Wattree Debates Playthell On: 'Truth', 'Relevance Of The Black Church,' and 'Dr. Amos Wilson'

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Eric Wattree

[Beneath The Spin]



I just noticed that you didn't read my original post in response to the video on Dr. Amos because you couldn't read either of our statements. So I am going to post them.

My Response to Renaldo:

"Since you posted this on my wall with great fanfare Renaldo, I feel compelled to respond. I do not wish to debate; simply to make a declarative statement. I knew Amos Wilson well. I thought he was a frustrated nihilist and his speeches little more than public temper tantrums. Dr. Franz Fanon he is not!

Every psychiatrist who becomes enraged by the social pathologies they observe from their practice - which is treating individual personality disorders - and want to affect the larger social milieu seems to think they are the next Franz Fanon. However the difference between Dr. Fanon and Dr. Wilson is that Fanon was a leader of a real revolution that lasted seven years and cost a million and a half lives, while Wilson was a bourgeois Black nationalist who tells Black audiences they ain't shit and gets paid, and even praised by some.

I was not impressed with Wilson when he was alive, and I am less impressed now. If I saw Black people as the hopeless helpless pathetic figures he makes us out to be I WOULD CUT MY THROAT RIGHT NOW!!!!! "Church going, law abiding Negroes" are the greatest danger to our community???? REALLY????

Well I was raised by such folks and I've met so many people from all nations that I feel like I've been around the world and spoke to everybody twice: BUT I HAVE NEVER MET ANY FINER FOLKS THAN THEM, NOR ANYBODY I AM MORE IMPRESSED WITH THAN MYSELF!!!!! JUST SAYIN. And by the way, nobody who talks to the people he hopes to lead with such gross disrespect has EVER BUILT A SUCCESSFUL MOVEMENT ANYWHERE!!!! That's the real reason he remained a fringe figure!!!!!!!"

WATTREE: Playthell,

I'm listening to this brother critically, and what I've heard so far is truth. Truth is simply truth, and it's no respecter of race, creed, nor color. While I want our people to be seen in the best possible light just like anyone else, if we seek to move forward, we must be prepared to accept some painful truths. Because the pain of truth is like physical pain - yes, it's uncomfortable, but that discomfort serves a very useful purpose - it alerts us to important issues that need to be addressed.

Thus, as I see it, the difference between an efficient thinker and an ideologue is an efficient thinker gives truth priority over ideology, while an ideologue attempts to contort truth into a configuration that fits comfortably into what he wants to believe. So I see Dr. Wilson’s brutal honesty as an indication that he was an efficient thinker who believed in following truth wherever it led, and regardless to whose ox it gored. Thereafter, he seems to suggest, if we don't like where truth leads, we should seek to modify the destination, not truth.

So, again, I've listened to this brother very carefully, and I haven't been able to dispute anything he's said. But then, I don't profess to corner the market on either truth, intellect, nor wisdom. So if you can demonstrate to me where this brother is in error with respect to his assessment of the collective mores of our people, I'd appreciate the education.

And finally, everybody is not out to lead a movement. Some people simply want to contribute their thinking to the marketplace of ideas. I count myself as among that group. I'm not out to convert people into becoming my followers, and so far, I haven't heard anything to suggest that this brother is, or was, either - but then, you undoubtedly know more about him than I do, and as you know, I have great respect for your opinion, so I'll keep an ear open for any demagoguery, but I haven’t heard any indication of that as yet.

PLAYTHELL: Perhaps you had better take a closer look at my critique. First of all I am and have been an atheist for over fifty years!!! So I need no lectures on the shortcomings of religious dogma. But this is some self-destructive bullshit - as defined by the Princeton philosopher Dr. Edward G Franks in his book "BULLSHIT." It is ahistorical nonsense to say that "Law abiding, church going Negroes" are the cause of the Black community's problems.

It is no exaggeration to say - as a matter of HISTORICAL FACT - that the Black church is at the root of EVERYTHING POSITIVE THAT HAS HAPPENED IN OUR HISTORY!!! The abolitionist movement against slavery and the Civil Rights Movement WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT IT!!!!! And in the 19th Century, THE BLACK CHURCH WAS THE PRINCIPLE SOURCE OF THE BLACK NATIONALISM that Amos claims to revere. Frederick Douglass was an ordained minister in the Black church - Christian Methodist, Nat Turner was a folk preacher, Dr. King was a Baptist, and all of the early Black nationalist thinkers and activist were CHRISTIAN MINISTERS!!!!

Hence Amo's speech is some confused ahistorical bullshit!!!! AND THAT'S A FACT!!! I will read your essay and comment later (and if you really are arguing the same thing as Amos, well what I have said here applies equally to you). However, right now I want to examine Dr. Amos' argument. And aside from the fact that his diagnosis is awry WHAT'S HIS PRESCRIPTION?????? As far as I can see he is just a historically confused blowhard!!! And I heard him many times!!!!

WATTREE: I’m sure you know that I’m not dumb enough to get into a debate on history with you - I’m many things, but not a fool. But that said, first, I am very familiar with your stance on religion. Secondly, I completely agree with everything that you said above regarding the church’s historic contribution to the Black community over the years. But that was during the last century and before.

That kind of dedication to the Black community, except for with a few exceptions, ENDED with King. Today these churches are filled with poverty pimps and backward-thinking White-boy wannabes. Today the Black church is at the very root of Black conservative philosophy. That's where Tavis Smiley comes from. That's where Cornel West comes from. That's where Boyce Watkins comes from, and it’s also where Ben Carson comes from.

Today, there is no more fertile ground in America to harvest Black conservatives than within the Black church. George W. Bush’s very first executive order after assuming office was to create the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives to start bribing these churches, and it was a tremendous success. And the GOP is currently using wedge issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the like to convert even more Black Christians to the conservative cause - and some of the most insidious kind of conservatives - undercover conservatives. Tavis Smiley is connected at the hip with Wal-Mart (and therefore, ALEC), Cornel West helped to get George Bush elected over Al Gore in the 2000 election, and tried to do the very same thing to Obama in the last election - and he's openly going around calling himself a libertarian these days. And Boyce Watkins is intimately associated with BlackBlueDog.com - if, in fact, he doesn't own it.   Think about it.

This brother is right on target - and what I like about him is he's on everybody's ass. I'm going to send you another link where he's telling the Black community that with libraries, magazines, books, television, radio, and so forth, you have to STRUGGLE TO BE DUMB IN AMERICA TODAY! If I had just a tad more ego, I’d accuse him of stealing that line from me.

PLAYTHELL: The problem I have with Amos's comments about "black people" is the same problem I have with you about the "Black church." BOTH OF YOUR REMARKS ARE SO GENERAL THEY CEASE TO HAVE ANY REAL MEANING!!!! Some of the things that Amos says are true of some Black people - and millions of Whites too - but there are many Black people for whom his fulminations are meaningless.

The upbringing that I - and virtually all of the members of my extended family - was quite adequate to help us overcome the limitations of a viciously racist [society] and succeed far beyond many White Americans of our generation. One person in my family went to jail that I know of over four generations: AND HE GOT OFF LIGHT!!!! I got everything I needed from the Black community - which was centered around the church - to be the best that I could be. THERE IS NOTHING THAT I HAVE HEARD FROM THIS GUY THAT COULD IMPROVE ON THAT!!!!!! IN FACT I FIND HIM INSULTING!!!

As for the work of the Black church today, the progressive Black church is still - BY FAR - the most important institution for racial uplift in America today!!!!! The evidence is far to vast to even begin to present here - even if I were so inclined, which I am not because I believe that your mind is made up on this question and exercises in futility hold no charm for me - but the work of the Abyssinia Development Corp in New York, and the "Moral Mondays" campaign in North Carolina are but two examples of the work the church is doing RIGHT NOW!!!

WATTREE: I'm not trying to cast aspersions against Christians in general. I was raised to be a Christian as well, but teaching a young child to believe in talking snakes is less than productive in any way. We need to teach our children, FROM BIRTH, to be efficient and independent thinkers. No one will EVER be able to convince me that raising a child to be a follower who believes in "Voodoo" doesn't have a negative impact on that child's view of reality.

In addition, the church's entire reason for being is to teach Black child that the way to riches and "glory" is to get on their knees and pray to a Nordic-looking White man for all things good instead of getting out there and hustling for it. That was the initial PURPOSE for creating the Black church in the first place. Instead of getting out and fighting for justice, we get on our knees and pray. How’s that been working for us?

Did the slave masters who taught us about Christianity - while they had us tied up next to the mules - pray for the crops to be harvested, or did they go out and get slaves to do it?



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