What Was the Greatest Black Conservative Organization Ever? The Black Panthers
By: Gregory Kane, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Yes, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was, in essence, a black conservative organization. Oh, they didn't call themselves that. And they didn't vote Republican. In fact, they had little use for Democrats. Exhibit A for that is the cover of a June 1968 edition of the Black Panther newspaper showing the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after he had been shot in California.
A picture of a pig replaced Kennedy's head.
That photo didn't win the Panthers many allies. But on many of their core principles, the Panthers were the forerunners of today's black conservatives. Four examples prove my point.
1. The Panthers absolutely believed in the Second Amendment. Today's black liberal Democrats scurry for the hills whenever anybody mentions gun rights. In 1966, Newton and Seale had the gall to tell Oakland and the world that both the spirit and letter of the words "a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" applied to black folks.
Oakland was, in 1966, a city with a racist police department that didn't protect or serve black people. It repressed and brutalized. The Panthers had the appropriate answer for the situation: Where the police repress and brutalize instead of protect and serve, we'll be the militia. We are "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment. We'll arm ourselves and protect ourselves.
Residents of black communities today who find themselves terrorized by drug dealers and ignored by ineffective police would do well to heed this example.
2. The Panthers believed black people could be racists. They totally rejected the nonsense that in order to be a racist, you have to have power. This foolishness has been stinking out black America for years. The way this particular line of reasoning goes is that since black folks have no power, we can't be racist.
The Panthers were on the same page in the late ˜60s and early ˜70s that today's black conservatives are on. Newton and Seale must have found a dictionary somewhere, because one definition of racism is "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races."
That says nothing about "power" or the lack of it. The definition fit perfectly many black nationalist organizations of the era (they know who they are), and the Panthers rightly called them on it.
3. The Panthers started a free breakfast program for poor urban kids. Oh sure, they'd have preferred the government had done it. But when the government failed, the Panthers applied a simple conservative principle: If the government can't or won't do it, do it yourself.
4. The Panthers started free health clinics for poor urban residents. See example three for the reasoning.
5. The Panthers were anti-FBI.
If you have to ask why this is a conservative principle, you don't know much about conservatism. Most conservatives today don't know much about conservatism. But a bedrock principle of conservatism is a belief in a federal government with limited power that keeps its nose out of the affairs of the states and private citizens.
The FBI is the antithesis of that principle. But most of today's so-called conservatives are sad that former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972 because he's not alive so they can pucker up and kiss his hindquarters. Today's so-called conservatives all but genuflect when Hoover's name is mentioned. Call this miscreant what he was -- the greatest violator of civil rights and civil liberties in the history of the country -- and you may have to shoot some of his more dimwitted supporters.
But the Panthers recognized Hoover for what he was long before most of us did. For that, and for reaffirming our gun rights and those free breakfast programs and health clinics, I thank them.