Various and Sundry Items

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sun Oct 29 00:43:09 MDT 1995


>From Leo:

>1. Adolph Reed and the MMM
>I finally got a free minute to pick up a copy of the _Village Voice_ and read
>the much-touted (at least by some on this list) Reed article. I was
>underwhelmed. Far from the definitive analysis that some have suggested, at
>is quite brief, and impressionistic to say the least. In classical Reed
>style, a good portion of it is devoted to acting out his barely disguised
>envy of other radical African-American intellectuals who receive a great deal
>more attention than him. And the quality of his analysis has not improved
>much from his days in sectarian Trotskyism and the intellectual cesspool of
>_Telos_, I believe that the introduction of Reed into the debate on the
>nature of MMM was an appeal to authority, and I am less impressed with the
>authority.

1. No one cited Reed as 'an appeal to authority.' Doug reproduced parts of
his two-part Nation article on the Nation of Islam in which Reed recounted
the violent history of this organization.  I referred (often without
citation) to Reed's analysis of the Moynihan Report, his book-length
discussion of the black elite and his various other  articles on the
so-callled underclass.  I had not read the Village Voice piece until
yesterday.  Moreover, never did I say it is so because Reed sez it is so. 
You insult me for very little reason. 

2. It is a blatant misrepresentation to say that Reed devotes much time to
slamming Afro-American intellectuals in this article (I don't know what
sort of point you are trying to make, Leo), and you violate all codes of
argument to dismiss the  criticisms which Reed does make of other
intellectuals as jealous rants.  He ALWAYS gives  reasons for why he is so
polemical; he is clearly concerned with the sanction which these
intellectuals have given for retrograde policy. In this Village Voice
article he is indeed vicious towards Michael Dyson and Dyson alone--who
claimed on "Nightline" that the march was *against* homophobia and sexism.
And this was not a good portion of the article; what's your problem, Leo?
Been drinking Louis' whiskey?   

3. This Village Voice article makes several points none of which you even
acknowledge
  a. the historic roots of Farrakhan's ideology
  b. how this ideology meshes with right-wing attacks
  c. the violent counter-revolutionary role the NOI is likely to play
  d. a criticism of the way the media framed the debate--disallowing
radical         
       criticism, for example
  e.  the sexist implications of the march 
  f. the validation of the assumption that the lower class needs moral tutelage
       from the upper class
  g. the certain failure of attempting to work with Farrakhan.

All in all, a remarkable intervention given the format of this Village
Voice section.    

4. Reed's major Telos article, which he revised for a 1986 book which he
edited Race, Culture and Politics, is also quite remarkable.  In this
piece, Reed analyzes, among many things, the connection between the media
and black politics in a most illuminating way.  No one on this line has yet
really analyzed the role of the media and the nature of this spectacle as
spectacle.  If we are to make inroads, then Reed's piece is essential.  

5. Leo, I agree with Jerry that your earlier posts on the March were most
stimulating.  

I don't really have time for replying to your flippantly made attacks, and
I would appreciate more honest criticism.  Again, no one appealed to the
authority of Reed based on this short Village Voice piece.  If you want a
full bibliography of the writings of his which I have read, I can put it
together and submit it to this list.  In my opinion, he remains one of the
most profound critics of the academic and institute 'poverty' industry, the
construction of racial and underclass categories, the nature of
Afro-American leadership, the limits of movement politics and the life of
the Afro-American intellectual.  I have learned much from him.  

Yours,
Rakesh 





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