Over the years, people have often asked me about my favorite news outlets. I generally respond by pointing out that I do not have any favorite news outlet. The most important principle to remember in order to avoid being force-fed propaganda is that it is impossible to find a news network that is free of bias. When you understand this, you will never consume the news without being vigilant. Vigilance when consuming the news simply means that one cannot have a favorite outlet. With that said, there are some news outlets that are better than others. For this reason, there are some news outlets that I gravitate to more than others, as they simply do a good job delivering factual information.
Before discussing useful news outlets, it is critical to note that American cable news has turned into a colossal waste of time. Across the popular channels, all that is covered is Donald Trump and Russia. There is little to no coverage of serious issues occurring in the United States or across the world. It is lamentable that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, for example, receives very little coverage on cable news, but every Trump scandal does. The explanation for this is simple: cable news is all about ratings. When ratings are a network’s primary objective, covering serious news understandably gets put on the back burner. Unless it is a person’s job to be completely invested in every single scandal that occurs in the White House, one’s time is better spent consuming news that will actually keep one informed about other issues facing the country and the world.
As a teenager and an immigrant to the United States, I felt that consuming cable news was the best way to acclimate myself to American culture. I also felt it was important to read opinion writers. However, knowing what I know now, a lot of that time would have been better spent reading philosophy, history, and theology. The news is important, but it is just one element needed to be an informed person. To be an interesting person with a developed mind, one has to read actual books. Consuming the news, reading opinion pieces, and listening to podcasts will never be able to replace the intellectual benefit that one gains from reading serious books.
Yesterday, I did an interview on Connections with Evan Lawson on NPR. The discussion focused on my recent Intercollegiate Review interview; however, other topics were addressed. Other than forgetting Sebastian Gorka’s name and a moment of inarticulateness, it was a decent performance for an extemporaneous interview, especially since I do not do them often. For the past few years, I have turned down several interview requests because I have been extremely busy.
During the interview, I defended Dr. Ben Carson against the unfair criticism he received for pointing out that poverty is partly a mindset. (See my Twitter thread on the topic.) Had Carson said that poverty is solely a state of the mind, I would have joined anti-poverty activists in their vigorous denunciations of his comment. However, what Carson said is patently accurate. In order to escape poverty, there is a wealth-building mindset that one ought to have, especially in a free-market economy. Carson, a man who grew up poor and became one of the most prominent pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, should be listened to on the topic of poverty. This does not mean that everything he says on the topic is beyond critique, but the idea of dismissing his comments with a wave of hand and heinously distorting his point is wrong.
IR: How do you begin a conversation with an African American progressive about the merits of conservatism? What’s your elevator pitch?
Chidike: One of the fallacies that black progressives promulgate about black conservatives is that we have nothing to conserve except historically oppressive structures. Black conservatism is often presented as an ideology that is about protecting and preserving white supremacy. This argument is absurd. Black conservatives believe in the preservation of institutions that have been important to black life and survival, such as the nuclear family, the church, and the community. Although conservation is an important part of the black conservative worldview, it is not about the protection of pillars of oppression. Where demonstrably immoral structures exist, the black conservative cannot ethically justify attempting to look for the positive aspects of such structures. The black conservative is justified in subverting and seeking to dismantle oppressive systems. The conservation mind-set of the black conservative applies only to constructs that are both moral and salubrious. The notion that conservatives of African descent must look for the positive aspects in the apparatus of white supremacy is a caricature of black conservative thought.
Aside from the idea of conservation, black conservatism can also be understood as a stringent rejection of the Afro-pessimistic perspective that typifies black progressivism. As one of the key features of modern black progressivism, Afro-pessimism is essentially the belief in the permanence and omnipotence of white supremacy. It is this Afro-pessimism that makes black progressives constantly downplay the racial progress that has occurred in the United States. Afro-pessimism also leads to the promotion of black helplessness in the face of white supremacy. Genuine black conservatives, by contrast, have a viewpoint that focuses on optimism and the belief in the indomitability of the human spirit. Black conservatives believe in the human capacity for greatness and the ability to thrive—with or without the actualization of perfect racial harmony.
Someone recently suggested that I compile some of the best questions and answers from my Curious Cat account and create a website post. I think this is a good idea. This post is Volume 1 (December 2016—May 2017). I may create additional posts in the future. I write my Curious Cat responses pretty quickly from my smartphone, so the writing is less polished and structured than my essay writing. Where possible, I have fixed typos and predictive text errors. I have also edited some of the questions for clarity. There are many more answers that are worth reading on relationships, culture, music, and other interesting topics. You can read all of those on my actual Curious Cat page. Also, make sure you follow me on Twitter.
George S. Schuyler (1895–1977) is one of the most consequential black conservative columnists in American history. His autobiography Black and Conservative, published in 1966, sketches the voyage of his life. It explores his journey from being the son of a head chef, his time in the military, to his eventual days as a conservative columnist—a drastic change from his quondam Marxism. Although the book becomes tremendously fascinating when the text centers around the development of Schuyler’s philosophical and political views, the rest of the narrative is stultifying. The details of his life are of less interest than the ideas that life produced. One can find the liveliest prose when Schuyler quotes his own political columns. Despite being a celebrated writer with great wit, his life story, as presented, simply does not translate into a compelling read.