Radio Talk Host Larry Elder (Left) and Economist Thomas Sowell.
All this week, and all the next, The Black Snob is taking a look at the views of black conservatives on Barack Obama. We’re examining who likes him, who doesn’t. Who will vote for him and who won’t. So far we’ve looked at the views of Amy Holmes, Condoleezza Rice, Alan Keyes, Colin Powell, Armstrong Williams, La Shawn Barber, Herman Cain and more.
While the term “black Republican” gives some the heebie jeebies, the term black Libertarian mostly gathers shrugs. This is largely because if pressed most Americans couldn’t tell you what a Libertarian is, let alone what they believe in. That was part of the reason for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s success. He was a Republican for low taxes, less government and was staunchly against foreign entanglements. He was anti-militarism and anti-imperialism. He wanted to bring back the gold standard and wanted to get rid of the Department of Education.
The Libertarian beliefs of low taxes, staying out of foreign entanglements and less government, were co-opted by the Republican Party over time (and quickly discarded, if you ask Paul.)
Economist Thomas Sowell and Radio Talk Jock Larry Elder don’t like political labels. Neither are Republicans in the traditional sense (although Elder recently converted). Both see themselves has having more Libertarian views than anything else, hence making them more like Alan Greenspan and less like Alan Keyes.
Both are writers. Sowell, who’s been at it since the 1970s, is especially prolific. In his cultural and racial analysis he believes in on only using “measurable facts” to determine the cause of the many maladies that plague black Americans. He argues that much of the conventional wisdom on race is flawed and based on beliefs that do not hold up when applied to statistics and other measurable truths.
One of his most interesting views is that more of the downgrade, “Lil Wayne,” aspects of black culture are not relevant to blacks at all. Sowell pawns this buffoonery off on poor whites, labeling it as mere mimicry of “Rednecks.”
Such a dysfunctional white culture Sowell maintains, in turn derived from the ‘Cracker culture’ of certain regions in Britain, mainly the harsh English borderlands, origin of many ‘cracker’ migrants. Sowell gives a number of examples that he regards as supporting the lineage, e.g. “an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, … and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery.”
Sowell also provides figures to support his argument that there was a far bigger divide between the cracker/redneck culture of the Southern and Applachian regions and the culture of more northerly Americans, than between whites and blacks. E.g. Northern blacks tried to stop redneck blacks coming up from the South, and the same happened between northern whites and redneck whites. This thesis is the title essay of Sowell’s book Black Rednecks and White Liberals.
It’s a jarring, likely controversial view, but it’s one that made me want to read the book just to see what facts he had to back that one up.
Elder started calling himself a Republican in 2003 when he came out in support of the Iraq War. The Libertarians were against the invasion, so Elder started referring to himself as a Libertarian with a small “l.” He often calls himself a Republitarian to explain his views. He has a radio talk show and has done some extensive work on television. He was even in the running for Don Imus’ morning slot on MSNBC, but was beat out by former politician-turned-pundit Joe Scarborough.
When it comes to Obama, Sowell takes to him like he takes to everything–If Sowell can’t see it with his own two eyes or touch it with his two hands, you’re going to have a hard time convincing them the Great Hope Mongerer is the one.
Sowell had this to say in The Orange County Register Wednesday:
Sen. John McCain could never convince me to vote for him. Only Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can cause me to vote for McCain. …
Whenever I see one of Barack Obama’s smooth performances, it reminds me of a saying from my old neighborhood in Harlem: “An eel is like sandpaper compared to you.”
There is no question that Barack Obama is a clever and glib fellow. There is also no question that some of the most foolish, dangerous and horrific things done around the world in the past 100 years have been done by clever and glib fellows.
Sowell has endorsed conservative Shelby Steele’s view of Obama as a racially confused man, grasping for black acceptance, leaning to the far left only to recently repackage himself as a man of all seasons for his presidential run.
In other columns Sowell writes that Obama’s candidacy is “both poignant and galling.” And in the case of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal, Sowell announces Obama “has been leading as much of a double life as Eliot Spitzer.”
Below a Townhall.com column Sowell wrote after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal broke:
In Shelby Steele’s brilliantly insightful book about Barack Obama — “A Bound Man” — it is painfully clear that Obama was one of those people seeking a racial identity that he had never really experienced in growing up in a white world. He was trying to become a convert to blackness, as it were — and, like many converts, he went overboard. …
The irony is that Obama’s sudden rise politically to the level of being the leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination has required him to project an entirely different persona, that of a post-racial leader who can heal divisiveness and bring us all together.
The ease with which he has accomplished this chameleon-like change, and entranced both white and black Democrats, is a tribute to the man’s talent and a warning about his reliability.
There is no evidence that Obama ever sought to educate himself on the views of people on the other end of the political spectrum, much less reach out to them. He reached out from the left to the far left. That’s bringing us all together?
And again in Townhall, Sowell makes these observations about the speech on race Obama gave in response to the Wright controversy:
Like religious converts who become more Catholic than the Pope, such people often become blacker-than-thou. For whatever reason, Barack Obama chose a black extremist church decades ago — even though there was no shortage of very different churches, both black and white — in Chicago.
In the end Sowell puts down any serious consideration of Obama as Commander-in-chief, announcing that the Wright situation proves he’s flunked the test with flying colors.
Senator Obama has been at his best as an icon, able with his command of words to meet other people’s psychic needs, including a need to dispel white guilt by supporting his candidacy.
But President of the United States, in a time of national danger, under a looming threat of nuclear terrorism? No.
Elder is also very critical of Obama’s relationship with his incendiary pastor. He’s gone in-depth on Wright and how Obama will be harmed politically by this relationship. He’s made the cable news circuit from CNN’s “The Situation Room” to FOX’s “Geraldo” to talk about Barack Obama.
Elder’s main contention against Obama is his “Liberal” voting record. Elder told Wolf Blitzer that he “applauds” Obama for “not playing the race card the way Jesse Jackson has and the way Al Sharpton has,” but he does not support his candidacy.
If you are sincere that the war has kept us safe how can you want a commander and chief (who) wants us less safe? … He is a liberal. He wants bigger government. He wants taxes raised.
Analysis: I don’t think either Sowell or Elder would support or vote for Obama. Sowell’s anti-Obama points are clear, well-thought out and organized. Elder’s are all buzz words and shouting. But they say the same thing. Ideology trumps any emotion over Obama’s run.
I have to admit a bias here. I hate talk radio people. All of them. It doesn’t matter the political affiliation, I hate anyone who has to yell their point of view in the crudest terms possible. Sowell would have an easier time converting me to solipsism than Elder getting me to tell him the time. I don’t like it when people talk over others, not letting them finish their sentences. I don’t like seeing the English language turned into a contact sport. I like wit. I like a good verbal joust or masterful sparing. Political debate as a fencing match (or a pithy Daily Show-esque pun) is better than someone yelling shut up then cutting their mike.
It’s just childish.
So Larry Elder is childish to me. I also can’t tell how authentic his interests are in the betterment of black people. One can have their criticisms of Sowell, but you can’t argue against the fact that he is well-read and researched. He’s not just making things up. Elders often comes across that he’s merely spewing what’s politically convenient at the moment.
Vlog “News In Color,” looked at Elder’s recent book “Stupid Black Men” and put my concerns about Elders into a humorous perspective wondering if his views were more about making money by selling books that ridicule black people rather than actually wanting to help impoverished blacks.
I can disagree with Sowell, but I also think I can learn from him. I’m not sure what there is to learn with Elders other than “he who bashes loudest gets the best book deal.”
Check back to The Black Snob all this week and next, the series concluding on April 14th.
Sunday: Amy Holmes
Monday: Condoleezza Rice
Tuesday: Ward Connerly
Wednesday: Shelby Steele
Thursday: Alan Keyes
Friday: JC Watts
Saturday: Colin Powell
Sunday: Armstrong Williams
Monday: Michael Steele
Tuesday: John McWhorter
Wednesday: LaShawn Barber and Herman Cain
Thursday: Star Parker and Eric Wallace
Friday: Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell
Saturday: Juan Williams
Sunday: A final analysis, “Who Would Clarence Thomas Vote For?”