From the blog of Patrick J. Buchanan:
Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America. Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to. This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:
First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Editor's Note : This little ditty that appeared on Pat Buchanan's blog on March 21, inspired The Root writer Jack White to revisit one of his favorite satirical platforms, the Home for Retired Racial Stereotypes, from which famous fictional characters of yesteryear sally forth to do battle with racial absurdity.
March 26, 2008 — Buckwheat and I were watching the NCAA basketball tournament on the big-screen plasma TV at the Home for Retired Racial Stereotypes in Hollywood when the Kingfish rushed in, excitedly waving a newspaper.
"Holy mak'rul, Brotha Buckwheat," the famous Amos 'n' Andy character exclaimed. "I think Brotha Barack done made a mistake by callin' fer a nash'nul conversashun 'bout race. He don't know what he gettin' into!"
"Here I is!" Buckwheat squeaked in reply. Then he dropped into the deep baritone and standard English he uses when he's not playing his Our Gang character.
"Drop the Ebonics, Kingfish," he demanded. " This is such an important subject. Please explain what you mean."
"Fine with me," said the Kingfish, slipping into a basso profundo version of his voice and taking on the demeanor of a wise old college professor. "I know you admired that magnificent speech Obama made last week about the need for all Americans to examine, honestly, the racial issues that continue to divide us. Well, he urged us to start a national dialogue about race."
"What in the world could possibly be wrong with such a high-minded proposal?" Buckwheat interjected.
"Not a thing," said the Kingfish in a weary tone, "except that this is America. A national conversation about race would almost certainly degenerate into a nasty airing of grievances and resentments, rather than a constructive exchange."
"Now Kingfish, that's too cynical," Buckwheat intoned. "Most people would like to put the race issue behind them."
"Would they? Imagine a conversation about race between, say, the left-wing preacher Jeremiah Wright and the right-wing columnist Pat Buchanan," replied the Kingfish, with a "gotcha" look on his face. "In an blog entry called "A Brief for Whitey," here's what Buchanan wrote about Brother Obama's speech. He actually thinks blacks should be grateful for slavery."
"Whew, that's distressing" replied Buckwheat, shaking his head sadly. "I agree that expressing such beliefs would tick off black folks, but at least he deserves credit for saying out loud what some white people probably think and keep to themselves."
"I suppose so. But imagine what Jeremiah Wright would say about Buchanan," said the Kingfish. "He's delivered many profound and truthful indictments of America's sins from his pulpit, but he's also capable of playing into black ignorance and paranoia with preposterous accusations such as claiming that AIDS is a government plot to exterminate us. You can't explain away that kind of demagogic nonsense with references to Black Liberation Theology. Instead of spreading unfounded conspiracy theories that deepen black resentment of whites, Wright should have been explaining why black folks, including his parishioners, should not buy into such lies."
"So I guess you think that if we tried to have a national conversation about race, loud-mouth extremists like Buchanan and Wright would drown out everyone else," observed Buckwheat. "You think that such a conversation wouldn't bring us closer together, but drive us further apart."
"My point exactly," said Kingfish, settling back in his chair and folding his hands.
"So if we can't talk about race without making things worse, what should we do?" asked Buckwheat in a resigned tone.
"What I do when my wife Sapphire goes on the warpath," said the Kingfish sagaciously. "Agree to disagree, and move on to a more productive topic. I don't often find myself siding with conservative commentators like William Kristol, but he had a point when he wrote, in response to Brother Barack's speech, that instead of a heated debate about race, we should engage in 'sober, results-oriented debates about economics, social mobility, education, family policy and the like — focused especially on how to help those who are struggling.' We need to talk about real issues instead of getting side-tracked by diversions. If we still need to talk about race after we figure out how to solve those problems, we should do it in an atmosphere far less contentious than the one surrounding this presidential election."
Just then Charlie Chan, Tonto and the Frito Bandito walked in, wearing college sweatshirts and carrying a tray loaded with guacamole and chips.
"Who's winning?" asked Tonto.
"I think the Kingfish is getting the better of it," I replied.
"Man, I'm not talking about whatever you all are debating," said Tonto, gesturing toward the TV. "I'm talking about the basketball game. Can't you stop fussing about race 'til half time?"
Jack White is a regular contributor to The Root.
is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.