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A new (at least to me) black conservative voice

By Robert S. Sargent, Jr.
web posted March 1, 2004

As a white conservative, I am concerned that there aren't more conservative African-Americans. If the Republican Party remains lily-white, it seems that it is destined to become a minority party. The question is: how do Republicans attract more minorities? In the Washington Times, (1/11/04) there was a column written by a writer I had never heard of: La Shawn Barber. It was titled "Courting Black Vote a Bad Idea." How depressing: Just give up?

The problem, according to Ms. Barber, is that the principles of conservatism, such as "The concept of limited government…is anathema to most blacks....(L)imited government brings to mind ‘states rights,' which in turn evokes images of Southern whites and their resentment of federal intervention in local affairs during desegregation." So what to do?

"Republicans should continue doing what they do best: defend the country, support policies that foster economic growth, fight for the sanctity of the family, the unborn and the dignity of the individual…(and) once blacks are fed up with liberal lies, fear, resentment and mistrust (and being passed over for leadership positions), perhaps they'll return to the party that set them free." To learn more about this interesting reporter, I initiated an e-mail correspondence.

I asked her if the Republican Party shouldn't go after blacks, at least as a group, how will they ever attract them? She responded, "They may never attract them. Republicans didn't have to "go after" me: I came to them because I support their positions on traditional values. I also respect the free enterprise system and understand that not all are created equal and not all will succeed in the same way at the same pace. I'm against the type of social engineering that attempts to guarantee equality of outcome. In that regard, Republicans should remain true to their principles and not go after blacks as a group."

La Shawn Barber has a wide range of interests from the Civil War to a love of Agatha Christie to a fascination with the British Monarchy. A deeply religious person, Ms. Barber wrote about how she became a conservative: "Democrats! It was during the Clinton scandal that I realized I was aligned with the wrong party…I asked questions about conservatives and researched their ideology for myself instead of relying on what I was told. I found conservative principles to be more in line with my Christian worldview than the liberal agenda." What is the "liberal agenda?"

"For at least the past 25 years, liberals have taken a core ideology of permissiveness and immorality and hidden it in ‘black' issues like welfare, entitlements, race preferences and a blame-whites-for-your-problems mentality. Liberals appeal to the basic weaknesses in human nature: the desire to avoid responsibility and consequences of our own actions."

The combination of that appeal, and black's distrust of conservatives and Republicans is what brought Ms. Barber to conclude that going after blacks is a waste of time. Stick to your principles and be patient.

La Shawn Barber spoke of other issues. On Dr. Martin Luther King: "Dr. King's message has been perverted. In his famous ‘I Have a Dream' speech, King demanded that the United States make good on its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens. So much of that had happened in the last 40 years, but if you listen to black liberals, we're still living under Jim Crow in 1963. Why has King's message been perverted? The grievance racket is highly profitable. Keep the slaves in mental chains and they'll continue to produce an income in the form of government hand-outs, contracts and shakedown payoffs."

On race preferences: "Race preferences are damaging and demoralizing. Blacks are treated not as responsible moral agents with accountability, but as objects of pity, shame and failure, incapable of human excellence. Race preferences promote presumptive, insulting and offensive stereotypes.

On reparations: "With welfare programs, race preferences and other government hand-outs, blacks have already received their 40 acres and a mule, and then some. My objections to reparations are typical. Who will pay? All of the perpetrators are dead. Who will receive the money? All of the victims are dead."

On the worst racial problem: "The worst racial problem facing the black community is that 70 percent of its babies are born out of wedlock. Single-parent families have become the norm in black communities; that makes it a racial problem. Children with mothers and fathers living together in the same home are healthier, safer and happier. The break-up of the black family will have repercussions for years to come, and no government program will fix it."

There is a group of black intellectuals that include Stanley Crouch, John McWorter, Shelby Steele, and others who are not repeating the litany of the black liberal leadership. According to Gerald Early, director of the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, this group is growing. Add to this list La Shawn Barber. Think about it. Who's going to have a more profound effect on blacks: white conservatives struggling to be hip at a black church or NAACP meeting, or this growing group that includes Ms. Barber?

La Shawn Barber has written columns for a great number of publications including the Washington Times, Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also has an interesting blog. Its address is www.lashawnbarber.com. Check it out. Someday Ms. Barber hopes to earn her living as a freelance writer and syndicated columnist. Based on what I've read it's only a matter of time before she reaches her goals.

Robert S. Sargent, Jr. is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right and can be reached at rssjr@citcom.net.

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