Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., once said: "George (W.) Bush is our 'Bull' Connor — and if that doesn't get to you, nothing will be able to get to you. It's time for us to be able to say that we're sick and tired, we're fired up and we're not going to take it anymore."
Connor was a racist sheriff who sicced dogs and water hoses on civil rights workers in the '60s. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., says Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws."
The tactic is as obvious as it is insulting. Tell black voters that "they" are out to "get them" — and pull that lever for us Democrats so we can resist their racist attempt to undermine your success.
Never mind that this kind of anger wrapped in paranoia — assuming that others are out to get you — is precisely the formula to undermine your own success.
Accomplished entrepreneurs say one of the keys to success is the assumption and the confidence that you can influence the outcome.
Anger is an opponent of success.
The movie "Red Tails" is a fictionalized film of the Tuskegee airmen, the brave black fighter pilots of World War II. They overcame racism and fought for their country in a segregated military that considered them unequal.
In one scene, a Tuskegee pilot goes into an officers' club in Italy. He is taunted and told "whites only." He starts a fight and ends up in a military jail, possibly facing court-martial.
His commanding officer, played by Terrence Howard, confronts the aviator whose anger threatened the mission: "What am I going to do with you? Everything's a fight, isn't it? It must be so goddamned exhausting being you. You know something ... ? You're a punk. You remind me of one of those kids from a comic strip. Walking around, pushing your sleeve up one arm, hand balled in a tight fist. Walking and looking at the world through a squint, always looking to knock something down just because it's standing.
"It's right there," says the CO, pointing his finger to the temple of his officer's head. "It's right there. You really want to knock something down? Try using that. Because I will tell you straight, I don't have anything against you. I have the highest expectations for you. Lieutenant ... I need everyone on this next mission, and you're lucky you're the best damn pilot we've got.
Report to your unit."
Rep. Rangel wants anger for votes and power. In discussing the Trayvon Martin case, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Blacks are under attack." Under attack? By whom?
The "battle against racism" removes pressure from people to practice what works: personal responsibility, hard work, pursuing an education and a pledge to refrain from having children until capable of assuming the responsibility. Blacks are not helped by the angry, pessimistic rhetoric of those who claim to operate in their best interests. Getting ahead becomes elusive when others train you to think like a victim, that The Man holds you in a trap of weights and barriers.
Black actor Charles Dutton, playing a high school teacher in the movie "Menace II Society," gives to students this dismal "advice": "Being a black man in America isn't easy. The hunt is on, and you're the prey." Have a nice life, boys.
I was blessed with parents with no patience for those who felt sorry for themselves and who allowed others to make them feel inferior. In high school, my literature class read a poem that went something like this:
"While riding through old Baltimore, so small and full of glee,
"I saw a young Baltimorean keep a-lookin' straight at me.
"Now, he was young and very small, and I was not much bigger
"And so he smiled, but put out his tongue and called me 'nigger.'
"I saw the whole of Baltimore from May until September,
"Of all the things that happened there, that's all that I remember."
The teacher angrily talked about the permanent damage done to this little boy's psyche. The permanent stain of racism. The denial of the little boy's dignity. The boy, said the teacher, will never be the same. By the time the bell sounded, everyone was angry.
I went home and read the poem to my mom as she prepared dinner. When I finished — "of all the things that happened there, that's all that I remember" — she took a spoon out of a steaming pot, rapped it on the side, turned to me and said, "Too bad he let something that trivial spoil his vacation."
As Aristotle, in the "Nicomachean Ethics," wrote: "Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not easy."
Apparently, Aristotle wasn't a Democratic strategist.
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