After all the leftists whom Google has chosen to honor over the years, including Caesar Chavez, the company has finally chosen, probably unknowingly, to honor a conservative.
It wouldn’t be likely to happen if Zora Neale Hurston had lived recently enough to write Wall Street Journal editorials, contribute to City Journal and appear on FOX News.
As it is, she’s safely obscure to most liberals and conservatives. Which makes it safe to honor her as an African-American writer, instead of a vocal activist who opposed the New Deal and all the liberal social policies that came after it, who wanted black people to win a place in the sun, instead of being paternalistically handed a special employment and education quota and a lifelong job accusing opponents of liberalism of racism.
It goes without saying that Zora Neale Hurston was a Republican. But she was far to the right of Republicans of her day. She would be even more far to the right of contemporary Republicans. That’s true of a lot of black conservatives who tend to wind up well to the right, but it would have been even more true of her.
But Zora Neale Hurston was also deeply engaged in the problems of the black community. It would have been impossible to accuse her of being an “honorary white” or any of the other slurs tossed at black conservatives. She deeply felt the pain at the lack of progress and at the way that so many in the black community sabotaged themselves and in doing so empowered white racism.
Hurston believed that black success had to be built on personal accomplishment in the face of racism, not on government intervention. History has indisputably proven her right.
Probably the best summation of her views was her letter ‘Court Order Can’t Make the Races Mix’ in response to Brown v. Board of Education.
“The whole matter revolves around the self-respect of my people. How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them? The American Indian has never been spoken of as a minority and chiefly because there is no whine in the Indian. Certainly he fought, and valiantly for his lands, and rightfully so, but it is inconceivable of an Indian to seek forcible association with anyone. His well known pride and self-respect would save him from that. I take the Indian position.”
Hurston went on to caution,
“But the South had better beware in another direction. While it is being frantic over the segregation ruling, it better keep its eyes open for more important things. One instance of Govt by fiat has been rammed down its throat. It is possible that the end of segregation is not here and never meant to be here at present, but the attention of the South directed on what was calculated to keep us busy while more ominous things were brought to pass. The stubborn South and the Midwest kept this nation from being dragged farther to the left than it was during the New Deal.
But what if it is contemplated to do away with the two party system and arrive at Govt by administrative decree? No questions allowed and no information given out from the administrative dept. We could get more rulings on the same subject and more far-reaching any day.”
Today, under Obama, Hurston has been proven to be chillingly correct.
“In the ruling on segregation, the unsuspecting nation might have witnessed a trial-balloon. A relatively safe one, since it is sectional and on a matter not likely to arouse other sections of the nation to support of the South. If it goes off fairly well, a precedent has been established. Govt by fiat can replace the constitution.”
Hurston would have known exactly what to make of Obama. It is a pity that few liberals and conservatives know what to make of her.