Many of these Black scholars, whose work Professor Gates questioned, were reading works by Whites in French, German and other languages that spoke positively about African American achievement long before Mr. Gates' parents were born. This school of Black scholars are neither demagogues nor are they pseudos; they are the forerunners of the present propagators of Afrocentricity. They know what Professor Gates doesn't seem to know: that African people are the most written about and the least understood people in the world. If Professor Gates has not read the works of the White pioneer scholars about the role of African people in world history, it stands to reason that he has no understanding of the senior Black scholars such as Yosef ben-jochannan, John G. Jackson, Cheikh Anta Diop, Jacob Carruthers, Chancellor Williams, Lao Hansberry and myself.
A Dissenting View
The following is Professor Clarke's response to Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars."
By John Henrik Clarke
John Henrik Clarke is Professor Emeritus of African World History (Department of Africana & Puerto Rican Studies) Hunter College, New York. He is the author of Notes for an Afican World Revolution, Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust African People in World History, the editor of Malcolm X The Man and His Times and several other works.
In reference to the OP-ED of Henry Louis Gates Jr.in the New York Times (Monday, July 20, 1992), entitled "Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars," I am raising the following questions: At once, I questioned the title of Professor Gates' article. He should never refer to anyone as a demagogue unless he's ready to call the names of the demagogues, singular or plural, and point out the nature of their demagoguery. He should never refer to any scholar as being pseudo, unless he is ready to name the scholar and prove the pseudo nature of his or her work. To disagree with a scholar does not make the scholar a demagogue.
Most of the old and new Black scholars asking for a total reconsideration of African history, in particular, and world history, in general, are using neglected documents by radical White Scholars who are generally neglected by the White academic community.
In African history I am referring to scholars like Gerald Massey and his work, Egypt, Light of the World, (two volumes), The Book of the Beginnings, (two volumes) and Natural Genesis, (two volumes). I am also referring to Gerald Massey's greatest English disciple, Albert Churchward, whose book, The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, asks for a reconsideration of the role of people outside of Europe and their role in human development.
Your attention should also be called to the work, Anacalypsis, two volumes by Godfrey Higgins, published in 1837. These books deal with the dispersions of African people throughout the world.
Many of these Black scholars, whose work Professor Gates questioned, were reading works by Whites in French, German and other languages that spoke positively about African American achievement long before Mr. Gates' parents were born.
This school of Black scholars are neither demagogues nor are they pseudos; they are the forerunners of the present propagators of Afrocentricity. They know what Professor Gates doesn't seem to know: that African people are the most written about and the least understood people in the world.
If Professor Gates has not read the works of the White pioneer scholars about the role of African people in world history, it stands to reason that he has no understanding of the senior Black scholars such as Yosef ben-jochannan, John G. Jackson, Cheikh Anta Diop, Jacob Carruthers, Chancellor Williams, Lao Hansberry and myself.
Professor Gates' reference to Black anti-Semitism is an exaggeration. A new Black awareness is causing Blacks, young and old, to question everything that has any influence on their lives. We are realizing that Jewish people have an influence on our lives far out of proportion to their numbers in the population. I totally disagree with Professor Gates that anti-Semitism among Whites is on the wane in the country. Quite the contrary, I think it is increasing in this country and in the world, and Black people are not the cause of it.
What you have in this new charge of Black and. Semitism against Blacks is the most pathetic of all tragedies, a scapegoat looking for a scapegoat. Because of Black Americans' reading or misreading of the Bible, we have always had a sentimental attachment to Jewish people and, to a large extent, most of us still do.
During slavery, we wanted to attach ourselves to a people who had escaped from bondage. So, the Exodus story in the Bible became more real to us than to the Jewish people. Right now, in a large number of Black Baptist churches, you can get a large number of the congregation to shed real tears of sympathy over the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. Most of them dare not question whether this is folklore or fact.
There are well over 300 organized White hate groups in the United States. I know of no overt attacks by the Jews being made on any of them. Yet, Jewish people have attacked Louis Farrakhan more than they have attacked the leaders of the Aryan Nation or the American Nazi Party. Are the Jews in America looking for an easy victory or the Truth.? Black Americans have never been their enemy. And they, the Jews, have never been our friends unless it was to their convenience.
Neo-Nazism has fully re-emerged in Germany and in other states in Europe. These are people with a nation structure and armies. Why is it that a group of weak Black Americans are getting more attention from the Jews than these powerful White forces rising against them?
I'm sorry that Professor Comet West saw fit to make a statement about this false charge of Black anti-Semitism. I could agree with his statement if the statement were true. What Black people are realizing in this country, in the Caribbean Islands and in Africa is that the Jewish people, of European descent, are a part of the world apparatus of European control. And, in the matter of White control over the world, their position is no different than that of other Europeans. I am not saying that the Jews of Europe are more bent on world dominance than other Europeans; I am saying that they are not radically different from other Europeans in this regard. Internal disputes between the Jews and other Europeans is a form of European domestic racism.
European racism has spent itself out outside of Europe. During the Nazi regime in Germany, that racism turned inward on itself and created what is referred to as The Holocaust. This was a problem started in Europe by Europeans that should have been resolved in Europe by Europeans. Repeatedly I have said that Europeans are geniuses at draining the diseased pus of their political sores on the lands of other people. What is now being called anti-Semitism among a newly awakened Black intellectual class is that they are beginning to took at the people referred to as Jews as part of the totality of European world dominance. We are not saying that the European who is a Jew is any more of an imperialist than any other of the Europeans, but that he is basically the same. We are not saying that the role of the Jews in the slave trade was any different then any other Europeans, but that it was basically the same. When they saw the opportunity to make money in the slave trade, they took advantage of this opportunity the same as other Europeans in the same business.
I do not choose to deal with Jesse Jackson's opportunistic appearances at the World Jewish Congress and the statements that he made. Jesse Jackson has his own agenda that is unrelated to the Liberation Movement of his own people. He was catering to his Jewish audiences for reasons unrelated to Black people and their liberation movements. Black people are becoming increasingly conscious of people who exploit their community and hold them in contempt. We make no exceptions when these exploiters are non-European.
In referring to present-day anti-Semitism and the attempt to trace it to having roots in Christianity, Professor Gates shows his lack of understanding of the manifestation of Christianity among American Blacks and how that interpretation of this religion is part of their humanity. Their interpretation, in no way, relates to anti-Semitism.
I wonder if Professor Gates would explain the words in the Negro spiritual: Go down Moses ..., Tell ol'Pharaoh, To let my people go, or the words:Deep river, My home is over Jordan. This is African identification with the Biblical people of the Hebrew faith. It would help if Professor Gates would read a towering masterpiece in three volumes by James Fraser, The Folklore in the Old Testament and another contemporary book, Hebrew Myths, edited by Robert Graves and Raphael Patai.
I do not think that Professor Gates completely read Michael Bradley's The Iceman Inheritance before referring to it because in it Michael Bradley has very little to say about the Jews. The book, in essence, is about the rise of a certain kind of temperament that changed the world- - the European Personality. This personality has shown little or no respect for civilizations, cultures, and ways of life that it did not create. Cultures and people that the European did not understand were declared primitive.
In the last 500 years especially, European historians have inferred, or said outright, that the world waited in darkness for the Europeans to bring the light. In fact, the Europeans destroyed more civilization than they ever created. They destroyed civilizations that were already old before Europe was born.
Michael Bradley was characterizing the Europeans as "Icemen" is not totally incorrect, if it is incorrect at all. I wrote the Introduction to the new edition of this book, because I considered the book to be of some significance in explaining the origin of racism. I did not say the book was a masterpiece of the greatest achievement in writing. It was good basic research and bold honesty about Europeans' beginnings and the impact of racism on the broader world. I have also written the Foreword to another book by Michael Bradley that will be even more controversial, Chosen People From The Caucasus: Jewish Origins, Delusions Deceptions, and Historical Role in the Slave Trade, Genocide Cultural Colonization. (Third World Press,Chicago).
My writing on Black-Jewish relationships is not new. I participated inforums on this subject in the old Harlem History Club in the 30s. In my latest book, Notes for an African World Revolution: Africans at theCrossroads, (Africa World Press, Trenton, 1991), Chapter Four is called "Africa, Zionism, and Friends Without Friendship." This is an analysis of 500 years of African-Jewish relationships. I am not writing about an historical Black-Jewish affiance, because the one often referred to is a myth. There can be no successful alliance between weak people and strong people.
There have been times when it was to the best interest of the Jews tosupport certain Black causes, and they have supported diem. When it was nolonger in their interest, they withdrew from diem. The Jewish people have practiced what all people on this earth have a right to practice the essential selfishness of survival.
Indeed, I have criticized multiculturalism and Jewish control over theeducation system in New York City and the education system in the United States, in general, especially the Teachers Union. Jews have had no compunction in fighting for a holocaust curriculum. And in many schools it is mandated and Black students must learn about the Holocaust before they learn about their own history.
Over the years, I have said repeatedly I am not willing to argue whether Hitler killed 6,000,000 or six. He was wrong if he only killed six. I think he committed one of the greatest crimes in history. No human being would ever approve of this crime. If we are honest about historical information, we would know that the mass murder and what is referred to as the Holocaust was a small event in comparison to other mass murder events in history. The Belgians killed three times more people than this in the Congo. In an island near Australia called Tasmania, the British killed every man, woman and child. In the years of the slave trade, Africa lost, over one hundred million people. For every African captured, three were killed. The Arab slave trade in East Africa that started a thousand years before the European Atlantic slave trade and the Atlantic slave trade that lasted approximately 300 years was a holocaust against African people, which started 500 years ago and is not completely over to this day.
If the four policeman in Los Angeles had been beating a dog instead of Rodney King, they would have been put on trial and convicted. It is time to speak of the Great Holocaust in history. The European holocaust, I repeat, was small in comparison to some of the others.
When Professor Gates refers to me as "the paterfamilias of the Afrocentric movement," I'm not too clear about whether this is a compliment or a thinly veiled insult. I did not go to the dictionary to look up the words because I never use dollar words in 25 cents situations. But, as a matter of fact, my interest in African history and world history in general started when I was a Baptist Sunday School teacher in Columbus, Georgia, where I grew to early manhood. I could not find the image of my people in the Bible, so I began the search through the literature of the world until I found them and learned why some people considered it a necessity to leave African people out of the respectful commentary of history. I became active in the old Harlem History Club at the Harlem YMCA soon after arriving in New York City at the age of 18 in 1933. The study of African history, culture and politics and world history in general has been the all-prevailing passion of my existence. It is something I do, like breathing is something I do.
I think too much fuss has been made of the case of Professor Jeffries who has said nothing that he cannot document. It is too often forgotten that most of the information Professor Jeffiies gave on the slave trade was taken from Jewish writers.
The book,The Grandees, by Steven Birmingham, set his search in motion. He read large numbers of documents over and beyond that book, such as more revealing books by Professor Ben-ram Wallace Korn: Jews and Negro Slavery in the Old South 1789-1865, (1961), and The Early Jews of New Orleans, (1969).
The story of Aaron Lopez of Newport, Rhode Island, is too well-known to be retold here.Conrad Muhammad and Kahlid Kahfah are not intellectual cohorts with Professor Jeffries. I doubt if he's met either one of them. Neither one of these men belong to the academic community, nor is either one well read enough to be classified as a scholar. They are mainly Moslem zealots; not too different from zealots of other religions.
I have no argument for or against the Learned Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I have not been able to authenticate it one way or the other. If someone assures me that it is a piece of fiction, I am not prepared to argue.
Professor Gates' complaint about the book The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews seems without justification. The book is no masterpiece. It is a competent piece of research. The documentation is good. Instead of complaining about the footnotes, Professor Gates should read some of the footnotes and the books they refer to; especially he should read the works of Professor Bertram W. Korn, an able Jewish scholar whose writings about the role of American Jews in the slave trade is most revealing. Professor Gates should also learn that neither Blacks nor Jews can go on forever denouncing every thing that is not in their favor.Honest sentiment and some very able research in favor of the Jewish people was started in the old Harlem History Club by Willis N. Huggins in the 30s. Some of the best known of these findings were published in the Chicago Defender and in the magazine, The African. The following quote is from Willis N. Huggins' article, "How Wrong isHitler?...On the History of Jews, Black Folk and 'Aryanism?'" (Chicago Defender, Chicago, January 28, 1939).
When the news broke in the American Press on July 15th that the Italians were ready to go tread "The Aryan Path," it evoked as much laughter as the world may get when news comes from Germany that Max Schmeling has been cast out of the "Aryan Fold" because "anonymous scientists" have discovered that he has a grandfather named Goldberg. "Political Aryanism," according to a prominent Nazi leader, "aims to turn its ire against Jews, Gypsies and the Negro races."
Since Jews are able to take care of their part of this "sentence" and, doubtless, the Gypsy does not give a hoot I should like to summarize thereactions of black folk to the new "Aryan Wave."
If we should look at the records we would see that the early Aryan language-groups stemmed from the black Dravidians who occupied southern India in remote times. 'My two peoples mingled freely. Thus, the so-called Indo-European movements around 2,500 B.C., were basically migrations of a Negroid folk which pooled itself in southern southeastern and southwestern Europe, around 2,000 B.C. Indeed black African races, The Grimaldi" had already covered most of Europe as early as 20,000 B.C. They left a secondary African base for art in ancient Hellas (Greece) and a primary African base for color in Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
Willis N. Huggins also wrote a series of articles on the African origin of Adolf Hitler's racist symbols.
In my opinion, I think both Blacks and Jews are often arguing about the right thing the wrong way. Jews who lived in slave-trading countries participated in the slave trade as citizens of the respective country.
Slavery was a business, a dirty business, but still a business. Business people engage in any business where profit can be made. The same thing is true about business people living in colonial countries in relationship to African people. I place no special blame on Jewish people who are white Europeans. I offer no special vindication, either. Their behavior in relationship to non-Europeans is basically the same as other Europeans. The internal difference and difficulties that Jews have had within the White family does not alter or change what I have just said.
What Professor Gates, the Jews and some people referred to as "Black Conservatives" fail to understand is that the African people throughout the world have suffered a special catastrophe over and above that of other people of the world. When Europeans rose in the 15th and 16th century, started the slave trade, colonized history and information about history, they also colonized the image of God. They took away from millions of people the image of their original God-concept and replaced him or her by a god conceived in Europe. Again, I ask Professor Gates and other Black conservatives to try to understand that for 500 years we have lived in a European-conceived intellectual universe. I am willing to acknowledge that I am influenced by this conception, but I am, at least, at war against it because I realize that it is not only detrimental to my people, it is detrimental to the whole world. Professor Gates and other Black conservatives are the crawling dogs to this new design to continue European world dominance.
Professor Gates is snide in his assumption that "We can rarely bring ourselves to forgive those who have helped us." The truth is the contrary. African people have always over-rewarded those who have helped them, often to their detriment. I wish he would explain the nature of the help and the time it was given. All people that have come among us have taken more than they have given and have eventually done us more harm than good. If you forgive the modesty, I refer you to my pamphlet, Black, White Alliances: A Historical Perspective (Third World Press, Chicago, 1971).
Professor Gates keeps referring to an historical alliance between Blacks and Jews. I wish he would be more precise and say when this historical alliance occurred. I have been a teacher of African World History most of my life and a student of history in general. I know of no evidence indicating such an alliance. The earliest opportunity for a coalition between Blacks and Jews came in 1675 B.C., when an African people called the Egyptians took in the sons and daughters of Abraham, who were fleeing from hunger and starvation in Western Asia. After receiving food, clothing and shelter as well as the foundation for Judaic culture, language and religion, the majority of these a guests joined the invaders, the Hyksos (or Shepherd Kings) rather than form an alliance to defend the country of their African benefactors. They had found a greater acceptance in Africans than Africans have ever found in a European-dominated country. With this visit to Africa, the people whowould later be known as Jews conspicuously entered world history.
Professor Gates, Cornel West and other Black conservatives use beautiful words, sometimes to say nothing, sometimes to say what has already been said and sometimes to say what is not in debate. They display their ignorance of European history and history in general. They decry any form of Black nationalism and often call it racism without knowing that for the last 500 years the world has been controlled by European or White nationalism.
African self-assertion, the demand for a proper curriculum in the schools-- a demand that we stop praising a liar and a faker like Christopher Columbus who discovered absolutely nothing-- threatens an apparatus of European control set in motion by the Atlantic slave trade and continued with colonialism that ultimately laid the basis for present-day monopoly capitalism. No matter what Europeans say they believe religiously, politically or culturally, their main objective in the world is control. Everything that has ever been developed in the European mind was meant to facilitate mind control of the world. There are no exceptions, Left or Right politically.
Black conservatives are really frustrated slaves crawling back to the plantation, figuratively, letting their master know that they are willing to go back into bondage. One needs to question their words because, as slaves and enemies of their people, they will say what they are told to say and do what they are told to do. The Black conservatives have nothing to conserve except their miserable obscurity and their tragic cowardice. These pathetically lost creatures and avid White-behind kissers don't have the nerve to be African or Black.
To be African or Black with the understanding of all of its ramifications is, in itself, a commitment to the unification and uplift of all African people on the face of this earth. It is a commitment, also, to take Pan Africanism beyond its narrow base of Black nationalism to a concept of an African world union.
When the real tragedy of Black-Jewish relations is finally identified, I think it will be the dictionary and how we have misused its words. Here is a case where semantics change depending on who is listening and what they are listening for. Your listener will often hear what you did not say and stubbornly ignore what you said. The present controversy around Black and Jewish relations is a good example of a poor and unimaginative use of words.
What exactly do we mean by Black-Jewish relations? From these words we have no way of knowing that there are Blacks who are also Jews--members of the Hebrew faith.
There is a genuine conflict between Black and Jewish people, and this conflict has international implications. We cannot deal with this conflict honestly until we call it by its correct name and examine its origin and development African people the world over have no culture or religious fight with Jewish people. We come out of pluralistic societies, of our own making, where we lived side by side with a multiplicity of cultures and religions, most of the time in peace. Cultural and religious tolerance is part of our heritage as a people. If we were disposed to be against any culture or religion, it would probably not be Jewish culture and religion that had part of its early development in Africa.
Now that I have eliminated culture and religion as the basis of the Black-Jewish conflict, precisely what is the conflict about? It is about power and the emerging expectations of most of the world's people who until recently were mainly ruled by Europeans or people of European extraction.
The one thing the conflict is not about is anti-Semitism. There is a world-wide Black-White conflict which is part of the broader conflict between European and non-European people. African people are on one side of that conflict, and the people we refer to as Jews are on the other side.
When I use the words Jews or Jewish people, I am referring to White people of European descent, whose culture, development and political loyalty is European. This political loyalty to Europe and the part that Jewish peopl still play in maintaining European world-wide power, and not anti-Semitism, is the basis of the conflict between us. This conflict will become more fierce and tragic as non-European people challenge the power of European people all over the world.
With urgency I invite you to read Yosef A.A. ben Jochannan's book, We the Black Jews and the book by John G. Jackson, Christianity Before Christ. I believe that Blacks and Jews need a genuine partnership. Before one can be built both of them have to be honest in admitting that they have no partnership now. Figuratively speaking, the partnership between a horse and a rider is neither a partnership nor an agreement.
Today the Jews are aligning themselves with the forces of White supremacy that is diametrically opposed to the interest of most of mankind. I think they have made a political mistake of disastrous proportions, and I compare their present political position with the period of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt and the period and time that followed the loss of political connections with the Egyptian Court that Joseph made for them.
And I wonder will their present position lead to another time when a king will arise, figuratively speaking, who politically knew not Joseph.
Originally appeared in Konch Magazine.