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The Cosby Cause

Re: jimi izrael’s Bill Cosby’s Show:

Jimi Izrael’s article was fair enough with respect to Cosby, but there is one troubling aspect of it that is characteristic of so many liberal critiques of public statements critical of libertine aspects of our culture. That aspect – the litmus lest of whether there is 100 percent consistency between the message and the life of the messenger. If the messenger fails the test, pile on him and forget about whether there is any truth to the message. Maybe Cos isn’t the best messenger for advocating that young black men take responsibility for their children, but maybe he got tired of waiting around for someone else to do it. He may have marginally hurt some people who look up to him, but what of those men who abandon their children — the hurt they cause goes far deeper. But rarely is it censured.
John Hatch

Jimi Izrael’s lame article on Bill Cosby was well below the normal standard for TAS. Mr. Cosby was a young enlisted medical Corpsman when I was a young enlisted Marine and we Marines love our Corpsmen. Thus I rise to his defense.

He was honest then and he is honest now. He has been saying exactly what he said the other day, perhaps in slightly more delicate words, since even before he got his doctorate in education from Tufts. In fact, as I understand it, his dismay at the lack of regard for education among young blacks was the reason he pursued his advanced degrees.

He has lived this theme by example and built his very successful career around the mission of bringing blacks fully into the halls of the academy, In both his modern era television series the importance of education was driven home with good humor and panache. The high point of the Cosby Show was Theo conquering his learning disability and going on to become a teacher himself. And his college series ranks in my top five all time series favorites. Set on the campus of mythical Hillman (Spellman?) College, the show again stressed Cosby’s emphasis on education for black Americans.

It seemed at one time, that in every article I read about these shows, and even his Jello commercials, Mr. Cosby stressed the responsibility parents must assume for seeing that their kids were properly educated. There was nothing new in what he said. It was true. And as a former school board member in a lily-white Connecticut town, I will tell you that many white parents need to hear the same message. Lack of parental involvement in their kids’ educations is the real problem in American education today, and Mr. Cosby should not be faulted for devoting his life to eradicating this problem.

Jimi Izrael writes, “Good fathers know when children need tough love and when they need an advocate that will fight for them unequivocally, without judgment or reprimand. The young, black and poor need such an advocate — sooner than later — not admonition.”

The young black have had advocates that choose not to admonish or reprimand. They have had this in Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton, and others. This is the problem. This isn’t just a problem with young blacks. Parents make this mistake with their children all of the time. Just ask any teacher how many times parents confront them based on their child’s misrepresentation of the facts or the parents perception that their children aren’t responsible for their actions. As a parent of four, I can say unabashedly that children need advocates who will not only fight for them, but keep them accountable. When kids can only speak the “black vernacular,” and not something that resembles proper English, then they will fail in this world, and they need to be told that. They need to be told that fighting, stealing, and generally bad behavior will damage their futures. Not everyone has the musical talent to make their bad behavior the latest style.
J.D. Ryan

Your “take” makes sense if you want blacks to victimize themselves as they have been doing.

Cosby is right. Blacks are their own worst enemy. They seek victimhood and wallow in it while falsely accusing others of racism and discrimination.

It is past time for blacks to quit setting themselves apart, and it’s counterproductive too.
G.B. Hall
Marietta, Georgia

I was waiting for a response such as this one to the Cosby speech. I seriously doubt that Mr. Cosby has forgotten what it is like to be young, black, and poor in today’s America. I strongly suspect that he remembers all too well. Mr. izrael’s problem with Mr. Cosby’s observations would seem to be that Mr. Cosby also remembers what it takes to alleviate that poverty. His refusal to pander to professional Black Men such as Mr. izrael, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Mfume, et al. is what irks. Way back when “acting white” became the worst sin a black teenager could commit, it became obvious that many Blacks were going to look for another way out of the poverty that Mr. izrael talked about. The fact that asinine dress fads, ridiculous coded speech, and rampant irresponsible promiscuity would only deeper entrench black youth in the aforementioned poverty became something that “Black Leaders” were never to talk about. No! Affirmative Action Quotas, WIC Fund, Section 8 housing, AFDC handouts, General Relief, and Welfare. These were the beacons that would lead the black man out of poverty. Talk about plantations, here is the granddaddy of them all, and it is being maintained by “Black Leaders,” “Community Activists” and “journalists” like Mr. izrael.
Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

Jimi “Hendrix” Izrael, in his criticism of Bill Cosby’s views regarding the state of the poor black youth of America, falls into the same trap that the liberal apologists, both black and white, in this country always do. For a political block that considers themselves so much more enlightened than their slovenly uneducated conservative counterparts, their myopic view on how to address this problem boggles the mind.

Bill Cosby, and Tom Sowell for that matter, are refreshing voices that take the “black” out of the equation and examine the causes and effects based on the destructive behavior they witness. Like most conservative postures, it’s not about excuses (there are no opportunities for poor urban blacks) but about creating opportunities. That is difficult to do when the family has been blown apart from it’s traditional role. Instead of making excuses like the traditional black leaders, Cosby logically points out the flaws in the fabric that the typical black urban child is raised under, and to address the bigger issues of achievement, we must first fix the attitudes that begin at home.

How does Izrael square his observation that Cosby is out of touch — “Like so many of his generation — people who obviously never been young, poor, or made a single bad choice–….while failing to see the broken legacy he and his kind have left behind” — with the fact that Cosby did have a poor urban upbringing in Philadelphia?

Furthermore, I think the opportunities that exist today, in a much wealthier economy than the one existed in the ’40s and ’50s, makes the ability to escape this plight relatively easier than what Cosby had to endure. Cosby’s parents would have never wasted the 1940s dollar equivalent of a $500 pair of sneakers because they didn’t have the money or the choice.

Interesting that this comes the same day I read a Associated Press piece on the Education Trust who recently completed a study of 772 colleges and universities where only 63% of all freshmen enrolled achieve degrees within 6 years of entering these schools. Unfortunately, the number is only 46% for African-American students. The left loves the idea of affirmative action in school admissions procedures, but wouldn’t the numbers suggest the policy doesn’t work?

What Mr. Izrael and his type need to do is stop with the excuses and work to perpetuate a message of accountability, not just for African-Americans but everyone. Cosby’s wisdom has a fantastic message in it — if one is willing to listen and has the ability to access their own circumstances honestly.
William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

I beg to differ with Mr. Izrael’s “other perspective”. He cites the movies Mr. Cosby appeared in, Uptown Saturday Night and Let’s Do it Again, which are made-up, scripted forms of “entertainment” — not a primer for Black Americans. There was a great column today at by Jay Bryant that hit the nail on the head and begs a question I have often wondered myself: “if something like what Cos was calling for were to become conventional wisdom among African-American families, there might not be a reason for an NAACP Legal Defense Fund…” or many other current so-called Black “leaders.”

These organizations and leaders do more to keep the Black American “down” than they do to lift them up. Consequently, there is also a lot of money flowing through these organizations and leaders. I believe race relations in our country should have come so much farther in the 40 years since the Civil Rights movement. I believe the reason they have not is because of organizations like the NAACP continuing to espouse the theory of victimhood to Black Americans and that they should blame the white man for that victimhood.

Mr. Bryant’s column today also went on to say, however, that they are blaming the “wrong” white men. I believe the NAACP, certain black leaders and liberal Democrats have worked together over the past 40 years to destroy the Black American family and the values they held…. all for a voting block and the strength to keep the NAACP coffers full. What Mr. Cosby did was simply to express the frustration and utter disbelief that Black Americans can’t seem to figure out for themselves that they are being hoodwinked, scammed and used. I mean after all, these young people need to have jobs, to be a part of their communities and will contribute to the future of this country. How can they if they can’t even communicate? I applaud Mr. Cosby for speaking up in that venue and wish more like-minded people would do the same.
D. Hawkins
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Maybe the Coz has bought into the racial stereotype perpetuated by most of the black entertainment media that depicts blacks as street prowling, gun toting, women abusing, drug taking, cop killing, violence loving, black vernacular or Ebonics talking, and uneducated low lives from broken homes?

Or it could be that the Coz has nothing in common with the demographic group he deplores just as that demographic group has nothing in common with the main stream in our society?

Jimi, read your last paragraph. It seems to me that Bill Cosby is plenty busy. Philly has plenty of dirt to put a finger in and it seems that’s what he’s doing. Do you expect him to hang out on the street corner? Also if I remember correctly he was a good father figure to a girl who tried to extort money from him (I guess that would frustrate him). And if I am to believe the media accounts he was a good father to his son with a very bright future who was killed.

So Jimi, because you disagree with BC on this issue you go on a rant and take pot shots at him? I think the pound cake wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Cosby may have looked down on people but what parts of his opinion do you disagree or is it just the style of how he said it? You sound pretty frustrated yourself.
Diamon Sforza
San Diego, CA

jimi izrael: When will the Social Engineers of the last 40 years admit they were and are wrong about poverty and how to solve it. Forty years wasted on LBJ’s Great Society and at what cost in terms dollars, lives, and lost opportunities?

“Without judgment and reprimand,” this one statement from your hate mongering diatribe is pure idiocy. In the real world, judgments are what separate cultures, religions, individuals, and societies. In the real world, actions have consequences and sometimes reprimand is the consequence of action. Case in point, you made a judgment about Cosby’s stand that education matters, and that family matters and you didn’t like the way he said it so you decide to reprimand Cosby for speaking freely to some of the people that are the most responsible for the black communities problems. Or, do you disagree with Cosby’s position that family and education matter? Cosby is a comedian. It’s not unheard of for a comedian to shock an audience for effect.

Perhaps one day you might actually take the opportunity to educate yourself about poverty and its causes. Perhaps, but not likely.

I could start with Mr. izrael’s ignorance of or refusal to adhere to the rules for capitalizing proper names. Rather than take up a lot of space, may I simply say that jimi izrael is a prime and sufficient example of exactly why Bill Cosby was absolutely right in his recent remarks regarding black society and parenting. The only real shame is that there are so exceedingly few black folk of achievement willing to stand up for education, morality, and playing by American rules instead of black urban ghetto rules.

I know that I live in an almost totally white state, but I was born and raised and lived many years one block from Washington D. C. in Maryland, so I do know a little about the subject of this letter.
Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

An interesting viewpoint, but I have to ask, are you more upset at the messenger or the message? Forget Cosby for a moment, was his message a fair but foreboding truth? If it was, then a reassessment is in order.

When fresh out of college I taught math at an inner city high school for a year, Camden High in Camden, NJ. It was 1982. Here was the environment those kids were under:

* Armed guards, 2 to a floor inside the school. 4 outside the grounds.
* Mostly Black, Hispanic, Oriental. There were less than a dozen whites in the whole school.
* Drugs and weapons were a big issue in and outside of school.
* The busiest day for the lone local bank was the first of the month when welfare checks arrived. The line went around the block.
* Many neighborhoods looked like Dresden after WWII.

I don’t offer this as an indictment, just it was what it was. Ship building had died 20 years before and the entire economy was a disaster. But I also found the following as well:

* The staff did miraculous things with minimal funds. Test scores were slightly higher than the state average while funding was 20% below average.
* The school was the center of the community and garnered large parental support.
* Those students that excelled were the same students whose parents showed up on parent-teacher days.
* Approximately a 1/3 of the students in every class I taught were jocks. The typical refrain I got from them was approximately if I was to use today’s vernacular — “Talk to the hand man! I’m to the NBA I need no stinkin’ job.” Irrespective of the fact there are 8 million kids playing Bball and only 800 positions on or off the bench in the NBA.

Cosby, has as a body of work, done a considerable amount of out-of-the-street humor and was probably the reason for his early success. But that does not diminish the fact that he has over his lifetime assimilated salient lessons that should be heeded. We are all born poor in a sense. We are not delivered from the womb with bank books and IRA’s in hand. Does being born into wealth help? Most would say yes and it is probably true. But I know many of just the reverse result.

What matters is, born poor, do you remain poor of mind? I believe that is what Cosby was attempting to remind the audience of. All the Head Start, Affirmative Action, and minority set asides will not assist a person who is poor of mind to rid themselves of poor surroundings. They go hand in hand. And that mindset comes not of the generation born but of the generation that are parents. It matters not what your circumstances are today but what you envision your situation in the future. It may take one longer but that goal, whatever it is, can be reached.

A really good book relevant to this topic is by George Lopez, “Why you Cryin?” His sentiments echo those of Dr. Cosby.
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

It seems odd that Mr. Izrael would feel that Mr. Cosby “talked down his nose” at the Brown vs. Board of Education dinner. I felt it was a breath of fresh air coming from a black public figure that has not been labeled as a “conservative” person of color.

Having preference for “flawed role models” I can only assume Mr. Izrael means Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. They have been a big help to the black youth of the country. Right. There is no offense too great to prevent the predictable cries of “it’s not their fault” or the “punishment is to severe.” Role models of such questionable integrity would never demand accountability from anyone (except whites) due their own public lapses of character. Surely this isn’t the type of advocate Mr. Izrael favors.

A good father does love unconditionally, but a good father doesn’t turn a blind eye to his children’s shortcomings. A good father will speak out and hold his children accountable to a standard. Who will hold the black community accountable? It can’t be a white person. White people can’t be critical of blacks, that’s racist. Conservative black people are ignored or repudiated for their opinions. Successful black people can’t be critical (it seems Mr. Cosby’s fault is success). Don’t admonish, don’t judge, and don’t reprimand, after all, we all have faults. No, let’s continue to turn a blind eye to the “urban culture” of violence, crime, and illegitimacy. Sit down, shut up, it’s all good.
Renee Tyner

Re: Marina Malenic’s Dynasty and Rajiv’s letter (“The American Monarchy”) in Reader Mail’s Heckling Sounds:

Let me understand this: This publication now advocates abandoning the Constitution and the vision of the Founding Fathers completely, not only in regard to separation of Church and State, but even so far as to reinstitution Monarchy as well?

Why are American intellectuals (of both the Left and the Right) always rooting around in the ash heaps of Europe and dead traditions for a clue as to direction? Has the Democratic process and the fabled optimism that fueled the American century and saved the world from Nazism, Fascism and Communism, now failed so completely in your estimation that it should be abandoned? Whatever became of Reagan’s elegiac “Morning in America”? Is it now the “Twilight of the Demagogues”?

As bad as Bush and Kerry both are, either one seems like Solomon in comparison to the prospect of an American King Charles or King Wills or any other of those royal pinheads.

Your essay calls sadly to mind the closing lines of a great American novel: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”.
Gene Schmidt

Rajiv’s pronouncements on American monarchism prompt a few thoughts.

The second generation of American leadership included statesmen of the same caliber as the first, but they are held in lower esteem by history because, unlike the first, they did not pull together: they were pulling in the opposite directions whose result brought the horror of war between the states to the third and fourth generations. In our own time and for the last few decades, it is the pervasive cult of celebrity that has artificially advanced the interests of certain political clans.

My father, who immigrated after the War, brought with him from France a learned disdain for politics and politicians. I asked him one day what course he had followed while still in his native country. He answered that, because the Third Republic’s leaders were self-serving to the point of disloyalty to the nation (hello, Ted Kennedy!), he believed that France would have done better to have had a constitutional monarchy like that of Great Britain: one in which the sovereign, sitting above the political fray, would safeguard the national interest even in what would otherwise be the absence of political leadership. (My father was a renowned chef, a class of occupation to whose members monarchism must come easily. Raised in that atmosphere, I too was a monarchist until I came to the sober realization that I would never be king, in much the same way that years earlier in Sunday school I had come to the understanding that God’s chosen people were not Lutherans.)

Indeed, back during the heady days of the 1980s, I met a British republican (definitely not the same thing as one of ours) who gave vociferous thanks for Her Majesty the Queen. Stunned to hear such a sentiment from so radical a Leftist, I asked why: “two words,” came the reply, “President Thatcher.” We each then, for our disparate reasons, had a good laugh and another Guinness.

As for my own unswerving admiration for Her Majesty, “D.G.Reg.F.D.”, I very selectively quote now the lyricist John Lydon, who warbled, “We love our Queen: God save her!” But, thank you, we’ll remain a republic on this side of the pond, for the foreseeable future.

On a considerably lighter note: some time later, I was working with a gaggle of Diana-philes who were swooning over her latest escapade and wishing that the annoyingly troublesome she could be our queen. I looked upon them with ultramontanist disdain, and uttered the simple truth that left them all with blank stares in response to which I shrugged and went on about my work: “America,” I asserted, “already has a queen, and her name is Aretha.” God save her, too.

Mmm. Guinness.

Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

Re: Kenneth J. Wolfe’s letter (under “Not So Fast”) in Reader Mail’s Heckling Sounds:

Kenneth J. Wolfe writes, “New Jersey, for once, is the most orderly state in which to drive.”

That may be overstating it just a bit, Mr. Wolfe. However, I did witness, with my own eyes (back in 1980 or so), a state trooper pull over a left lane tortoise on the Parkway — it was hard to steer as I clapped!

No doubt, he told all of his friends and our left lanes are clear today because of it!
Mark Hessey
Belmar, New Jersey

FYI: I’m surprised to see that the leftist press is still repeating their patent falsehoods about the Bush State of the Union speech.

Yet, today 27 May in the SF Chronicle, page E-1, Heidi Benson, “Chronicle Staff Writer” says, in a review of Joe Wilson’s book:

“[I]t was a scathing rebuttal to President Bush’s claim — made in his Jan 28 2003 State of the Union address — that Iraq had purchased yellowcake uranium from the West African nation of Niger. Cited as fact, it seemed to clinch speculation that Saddam Hussein was building …

I count three clear falsehoods in two lines:

The President did not say that Iraq had purchased anything. The President never mentioned Niger. The president did not cite anything as fact: he named his source and the British government confirmed that they were the source.

I guess it’s good that the left-wing press is so incompetent: if they
were smarter they could cook up less obvious lies.
Robert Ayers
Palo Alto, California

P.S. The actual speech, to save you looking it up — something the Chronicle editors obviously did not do:

“The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Re: Reid Collins’ Go Figure and Doug Bandow’s When Quislings Go Native:

Preach on brother pundit, this is dis-information at its finest and Bremer/State are falling for it with the incompetence we have all come to expect and love ( you don’t think that they are in on it, do you?). I am pretty sure that UN won’t touch Chalabi because of his unaltered vision of the oil-for-Saddam scandal, which shows his intelligence to stay away from UN, while not angering Iran, thus not ending up dead — also al-Jazeera is busting on Chalabi, indicating that he really is a good guy. The way I have it figured is if Chalabi does play a role in the new Iraq, or someone from his camp, there is hope for the Bush doctrine of Middle East reform; if it is a UN guy, then there is little hope. But knowing UN arrogance and national pride of Iraqis, I am betting on the former.

But let’s keep this on the down low, since if it gets out too much, it will backfire.
Apex, North Carolina

I think Chalabi got his neck in a noose when he seemed to side with al Sadr in Fallujah. Bush, Bremer and Sanchez do not suffer fools gladly.
Annette Cwik

Re: The Washington Prowler’s Unconventional Behavior:

If we ever had any doubt about the political leanings of the chattering punditry class, it was dispelled during the last several days as they actually gave credence to Kerry’s nitwit scheme. It was not only politically foolish, but ethically rotten. I suppose this is a strong indication of how a Kerry Administration would behave — and is all the more reason to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Warren Mowry

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