Friday, December 28, 2007






A lady told me that I contradicted myself in last week's article. She said I indicated that if we learned to think more efficiently, we could resolve our own problems, and we wouldn't need the government. She then pointed out that efficient thinking requires education, and education requires government assistance. I asked her to think about what she had said—that education requires government. I then suggested that she's laboring under an erroneous assumption—knowledge is free, so we're capable of educating ourselves. All we have to do is want it. I went on to tell her that it would be nice if government would educate us, but at best, our current system is a taxpayer subsidized babysitting service, and at worst, a tool used to indoctrinate Black youth into thinking that they're useless.

But as I listened to my words coming from her mouth, I didn't like their sound. I came off sounding like one of those Larry Elder-type turncoats who make a living by calling Black people whiners for expecting the services they deserve from our government. So I want to clarify any misimpression that I might have left in that regard right now. The fact is, our government should help to educate our children, and Black people, or any other citizen for that matter--have a right to get everything they can get from this government. The government is a pie that we all contribute to, and the political process is about is getting as much of that pie as we can manage to obtain. Therefore, if Black people tend to whine (the rich also whine, but they call it lobbying), it's only because we've traditionally found ourselves pushed to the side while everybody else eats the filling from the pie, and we're left with crumbs. So last week's article was about becoming bakers, and making our own pie, instead of depending on others to negotiate how many crumbs we're allowed to have.

So the difference between my position and Larry Elder's is, where Larry says that Black people should be ashamed of asking for what they rightfully deserve, I say, tell 'em to go to hell--we have enough potential in the community to tell them to keep their crumbs. There's a big difference between our two points of view--one will have you looking down at your feet, while the other allows you to look out over the horizon.

We're much too vibrant and creative as a people to have to live the way we're living, and we don't have the time to wait for the government's help. We've gotten caught up in a lifestyle where we're simply existing from day to day instead of engaging the tremendous talents that would allow us to rise to the very top of this society. Our problem is not about what the White man is doing, or not doing for us—our biggest problem is about our mindset, and how we think of ourselves.

I've previously discussed how whenever scientists measure intelligence in man, or any other species, the very first thing they look for is creativity, and Black people are clearly among the most creative people on this planet. The very same creative eloquence that Martin used to ignite a yearning for justice among men all over the world, and Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, and a host of others used to develop a Black musical tradition that went from playing washboards and beating on trash cans on the side of the road, to creating the most complex and universally embraced form of music in the world, can very easily be focused to not only resolve our problems, but resolve the problems of all mankind. We've got to recognize our creativity as a cultural treasure that can be used to cure cancer, help man to explore the universe, and resolve world disputes. We've got to recognize that we are the people of the future—a people that God has groomed to know pain and suffering, in order to make us uniquely qualified to relieve pain and suffering. That is our destiny, and we must embrace it.

We're currently using our creativity to mask the pain that we've suffered in this society—and after what we've been through, we were due a few years of partying, rest, and relaxation. But now it's time to suck it up, to slow down and contemplate who we are as a people, and assume our rightful place in the world community. And the first step in doing that is to redefine our cultural mores.

We've got to replace being cool, with being knowledgeable—and the only way we're going to do that is by changing the values for which we reward our children. What children want more than anything else is to get the approval of their parents, so we've got to teach them early in life that what impresses us most is what they know, not how closely they can mimic adult behavior. Instead of waking little Johnny up to show Uncle Willie how well he can "break it down", we need to wake him up to show his uncle how well he can do an algebra problem—and Uncle Willie should always have a dollar or two to give him once he gets that problem right. That way Little Johnny learns early in life that knowledge is the key to success.

I've said this to people before, and I've been told, "Why set Little Johnny up for disappointment? His school is not going to prepare him to go to college—and even if it does, where am I going to get the money to pay for it?" But that's the least of our problems. Our major focus should be to get our young people to fall in love with the pursuit of knowledge. Once we've done that, nothing can stop them from obtaining it. The opportunity to go to a top university is a wonderful thing, but it's not everything. Knowledge is free, and there's just as much knowledge in the corner library as there is at Harvard University. It was my experience in college that I did most of my learning at home anyway. When I went to school, all they did was told me what books to read, and what chapters, and thereafter I was tested to see what I'd learned. But in any event, it's the knowledge that's important, the degree is secondary. Granted, a degree is necessary to get a job–unless you have the knowledge to create one. But that said, I'm sure that if we make a commitment to come together as a community to promote excellence, we'll find a way to get our young scholars educated. I'm convinced that we have enough churches, civic organizations, and rich entertainers who are in need of Black dollars to remain rich, to get our young people educated–degrees and all.

Our community will also benefit in a less obvious way from this endeavor. Knowledge is contagious. Those parents who don't have the education to help their kids with their homework, can allow their kids to educate them. Helping our children with their homework is not only an excellent way to bond, but an excellent way to help re-educate ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to go all the way from elementary school through college all over again, or, for the very first time. And with the right mindset, it can be fun. I've learned to look at algebra problems are actually puzzles, and my kids and I use to have a ball spending hours trying figuring them out.

Try figuring this out with your kid: There's 3000 miles between Los Angeles and New York. Train A left L.A. going to N.Y. at 8 a.m. traveling 65 mph. Train B left N.Y. coming to L.A. at 10:45 traveling 85 mph. Where will they meet, and at what time?

I want to interact with you, so when you figure it out, I'd like to hear from you so I can discuss your experience in a future article. Let's stop talking, and start doing. Who knows, your child may be an engineer or mathematician, just waiting to be inspired. Wouldn't that be something? It would sure make my life worthwhile.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007




If I had to choose just one issue that I thought would do most to improve the Black condition, it wouldn't be more jobs, or more government assistance, or any of the other things that we generally hear our so-called leaders shouting into deaf ears. Thanks to Bush, the days of a benevolent government are over--we'll be lucky to just get social security. So we've got to be practical at this point, and recognize that the most important thing we can do to improve our condition is to become more independent and efficient thinkers. Once we do that, many of our other problems will resolve themselves.

What identifies this need as being so pressing is the tendency for so many of us to accept propositions simply because they sound witty, catchy, or fit conveniently into our comfort zone. When faced with such propositions, we tend to accept them at face value, rather than looking beneath the surface to see whether or not they standup to the test of logic. As a result, we often accept positions that seriously undermine our ability to move forward.

I was faced with a glaring example of that problem this morning during a casual conversation with one of my co-workers. He told me that he wasn't going to waste his vote on Senator Obama. When I asked him what made him think a vote for Obama would be wasted, he said, the Senator could never win the Democratic nomination due to America's tradition of White supremacy. I was quick to point out to him that while his theory might be true, Hillary is certainly not gaining much comfort from it.

When one considers the history of Black people in this country, my friend's position almost sounds reasonable on the surface, but when you look at the facts beneath the surface, it doesn't stand up to logical examination. His point of view assumes that all of White America is monolithic, and that's clearly not the case.

Whites are no more monolithic in their point of view than Black people. In fact, just to hold such a position adopts the very point of view that is the cornerstone of racism. Isn't that the exact proposition that Black people have been fighting to disprove for generations? When we use the phrase "driving while Black", aren't we criticizing what we contend is the White tendency to think that all Blacks are criminals? So why embrace the very same racist philosophy that has caused Black people so much pain over the years. How can we, on the one hand, insist on not being prejudged, then on the other, casually hang the label of racist on every White, man, woman, and child in America? The fact is, we can't--at least, if we want to remain logically consistent. Therefore, while it is true that a Black man has never been elected president of the United States, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that a Black man never will. The only way that would hold true is if all members of any given race are, indeed, the same--in which case, we would also have to hold that the police are justified in stopping anyone who is Black.

The statement above is simple syllogistic Logic. If we hold that all members of any given race are the same, and some Whites are racists, therefore, it follows that all Whites are racists, we must also accept the proposition that since all people of a given race are the same, and some Blacks are criminals, that all Blacks are criminals. There's no way around it.

The fact that a Black man has never been elected president is due to thinking precisely like my friend's--flawed, racist, and inefficient. Yet, in spite of his racist ideas, he's not a bad guy, he's simply misinformed. The same is true in the White community. For the most part, people aren't bad, they're simply ignorant. But people grow, and attitudes change over time. In just my lifetime, there were places across this land where a Black man couldn't even sit down to eat anywhere near a White man--not to even mention a White woman. But now we have multiracial families all over America. And when I was a kid, my grandfather, who was from Louisiana, told me he wouldn't take me anywhere south of San Diego if his life depended on it. He said I wouldn't know how to act, and I'd probably get us both killed. But just like attitudes change, conditions also change. Today, Senator Obama is being cheered in some of the same locations that met Martin with attack dogs.

Today's Americans are simply trying to survive and protect the ones they love. They've become frightened over an America that's become unfamiliar to them, so they're ready to reach out to anyone that they think can restore their confidence in the country, and turn America into the kind of nation in which we can all truly be proud. And a great many of those people see Obama as the man who can do that, because his message is pro America, he inspires the soul, and his very life ratifies the promise envisioned by our founding fathers. He seems to be the right man, at the perfect time--and the American people feel a visceral connection to him. That's why this young Black man is being embraced by people across all ethnic, racial, political, and social lines.

In addition, the one service that George Bush and the Republican Party has provided the American people is giving them a glimpse of what an unguarded America could become. The Bush years have given the American people the opportunity to look over the precipice, and they didn't like what they saw. So now that America has truly been given a choice, the American people have chosen the forward-looking vision that Thomas Jefferson had for the nation, over the ugliness that George Bush has brought to these shores. So win or loose, Obama's message is beginning to resonate, and his very presence as a political force in this country speaks volumes about the basic character and political intent of the American people.

But ironically, what most threatens Obama's success is not White people, it's the twisted, slave-related mentality, of many Black people, and we've got to address that issue immediately. We simply must modify the way we think, and we don't have a lot of time to do it. In that regard, I'd like to address another dumb concept that many of us embrace--the ridiculous belief that Black people can't be racist. According to this theory, in order to be a racist one must also control the political and social power to commit racist acts. Therefore, the theory goes, since Blacks don't control power in this country, it's impossible for them to be racist.

It is nothing short of horrifying that so many people are so gullible that they can be persuaded to accept such an ignorant and self-serving position. Not only is it possible for Black people to be racist, but a strong argument can be made that many Black people are some of the most racist people in America against other Blacks!

Racism is a state of mind, nothing else--and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with one's color, ethnicity, economic, or social position. The only thing that's required to be a racist is a narrow mind, and a limited ability to think. While it is true that a racist with power is in a better position to wield racist policies, a poor man with a gun and hatred in his heart can be just as racist, and to a victim, just as powerful. Even though he may be poor, that gun gives him power--the ultimate power--the power over life and death. So, if that man uses his gun to take the life of another based on race, isn't that a racist act? Of course it is--it's the racist act of a racist personality, regardless of what color he is. And unfortunately, much too often, Black people are turning that gun on themselves, both figuratively and literally, and the attitude of many Black people towards Obama is derived from that very same mindset.

And finally, there's yet another catchy little non-truism that serves to hold Black people back. It goes something like this--"You can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been." That sounds like the most profound kind of wisdom on the surface, but my only objection to it--besides the fact that it's not true--is the fact that it's generally used as a refuge for people who aren't interested in going anywhere in the first place. Many Black people tend to use this statement as an excuse to wallow in the past, and it also serves to distract our young people from keeping their eye on the ball. After all, how much knowledge of abuse is required before we're ready to move forward? By my count, we've been in deep "contemplation" for close to forty years now. When is it time to say, ok, enough is enough--let's get this train rollin'!

Granted, it's always good to know your history--in fact, all knowledge is good knowledge. But you can't allow yourself to live there. Many people who live by this philosophy depend on the accomplishments of "kings and queens" in Black history to boost their own self-esteem (and in many cases while passing a blunt). They also dwell on it to the exclusion of looking to the future. But they're being disingenuous. Many of these very same people who claim that royalty is an integral part of Black heritage, will also say that a Black man can never become president of the United States. Royalty doesn't think like that.

While there's nothing wrong with taking pride in Black history, one's primary focus should always be on what you're doing now, and what you intend to do in the future. Reminiscing about days of glory is not going to feed your kids, or get you anywhere. Let us look at it in a more graphic way--if you had only ten seconds on Earth to get as far as you could go, how many of those seconds would you use looking backward? That may seem like a ridiculous way of looking at the problem, but the fact is, our time on Earth is, in fact, limited. So asking ourselves how much of that precious time we want to waste looking backwards is a valid question. And if you're a sports fan, you might also want to ask yourself, how much time does a football player spend looking back at the one yard line?

Most concepts that seem complicated are actually quite simple when you break them down into analogous situations that you face on a daily basis. For example, when you get in your car in the morning, after starting your motor you glance over your shoulder to look for any obstructions. Then once you find that everything is clear and pull out into the street, you put your car into drive and focus on where you're going. If you tried to drive the twenty miles to work by looking over your shoulder, you'd never reach your destination. That's also true in life, and it's a problem that too many of us have in the Black community--we're so busy looking behind us that we can't see the beautiful vista that lies ahead. And that's exactly how we're undermining ourselves with respect to Senator Obama--we're so fixated on how things look behind us, that we can't see the possibilities of what lies before us.

So again, if we intend to remain a viable community, instead of just talking about it, we've got to start training ourselves to look forward. And the very first step in doing that is to stop allowing--in fact, depending--on other people to think for us. Many of those who would love to do our thinking for us have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Therefore, we should strive to become critical and independent thinkers in our own right.

Critical thinking involves thoroughly examining and probing for holes in the logic of anything presented to us as fact. Thereafter, if what you're told stands up to the rigors of scrutiny, then, and only then, should you allow it to past through your firewall--and it should be constantly subjected to reviewed every time new information becomes available.

If we learn to routinely examine everything we're told in that manner, we'll never have to worry about people like Bush telling us, "All dogs have teeth, and cats have teeth. Therefore, your cat is a dog." Wait--before you laugh, consider the following: "The enemy is from the Middle East. Iraq is in the Middle East. Therefore, Iraq is the enemy." Sound familiar?

The failure to recognize flawed logic can kill you--and more often than not, it does.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007



It never ceases to amaze me how Democrats can allow conservative Republicans--a group whose only reason for being is to undermine the poor--to co-opt the love of God as a political issue. I once read a bumper sticker that said, "The Christian Right is neither Christian, nor Right." I remember thinking at the time, what a profoundly concise statement of fact--Shakespeare couldn't have said it any better. It's unbelievable what these thugs have done--they not only stole Christmas, they stole the Messiah himself. So instead of caving in to the conservative theft of Christianity, every Democrat in America should drive the truth about these demagogues home every time they opened their mouths to address the Christian community. They should use every opportunity to educate the people to the facts, and the fact is, Jesus Christ was a liberal--and according to his teachings, to be anything else, is less than Christian.

Ok, I know--that sounds like a ridiculously partisan statement, and admittedly, I'm far from a Biblical scholar. In fact, I'm not even truly what most people would call a Christian--that is, unless they examined my heart. But I can read, and all the supernatural stuff notwithstanding, I am a great admirer of Jesus as a progressive, a teacher, and philosopher. So I stand by my position--Jesus Christ was a liberal, and I challenge any Biblical scholar in the world to prove me wrong.

Let's take a look at the facts. The American Heritage Dictionary defines liberal as follows:

Lib-ER-al adj. Abbr. Lib. 1. A. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. B. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

The only thing missing from that definition is a picture of Jesus Christ himself. Jesus was broad minded, free of bigotry, and tolerant of the ideas of others. He was also good-natured, and like any true liberal, he had compassion for the poor and an eye towards reforming the status quo. On the other hand, the Christian Right tends to base their theology on the condemnation of those with whom they disagree. Where Jesus' position was what can we do to make this a better world, the conservative position is what can we do to destroy those who refuse to love our world or leave it; and where Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", Pat Robertson says, pass me a rock. Jesus was focused on feeding the hungry and heeling the sick, where Bush, on the other hand, vetoed child healthcare in one breath, while demanding $192 billion for his war machine in the next.

Christians? I don't think so. True Christians recognize that Jesus is interested in how we treat our fellow man. He could care less about whether we put "In God We Trust" on our money, or whether or not we put a nativity scene on the town square. That has nothing to do with Christianity. God doesn't need commercials--that's more about hypocrites trying to fool God, and man, into believing that they're Christians. But while they may fool man, they can't fool God, because he knows them by their deeds, or lack thereof. True Christians recognize that. They also recognize that the issue of prayer in school is also a non-issue--an issue promoted by chauvinistic personalities trying to force their will down the throats of others. After all, how can you prevent a person from praying in school? In addition, any thinking Christian knows that while they may not agree with same-sex unions, it is God, not they, who will judge whether or not gays have the right to love. True Christians recognize that all of these issues are designed to promote anger, dissension, and division, the very antithesis of Jesus' message to "Love thy neighbor."

The people who promote these sort of issues are mean-spirited personalities who have become expert at hiding their bigoted proclivities within the Christian community. They pretend to be Christians so they can hide their prejudice, and penchant for demonizing others within a protective cocoon of spirituality. Claiming to be Christians allow them to say, "Oh, it's not me who hates Blacks, liberals, gays, Democrats, and everybody from Hollywood, Berkeley, and San Francisco, it's God. I can't help it if God hates everybody who don't look and think like I do."

These kind of people have absolutely saturated the Christian community-- that's why the very same part of the country we refer to as the Bible Belt, just happens to also be the most racist, narrow-minded, and under-educated area in the entire United States. These are the people who refer to those who want to think for themselves as secular elitist--and if there's any doubt about my contention, just ask yourself, how was it at all possible for Christianity and rabid racism to exist in the very same environment. Then ask yourself, what group is most supportive of the murder and mayhem currently taking place in Iraq, and whether or not you think Jesus would join them in their frenzy.

Thus, the Democrats should point out to the Christian community at every opportunity that there are demons among them. And liberals shouldn't be at all shy about pointing out that while the Christian Right are thumping their Bibles, they're simultaneously preaching and promoting policies that would be repulsive to Jesus Christ. Liberals also shouldn't be shy about pointing out any scandal that show these people for what they are, because the Christian community needs to recognize that these demons among them are undermining their mission, and everything that Jesus Christ stood for. They're giving all Christians a bad name. Many who might otherwise come to church are embarrassed to be seen in the company of these demagogues.

In preparing this article it became immediately clear why conservatives are less than supportive of funding public education. Just a cursory glance through the Bible by any educated person--at least, any educated person who hasn't been brainwashed into to believing that he'll go to hell for thinking--will show that the Bible has but one theme, a theme that it repeats over and over again. The Ten Commandments says just about everything the Bible has to say—try to live a loving and honorable life. The demagogues take its many verses, however, and twist them out of context to make them say whatever they want them to say. But for anyone who wants the definitive word on how to be embraced by God, simply turn to Matthew 25:34--it lays it all out, plain and simple:

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." They then asked Jesus, When did we do all of that for you? And he replied, when you did it for the least of my brothers, you did it for me.

Then he turned to the conservatives at his left hand and said: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." Then the conservatives asked, When did we refuse to feed, clothe, or visit you in the joint? He then pointed to the people on his right and said, when you failed to help the least of these, you failed to help me. Now the righteous will go into life eternal, and you will go into everlasting punishment.

So I guess that just about says it all, Brother Bush. You may be able to live in comfort after vetoing child healthcare in the shadow of Christmas, but let's see if you can die in comfort, in the shadow of our Lord.

Thank you, Lord--it's been my pleasure. I would say, forgive him, Lord, for he knew not Mary's donkey was blue. But as I said at the outset, Dear Lord, I'm far less than the perfect Christian.

Eric L. Wattree

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007




On Sunday, December 9, 2007, the Washington Post reported that in September 2002 four members of congress were briefed on “enhanced interrogation techniques” (sweet talk for methods of torture) by the CIA. According to the report, the CIA provided a second briefing the following month, and 28 additional briefings over the following five years. Among the congressional delegation that was briefed was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). Other members of congress briefed by the CIA were Jane Harman (D-Calif), who replaced Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV(D-W. Va.), Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Among the “techniques” that the legislators were briefed on was the infamous form of torture known as “waterboarding”—a method of torture that simulates drowning. In waterboarding, the victim is strapped to a board with his feet above his head. A clothe is placed over his mouth and nose, then water is poured over his face. This causes the victim to have the sensation of drowning, and is intensely horrifying.

According to the report, “Waterboarding as an interrogation technique has its roots in some of history's worst totalitarian nations, from Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition to North Korea and Iraq. In the United States, the technique was first used five decades ago as a training tool to give U.S. troops a realistic sense of what they could expect if captured by the Soviet Union or the armies of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military has officially regarded the tactic as torture since the Spanish-American War.”
In spite of the fact that waterboarding has been clearly recognized as torture the world over, witnesses to the congressional briefings reported that at least two of the legislators asked if more severe measures could be taken. Pelosi refused to respond to her reaction to the briefing, but the only clear objection to the methods being used came from Rep. Jane Harman. Ms. Harman, who replaced Rep. Pelosi in the briefings in January 2003, filed a classified letter protesting the interrogation program. She was unable to protest publicly because the program was classified. "When you serve on [the] intelligence committee you sign a second oath -- one of secrecy," she said. "I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything."

This report goes a long way towards explaining Pelosi’s insistence that “impeachment is off the table.” In my article DEMOCRATS FIGHT OFF REPUBLICAN VOTE TO IMPEACH CHENEY, I ask the following questions:

“If Pelosi is willing to be dragged through the mud for bucking the will of the American people to protect Bush and Cheney, whose agenda is she conforming to? One might say she's afraid of a possible backlash as a result of pursuing impeachment. But shouldn't she be even more afraid of angering her constituents? So if she doesn't fear the wrath of her constituents, the most liberal constituency in the country, whose wrath does she fear more?”

Now we can answer that question decisively—she was afraid that if she pursued Bush and Cheney’s impeachment, her quiet acquiescence to a blatant war crime would be revealed. Her actions, or lack thereof, renders her just short of a co-conspirator—if not a co-conspirator, in fact.

This is yet another example of how the politicians, on both sides of the isle, are betraying the American people. It is clear that Bush and Cheney must be impeached to vindicate the American people before the world. As I’ve pointed out previously, Bush and Cheney must be impeached in order to restore the dignity and respect that the United States once enjoyed in the world community. By allowing these two to get away scot-free with all of the death, destruction, and mayhem that they've unleashed on the world, we're, in effect, ratifying their behavior. We'd be telling the world that we approve of what they've done in our name--and if we do that, America is through as a purveyor of justice and democracy in this world.

If the United States is ever to regain its former stature in the world, it behooves the American to distance themselves from these monsters. We must impeach, arrest, and thereafter, offer them up to the world community for war crimes. And once that’s done, we should extend our most sincere apology to the people of this planet for all of the destruction we've allowed the Bush administration to commit in our name. That is the one and only way that the United States will ever again be safe from terrorism, and the only way it will ever regain its former stature in the world community.

But now, it seems, we have two other tasks—we must get rid of Pelosi, and find out how in the hell the fourth estate allowed this story die in just one day.

Eric L. Wattree

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Friday, December 07, 2007




I was both embarrassed and conflicted by a CBS News poll that showed Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama 52% to 28% among Black voters. I was conflicted because my emotions seemed to directly contradict my long held position that the new struggle in this country is no longer about race, but class, and I stand by that position. Nevertheless, it is extremely embarrassing to know that the rest of the world has simply got to being snickering over the Black tendency towards self-hatred--and let there be no doubt about it, that's exactly what the numbers above reflect.

It is both contrary to my character and antithetical to everything that I believe to suggest that anyone should cast a vote based on race alone--after all, if White people voted race alone, Black politicians would never win an election outside the Black community. But it seems to me that this election, and Senator Barack Obama in particular, represents a very special circumstance. It's a confluence of factors coming together that demand Black people to unite and assure we're on the right side of history.

Senator Barack Obama is not just another Black politician--he's intelligent, he's personable, and his political instincts are flawless. In fact, his sense of class, dignity, and propriety places him so high above the rest of the pack that the other politicians don't know what to do with him. He is so well thought of by the American people--Democrat, Republican, and Independents alike—that it is clear that he possesses that very special, JFK-like quality that could bring this nation together. I see the candidacy of Senator Obama as an opportunity—and quite possibly our last opportunity--to recapture the best of what
is as a nation, and we are as a people. I'd say, that alone, speaks volumes.

Admittedly, I'm far from one who's qualified to speak for God, but it seems to me that considering all that Black people have suffered in this country--including being called ignorant, classless, and untrustworthy--if God handpicked the kind of man that he thought should represent our people in this country, Senator Obama would be that man. He is the walking personification of everything we know our people to be--even his heritage, the marriage of Africa and America, is a metaphor for who we are as a people. Yet he trails in the polls, among our own people, by 24%. What's up with that?

I have no problem with Hillary. In fact, if she wins this nomination I'll be right out there supporting her enthusiastically, right along side Barack, I'm sure. But what makes Hillary so special that we would support her over a dream that goes back as far as the African-American culture itself? The numbers mentioned above can reflect nothing less than a flaw in our character. Think about it--what do we actually know about Hillary other than she's married to Bill? I was married to a wonderful woman for thirty-three years, yet we were as different as night and day. So, just because the name is Clinton, doesn't mean we're gonna get Bill. And even if Hillary is identical to Bill, who's to say that a President Barack Obama wouldn't stand head and shoulders above even Bill Clinton himself? Bill was an excellent president, but he was far from the Messiah.

We've simply got to have faith in ourselves. If we don't, who will? If Black people don't have faith in the fact that we are capable of producing a leader with the capacity to lead our people and this nation to a higher level of humanity and leadership in the world, why should anyone else believe in us? And if Barack Obama is not that man--with his background as the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review, his demonstrated courage to stand up against invading Iraq during a time when it was unpopular to do so, and the flawless political judgment that has propelled him to the very apex of power in a nation where all the cards were stacked against him--then what Black man (or woman, for that matter) among us is?

Some Black people seem to be actively seeking a reason not to support this man. For the lack of any other excuse, they say he lacks experience--but experience at what? Where has experience gotten us so far? Hillary Clinton has experience that goes all the way back to the Nixon era, but that didn't prevent her from voting to give George Bush the power to take us into the most foolhardy war that this country has ever been involved. Then, after conceding that she'd made an error, she repeated the error in voting for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment against
Iran. On the other hand, Obama, this "political novice", had the wisdom to tell America, once again, that we were giving a man who can't be trusted, a free hand to be foolhardy--once again. And now, recent revelations in the news tell us he was right--once again. So I'd say, inexperience notwithstanding, Senator Obama seems to be batting a thousand.

The inexperienced Senator Obama also stands poised to hand control of political power back to the American people. He's demonstrated single-handedly that the people can come together and more than compete with big business as a source of political funding. Obama has raised more money through small donations from average Americans than the "more experienced" politicians have managed to raise through their corporate masters. That means that Americans now have a fighting chance of electing politicians that are more beholding to them than they are to big business (and mark my word--you can look for big business to sponsor some sort of legislation in the future to try to close that egregious loophole).

Thus, regardless to how this campaign turns out, whether Obama wins or falls short in his effort, he's already performed an immeasurable service to the American people by demonstrating that politicians don't have to be beholding to big business. Someday, when all of this is looked back upon, Obama's contribution is going to be recognized as one of the most valuable gifts to America in modern history. I'd say, that alone is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a guy with no experience. Now I ask you, what have any of the more "experienced" politicians done to change the face of American politics lately?

So the bottom line is, considering Senator Obama's Character, political savvy, and the fact that he's the very first viable Black presidential candidate in the history of this nation, to contend that he's not ready to be president is to say that no Black person is ready to be president of the United States. If you happen to be Black and not willing to take that position, in order to be logically consistent, you have to be prepared to come up with the name of a Black person who you consider more viable and qualified to be president. If you can't do that, you're in denial, and on the wrong side of history.

It's hard to understand the Black community. Never in my most horrific nightmare did I ever think I'd have to mount such a self-evident argument to my own people regarding a viable Black candidate. As I sit here I imagine Martin, Malcolm, and a million slaves spinning in their graves, saying, "I died for this! What's wrong with those idiots?" I also imagine racists of the past taunting these great men, saying, "We told you--y'all were fools."

But as sad as this situation is, it brings to mind an old joke--a very old but profound joke, so bear with me: There was a guy stranded on his roof during a flood, and the water was rising fast. In an attempt to try to save him, a group of people wanted to throw him a life preserver, but he turned it down, saying, "That's ok. God will provide." Then they tried to save him in a boat, and later with a helicopter, but in each case he turned them down, saying, "That's ok. The Lord will provide." Finally the water overtook him and he drowned. Then, as the Devil was dragging him off to Hell, he looked up to God and said, "My Lord, why have you forsaken me, and why am I going to Hell?" And God replied, "Man, I sent you a life preserver, a boat, and even a helicopter, and you refused them. You're going to Hell because you committed suicide."

That joke is a perfect example of what's currently happening in the Black community. We're being given the opportunity to bring Martin's dream, and the prayers that our people have whispered for hundreds of years into reality; the opportunity for Black children to say for the first time, and with conviction, that "I'm going to be president someday." For the first time, a Black child will be able to go through life knowing that he is the master of his own destiny. And just as important as all of the things mentioned above, finally, the losers and deadbeats in the Black community won't be able to convince Black youth that failure is acceptable, because "it's the White man's fault." But in spite of all of that, some of us are so consumed with self-hatred that we'd rather cut our own throats before supporting one of our own for president.

That is the reality, but if we allow this opportunity to pass us by, God would be completely justified in telling us to stop complaining and just shut-up and suffer. After all, God helps those who help themselves.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007





During the Reagan administration the American people made the mistake of becoming more enamored with an individual than they were the laws of this land. As a result, America failed to act decisively to curb Reagan's criminal behavior in office. Now, over twenty-five years later, that failure has come back to haunt us. America now finds itself on the brink of disaster and badly in need of a moral compass, but what we're left with is a status quo that was set with criminal intent, and a new norm that says the average citizen is unimportant. The ultimate irony of this is, the primary architect of America's downward spiral is now revered as a hero.

Republican candidates are falling all over one another trying to demonstrate that they're the most Reaganesque candidate for president. But, why? What did Reagan really do of significance? Of course, Republicans will claim that he won the Cold War, but actually Osama did that by driving the Soviet Union into bankruptcy in Afghanistan, in much the same way the United States is being drained out of existence in Iraq. So the fact is, Reagan did absolutely nothing that John Wayne couldn't have done better--he simply gave the conservatives a cowboy hat to rally around. Well, he also did one other thing--he effectively demonstrated that the American people could be conned into believing that cutting off their nose was in the best interest of their face. And since the very viability of the GOP is dependant upon convincing the American people to undermine their own best interest, that act alone was of immeasurable value to Republican strategists everywhere.

When you closely examine the Reagan administration, it becomes clear that he did much more to hurt America than any other president in the history of this country…quot;at least, until Bush. First, he got us to buy into Reaganomics, where we accepted the proposition that if we sacrificed ourselves for the benefit of the rich, in the end, their wealth would "trickle down" upon us. Secondly, he committed the treasonous act of selling arms to Iran to fund his misadventure in Nicaragua. And finally, in order to support his private war, he flooded the inner city with crack cocaine, and came very close to effectively wiping out an entire generation of young Black people (Yeah, I know, Nancy--they could have just said no. That attempt at moral justification is probably where the slogan came from).

The Reagan administration's Supply-Side Economics was a scheme hatch by U.S.C. Economist Arthur Laffer and the Reagan crowd which was supposed to cut the deficit and balance the budget. The theory behind Reaganomics was ostensibly, if you cut taxes for business and people in the upper tax brackets, and then deregulated business of such nuisances as safety regulations and environmental safeguards, the beneficiaries would invest their savings into creating new jobs. In that way the money would eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us. The resulting broadened tax base would then not only help to bring down the deficit, but also subsidize the tremendously high defense budget. When the plan was first floated, even George Bush, Reagan's vice president to be, called it "voodoo economics."

Actually, Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and create a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. What actually took place, however, was even more like the Coolidge era than planed. Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of those schemes, the leveraged buy out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. This practice destroyed many corporations and cost the citizens of this country an untold number of jobs. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline in the stock market since 1914--fifteen years before the Great Depression. But far worse, and what we didn't realize at the time, was it defined the beginning of the end of America as an industrial leader in the world.

In addition, the Reagan administration set a precedent for violating the laws of the land, and also the will of the people, by selling arms to Iran in order to fund a Contra rebellion against the sovereign state of Nicaragua. Not only was this action previously made illegal by the Boland Amendment in the United States Congress, but some of those very arms may be killing our troops in Iraq today. And beyond that, in addition to selling arms to an avowed enemy of the United States to fund an illegal war, there is evidence that the administration turned a blind eye, and may have very well have been complicit, in flooding the inner cities of the United States with drugs, also in pursuit of their efforts in Nicaragua.

The full extent of the horrors committed by the Reagan administration are still shrouded in mystery, since many of the documents were destroyed, and the people involved, like Oliver North, were pardoned (sound familiar?). But while America can run from such acts by refusing to acknowledge the full extent of Reagan's criminal conduct, we can't hide. We're now paying a severe price for being thoughtless followers instead of engaged citizens. Our parents left us a thriving industrial colossus, but now, we're leaving our children the hamburger capitol of the world; and the bullets that we once sold in secret, are now being pulled from the bodies of our dead troops. But a much more far-reaching affect of Ronald Reagan's irresponsible behavior is, the drugs that he's responsible for putting into our inner cities may have quite possibly killed the very mind that held the cure for cancer, the solution for global warming, or the salvation of this land.

Yes, we've set a new norm in America. The nation that was once widely accepted as the leader of the free world, and that shining light on the hill, is now known for concentration camps, torture, and corruption. It now turns out that the only thing that has effectively trickled down from the Reagan administration is a gross disrespect for the United States Constitution, and a governmental arrogance that is totally oblivious to the average American citizen. Think about that the next time you hear a Republican say, "I'm a Reagan conservative." Then ask yourself, is this the America that you really want to leave your child.

Eric L. Wattree

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