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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tom Van Dyke on Washington, Du Bois, and African-American Prospects

As Hunter Baker has done below, I, too, wish to commend Tom Van Dyke for bringing forth a discussion of Booker T. Washington, a man whose thought has been insufficiently appreciated. I invite you to look at Tom's posts below and investigate the writings he mentions. To me, Booker T. Washington is an intellectual hero, and I am highly impressed with Tom's thoughtful assessment of the man and the controversies his ideas created.

Thanks, Tom.


Tom Van Dyke said...

And thank you, S.T.

In his famous 1895 speech we discuss, Booker T. Washington cited what seems to have been a well-known line from John Greenleaf Whittier's breathtaking Civil War poems ("Song of the Negro Boatmen"):

So sing our dusky gondoliers;
And with a secret pain,
And smiles that seem akin to tears,
We hear the wild refrain.

We dare not share the negro's trust,
Nor yet his hope deny;
We only know that God is just,
And every wrong shall die.

Rude seems the song; each swarthy face,
Flame-lighted, ruder still
We start to think that hapless race
Must shape our good or ill;

That laws of changeless justice bind
Oppressor with oppressed;

And, close as sin and suffering joined,
We march to Fate abreast.

Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be
Our sign of blight or bloom,
The Vala-song of Liberty,
Or death-rune of our doom


We're all in this together; our fates are intertwined. But I think most of us on the right are turned off by Black History as taught these days because it's been co-opted and revised by the Black left (which is for practical purposes, a redundancy).

I think we all might agree that it's hopelessness that's the true enemy. It's perhaps up to the right to preserve and restore Booker T. Washington; his genius is self-evident and is now re-proved in this 21st century, but we must also learn why he failed.

"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it."---Chesterton

If the Right is to contribute to The Struggle, to take up the baton now, we must learn to feel it ourselves. Bromides from Poor Richard's Almanack aren't going to swing it, as Bill Cosby recently found out.

And if we're to comprehend the tragedy of the aggrieved yet self-afflicted Third World, then perhaps we should, in Booker T. Washington's words, cast down our buckets where we are.

The Black Experience is a Rosetta Stone for us to learn of and understand such things.

Tom Van Dyke said...

For those finding this on Google, my original essay, "Vision>Caution>Impatience>Demagoguery, " can be found here.