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The Plantation Theory: Time to retire a dumb Cornel West idea and the rhetoric that goes with it.
National Review ^ | 07/24/2013 | Kevin D. Williamson

Posted on 07/24/2013 7:26:37 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Cornel West is a very smart man who has some very dumb opinions, but when he’s feeling froggy he can be a hoot. In a recent interview, Professor West mocked Al Sharpton for playing the odalisque in President Obama’s media seraglio, calling him the embodiment of the “rent-a-Negro phenomenon on MSNBC.” The Reverend Sharpton, he said, is constrained because “he’s still on the Obama plantation.”

The use of the word “plantation” to describe the relationship between black Americans and their political patrons is an unfortunate staple of contemporary rhetoric. Professor West’s remark is unusual in that “plantation” rhetoric usually comes from the Right, as in Star Parker’s Uncle Sam’s Plantation, Deneen Borelli’s Backlash: How Obama and the Left Are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation, remarks by Michelle Malkin (“a textbook example of plantation progressivism”) or Ann Coulter (“Democrats seem to have decided blacks are safely on the plantation”), Rush Limbaugh (“The libs run a plantation”) and the like. Joe Biden, because he is a despicable human being, drove straight past the plantation to the sanitarium when he told a largely black audience that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”

The plantation rhetoric is distasteful for the same reason that facile Nazi tropes should be verboten: Some instances of evil are unique, and using them as a handy cudgel in every disagreement dilutes their emotional potency. Hitler was Hitler, and nobody else is. The Reverend Sharpton is slavish, but he is not a slave. When black critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant; when white critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant and condescending.

It is also a marker of sloppy thinking. The conservative plantation theory holds that African Americans support the Democratic party in exchange for welfare benefits and other handouts, that the Democratic party cultivates black welfare dependency in order to keep black voters firmly in their camp, and that the liberal establishment through either incompetence or cynical calculation frustrates the aspirations of black Americans in critical areas such as education, family life, crime, and economic mobility. That is a mostly accurate assessment of the Democratic party’s side of the relationship — Lyndon Johnson’s crudely expressed machinations have indeed come to pass — but not of black voters’ attitudes.

If Democrats were buying votes with welfare benefits, one would expect support for the Democratic party to be less pronounced among high-income blacks and more pronounced among low-income whites. The opposite is the case. Wealthy African Americans, who have no financial stake in welfare benefits other than being taxed to pay for them, are politically very similar to less wealthy African Americans. By some measures, wealthy blacks are more liberal than poor blacks. Which is not to say that black voters are not keenly interested in the welfare state, economic intervention, redistributive taxation, and the rest of the Democrats’ dependency agenda. They are. As I have shown at some length, it was the New Deal rather than the Democrats’ abrupt about-face on civil rights that attracted black voters. The last Republican presidential candidate to win a majority of the black vote was Herbert Hoover, and the majority of black voters were Democrats by the 1940s — a remarkable fact, given that the Democrats were still very much the party of segregation at that time, with future civil-rights enthusiast Lyndon Johnson fighting laws against lynching. African Americans remain more intensely supportive of New Deal programs such as Social Security and the minimum wage than are whites, even when their personal financial situations ensure that they are unlikely ever to earn the minimum wage or depend upon Social Security.

Conservatives should ask ourselves why that is. Not because it will help the Republican party win more black votes — that is an unlikely outcome — but because our first loyalty is to reality. Across income groups, African Americans are on balance less enthusiastic about free-market economic policies than are Anglo Americans; there is a rich tradition of entrepreneurship and self-improvement in black culture, but that does not translate into sympathy with the traditional conservative rhetoric on these subjects; and, shockingly, when asked by pollsters about their attitudes toward “capitalism” and “socialism” — using the actual words — more African Americans expressed positive views of socialism than of capitalism.

It is not surprising that blacks have less faith in the productive and transformative power of the free-market economy than do whites. Black Americans were for some centuries treated as an economic commodity themselves and were systematically excluded from full participation in the economy for generations after that. As horrific as slavery is, it may in fact be the latter experience that has undercut African Americans’ faith in capitalism. Slavery is an alien experience, but being passed over for a job or a contract, or being denied a loan, and suspecting that one’s race has something to do with the fact, is not ancient history. And while accounts of discrimination against black Americans in the marketplace may be exaggerated, they are not without basis in fact.

That African Americans’ attitudes toward economic issues are strongly influenced by their historical experience of economic exclusion is consistent with other aspects of black life beyond political-party affiliation. For example, blacks are notably risk-averse when it comes to personal financial decisions. Blacks are much less likely to invest in stocks than are similarly situated whites. They invest relatively less in risk-involved instruments such as stocks and bonds and more in risk-mitigating instruments such as life insurance. (That is one of the reasons that affluent black households often end up less wealthy than white households with identical incomes and education levels. Women exhibit similarly risk-averse investing behavior with the same result.) Risk aversion is the reason that many Americans — black, white, and other — are made anxious by proposed changes to the welfare system, even when they themselves are unlikely ever to need it. They view the welfare state as (that inevitable phrase) a safety net.

And that is what the plantation theory gets wrong. Democrats are not buying black votes with welfare benefits. Democrats appeal to blacks, to other minority groups, and — most significant — to women with rhetoric and policies that promise the mitigation of risk. (Never mind that these policies don’t work — voters never sort that out.) Conservatives routinely generalize our own economic confidence, assuming that it is shared by the general public, with catastrophic political consequences. The health-care debate represented the most notable instance of this faulty assumption in recent years; every Republican politician who could get near a microphone was harrumphing about how we had the greatest health-care system in the world, but they all failed to appreciate the anxiety inherent in being tied to an employer-based insurance plan during times of economic uncertainty. (In the 21st century, all times are times of economic uncertainty.)

Professor West gets a pass, of course, but blonde ladies and golf-tanned Caucasian gentlemen on Fox News probably should not be engaging in loose talk about plantations — if not as a matter of good taste, then because it leads to erroneous thinking.

— Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review and author of the newly published The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: cornelwest; dependency; kevindwilliamson; liberalplantation; nationalreview; partisanmediashill; partisanmediashills; plantation; welfarestate

1 posted on 07/24/2013 7:26:38 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
PROF. CORNEL WEST

2 posted on 07/24/2013 7:27:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I love Cornell West. Authentic caricatures are a rarity in nature.


3 posted on 07/24/2013 7:34:18 AM PDT by Spok
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To: SeekAndFind
That is one of the reasons that affluent black households often end up less wealthy than white households with identical incomes and education levels. Women exhibit similarly risk-averse investing behavior with the same result.

I don't think it's cultural at all. Racial and gender quotas have resulted in a system where people are promoted way above their abilities - a system with a supercharged Peter Principle.

4 posted on 07/24/2013 7:34:23 AM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: SeekAndFind
but when he’s feeling froggy he can be a hoot.

I've never seen Colonel West acting like a Frenchman before.

5 posted on 07/24/2013 7:36:55 AM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

Cornel that is.


6 posted on 07/24/2013 7:37:31 AM PDT by DManA
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To: SeekAndFind

:: Democrats appeal to blacks, to other minority groups, and — most significant — to women with rhetoric and policies that promise the mitigation of risk. ::

This is a well reasoned article.


7 posted on 07/24/2013 7:37:43 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel
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To: DManA

He be’s like a Kentucky Colonel, sir.


8 posted on 07/24/2013 7:42:51 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: SeekAndFind

Long ago when I was still a thin man I’d reached the same conclusion: that minorities were on a plantation, and their leadership were Overseers, keeping them in line and performing the most basic tasks with no more than fleeting promises of promotions from their work. And it’s still holds true today, Party notwithstanding.


9 posted on 07/24/2013 7:46:22 AM PDT by theDentist (FUBO; qwerty ergo typo : i type, therefore i misspelll)
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To: SeekAndFind
The plantation rhetoric is distasteful for the same reason that facile Nazi tropes should be verboten: Some instances of evil are unique, and using them as a handy cudgel in every disagreement dilutes their emotional potency.

In principle, maybe, but slavish devotion to the Democratic [sic] party in spite of its deep and abiding disregard for blacks has resulted—literally, not figuratively—in great suffering that both could and ought to have been avoided. Incidentally, foreign words, "verboten," for example, even though widely understood, ought to be italicized.

Hitler was Hitler, and nobody else is.

I haven't noticed an acute shortage of wannabe Hitlers or Hitler admirers, nor of Marxist aspirations and policies even the old monster himself might well have had second thoughts about.

When black critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant; when white critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant and condescending.

That reminds me all too clearly of leftist extremists haughtily announcing what's politically correct and incorrect.

10 posted on 07/24/2013 7:50:27 AM PDT by Standing Wolf
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To: theDentist

The plantation analogy is very appropriate. Its not about cultivating and harvesting crops but it is about cultivating and harvesting votes. They keep them uneducated and dependent to keep them on the plantation.


11 posted on 07/24/2013 8:06:59 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: SeekAndFind
I thought it was the dude in The naked Prey. But I guess not.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060736/
12 posted on 07/24/2013 8:10:22 AM PDT by BipolarBob (Democrats will give you the shirt off somebody elses back for a vote.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Who ever you are get the hell off Free Republic!


13 posted on 07/24/2013 8:23:15 AM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: SeekAndFind

Very good article. Thanks for posting.


14 posted on 07/24/2013 8:23:17 AM PDT by altsehastiin
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To: SeekAndFind
I'm sorry, but I think the writer of this article is seeking to make a point that is considerably less rational than he seems to believe. He is unrealistically fastidious in trying to police the perfectly legitimate use of analogy in argument. And in that makes some distinctions that really are misleading. For example, consider this paragraph:

The plantation rhetoric is distasteful for the same reason that facile Nazi tropes should be verboten: Some instances of evil are unique, and using them as a handy cudgel in every disagreement dilutes their emotional potency. Hitler was Hitler, and nobody else is. The Reverend Sharpton is slavish, but he is not a slave. When black critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant; when white critics use plantation rhetoric, it is repugnant and condescending.

Take the idea that Hitler was unique? Yes, as was Robespierre, Marx, Lenin & Obama. But all five used the technique of viciously scapegoating a small percentage of the population, for the same purpose, with very similar & very bloody results--except for Obama thus far. Just what about Hitler makes analogies to others who employ the same tactics in any way inappropriate. Actually, Hitler's worst offenses can be largely traced back to Marxist ideas, whjich hardly makes him unique.

The fact that Obama has not yet sent his scapegoats to the guillotine, or suggested as did Marx that the world would be better without Jews, or like Lenin or Hitler, sought to systematically exterminate targeted populations, does not change the clear instances of legitimate comparison. (Remember, Hitler, like Obama, won an election, and did not start the wholesale killing of the most targeted group until 9 years later.)

Does this mean that we should expect Obama to launch an extermination of his pilloried "1%," smeared in the 2012 campaign? No, but no one in France in 1789 really expected the "Reign of Terror" in the early 1790s. There are people who have advised Obama in the past, who have definitely identified with a Nazi like slaughter of targeted Americans. And didn't FDR's supporter Stuart Chase call for same even in the 1930s? The comparisons are completely legitimate.

For more on Hitler/Obama comparisons, see Leftwing Chickens Coming Home.

As for Al Sharpton, the writer is right that he is not a slave; but completely ridiculous in calling him "slavish." He is a scoundrel, who employs the same demagoguish tactics as a Marx or Hitler, to exploit people susceptible to being misled. Some of those tactics, like those of the Revolutionary movements in France, Germany & Russia, referred to, have already resulted in civilain deaths at the hands of thuggish supporters of the demagogue.

William Flax

15 posted on 07/24/2013 8:24:49 AM PDT by Ohioan
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To: upcountryhorseman
Who ever you are get the hell off Free Republic!


16 posted on 07/24/2013 8:25:14 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
It's NOT about RACE !
It's about IDEOLOGY !


WHO was Anthony Johnson of the 1600s ?

WHO was John Casor ( Caster ) 1655 ?

WHY doesn't the media tell you about WHITE SLAVES owned by Blacks in the the United States ?

Why isn't White Slavery, Maternal Descent, And The Politics Of Slavery In The Antebellum United States, written by Lawrence Tenzer and A.D. Powell, REQUIRED READING in High School ?

Watch these videos:

How much more do you need to prove to yourself that (?) :
17 posted on 07/24/2013 8:28:06 AM PDT by Yosemitest (It's Simple ! Fight, ... or Die !)
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To: Yosemitest

BTTT


18 posted on 07/24/2013 8:28:48 AM PDT by ConservativeMan55
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To: SeekAndFind

I equate the democrat party with the characters from kAnimal Farm. The farmer is the DNC The pigs are the black folk/women/gays that keep the mass in check.cthe rest are the useful idiots.


19 posted on 07/24/2013 8:39:09 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The reason we own guns is to protect ourselves from those wanting to take our guns from us.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Looks like a black Nathan Bedford Forrest with spectacles.


20 posted on 07/24/2013 8:46:14 AM PDT by ZULU ((See: http://gatesofvienna.net/) Obama, do you hear me?)
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To: ZULU
SEPARATED AT BIRTH?

21 posted on 07/24/2013 8:48:49 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Ohioan

Yeah, what you said.


22 posted on 07/24/2013 8:50:46 AM PDT by VRW Conspirator (The Lefties can drink Kool-Aid; I will drink Tea.)
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To: cripplecreek
The plantation analogy is very appropriate.

The plantation analogy is completely backward.

Who is doing the work on the plantation while others are taken care of with food, shelter, Obamaphones?

23 posted on 07/24/2013 9:53:34 AM PDT by freerepublicchat
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To: freerepublicchat

Slaves were fed and clothed as well.

Slavery is a perfect analogy made even more perfect with the deliberate denial of education that kept them on the plantations of the past. Meanwhile their masters in DC live in the big houses.


24 posted on 07/24/2013 10:00:06 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Professor West gets a pass, of course, but blonde ladies and golf-tanned Caucasian gentlemen on Fox News probably should not be engaging in loose talk about plantations...because it leads to erroneous thinking.

The author -- reeking of hubris and false degree of moral superiority -- THINKS he's nailed it, but hasn't come close.

Kevin D. Williamson doesn't deserve any credence or relevance in this pointless essay on the concept of "Plantation" -- especially when he flippantly dismisses the opinions of "blonde ladies and golf-tanned Caucasian gentlemen on Fox News" as though FOX News is in his mind its own "plantation."

Though I'm going to assume Mr. Williams is as fruity as Carmen Miranda's head-wrap (and part of the "Gay Plantation"), he is still entitled to his arrogant opinion.

That said, the rest of us will continue to discuss the whos, whats, and whys of the black plantation dynamic, and NOT be shut down by this subversive hack.

25 posted on 07/24/2013 10:17:39 AM PDT by USS Johnston (Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be bought at the price of chains & slavery? - Patrick Henry)
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To: Ohioan
I'm sorry, but I think the writer of this article is seeking to make a point that is considerably less rational than he seems to believe. He is unrealistically fastidious in trying to police the perfectly legitimate use of analogy in argument. And in that makes some distinctions that really are misleading.

I agree.

But not only that, this intellectual snob (Kevin Williams) appears to be anointing himself "Keeper of All TRUTH" as he guns down the right of others (especially "FOX NEWS" and its "blond/tanned" analysts) to define the wherewithal of "Plantation."

26 posted on 07/24/2013 10:24:13 AM PDT by USS Johnston (Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be bought at the price of chains & slavery? - Patrick Henry)
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To: USS Johnston
But not only that, this intellectual snob (Kevin Williams) appears to be anointing himself "Keeper of All TRUTH"

What you describe is a common vice among some of those who have written for National Review through the years. They have some intelligent writers, but also some who suffer from an arrogant overestimation of their perception, analytic abilities, etc..

I am not really familiar with this individual, but I stopped to comment, because of what I perceive as obvious fallacies. Taking an arrogant disdain for those he criticizes, does not strengthen his argument--quite the opposite.

Cheers!

William Flax

27 posted on 07/24/2013 10:43:06 AM PDT by Ohioan
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To: Zhang Fei
"That is one of the reasons that affluent black households often end up less wealthy than white households with identical incomes and education levels. Women exhibit similarly risk-averse investing behavior with the same result."

I don't think it's cultural at all. Racial and gender quotas have resulted in a system where people are promoted way above their abilities - a system with a supercharged Peter Principle.

IMHO, I think it's both, from Archie Bunker stereotypes in the popular media to de facto reverse discrimination against white males in general, and more recently, reverse discrimination against the admissions of East Asians at elite colleges and universities.

28 posted on 07/24/2013 12:05:38 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Part of the National Review’s diversity outreach plan.

Thanks SeekAndFind.


29 posted on 07/27/2013 8:03:54 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's no coincidence that some "conservatives" echo the hard left.)
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To: SeekAndFind
One would think, for a professional head-shot portrait, someone would straighten the glasses?


30 posted on 07/27/2013 8:22:07 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (Justice for Trayvon: Dig up his body and shoot him again.)
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