The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Teaching Points

Last week, a group of black pastors from Richmond (mostly) sent off a letter to Gov. McDonnell (you can read their press release here). Umderstandably, they’re upset about the governor’s Confederate History Month proclamation. They also outline five other concerns.

Because I know two of these pastors very well-one leads the church that I grew up in-it’s really, really hard to come out in attack mode against them. Conscience won’t let me do that. But there are a couple lessons for us on the right in this-and the flap over Confederate History Month, and the flap over the governor’s plan to require statements from felons seeking to have their rights restored.

The first lesson is one of campaign strategy. One of my friends had this to say about the letter:

I don’t take this pastors’ letter seriously at all. Most of those listed are known leftists and are naturally opposed to an assertive conservative agenda. In the short term, Governor McDonnell and other Republican leaders probably should not spend too much time trying to appeal to Blacks because Blacks will not support any party or candidate who wants to reduce the size and scope of government. The sad but often unstated reality is that most Black voters like big government.

Well, not really. Even if a church’s pastor leans left, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in his congregation does…which shouldn’t preclude us as Republicans/conservatives from carrying our message to them as well. I’m a big fan of not conceding anyone, anywhere. If I’m not confident enough in my message to take it in frony of anyone-regardless of how it’s received then or after (case in point, we did go to one of these churches during the campaign, and were rather well received at the time)-then maybe my message needs reexamining.

The second lesson is for politicians themselves. We’ve been refighting the Civil War for no less than two weeks now. During the course of said, I haven’t once heard McDonnell invoke the words of Maggie Walker, John Langston, or Noel Taylor…notables in Virginia’s black history who also happened to be Republicans.

Why? For Republicans, I suspect it’s because a lot of us don’t really know our true history. We jump on being the “party of Lincoln” and then jump to being the “party of (Teddy) Roosevelt” (who was more progressive than most realize) and the “party of Reagan” (who did preside over a administration that was about as fiscally irresponsible as those we rail against now). What of Douglass? Booker T. Washington? or, in Virginia, the three people I mentioned? We hold up white Republicans to the black community when there are more than enough individuals that came out of those communites preaching the same things we do today…and wonder why we’re looked at with some suspicion. As it’s been said, we got to do better.

We’ve got to know-and own-our history, bad and good…because if we don’t and allow perception to go unchallenged, we can’t be upset when it becomes reality. And we have to know it as individuals and as an organization. No longer can politicians depend on people to give them enough to appear “in touch” with their demographics (and I’m guilty of that). There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to hold up those Republicans above-and others-as examples of what conservatism, at its most basic, really is.

Some say it’s stupid to get involved in these battles to begin with; that if we react every time a racial accusation is thrown, we’d get nothing accomplished. To a point, that’s true-some of this is distracting from tackling the true issues of the day. Then too, some things-like the issues these pastors have raised-are too serious not to react or respond to. We do that best not only by answering their charges, but by using these situations as teaching moments to show what we’re really about, and to show that the community’s interests are being taken to heart.

We can only do that, though, if we know what we’re really about ourselves.

HB2DF, Coby 

 

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Written by Coby Dillard

April 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

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