Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: July 7, 2011
Byline: Stu Bykofsky
One nation, divided in thought
ON THE FOURTH of July we celebrate our independence from one state (Great Britain), followed by commitment to other states (13 Colonies). Our motto was, and is, E pluribus unum, “Out of many, one.”
Recent interpretation of the motto, which was originally thought to apply to the 13 Colonies’ joining together to create a single nation, says the mingling of many peoples — different in race, religion, culture, national origin, language — created a new person, an American.
I like the new version.
We say we believe E pluribus unum, but do we really?
On July Fourth, on the north side of Market Street, between 5th and 6th, the Independence Hall Tea Party was offering a history lesson, focusing on returning to principles imagined by the Founding Fathers. There were more than 200 people and many American flags.
On the south side of Market Street, the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition was offering a history lesson about American slavery and slaves, including those owned by some Founding Fathers. There were about 80 people, and the two flags were black-liberation flags, designed by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican and Founding Father for blacks.
Africans were the only immigrants brought here in chains, it was said. Outside George Washington’s house, one man carried a sign: “Our ancestors’ enslavement here created America’s freedom everywhere.”
All true, but today Africans come here voluntarily, thankfully — from Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan … I’ve met them at naturalization ceremonies.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain inspired the tea-party crowd with homilies such as being taught by his parents to believe in three things: God, himself and America. He won roars with meat-cleaver attacks on the Obama administration, including an assertion that liberals are “trying to bring the country down.”
That’s as wrongheaded as the left calling tea parties racist. Name-calling is sometimes appropriate, but name-calling should also be truth-telling.
Since I didn’t want to lose an arm wading into the carnivorous press scrum surrounding Cain, I chatted up the otherAfrican-American on the north side of Market. James Jones is 55, a human-resources consultant from Langhorne who owns QSI Consulting. He supports Cain not because of his race, but because of Cain’s history as a successful businessman. When hired to run Godfather’s Pizza, Cain took an ailing company and turned it around.
As Jones painted a pretty picture of Cain’s accomplishments, I wondered why so few African-Americans are conservatives. So I asked Jones.
“African-Americans, minorities, Hispanics need to listen to the message Herman Cain has,” he says. “If you want to be a business owner, run your own company” — as Jones does — “you’re going to [need] tax breaks to make it happen. Herman Cain understands that. During a recession is no time to increase taxes. It’s time to incentivize people to start doing something.”
On Independence Day, on opposite sides of Market Street, there were strikingly different interpretations of America’s past, even of the Founding Fathers.
E pluribus unum?
Yes, one people, but not of one mind.
I would have loved for half the tea-party people to have crossed Market and listen to the coalition, and for half the coalition crowd to cross the street and listen to Herman Cain and James Jones.
Everyone might have learned something new.
Note from Michael Coard: The estimate of 80 persons at the ATAC gathering is low. We had 141 persons sign up at our registration table to become members and at least 75 of our members were present. That equals 216 at the very minimum.