December 29, 2005

The Truth About Kwanzaa

Questions about Kwanzaa? (Like, what the heck is it?) Check these out:

La Shawn Barber deconstructs Kwanzaa with commentary.

Mary Katherine Ham delivers an incisive and revealing exploration about the "holiday" after having to write a column about it.

Ann Coulter demolishes what is left.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cobb said...

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.

Thu Dec 29, 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Cobb said...

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.

http://www.mdcbowen.org/cobb/archives/005050.html

Thu Dec 29, 02:18:00 PM  

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