Fake News on Race

Dear Sheffield,

Thanks for sharing the commentary supposedly written by Ian Duncan and published in The Baltimore Sun. I say supposedly because Ian Duncan, their journalist on intelligence and military issues, didn’t actually write it, and the piece never appeared in The Sun. The real title is Ten Percent is Not Enough.” It was written by Anthony Bryan and published in American Renaissance on September 23, 2014. It’s three years old now. Bryan’s essay is available at amren.com, and is reprinted below.

Ten Percent is Not Enough

Anthony Bryan

The black/white experiment has failed.

For almost 150 years the United States has been conducting an experiment. The subjects of the experiment: black people and working-class whites. The hypothesis to be tested: Can a people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?

The whites were descendants of Europeans who had created a majestic civilization. The former slaves had been tribal peoples with no written language and virtually no intellectual achievements. Acting on a policy that was not fair to either group, the government released newly freed black people into a white society that saw them as inferiors. America has struggled with racial discord ever since.

Decade after decade the problems persisted but the experimenters never gave up. They insisted that if they could find the right formula the experiment would work, and concocted program after program to get the result they wanted. They created the Freedman’s Bureau, passed civil rights laws, tried to build the Great Society, declared War on Poverty, ordered race preferences, built housing projects, and tried midnight basketball. Their new laws intruded into people’s lives in ways that would have been otherwise unthinkable. They called in National Guard troops to enforce school integration. They outlawed freedom of association. Over the protests of parents, they put white children on buses and sent them to black schools and vice versa. They tried with money, special programs, relaxed standards, and endless handwringing to close the “achievement gap.” To keep white backlash in check they began punishing public and even private statements on race. They hung up Orwellian public banners that commanded whites to “Celebrate Diversity!” and “Say No To Racism.” Nothing was off limits if it might salvage the experiment.

Some thought that what W.E.B. Du Bois called the Talented Tenth would lead the way for black people. A group of elite, educated blacks would knock down doors of opportunity and show the world what blacks were capable of. There is a Talented Tenth. They are the black Americans who have become entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors and scientists. But ten percent is not enough. For the experiment to work, the ten percent has to be followed by a critical mass of people who can hold middle-class jobs and promote social stability. That is what is missing. Through the years, too many black people continue to show an inability to function and prosper in a culture unsuited to them.

Detroit is bankrupt, the south side of Chicago is a war zone, and majority-black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. And blacks never take responsibility for their failures. Instead, they lash out in anger and resentment. Across the generations and across the country, as we have seen in Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and now Ferguson, rioting and looting are just one racial incident away. The white elite would tell us that this doesn’t mean the experiment has failed. We just have to try harder. We need more money, more time, more understanding, more programs, more opportunities. But nothing changes no matter how much money is spent, no matter how many laws are passed, no matter how many black geniuses are portrayed on TV, and no matter who is president.

Some argue it’s a problem of “culture,” as if culture creates people’s behavior instead of the other way around. Others blame “white privilege.” But since 1965, when the elites opened America’s doors to the Third World, immigrants from Asia and India–people who are not white, not rich, and not “connected”–have quietly succeeded. While the children of these people are winning spelling bees and getting top scores on the SAT, black “youths” are committing half the country’s violent crime–crime, which includes viciously punching random white people on the street for the thrill of it, that has nothing to do with poverty.

The experiment has failed. Not because of culture, or white privilege, or racism. The fundamental problem is that white people and black people are different. They differ intellectually and temperamentally. These differences result in permanent social incompatibility.

Our rulers don’t seem to understand just how tired their white subjects are with this experiment. They don’t understand that white people aren’t out to get black people; they are just exhausted with them. They are exhausted by the social pathologies, the violence, the endless complaints, the blind racial solidarity, the bottomless pit of grievances, the excuses, the reflexive animosity. The elites explain everything with “racism,” and refuse to believe that white frustration could soon reach the boiling point.

They will be the only ones who are surprised when real revolution comes to the United States, and that it is white people who lead the revolt.

 *  *  *  *  *

When I received the article, I sought your comments before providing mine. You responded with a straightforward answer:

“I think that this article is a fairly accurate analysis of the situation. What it does not do, is offer any possible solutions. There are just so many factors involved that a simple solution or solutions defy a fair and satisfactory conclusion. The solutions will have to originate and be embraced by the black communities themselves. I think the article/essay defines the current situation and how it has evolved and is an accurate portrayal.”

Assuming that the differences between the fake Duncan and real Bryan copies are insignificant, and wouldn’t require amended comments on your part, our thoughts might make for more than a good conversation, but also provide the basis for a blog entry following up on my essay “Glimpses of Our Civil War Today,” published several weeks ago.

In those “glimpses” I concluded that racial discourse in the United States had congealed into two-sided grunts, slogans, and clipped retorts due to the inability of southerners, enabled by northern racism and disinterest, to endure defeat, take responsibility for the war, condone emancipation, and accept freed people as citizens equal to themselves. So the civil war continues and white superiority marches on. The Declaration of Independence, our most inspired and inspiring document, sits on the sideline, archived and forgotten. Equality, the vital partner of liberty, is denied.

The popular movement that brought Donald Trump to the Presidency adopted this white supremacist heritage, including the plantation owner’s concept of liberty and rights under the Constitution, which excludes African slaves and their posterity. For inspiration, they reprise “Lost Cause” mythology, constructed ex post facto to justify the Civil War, and use it to fashion a slogan: “Make America Great Again.” The agrarian image of the happy, genteel, plantation is retrieved for present-day use.

In contrast with your conclusion, I find Bryan’s article to be blatantly racist. It appears to be designed to encourage whites to oppose black equality, and, worse, to justify violence by a fictive “working-class white person,” who supposedly has become exhausted and angry by the failed experiments of an equally fictive “they” (white liberals?, Democrats?, activists? who knows?) who acted as “rulers” of the nation for a time, and screwed whites over. Theft of the essay and its attribution to Duncan and The Baltimore Sun seems to be a move by white supremacists in the culture wars. It’s part of the “alt-right” arsenal of literary weapons. President Trump has earned a reputation for projecting on to enemies misconduct he has practiced and perfected, including the manufacture of “fake news.” Bryan’s article is a good example of fake news. Its ingenious pretense of a natural scientific experiment testing an important hypothesis was not good enough for bigoted activists to use it as propaganda. They couldn’t allow it to stand on its own merits. They had to steal it and attribute it to another writer and a “liberal” newspaper.

But I agree with you, Sheffield, the essay seems pretty reasonable. It seems to identify a “real” problem. The problem looks unresolvable. It deserves serious attention. I don’t expect you to accept my rude judgement on the basis of what I’ve said. I will be specific.

Do you remember when we were young schoolboys sixty-five years or more ago? Our teachers used to give us worksheets and ask us to note all the mistakes in the picture, or all of the incorrectly spelled words. Let’s try the same idea here. Let’s list all of the relevant questions and issues that can be raised about Bryan’s text. Here is my list:

  1. Is the author white? I assume so.
  2. Did the author represent himself as a scientist doing an experiment? Not exactly. He claims history is conducting a natural experiment that he, like a scientist, is able to observe and discover definitive truth.
  3. Is he a scientist? Is there an actual experiment? Is there a hypothesis? No, it’s pretense, a ruse.
  4. Does he state a hypothesis? No, but if he did, he says it would include “working class whites” and blacks. Why? That makes no sense. Monarchs, governors, mercantilists and clergymen enslaved Africans and native peoples. White working class people did not. Some Irish and other European immigrants came to America as virtual slaves themselves, indentured servants. This sounds like the old British trick in exiting Palestine, South Africa, and India: divide the territory and leave blocks of it to enemies.
  5. Does he ask a question? Yes. He asks: “Can a people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?
  6.  Is that a unfairly loaded question? It sure is: “jungles of Africa?” “fully integrated?” “majority white population?”
  7. Is this question worth asking and answering? No.
  8. Did the author really say: “Acting on a policy that was not fair to either group, the government released newly freed black people into a white society that saw them as inferiors.” He did. Wasn’t it the Union army and President Lincoln who freed the slaves? Wasn’t the offending “policy” traitorous secession? Is he really criticizing the Emancipation Proclamation?
  9. Did the author interview any black people for his study? No.
  10. Did he read any literature written by a black author? Yes, he did. He cites W. E. B.Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folks (1903) and appropriates Du Bois’ “The Talented Tenth” concept in choosing a title for his paper and for use in analysis.
  11. Did he use the concept fairly? No. Du Bois was projecting the numbers of graduates of new black colleges in the South needed to teach literacy and other basic knowledge and skills to freed people. Remember, educating slaves was a crime; freed people had nothing and were illiterate. Du Bois thought a “talented ten percent” of educated people was needed to teach freed people and their children in local communities. DuBois himself was one such graduate, from Fisk University in Nashville, established in 1866. Du Bois describes in the book his long dusty trek into the countryside of Tennessee in search of a first teaching job. He found one!
  12. Have whites created, as the author asserts, “a majestic civilization?” If they did, it happened over 400 years on the stolen labor of black and Indian slaves. Does the author think that people of African heritage should thank whites for the privilege of slavery? Does his praise of white people consider, to take a few examples, the Hundred Years’ War, The Spanish Inquisition, and World Wars I and II. White people, in these events, forsook their beautiful white robes for costumes named Catholic and Protestant, and German, Italian, French, English, Dutch, American, Spanish, Russian, and a closet full of others? Do wars caused by whites count against the white race?
  13. Is the author right that an amorphous “elite” of unknown “rulers” imposed remedies in a grand experiment to bring blacks up to the standard of whites like him? No, of course not. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created by Congress and administered by the Union army. The Supreme Court ended school segregation. Lyndon Johnson fashioned “The Great Society” legislation. These were discrete acts of American democracy. Does he believe in democracy? He doesn’t say so.
  14. Is Bryan justified in asserting: “For the experiment to work, the ten percent (of successful black professionals and entrepreneurs) has to be followed by a critical mass of people who can hold middle-class jobs and promote social stability.”  No and no again. Such employment would be great, but that’s unnecessary because black citizens of the United States are citizens equal to all other citizens regardless of employment. And, no, because no such experiment is being conducted. He can conduct a fake experiment, but we don’t have to own it. It’s the project of Bryan and his colleagues.
  15. Shouldn’t we be concerned though: “. . .as we have seen in Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and now Ferguson, rioting and looting are just one racial incident away.” Of course “we” should be concerned, but Bryan’s “we” doesn’t include the people who are most concerned, the black citizens in those communities. And why would he believe that black people who live in those communities want such events to occur. They don’t.
  16. Ask yourself: Do the Las Vegas Massacre, Oklahoma City bombing, and murder of Christians at a prayer meeting in Charleston count against the white race? Do they count in the way Bryan wants to count Detroit, Chicago, and Ferguson against black people? White people undoubtedly would say that the race of the killers in the three incidents cited is irrelevant. Therefore, riots in black communities are not caused by the biology of the rioters.
  17. Here is a question that shows what a piece of excrement the Bryan article really is: Does Btyan at any point in the article reprise the brutal history of slavery and of white violence and discrimination toward people of color? No, he does not. This history is not only relevant, it’s the main story in understanding the causes of the riots that disturb him?
  18. Does he bring in any other relevant history to bear on his argument? No, he does not. He, for example, invites the reader to believe that the decline of Detroit has to do with miscreant black people, not the fortunes of the automobile industry. He demonizes the victims of technologic and economic change.
  19. After the author announces failure of the grand racial experiment, does he threaten  violence? Yes and no. No, he isn’t promising violence; that’s not his personal intent. But yes, he’s predicting violence by fed-up white working people. Since my family includes white working people, I can report that they are not among the fed-up. Yet, he says “The elites explain everything with “racism,” and refuse to believe that white frustration could soon reach the boiling point. They will be the only ones who are surprised when real revolution comes to the United States, and that it is white people who lead the revolt.” What in the world is this white rage about? And how exactly could people of color be the cause? Displacement and scapegoating, it seems obvious, are implicated in this strange alchemy of white rage.
  20. If, nevertheless, his Jeremiad comes true, how should these white revolutionaries be treated? I wouldn’t welcome them. I would think of them as bigots, traitors, and criminals who deserve indictment, arrest, trial, and upon conviction, prison. And where did the “lock em up”/lock her up” mantra come from? I thought it came from  these angry white rebels.

Sheffield, my friend, this must seem overdone to you. You write an honest paragraph and, unlike Bryan, affirm that black people must solve their own problems. I jump all over you for racism nonetheless. I know you would not advocate violence and would be among the first to resist a whites only revolution. I apologize for any inferences that others might make about you from my words.

I should explain, and hundreds of ex-students of mine would attest, I routinely wrote detailed letters like this, with an “F” grade attached, to able students who were careless enough to submit bullshit on an important assignment. I wanted to show them what thinking looked like in hopes that they might pridefully take up the habit of  thinking for themselves. Minds, after all, are too important to waste on bad and illogical thinking. Oh my, I fear I’ve turned myself into a thinking machine.

I look forward to your comments. Like adults everywhere—wherever they stand on the political spectrum—I get tripe like the fake Bryan essay daily. I usually delete them. Not this time. Racist screeds must be resisted; they are dangerous and deeply hurtful to so many people. They deserve thoughtful rebuttal, and replacement by better, truer thoughts. Our democracy is what is important, and we will lose it if the Declaration of Independence, with it’s clarion call for equality, is made the casualty of false claims to white rights.

When I opened your email and read the fake lead-in, “A New Look at the Black Situation by a Liberal Newspaper,” I recalled two sons of Baltimore who had written powerful texts on this topic. I would have recommended them to Duncan, and do offer them to Bryan and the other folks at American Renaissance. The first, of course, is the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas (1845), recounting his early life in, and escape from, slavery. The second is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book Between the World and Me (2015). I recommend these books to anyone who would like to learn and think more  deeply on this vital subject of slavery and race.

Will Callender, Jr. ©

November 1, 2017

Author of Abdication: God Steps Down for Good

8 thoughts on “Fake News on Race

Add yours

  1. Wonderfully written Dad.
    The piece you were responding to is so vomit inducing. The “fake news”, “fake logic”, “fake rage” of whatever it is that the president represents is so appalling. Thank you for taking the time to write a cogent response to such trash.

  2. A comprehensive response, as always. I can’t help thinking that racism, like so many others, is part of a larger issue that I tend to group under disrespect and a belief by some of us that we are different than and better than the other guy.

  3. If by “others” you means “isms” or “attitudes” I agree with you: all are subcategories of assuming oneself and one’s group better than others, and thereby disrespecting them. I suppose fear of “the other,” “the outsider,” “the stranger,” and the inclination to attack and control lies behinds the claim to superiority. Fear energizes the disrespect.

  4. Yes, that’s what I’m referring to. A more fundamental category. I don’t think fear is the culprit. I’m better than you; therefore I deserve more/better.

  5. Dear Will, et al:

    I’ve been meaning to post this for at least 2 weeks; however, an adventure or 2 cropped up that interrupted my intention.

    If I can still hope that ‘better late than never’ might apply here, I’ll post the link that is another spin on the Ten Percent is not Enough topic.

    Here is the piece by Dr Henry Louis Gates:


    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Sherrie,

    Thanks so much for the link to the essay by Henry Lewis Gates. His article provides detailed historical context behind the “talented tenth” concept, and its prominence in the W. E. B. Du Bois- Booker T. Washington debate occurring parallel to the release of the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” decision. His suspicion that Lincoln himself was thinking of the concept in justification for the 13th Amendment is fascinating. I had been thinking something similar—that the concept may have influenced his ideas of what percent of the citizens of a rebel state would have to pledge allegiance to the Union before allowing its citizens to pass a state constitution.


    1. Dear Will:

      Your comments regarding Dr. Gates’ essay are well taken, and I appreciate your feedback.

      Speaking of appreciation, the Thanksgiving holiday; as a very recent memory, is a helpful reminder of how thankful I am for this blog, especially for the opportunity to stay connected with you, your thoughtful insights, the thoughts that others post in your comment area, as well as the stirring in my own heart and mind of the urgent struggle that persists as a call for creating ever greater freedom, justice and caring.

      With the approach of the Christmas and New Year season, diverse rituals and ceremonies embolden us to consider peace and love as being a power greater than fear and hatred. In that spirit, then, alongside the propelling commentaries in your blog, I take courage in remembering the spark of goodness that sometimes lays fallow in any single human heart (including mine) but needs only to be struck and ignited by an outreach of compassion that sees ‘difference’ as a gift that can unite us in our stride, together, towards a healthier, kinder, and more just future.

      May all that’s Good, Beautiful and True saturate and sustain our desire to create a better world, day by day.

      Your friend forever,
      PS My best wishes are extended to Bev, too!

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