morgan Freeman...Do you walk like a ...too? It would come from the mouth of a colored man pretending to offer something insightful...Dream on knee-grow, Kwanzaa will outlast you and your christian illusions.....

Posted by: Dessalines at December 29, 2005 09:59 PM

Yusufu. Ya nini kusema hivi? Usiwe na matata.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 10:01 PM

I see you're flexing your muscles. Pretty buffed!! First the Gehenna, now this. Erudite and all right. I'll still need a translation. That Swahili-English online dictionary is not doing me any justice. I'll wait for Jean-Jacques' response to you, BTW, so no rush.

Posted by: Temple3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 30, 2005 06:11 AM

Exploring Kwanzaa and its founder Karenga has been interesting. It appears that Pro-Kwanzaa blogs are out-numbered by Anti-Kwanzaa blogs. Pro-Kwanzaa blogs and Anti-Kwanzaa blogs are both passionate about their ideas. Unfortunately, after reading several Pro-Kwanzaa blogs, it appears that many Pro-Kwanzaa supporters devalue Christianity.

I have more history and research to share on the topic of Christian reconciliation and redemption. However, in the interest of diplomacy, I will reserve my writings on the aforementioned subject for my new book. I have read a recent book by UCLA professor Dr. Scot Brown with a good forward by Dr. Claybourne Carson titled "Fighting for US: Maulana Karenga, The US Organization and Black Cultural Nationalism." And, I would recommend those interested in historical research to consider this a good read.

I am not a legalistic Christian. My theology is quite liberal; however, I have started to devote more time to studying the Holy Bible. In addition, I have pulled the following books from by personal library for further review. I recommend the following books for those wanting to get closer to Christ: "The Holy Bible" of course, "A Savior Worth Having" by E.V. Hill, "Life of Christ" by Bishop Fulton Sheen, "Power Thoughts" by Rev. Robert Schuller, and "Angels-Gods Special Agents" by Rev. Billy Graham. I had a 400 book library, until I donated 350 books to Azusa Pacific University, to be used in a new college campus being built in Africa.

Being a gracious Christian and sharing my ideas on Pro-Kwanzaa blogs has been a real challenge. However, something good has come of this experience. I have become a more commented Christian. And, this experience has solidified my belief that we are saved by the grace of God.

I pray that America does not turn its back on God. E.V. Hill from the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, who went home to be Jesus not long ago, said in his book "A Savior Worth Having", "One of the great thrills of my life was preaching in Moscow several years ago-just a couple of blocks from Lenin's Tomb, in the heart of Moscow. I was speaking to about 6,000 preachers (I suspect old Lenin was turning over in his grave) about this wonderful Jesus. For now, even in Moscow, the name of Jesus can be publicly spoken. Who would have thought four or five or ten years ago that the name "Jesus" could be uttered freely on the streets of the former Soviet Union? Tragically, while in Russian public schools He can be read about and discussed freely, in our own public schools, it is forbidden to speak His name."

In an interview awhile back, Pastor E.V. Hill said it best, ". . . my message all the time to any community that we're all one blood-we came from one Creator who gave us one Savior Jesus Christ our Lord and that's what I'd like to say."

Yes indeed, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. What a wonderful blessing to be saved by God's grace, mercy, and charity. May the Lord be with you all in your faith journey. Praise the Lord.

posted by mild mannered reporter at 8:57 PM 0 comments

Posted by: mild mannered reporter at December 31, 2005 06:03 AM

I do not expect nations to reconcile themselves with God, and yet I expect many good things of nations.

I appreciate that Christians are quite capable of makeing moral and ethical assessments of every manner of event and occurence in the passage of time. It is a valuable and useful thing for society to have a critical evaluation from that perspective. Our country would be far worse off without it. However since men are imperfect it should go without saying that singular perspective is bound to have flaws. Some of these flaws are great, others are small.

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 accomodations 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.

The Nguzo Saba is what it is, and so I predict that you will find no Kwanzaa supporters who would deny you brotherhood in moving forward an agenda supportive of liberation struggle. That would include reconcilition of black and white Christian churches. That's not missionary work, that's institutional reform. So I would be one to argue that there is work to be done in America as a priority over Russia, and that this divisiveness over Christianity and Kwanzaa is one of those reforms that should take priority.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2005 10:12 AM

"There is no American Church who made its congregants more Christian than White."


John Brown's violence put a lot of people off, probably, in the way that abortion clinic bombers smear pro-lifers. Probably Harriet Beecher Stowe and Julia Ward Howe ("as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free") did more for changing hearts and minds.

Also, regarding attempts at reconciliation, remember this10-year-old story?

Posted by: Laura(southernxyl) at December 31, 2005 11:30 AM

There are probably more Kwanzaans than Quakers, but your point is well-taken. I believe they are known as the Society of Friends these days. There's interesting stuff at Wikipedia.

I am trying to turn and keep up with changes in the Church...

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2005 11:47 AM

Hey just love that mean ol' oppressive black church that locked down all freedom of expression. Glad that Kwanza fired the faith of Martin and his dad and 99% of the movement to get black folks over -

Yeah right, preach it brother.

Posted by: Das at December 31, 2005 08:23 PM

Hey just love that mean ol' oppressive black church that locked down and out all freedom of expression. Glad that Kwanza fired the faith of Martin and his dad and 99% of the movement to get black folks over -

Yeah right, preach it brother.

Posted by: Das [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2005 08:25 PM

I think there is a third thing going on. Maybe it's an offshoot of number 2(2. (Obvious & Pathetic) Multiculturalism sucks...) It's viewed as seperatist or a rejection... It's not historically American ( I know none of the other traditions were started here) It wasn't adapted by mainstream America as a way of finally admitting in an ethnic group by adopting one of their holiday traditions. ( Halloween, St. Patricks day, Easter eggs, Christmas trees...) It was a holiday created to say we are different and we reject your traditions. There is nothing un american about any of the concepts. It seems to say we reject you and your culture. People don't like rejection. I think if an actual even if minor tradition had benn adopted it would have gained a little more acceptance. St. Patricks day and Cinco Del Mayo, are celebrated far more excessivly here than in their native countries. The fact that it was created in the 60s seems to add to that rejection. Just a thought.

Posted by: Mike at January 3, 2006 08:12 AM

And yet Kwanzaa gains more and more acceptance in the mainstream every year. What's interesting about all this is that there is nothing more to Kwanzaa today than there ever was. The Nguzo Saba has not been modified. Which is to say that in the 60s it was 'OK' to spy on Negroes who had ideas like Kugichagulia. But today everybody expects Black people to do for self. Obviously the Black Power Movement was a success.

I'm sure a case could be made for separatism on an individual basis. Maybe 60% of people who celebrate Kwanzaa don't vote. Then again, 60% of all Americans don't vote.

On the other hand, the biggest movement to integrate blacks and white Americans has been Affirmative Action. Isn't it seperatist to defeat programs of racial integration?

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 3, 2006 08:27 AM

Another thought. Kwanza today suffers from the proximity effect. That is it is being pushed into the spotlight at the same time Christmas is being pushed out. This is being done by SOME of the same people. This puts a "guilt by association" perception on Kwanza. People associate the two activities even though there is none. Also since it is easier to attack something than to defend it, a backlash is being created against Kwanza that is out of proportion.

Posted by: Mike at January 3, 2006 08:29 AM

Since the United States Postal Service, an official arm of the United States Government, designates Kwaanza to be a holiday via a postage stamp...

Personally, do I care? Should I?

And with regard to John Brown, you are wrong; if you look at who John Brown killed (e.g., Bleeding Kansas), he rarely got the right guys. There are others who were more noble: 600,000 died in that war (most serving the Union), and there is ample historical documentation that many died knowing the real reason for the fight, Our nation came close to Lincoln's second inaugural prophacy: "Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be repaid by another drawn with the sword..."

Posted by: UncleSmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2006 12:48 AM