For decades, many conspiracy theories originated on the political right - from fluoridation is a Communist plot to the Council on Foreign Relations is a front for the creation of one world government to the Clintons being drug dealers and witness killers.
Now the political left is having a go at conspiracies because, as with the right, that keeps theorizers from having to address the real issues or the flaws in their thinking.
Take the latest gathering in Philadelphia of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It resembled an opening act for the Democratic National Convention and revealed how this once-great organization has been seduced by the conspiracy muse.
The NAACP bills itself "nonpartisan" so that it might continue to enjoy the fruits of its tax-exempt status, but the rhetoric from its leaders is outrageously partisan. Coming from the mouths of virtually any other tax-exempt group, the IRS would promptly and properly yank its exemption.
There was a time when racists believed all blacks looked alike. Now the NAACP wants people to believe that all blacks think alike. The leadership accuses Republicans of behaving like the Taliban in their public policy positions. But it is the NAACP that is more like the Taliban, demanding that all blacks conform to its world view and denouncing as "infidels"(or "Oreos") any who stray from the intellectual plantation it has constructed.
Consider the comment by Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP, about independent-minded blacks who disagree with the Democratic politics of the organization. Bond characterizes such blacks as "ventriloquist's dummies (who speak) in the puppet master's voice, but we can see whose lips are moving and we can hear his money talk."
NAACP President Kweisi Mfume expanded on that conspiratorial theory when he alleged that conservative black organizations are funded by white Republicans. By that standard, the NAACP should refund all of the money it receives from white liberals, as well as what it receives from large corporations, many of whom reportedly donate in order to buy protection from race-based lawsuits that might be filed by the organization or its ideological brethren.
This is the group that engaged in the most blatant form of race-baiting in 2000, when it paid for a commercial that recalled the murder in 1998 of a black Texan named James Byrd, who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck. The men responsible were arrested, tried and convicted, but the NAACP accused then-Gov. George W. Bush of "insensitivity."
Bush came to the NAACP convention in Baltimore four years ago. He said the right things: "Slavery is a blight on our history"; "racism, despite all our progress, still exists"; "there's no escaping the reality that the party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln." But then Bush said something important. He spoke about "the soft bigotry of low expectations in education." Instead of lowering the bar to meet underachievers at their level, Bush called for elevating the underclass to the level of the bar and beyond.
For his courage, courtesy and frankness, Bush got the James Byrd commercial. No wonder he has refused subsequent invitations to speak to the NAACP. Why endure insults from people who have no intention of voting for you and who do not represent all of black thinking, an increasing amount of which espouses more conservative principles?
The future of black America does not lie in the slogans, tactics and bitterness of the past. Instead, it is in the attitude expressed eloquently and forcefully by Bill Cosby about such issues as parental responsibility and oversight, using proper English and staying in school. He entertained at the recent NAACP convention but was asked not to repeat his earlier remarks advising blacks to "stop blaming the white man."
The NAACP doesn't want Cosby's thinking to catch on because blacks who free themselves from the clutches of government and single-party devotion will find they need neither to achieve their dreams. If they did need them, the lot of the poor would by now already be much improved because of the millions spent in the "war on poverty." That too many blacks remain mired in poverty, as Cosby has noted, is a result of behavior and lifestyle choices, not the white man keeping them down.
The NAACP may represent the emotional and political state of much of black America, but it no longer speaks for the real interests of blacks, which are based in the things of which Cosby speaks. It should change its name to the NAABB - the National Association for the Advancement of Bush-Bashers.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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