Derrick Bell’s Jewish / Racialist Problem
— And before the trolls chime in to accuse wild-eyed desperate conservatives of engaging in guilt by association — if there’s one thing we know for sure about Obama after 3+ years as President it’s that just because he told a crowd in Harvard Square to open its hearts and minds to the words of Derrick Bell doesn’t mean he actually meant it — let me just say this: the importance of this story is that it shows the lengths the mainstream media — which is now largely nothing more than the propaganda arm for big government and progressivism — will go and has gone to to shield Barack Obama from any real scrutiny (Soledad O’Brien’s strained and histrionic attempt to diminish Joel Pollak and conservatives was but a rather obvious example of such behavior).
Mitt Romney may find such vettings untoward and “outrageous,” but the truth is, the United States elected a hard-left ideologue who the mainstream media consistently soft-peddled as a brilliant pragmatic centrist — largely, I believe, because the idea of a Harvard-educated Black man met every criteria for social reinforcement self-styled intellectuals crave: he had an exotic name; he attended the best schools; he dabbled in radical politics as an intellectual endeavor; he wrote books about himself that were “frank” and, in certain passages, adopted sophisticated literary tropes; and he had that condescending air of a high-brow intellectual snob, who would say what he had to say to get elected but who (wink wink nudge nudge) shared the intellectual’s disdain for bitterclingers with their guns and their religion and their overstuffed Applebee’s plates.
In fact, it was these very things — reduced to the now familiar David Brooks objective correlative, the crease in Obama’s trousers — that moved many “sane” Republicans to support Barack Obama in 2008. They put intellectual vanity before rigorous scrutiny, and they got burned. Badly.
That many of those same people on the right are now supporting Mitt Romney we’re to ignore. This time they know what’s best, you see.
But I digress.
Professor Bell’s fidelity to the critical race theory he helped popularize and promote is, historically, beyond dispute. And while the move from the Left now will be to pretend the story has no merit, it is incumbent upon those of us on the right to publicize just who Obama once was (and may very well still be) — if only to allow the American people, rather than a gatekeeper press looking to control the narrative and manufacture a kind of fictional character of “Barack Obama,” to decide who he really is.
And one way to do that is to provide an accurate accounting of his history and his scholarship — included in which is an accurate accounting of who were his intellectual and academic mentors and influences.
The controversy over the videotape of Harvard Law School student Barack Obama speaking in support of his professor Derrick Bell during Bell’s one-man 1990 uprising against the law school’s failure or refusal to hire a black woman as a professor has caused a predictable back-and-forth about what it might mean for Obama to have a favorable view of Bell. Michael Powell of the New York Times reflected conventional opinion in liberal media circles when he tweeted: “Derrick Bell, Radical? We’re to pretend our history cleansed? He fought 4 Civil Rights in Mississippi.”
It is incumbent on Powell and others, if they want to get in on the conversation about Bell, to explain what on earth is mainstream about comments he made in an eye-opening New York Observer interview published on October 10, 1994, that is not available online. Among other remarks, Bell denounced Henry Louis (Skip) Gates for writing a New York Times op-ed condemning black anti-Semitism:
I was furious. Even if everything he said was true, it was inexcusable not to mention what might have motivated blacks to feel this way, and to fail to talk about all the Jewish neoconservative racists who are undermining blacks in every way they can.
Bell went on to say, “Now, that wouldn’t excuse anti-Semitism, which is awful, but it would at least provide a context for this anger…”
It might seem nice of Bell to acknowledge the awfulness of anti-Semitism, but he didn’t mean it. The very same interview began as follows: “We should really appreciate the Louis Farrakhans and the Khalid Muhammads while we’ve got them.” Khalid Muhammad was Farrakhan’s right hand, who made a name for himself referring to Jews as, among many other things, “bloodsuckers” whose “father was the devil.” As for Farrakhan, if you need a refresher course in his vileness, look here.
Why exactly were we supposed to appreciate them? Quoth Bell: “While these guys talk a lot, they don’t do anything. The new crop of leaders are going to be a lot more dangerous and radical, and the next phase will probably be led by charismatic individuals, maybe teenagers, who urge that instead of killing each other, they should go out in gangs and kill a whole lot of white people.”
Note how he seemed to relish this prospect even as he tut-tutted it. Note also how almost unimaginably wrong he was. For no marauding gangs of black teenagers went around killing white people after he spoke; in fact, the ongoing crime drop that followed his words had its most remarkable impact in black communities, where the number of murders fell, by some counts, as much as 80 percent over the decade that followed.
Now, naturally, Bell — an academic — provided some distance between what he seemed to believe might happen and what he was willing to openly advocating for, but that distance is a ruse, a rhetorical nicety familiar to anyone who has ever encountered faculty lounge radicals like Bell: what he hoped to happen he would lead through intellectual provocation — and in fact, that’s the very purpose of critical race theory, properly understood — but as far as getting their own hands dirty? Well, let’s just say there are community organizers and those who are organized and then deployed to do the organizer’s bidding.
How much of Barack Obama’s Justice Department is grounded in critical race theory? How much does Obama truly believe that people need to open their hearts and minds to the words of Derrick Bell?
These are legitimate questions. And we can’t let anyone tell us otherwise, not matter how much they pretend to sneer or roll their eyes or ironize the story away.