Forward received:

 

Subject:  Bill Cosby speaks the truth

 

Bill Cosby: We Can't Blame White People

 

By BILL COSBY

 

They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is...'

 

And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.

 

And then I heard the father talk.

 

Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads.

 

You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.

 

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.

 

The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting.

 

They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what?  And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

 

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.

 

Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?

 

People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?

 

People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?

 

Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up, and has all types of piercings going through her body?

 

What part of Africa did this come from?

 

We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa.

 

With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.

 

Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back.

 

People used to be ashamed... [Today] a woman has eight children with eight different `husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now.

 

We have millionaire football players who can't read.

 

We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs.

 

We as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.

 

We cannot blame white people.

 

*****

 

Friends:

 

I received the above from that white Republican email grapevine that's provided me with so much worthwhile reading these recent years.  It's interesting to note suburban white folk so eagerly forwarding things like this.  In fact it's rare to see them concerned about either Black Americans or the state of English in our country.  I guess it took Bill Cosby's above remarks to wake them up.  I wonder why that is.

 

Certainly Bill Cosby speaks part of the truth in this diatribe.  But even so, it is only part of the truth.

    

The white Americans who forwarded this and typed "Cosby speaks the truth" over it--I'm guessing they'd also be likely to agree that they themselves represent the highest level of civilization the world has yet seen, that they are in fact God's gift to humanity, second only to His son Jesus, and maybe not even second.  (I say I'm guessing they'd agree, but I don't really need to guess here.  I know many of these people, after all: I'm well aware how they'd rate themselves in the hierarchy of beings.)

 

In any case, I've decided to respond to Cosby's remarks with my own.  But in my response I won't be concerned with the English of black gangsters or would-be gangsters.  Instead my target will be white, pro-Bush gangsters--in short, the self-righteous golf-and-tennis-club gang that sent me Cosby's remarks to begin with.  And to achieve a bit of symmetry I'll even give my essay a Cosbyesque title.  As follows:

 

We Can't Blame Liberals and Europeans

 

By Eric Mader

 

They make a quarter million dollars a year but still they can't write clearly in their own language.  Sometimes I can't even read the stuff these people send me:

 

"I think such opinions as that are thouroughly bazaar."

 

'"Whom is the person that once said freedom is truly a sacred right?"

 

"The White House staff were reportedly shocked by the Clintons fowl language." 

 

"Let me tell you about what Iraqui democracy will mean for the region.  First. . ."

 

I used to wonder at such lousy English coming from supposedly educated people.  These are the "successful" Americans after all.  Not only do they have three-digit incomes, but they went to good universities too.  What, I wondered, could account for their horrendous usage of English? 

 

Then I remembered how most of these people spent their time in university: how they were encouraged to spend their time.  To listen to them talk about university, it was all "Rah rah rah!  Go team!"  It was mainly a matter of sorority parties and fraternity antics.  You'll rarely hear about any kind of intellectual awakening they had, any kind of serious studies they did.  The most interesting thing they can say on this score is that they got "good grades."  Which I don't doubt.  I'm guessing they could probably get passing grades again if they went back.  Our professors, our whole education system, have become far too lenient.

 

Everybody knows that logical argument and established facts are essential to clear thinking.  Everybody except these knuckleheads, that is.  The Bush government has brought them all out in force, typing up their pathetic arguments by the sheaf, entering the fray of debate without any idea what it means to debate.  They seem to think their status as upper middle class means they don't even have to think about what they say or write.  That it comes out of their mouth already establishes it as the Truth.  How could it not be, after all?  Just look at their net worth.

 

Given their eminent social standing, they don't have to worry about spelling things correctly either.  That's for secretaries to do.  They write me about what should be done about "Sadam," they give vent to their opinions about "Iraqui insurgents" or "what Al Quaeda really wants".  In all their studious research on these things, how is it they never noticed how to spell them?  But maybe they didn't actually do much reading on these subjects in the first place.  And why would they have to?  Being created by God to decide the fate of nations, they already know everything intuitively.  God and a little time with Fox News gives them all the understanding they need.

 

"Why do you call your web page about politics the 'Manhattan Reichstag Review'?  What is a Reichstag Review?"

 

I got this question from a Minnesota Republican who then went on in his letter to lecture me about politics and freedom.  He'd apparently never heard of the Reichstag fire.  If told he'd probably have said: "What does that have to do with America?  We're not Germans after all, but Americans."  There's a native essentialism in these people's thinking that makes them immune to historical comparisons.

 

The best universities and libraries in the history of the world, and still we've got these knuckleheads walking around.  I blush for them.  The opportunity for so much learning right at their fingertips, and they have nothing but scorn for it.

 

The new American "conservatives" are not holding up their end of the deal.  This solid upper middle class who so love Bush for his tax policies are not protecting the hard won gains of Western modernity.  Unlike their European counterparts, they don't even have a concept of Western modernity.  To listen to them justify themselves and their new leader's policies is to realize they are hardly more than barbarians with stock portfolios.  They show all the historical and political knowledge of someone hatched from an egg last Thursday.

 

Their clutching concern with their precious tax cuts is what really drives their politics.  And how could it not be?  They learn early on to lodge their identities in what they buy.  A $60,000 car is a philosophy in itself.   A sixteen-room house for two people and a poodle?  "Why not?  We've worked hard; we deserve it."  The issue is not whether or not they deserve it: the issue is that they consider it the very meaning of their lives.

 

How many hours these people spend furnishing their homes and how little time straightening out their souls!  What is life to them if not cars and boats and furnishings? 

 

And they don't understand it when their teenage kids do drugs and can't see any purpose in life.  These people who don't spend an hour a year thinking about the meaning of life themselves but who still can't fathom why so many American young people see nothing but materialism and hypocrisy all around.  

 

And why are they so proud?  Of what?  Of their wealth of entertaining gadgets?  At least in the past people of their class showed some pride in learning.  In the past it was understood that books, the Bible among them, could deepen the soul and put one in touch with the truth.  But these new "conservatives," this bulwark of our great civilization, when they have free time they do little but polish their possessions and watch movies on cable.  Or check their portfolio online.  Or go to their golf and tennis clubs.  They expect to be considered "conservative" for this?

 

People who cruise around in SUVs even though they know the world's climate is being undermined by fuel emissions--what is conservative about that?  Does that show a conservative respect for our human future, for the generations that will have to face the fallout?  Even their children can see how foolish it is.  Isn't this a sign of something gone wrong?

 

"After I'm done stuffing myself and cooking the planet with pollutants, then all hell can break loose as far as I'm concerned.  I've worked hard to get where I am, and I'll do what I want.  Jesus loves me."  This is what I hear as the main message of America's new "conservatives." 

 

Is it "conservatism" that has put our nation in such huge debt?  What is conservative about our colossal deficits?  Most people would associate conservatism with fiscal responsibility: with moderate expenditures and a desire to balance the budget.

 

And what does one say to Americans who come out in adamant support of a government that attempts to erase the Bill of Rights in our Constitution?  Is this "conservatism"?  I thought a conservative, by definition, was someone who didn't introduce radical changes, who showed respect for the laws and norms established by previous generations, above all for the laws and norms established by the Founding Fathers.  A conservative is not someone who stands up with a sledgehammer and begins swinging it around, meanwhile yelling out: "I am right, I am right, no need for debate, I am always right!"

 

What part of our great conservative tradition did this come from?  Conservatives are prudent and moderate.  They are diplomatic.

 

But maybe your idea of conservatism is based in the Gospels.  Maybe you hold to Christian values.  Then show me where Jesus insists on the wealthiest two percent of the population as the basis of a just society.  Show me where Jesus says: "And the richest few must glory in their riches and keep them, and though they are already rich their riches must be made to grow yet more, and that will be the Kingdom of Heaven."  Show me where Jesus says anything that might be taken to buttress the new doctrine of pre-emptive war.

 

These "conservatives" rant against Europe, though much of what is strong in our culture comes from Europe.  Our political norms, our language, our ideas of right and wrong.  And the Europeans themselves see we are starting to drift.  The Europeans know much about such drifting, whether to the authoritarian left or right.  Why do you think the Germans hate the Bush Administration so much?  Because they recognize the gestures from their own history.  They know where such cultural arrogance and such contempt for established norms will ultimately lead.

 

The opinions of Europe don't matter to us however.  Though we helped establish the law, we as Americans are now above the law.  As is only right.  We don't need a permission slip to undertake foolhardy and costly imperialist wars.  We have the weapons and some of the money to do it on our own.  So who in hell is Europe to tell us we are behaving like irresponsible maniacs? 

 

It is an immature and self-defeating arrogance that has seized on my country.  America cannot conduct a wise foreign policy if it is constantly quaking in paroxysms of self-congratulation. 

 

America used to stand for international law.  We used to be first among equals, a force for good.  This was the real basis of our strength, as the policymakers of previous generations well understood.  Today we strut like arrogant bullies, establishing double standards without a trace of shame and breaking whatever treaties we feel like breaking.  We have alienated our allies and broken the international norms of war and peace.  We have shown that striking first is correct, that torturing prisoners is acceptable, that environmental irresponsibility is the innate right of the strong.  All peoples of the world can be subject to prosecution for war crimes except Americans.  We insist that the rules be written with a special clause: "Such laws apply to everyone except us.  We are naturally beyond their reach."  The civilized people of the world read our absurd demands and can hardly believe it. 

 

Our executive branch is a virtual oil cartel.  Apparently there are Americans who still believe the Iraq war was not about oil.  That educated adults can be so nave is something I find hard to understand.  Perhaps they are not really educated.  Or really adults.  Perhaps they thought the Iraq war would be exciting, like some kind of long-playing summer blockbuster.  In any event, the future will laugh at such gullibility. 

 

The Bush Administration has weighed down our nation with debt in order to finance the petro schemes of private interests.  They have commandeered the State and made it an adjunct to a handful of corporations.  This is what the historians will see and what anyone who cares to look can see already.  This is not conservatism, but corruption on a grand scale.  It is crony capitalism, a risky game that puts the nation's wellbeing at stake.  But doesn't put Halliburton shareholders in any kind special bind.

 

In such a political culture the true conservatives should be crying foul.  Where are the real American conservatives?  It's about time this team of radicals currently in the White House were unmasked for what they are. It's about time educated Republicans started holding themselves to a higher standard.  If they don't drop the recently acquired knack for shabby rhetoric, the recent tendency to ignore the weight of facts and the opinions of allies, if they don't, in short, wake up from the fantasy version of the world they've made for themselves, history will be coming round soon enough to give them the wake up they deserve.  And when that happens they won't be able to blame the Europeans or us American "liberals" for what's happened.  They won't be able to blame those who all along urged a more moderate, in fact more conservative, approach.

 

September, 2004

 

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