A little while back my big brother, Vernon, asked me to read an article about Kwanzaa and its founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga. I just finished reading the article and I found it to be quite interesting.
The article attempts to discredit Dr. Karenga by calling him an “FBI dupe”. The article also attempts to “educate” (did you notice the quotation marks?) readers on the “real” history of Kwanzaa.
So before I give my opinion on the piece, let me give a disclaimer. When I read articles such as the one provided by Big Brother Vernon, I first consider the author. The author in this case is Ann Coulter. While I’ve never been too much for labels and categories, Ann is a right-wing conservative and brings all that that means to her writing and perspective. She is the author of books like How to Talk to a Liberal (if you must) and Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. You can learn a lot about a person from what they read so I took a peak at her reading list and the following books were there.
When Character was King (a book about Ronald Reagan)
and The Conservative Mind
After finding this out and reading her bio, I’m not surprised by her article. Here are a couple of her observations about Dr. Maulana Karenga and Kwanzaa:
Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI stooge, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI.
Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy ’60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven “principles” of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life — economics, work, personality, even litter removal.
So after viewing portions of her website, remembering her from some TV interviews, reading her entire article about Dr. Karenga/Kwanzaa and taking note of her writing style, I have a greater understanding of the author and the presuppositions that color the lenses by which she sees the world. Based on that, I conclude that it’s unlikely that Ms. Coulter and I would agree on the validity of Kwanzaa nor Dr. Karenga’s place in the history of people of African descent.
Despite that conclusion, I don’t negate some of the observations that Ms. Coulter has made about Dr. Karenga. I’ve heard the rumors concerning his involvement with the FBI back in the 60′s and I’ve read in other places about his battles with the Black Panthers. Only a fool would paint a picture of Dr. Karenga as the “patron saint of character and virtue”. However, I do believe that even unclean vessels have the capability of producing something worthwhile and necessary from time to time. The old saying goes, “even a broke clock is right two times a day”.
My point is, I’m hesitant to dismiss “Messages” of empowerment, truth, and liberation based on the condition of the “Messenger”. I don’t discredit Ann Coulter because we reside in two vastly different worlds and different political/philosophical camps. While I would never use words like “schmaltzy” and “black racism” to describe Kwanzaa, I recognize that she makes some accurate and poignant observations in her article. Despite our differences, I give her credit where it is due – a courtesy that she didn’t see fit to extend to Dr. Karenga nor to Kwanzaa and its importance in the lives of some people of African descent.
And for her next trick, Ms. Coulter should analyze the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington, and the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. I’m sure she would find great delight in exposing those history altering events as shams orchestrated by a negro preacher who spoke freely about his civil rights dreams during the day and lived out his adulterous sexual fantasies at night.