BY: B. Keith Plunkett | UCF Staff @Keithplunkett
In a commentary published in the Daily Journal on Sunday, Tupelo area media consultant, pastor and community organizer James Hull resorts to blind cultural bigotry as a means to attack what he calls intolerance. He concludes by giving himself a giant pat-on-the-back for exercising such “courage”.
Hull’s polemic settles on his chosen culprit by finding that the “voices and spirits” of diversity and “racial sensitivity” in Mississippi from 30 years ago have been, in his estimation, “drowned out by the extreme roar of conservatism.”
He opines without reference to proof that “the issues of racial marginalization, discrimination and animus continue to be real in Mississippi, perpetrated by a strong and powerful Conservative movement, while Moderates and Progressives – black and white, Republican and Democrat – remain silent.”
Hull, apparently unaware of the irony and again without providing a single example, finds that “Mississippi’s growing black middle class remains silent in the face of racial hostilities and slights they experience everyday in their own organizations”; that they do so because they fear they will “jeopardize” their “individual gains”; and that middle class whites “remain silent” to the practice because they are “afraid to risk their social standing and class privilege”.
Perhaps Mr. Hull would like to provide evidence as to how Mississippi’s black middle class is growing while also simultaneously experiencing such intense “racial hostility”.
In passing judgement on “conservatism” as the cause of racial indifference, Hull projects his own bigotry by reaching conclusions he doesn’t support with evidence, nor does he honestly portray any understanding of the principles behind that which he attacks. His finding that conservatism is merely about “dismantling government” and “pushing a narrow ‘up-by-your-bootstraps’ agenda” is at best an over-simplification by someone who hasn’t done much, if any, research; at worst it’s an attempt to demonize absent demonstration.
Conservatism isn’t a political ideology. It is a social contract. It is individuals working together to positively affect their community with the knowledge of what has and hasn’t worked in the past and an eye towards creating a better place for future generations. It is knowing history and working to keep what is best about our culture and society intact, while recognizing and fostering generational innovation.
Mr. Hull is partially correct in his simplified explanation of conservatives desire for less government. However, he misses completely the other side of the equation which requires that as government power is decentralized and reduced people must necessarily step forward and work together towards our own community solutions.
In fact, if Mr. Hull studied in order to understand conservatism, he would find he himself holds a degree of conservative thought. At least, he did.
He alluded to it only a year ago when he wrote “most of our societal differences are no longer racial but cultural” and “cultural ignorance creates fear.” Conservatives would absolutely agree with this assessment.
Maybe Mr. Hull should rather welcome doing what he said was sorely needed in 2014. His call to action then was for more citizens to “share in the responsibility of keeping their communities safer.”
Demonizing a person or a group of people as he does today without first attempting to understand their motivations flies in the face of his previously stated position. The words and actions of Mr. Hull today are those that Mr. Hull of 2014 claimed to despise.
No, Mr. Hull. Conservatism is not racist. It is not intolerant. It is empowering at the level of community where we are most likely to successfully work together across racial and class divides.
Rather than sit back and throw bombs from the cheap seats of political favoritism and ignorance, Mr. Hull should embrace understanding, local participation and involvement of everyone as a positive step in the right direction. One might think from the resume he shares with readers that would be his goal, and certainly that is what he promoted a year ago.
Might there be a few disagreements along the way as to the best solution to any given problem by encouraging more localized control and action? Probably so. But at the bare minimum Mr. Hull should have enough character and honor to get to know the people he claims to disagree with instead of resorting to blind cultural and political bigotry at the outset.
Hull writes: “We cannot expect the purveyors and perpetrators of racism, prejudice and exclusion to stand against the very things in which they so fervently believe.”
Indeed. Where’s your mirror, sir? You appear to have something in your eye.
Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett