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John Bryant and the Silver Rights Movement By: John Bryant
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, December 11, 2003


John Bryant: Now, you can say whatever you want about California.  I know.  I know.

There was an earthquake, the world tilted to one side, and all the nuts rolled to California.  But it's still the fifth, sixth, or seventh largest economy in the world depending on which report you read.  Now, here is a real, real scrambler.  The 10th largest economy in the world is Los Angeles County, 176 different ethnic groups.  Twenty-six ethnic groups call L.A. home to the largest group of their ethnic group outside of their home country.  So more Koreans than outside of Korea, more Chinese than outside of China, and so on and so forth.  You cannot we business with people you don't reflect, respect, or understand.  Don't put blacks and Latinos and women on your board and in your management team because it looks good.  Don't do that.  Do it because it is good, good for your bottom line, good for business.

I tell my black brothers and sisters all the time the largest condiment seller in the nation for years, for decades, has been ketchup.  It's  now salsa.  You better learn to put some salsa on your barbecue.  So we are all in this together.

The world is changing, and either we change with it, or it will pass us up. And so we have to have a vision that goes beyond purer politics.  We have to have a vision that is an inclusive and not exclusive.  That's why I'm honored that President Bush came to South Central Los Angeles, and he didn't push a Republican message.  He didn't push a conservative message.  He pushed an American message.  He was talking about stakeholders.  He talked about hopes and dreams and opportunity and faith and spirit.  He talked about hope, hope in people.  He talked about dreams.  He talked about how we can get to those dreams.  He talked it.  I think all folks of all races agree on this.  Education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool.  When you know better, you do better.  There's not a welfare mother in this country in her right mind that does not want her child to grow up to be successful, intelligent, hardworking, and taxpaying if for no other reason than to feel proud of them.  But you can't give what you don't have.  In a blind town, a one-eyed man's king.  If you don't know better, you can't do better.  And my all-time favorite, no matter how much I love you, my son or my daughter, if I don't have wisdom, I can only give you my own ignorance.

No matter how much I love you, my son or my daughter, if I don't have wisdom, I can only give you my own ignorance.  And so out of love, we pass down bad habits from generation to generation.

"Klansman, why are you in the Klan?"  "Because my pappy was."  "Why was your pappy in the Klan?"  "Because his pappy was."  "Okay, we're getting somewhere.  Why was your pappy's pappy in the Klan?"  "Oh, shucks, his pappy co-founded the Klan."  "So you don't consciously hate me?"  "Well, shucks, I never thought about it that way.  I'm just doing what I done."  Ignorance on both sides of the aisles doesn't have a race.

It's what you don't know that you don’t know that's killing you.  And so what I'm suggesting is that an enlightened America is a great America, that every country goes through four economic stages:  the agricultural age, the industrial age, the technology age, and the information age.  Where are we today?  The information age.  Education is king.  When you know better, you can do better.

There's a chance to bring this country together, and that chance has codified in the 21st century, where race and diversity is finally an asset to our country.  It is an asset economically.  When the information age can bring everybody together and finally all boats will and can rise.  But it won't do it unless we find a way to work together.  It won't do it unless you have something what I call enlightened self-interest.  I'm not asking you to be a race saver.  I'm not asking you to be a moralist.  I'm not asking you to even like me.  It's okay if you don't like me; I like me.  But this party cannot survive if you have a larger and larger share of a smaller and smaller marketplace.  No party, no business, can survive on that business model.  You can't be just preaching to the choir.  We have to open up the door to that church and invite the people outside to come inside.

That doesn't mean you have to give up what you believe.  That means you just simply expand your message to those who can also believe in things you find of universal vision.

Let me make one point and I promise you then I'm going to shut up.  Martin Luther King walked with Jews.  Don't you think there was a small theological difference of opinion?  Some of you will get that later.  But he didn't win battles and lose war.  He wasn't rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I think God doesn't have a self-esteem problem; let him figure it out.  It doesn't matter whether you're Christian or Catholic or Hindu or Muslim or Jewish.  As long as you believe in something larger and more important than yourself, let's all push forward in a mission to save this world.  Let God sort it out.  And so I say, I don't care what political party you come from.  If you want to eradicate poverty, I don't care whether you're black or white, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, you are my friend.  And if you don't, you're wasting my time.  Ph.D.s are good; Ph.Doos are better.

So I simply come to you with facts.  I hope that you've gotten something out of my message this morning.  I rambled a little, but I hope you feel my passion and my authenticity.  I'm not coming -- if I said anything to offend you, blame it on my head and not my heart.  I know that you come here to listen about politics and listen about your party, and I don't think that what I've said is in conflict with politics or your party.  I'm talking about the great country we call America.  I'm talking about this place where people have different views, and we should be celebrating the fact that people have different views.  But if your views are genuinely better -- listen to me now.  This is probably the most important thing I've said today.  If your views are genuinely better than other people's views, let's bring them out in the light.  Let's bring them out in the light.

I'll end by saying, the first thing I said with Horowitz six years ago -- stop talking about Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP.  Stop talking about them for two reasons.  Number one, the best way to kill a bad idea is to introduce a better one.  People today are concerned about, "Can you educate my kid?  Can you make me a homeowner?  Can you make me a small business owner?  Can you improve the quality of my life?"  If you can do that, you are my friend, and I will vote for you.

It's the church of "What's happening now and what have you done for me lately.  If you cannot do that, you are wasting my time."

Number two; you can't raise your child by e-mail.  You can't raise your child by e-mail.  What do I mean by that?  You can say whatever you want about Jesse Jackson; he shows up.  He shows up in the communities I'm talking about.  Now, you can say all you want, and here's the best way I can describe it.  If you meet somebody and her mother's on crack and her father's missing in action, it's okay for her to say her dad's a crack head; it's not okay for you to say her dad's a crack head.  Because if someone did that to you, called your mother or father out of their name, you'd be offended.  I know I've got idiots in my family.  I don't need you to tell me I've got idiots in my family.  I'm not -- I mean I'm sane.  I know O.J. did it.  Y'all didn't know what y'all going to get this morning, did you?  So if your ideas are truly better, and you will find that most blacks are conservative, they are fiscally conservative -- why do you believe that we're stuck on real estate and insurance?  You can't get most of us to buy no stock.  I can't touch that.  We want things we can see and feel.  We are fiscally conservative, but we tend to be socially liberal because of our experience.  So you don't have to have sympathy; just have empathy.  Just understand when people come from different experiences and say, "Fine.  I hear your pain.  How can we go from here?"  "Fine.  I hear your pain.  How do we go from here?"

How do we fund those loans?  I look at a credit report.  Lady comes in the front door, and first thing I do is approve her, day one, subject to the resolution of her primary denial factor.  Why?  Because she's more poor than she is broke.  Remember the definition?  To be broke is economic; to be poor is a disabling frame of mind.  It is an oppressed condition of my spirit.

If I don't love me, I can't love you.  If I don't like me, I can't like you. If I don't feel good about me, I can't feel good about you.  And here's the best one.  If I don't have a purpose in my life, I'm going to make your life a living hell.  That's a problem with every inner city community in this country.  So it's not about buildings.  It's not about job programs.  It's about hope, self-esteem, and opportunity.  It's about feeling good about myself because I can feel good about you.  And without that, you have nothing.  So the first thing we do is give them their hope back.  "You're approved," day one, "subject to the resolution of your primary denial factor."  This is not a giveaway program.  Then with their authorization, we pull the credit report.  Ooh, baby!  That is like a bus accident!

Okay, let's go from here.  Credit counseling, case management, financial planning, dollar-for-dollar matching grant -- for every dollar you put up, we'll grant you a dollar up to $5,000.  As long as you buy a home in a low-wealth area, the money's yours.  And we move people up and out of poverty.  Do you know by the time we finish underwriting that loan, they're a low-hanging fruit for those banks?  Do you know by the time we finish, they are safer credit risks than the average middle-class borrower coming in off the street?  We increase their FICO scores by 100 points.  When you know better, you do better.

So I just leave you with this message of hope that our community, our nation is not doomed.  We're just in a paradigm shift, and we have to not run away from it.  We've got to embrace it.  And I think that you guys are the leaders, but you've got to claim it.  Thank you very much.

David Horowitz:  John will take a few questions.  Congressman?

Unidentified Speaker:  Well, it's intimidating to ask you, but you had two parents who believed in you, told you every night they loved you.  How much of a factor is that for the people that you're working with now, and isn't that the real problem now?

John Bryant:  That is the factor, okay?  I have a "but" for you, but that is the factor.  In other words, a Jewish friend who worked for me said to me after -- right before the riots -- well, after the riots happened but before the verdict -- you see, by the way, I didn't believe discrimination existed in 1991.  I didn't believe it existed.  Why?  Because I grew up normal.  My mother loved me. My father was my role model.  I said -- I used to tell people, "Get off your rear end.  Go get a job."  I used to say that myself."

And a Jewish friend of mine who worked for me said, "John," -- he got frustrated with me one day.  He said, "Not everybody's a John Bryant, and I'm not giving you a compliment."  And what he was saying was that not only was my mother-and-father experience a rare black experience; it was a rare American experience and that you should not, John, blame poverty on the poor.  It's not a child's father whose father's missing in action and his mother's on crack.  It's a child's responsibility to move up from there, but you can't blame poverty on the poor and expect to get anywhere.  If you're blaming people, they're going to shut down.  If you're pointing fingers, no different than if somebody blames or points fingers, you shut down.  You don't want to hear it.  You become defensive.

So, yes, the family is a number-one problem in these communities.  But here's the problem, Congressman.  Poverty feeds on poverty, success breeds success, and failure breeds nothing but more failure.  Most of these folks have only met a financial planner in the inner city, and it's a drug dealer.  They never met a banker, so how are they supposed to understand and relate to what we're talking about here?

So what we've done at Operation HOPE is create kind of a secondary family. I call it private banking for the working poor.  So when you come in our HOPE Center, which is a cross between a bank branch and a Kinko's for empowerment, one-stop shopping for changing your life, we have everything that's in there to resolve or help you resolve your issues provided you're willing to take your life back.  All you've got to do is come with the right spirit of, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," and then we will help you do the rest.

But you can't ask people to bootstrap themselves when they don't have shoelaces.  It's just not a practical question to ask.  And you also can't do it from 3,000 miles away, and so we have to find -- I shouldn't be saying this, but this is the only way I can illustrate it.  I was at a conservative philanthropy roundtable on Friday in San Diego, and I didn't say this. Blame it on my moderator.  The moderator said that it was explained to him the way to resolve the inner city is not to kick ass and not to kiss ass, but find something in the middle.  I'm sorry for the use of those words, but I had to kind of underscore how powerful his phrasing was.  It's not one or the other; it's someplace in the middle.  It's a little bit of both.  It's a hand up and not a handout.

But, yeah, to answer your question, family is a major, major, major problem, but you're not going to solve it by saying, "You've got a crappy family."  I'm not saying that you'd do this; I'm just saying that that's just not the solution, but, unfortunately, that's been kind of the approach.  Does that answer the question sort of?  Yes, sir?

Unidentified Speaker:  Yesterday, Lindsey Graham talked about working with Armstrong Williams in South Carolina and attempting to deliver of opportunity and hope to the black community, and many conservatives that are concerned about the issues that you raised have taken that approach.  And, yet, we seem singularly ineffective in delivering the black vote – Graham under 10 percent, most candidates appealing to that community not able to gather even 10 percent of the vote -- and often hear it said that among blacks themselves, those that share conservative views are often afraid to express them because of the singular-mindedness of the leadership of the community.  How would you react to that?

John Bryant:  I would tell you to do two things.  One, no good deed shall go unpunished.  Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  You know, Martin Luther King gave that "I have a dream" speech 100 times before you heard it.  No one paid him any attention.  When he spoke in the mall -- you've all seen the mall speech? -- he was the last speaker in three hours, and finally Dorothy Hyde said to the elders, "Let the young man speak."  They said, "Why should we?"  "Because the young people listen to him.  Give him nine minutes."  He finally went up there, and halfway through his speech, he chucked it and started speaking form his heart.  But anyway, the point is he gave that speech 100 times, and no one paid him any attention.  And his elders, the black elders, dismissed him. But America embraced him once all of the lines came together.

The Congressman here on the right that just asked the question, this is not his first time hearing me.  We've met three times before.  He always asks me a question.  He always pushes the envelope.  He always steps one step further.  My guess is if he's a Republican Congressman, he probably has a small black voter turnout relatively speaking, but he keeps asking the question.  My answer is 40 acres and a mule.  Black folks remember 40 acres and a mule.  Black folks remember promises made and promises not kept.  You cannot turn around 40 years or 250 years of backwards thinking and backwards approaches and oppression with two years' worth of campaigning and six months' worth of "Will you vote for me?"  It's not practical.  That's not a black issue.  That's not a brown issue.  That's a human issue.  If you have had the perception of negative affirmations for your lifetime and the lifetime of your parents, then it's going to take a little bit more than a good campaign speech and a voter turnout drive to get people to turn their vote in another direction.  Let me give you a sense of hope, though.

The Civil War -- people said it was about freeing slaves.  Now, there were some great people around, I guarantee you.  But nobody went to war to save my black rear end.  I'm clear on that.  It was about money, power, and position in the world.  That's what it was about.  The South was resisting Northern domination.  The South was stuck in an agricultural age and free labor; the North -- you'll get that later -- the North was modernizing and was moving into the industrial age and had ethnic diversity.  People would come into the country -- your forefathers, by the way, from Europe – look south and see blacks catching heck, look north and see diversity, and say, "I'm not black, but why test my luck?" and head north.  The North and the Northern economy grew; the South stagnated.  You had war.

After the war, blacks became Republicans en masse.  Why?  It wasn't a love fest.  The man who signed the emancipation proclamation was a man named Lincoln, a Republican president.  Gave them their freedom.  It wasn't a love fest; it was an issue.  Blacks became Republican en masse.  After World War II -- between World War II and 1968, blacks became Democrats en masse because a man named Johnson signed something called the Civil Rights legislation in 1965.  He was a Democrat president.  It wasn't a love fest; it was an issue that changed people's fundamental lives.  It wasn't a speech, wasn't a promise; it was a fundamental shift in the quality of people's lives.  So I'm suggesting that President Bush -- and I've told him this -- has an opportunity to become what I call the "Silver Rights" president of the 21st century.  Yes, here?

Aaron Katz:  My problem is twofold.  Number one, I think your message is fabulous, but I wish there would be more people like you delivering that same message to the black community.  The problem that we have, as opposed to the Democrats, is that we are -- or the conservatives -- are saying to the black people, "We are willing to give you a hand up.  We are willing to give you equal opportunity."  But the other messengers are coming and saying, "We want to give you a handout."  And nobody is bothering to say to these people who have their hands out that,

"If you keep taking these handouts, you will destroy yourselves, and they will destroy you in the process in order to get your votes."  I would never do to my children what the politicians are doing to your community by giving them handouts.  You would never do that to your children, and your parents never did that to you because that's the worst thing they could do for you.

I heard a statistic the other day, and I wish that your leadership would tell your people this message far more than they're doing.  I heard a statistic the other day that absolutely blew me away.  Three things make the difference between 8-percent poverty and 80-percent poverty, three simple things.  They said that people who do these three things have 8-percent poverty level; people who do not do these three things have 79-percent poverty level -- is a statistic that I heard.

And it's so simple.  Number one, graduate from high school.  Number two, get married before you have a child.  Number three, be 21 before you get married and -- before you have a child.  If you do those three things -- wait till you're 21, get married, and graduate from high school -- your poverty level will be 8 percent relative to 79 percent.  The message needs to get out to the people that need to hear the message, not just to us.  We agree with you.  I just wish that the people who are in that position heard that message more clearly and lived it and embraced it because it would be a wonderful world.

John Bryant:  What's your name?

Aaron Katz:  My name's Aaron Katz.

John Bryant:  First of all, Aaron, thank you.  Before I came here, I spoke to philanthropists and foundations yesterday in San Diego.  The day before that, I spoke to black -- you want to call it liberal leaders or just black community leaders in Kansas City.  Before that, I spoke at a church.  Before that, I spoke before bankers.  Early this year, I spoke before the NAACP Self-Help Summit.  I'm all over the country, and I'm telling you -- I'm telling you -- the message is resonating, irrespective of race, irrespective of class.

We also just opened a program in Portland, Oregon, which, if you know,

Portland, it's four million people, 40,000 of which are black.  So we didn't own a program for black people in Portland.  We opened a program for poor people in Portland, which, by the way, are white.  And I'm finding that poor people in Portland have -- poor white people in Portland have the same mentality as poor black people in Detroit.  It's the same issue.

Let me kind of comment what you said point by point.  One, stop calling yourselves conservative.  With all due respect, you know you're a conservative; stop saying it.  Stop saying it.  You're driving a wedge immediately between you and everybody else who doesn't know what that phrase means.  Just you're an American.  You're a great American. You have some American beliefs.  You want to share them with the world.  You talk about how hard it is.  You remember a name -- God named Jesus Christ?  He had 12. One of them betrayed him.  He ain't done so bad.

Remember a man named Martin Luther King, Jr.?  No title, no position.

Another man, whether you agree with him or not, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa.

Let me tell you a wonderful -- Nelson Mandela.  Went to prison in his mid-40s, an angry man.  Stayed there 27 years.  Came out, hugged his jailer, decided he was going to become president of apartheid South Africa, became President of South Africa.  Made his jailer his vice president, Declerk, and is now, to some, and I think to most, a moral hero around the world.  Now, when he was pursuing his negotiations with Declerk, he was threatened with assassination by the ANC -- Do you hear me? -- by his own people because they did not want him negotiating with the enemy. When there is no vision, the people perish.

This is not a hard problem for you, sir; this is a hard problem for the world.  Leadership is tough.  You know, and if you think you're a leader and you turn around and there's nobody following you, you're not a leader; you're just a guy out taking a walk.

Let me recount one very quick story of a friend of mine.  He won't mind me mentioning his name.  His name is Mark Uptagrove.  He used to be publisher of Time, Canada, Newsweek, and now he's at MTV magazine.  He's a publisher.  Great guy.  Happens to be Caucasian, just to make this clear.  He's a conservative.  He loves Reagan, the whole thing.  He's conservative.  All right.  Sometimes we're such good friends, he calls me his "brother from another mother."  He forgets I'm black.  Now, I'm not black for a living, but I am black, and I'm proud of it.  So we were talking one day, and he said -- he came in one day.  He says, "John, you know, why don't black people just go get a job?  What's all this whining and complaining?  Just -- what's this reparation stuff?  Just forget it!"

I said, "Mark, are you finished?"  "Yeah."  I said, "Mark, let me explain something to you.  Do you like being married?"  He says, "What does being married have to do with anything?"  "Do you like--" "Yes, I do."  "Mark, I'm sure there are times that you have arguments with your wife.  I mean once every 10 years you have an argument with your wife and at some point you have got to choose between being right and being married."  Ladies, can I get an amen?  "What do you mean by that?" he said.  I said, "Because you may be completely right on the rational point you're trying to make, but she's trying to tell you she's got feelings.  And whether you agree with those feelings or not, she wants to be affirmed.  She wants her feelings affirmed. And until you affirm her feelings, you're not going to have any peace in that household.  So you can be right and alone, or you can be -- or you can affirm her feelings and be happily married.  So you can say, "Baby, I don't fully understand where you're coming from or your pain.  There's no way I appreciate, but I support you and I love you."

We can disagree without being disagreeable.  So I think that this is the same point that you don't have to understand.  You cannot understand the pain of somebody who's gone through what the black community has gone through.  You cannot understand it.  Don't even try.  But you can have empathy -- not sympathy, empathy.  To empathize with people whose experiences are just different and say -- and so I said, "Mark, try this," because I don't like reparations, either.  I don't want nothing from nobody. God never gave anybody else he wanted me to have.  So I'll get my own stuff.

But the point is there are a lot of people who don't have my life experiences who are black.  I just explained them.  My way I was raised was unique.  So what I said was, "Mark, try this.  Listen.  When people are talking, listen because people talk for therapy.  And when they take a breath, after about five minutes of ranting, say, "I hear you.  I hear you. There's no way I can fully appreciate the pain you've gone through, but I respect that it is your pain, and for you it is very real."  Pause.  "Now, where do we go from here?"  Completely different response, completely -- because now you've given somebody their dignity.  You've affirmed their somebody-ness.  Now you can go forward as two whole people.  Does that make sense?

One more question?  My mother always said, "You always leave a party before it's over.  You never want to be the very, very old guy in the club."  So I'm going to leave before you kick me out, but if there's one more question, I'll take it.  Yes, sir?

Unidentified Speaker:  We have in this state a test that you have to pass as a 10th grader, and you get six shots to pass it by the time you graduate high school to affirm that you can read at a 10th- grade level.  And it seems like that makes a lot of sense to me.  This year in our legislature, our state legislature of Florida, we had a debate.

John Bryant:  You're in Florida?

Unidentified Speaker:  Florida.  And the debate was we had 12,000 children of all colors, obviously, that could not pass this test.  Should we give them a standard diploma?  And the Democrats and mostly African-Americans said, "Yes, we should."  And while I had all the empathy in the world for those 12,000 students, I said, "No, we should not because we have to set standards and we have to have accountability."  So much of what you say I cannot -- none of us could disagree with, but those of us, the Congressmen and others who actually have to cast votes, when we cast votes, we not only have to have empathy, but we've got to have a principled way of casting those votes.

And the thing is when I cast that vote, as my party did, and no longer will those 12,000 kids get a standard diploma, their opposing forces will say, "We did not have feelings.  We did not understand.  We have not walked in their shoes."  And so while intellectual arguments are fine, often these issues come now down to, you know, the details -- those are the details, and when you have to cast the vote, all the empathy in the world has to be offset with principled voting.

John Bryant:  I couldn't agree with you more.  Now, let me respond.  What's your name?

Unidentified Speaker:  Carl.

John Bryant:  Carl, I couldn't agree with you more.  Vote your principle and your character and your beliefs without question.  Let me tell you how I respond to that.  There's a lot of love in the word, "No."  "I love you, but you're going to have those kids, you need to take care of them.  I love you, but if you're going to do the crime, you've got to do the time.  I love you, but you need to go get a job.  I love you, but you cannot pimp in my community.  I love you, but you've got to get up and move forward."  People understand that because then that message is both compassion and responsibility.  I give that message all over this country to what you might call liberal black and brown audiences, and they embrace it.  You were kind enough to give me a standing ovation, which I did not expect, but the place I do expect standing ovations these days are black communities with that message. 

Now, 10 years ago, I'd have been run out of town on a rail in black communities.  I might've been run out of town from here on a rail 10 years, so things are changing slowly.  You're a visionary.  You're ahead of the curve.  Vote your principle, but I don't believe that the things I just mentioned are intellectual debates.  I'm not coming here as some theologian. I'm not coming to you as an academic.  I just told you we funded $110m in loans.  We've educated 114,000 kids.  I've got my sleeves rolled up doing this stuff every single day talking and dealing with the people that you are voting about.  So we have the same issues, and I'm saying the same thing to them that I just said to you right here.

I think that all I'm saying, sir -- all I'm saying is, first of all, this battle's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be quick.  That's number one.  There are no quick fixes.  If there's a free lunch, it's stale.

So this is going to be a long, hard slog, like every good thing in this world, but I'm simply saying you need to put as much attention on this issue as you do your marriage.  What I often see, because of David and – because I've got a relationship with the President, people tend to listen to me.

But a lot of times before people know where I'm coming from, you know, I meet conservatives, and they just -- the first thing I say minority or underserved or whatever, they assume they know the rest is going that's going to come out of my mouth, and they shut down, and you can't reach them.

I'm talking to them, but they're not -- they're just not there because they dismissed the issue.  They've just dismissed it.  And you can see it.  I can look at them in their eyes and see that they've dismissed me.  And it doesn't feel good.

And so what I'm saying is that once the leadership of this party begins to feel this issue from the depth of their spirit, like they feel the love for their mate, that even when people don't agree with you, they'll know you're coming from an authentic place.  That's why I survived the inner city because I don't tell them what they want to hear but I tell them what they need to hear in a loving and compassionate and authentic fashion.  If you wanted to prove my theory right, go home tonight and rent Chris Rock, Bring Home the Pain.  Do you know who Chris Rock is?  Okay.  Go home today and rent the video -- I know it sounds silly.  I want you to know what black America is.  Go rent the video, Bring Home the Pain.  Now, I can't tell you what this video -- because this guy's recording this -- I can't tell you what this video says.  All I can tell you is he's in a liberal -- this is 2000 -- he's in a liberal audience in Harlem at the Apollo Theater, and he makes a differentiation between black folks and other folks who happen to be black.  And the audience is not handpicked.  It's not a political -- it's folks who paid 25 bucks for a ticket.  And he goes on this rant for like 40 minutes about how upset he is with other folks and how -- and you know what he gets?  A standing ovation.  They are dying in the aisles because we all know, as I just said, that O.J. did it.  We're not crazy.  We're not stupid. We know ignorance when we see it, and we hate it, too.

There's a paradigm shift happening.  It's going to happen slowly, sir, so keep voting your conscience, but I'm just suggesting that on this issue try to also educate yourself on things and principles, if you believe in what I'm saying, that make sense and use it as a way to kind of come at the issue a different way.  It's not the issue that's wrong; it's the approach that's wrong.  Your issues are right.

Unidentified Speaker:  John, I just want to thank you for what you're saying.  Wanted to see what I could do in Alabama to improve the lives of the poor, particularly African-American.

John Bryant:  Is that the great senator from Alabama?

Unidentified Speaker:  That is, thank you.

John Bryant:  That man last night cornered me and talked about home ownership for 15 minutes.

Unidentified Speaker:  Yeah, that's the thing I concluded, that even in a state that has lower income than most, like Alabama, if people can manage their money well, if somebody can help them understand the complexities of home purchasing, and they can move into a home they own, I think there's tremendous potential for whole families to be created.  With interest rates at 6 percent, there are a lot of government programs in existence.  I think President Bush is proposing expanded home ownership programs.  I just think you're on the right message.  We've had two big meetings in the state that I've hosted, and you've inspired me to be even more aggressive.  Thank you very much.

John Bryant:  Thank you.  Senator, I am honored to inspire one of 100, and particularly one of one, a leader like yourself, but you've inspired me. And let me just end with this final comment about home ownership.

Home ownership and individual property rights made America.  Home ownership and individual property rights were the foundation of this country.  Truth is simple; lies are complex.  So that truth is universal.  This is not a black issue.  This is not a brown issue.  This is an American issue.  When you create a homeowner, you create a taxpayer.  When you create a homeowner, in most cases, you create a mortgage and a mortgage holder, which means now the bank is concerned with that home and that community, enlightened self-interest. When you create a homeowner, you create a policeman on that block.  When you create a homeowner, you create enlightened self-interest.

When you create a homeowner, you create an American that is now concerned about a bond issue for infrastructure repairs and taxes.  When you create a homeowner, you move somebody from the poverty roles to the payrolls.  Most small businesses are financed not by loans but by equity from your home.  So not everybody's going to become a venture capitalist or a small business owner.  You know, an entrepreneur is somebody who works 18 hours a day to keep from getting a job.  Most people don't want that kind of pain.  But most people, given an informed choice, would love to be a homeowner.  And right now today, it is cheaper to have a mortgage and own a home than it is to rent, so that is your in.  Create homeowners; you'll create stakeholders; you'll create an audience that's open to any rational perspective.  Thank you.

David Horowitz:  Thank you.  Just one second.  On February 7 in Los Angeles, we're going to hold a Stakeholders' Summit built around John and his ideas. And then we're going to take it to other cities in America.  This is February 7.  Just get in touch with my staff if you want to come to this, or if you want to hold it in your neck of the woods, let me know.




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