"WE HAVE a big tent here," WOLB talk-show host and former Maryland state senator Larry Young is fond of saying. All opinions are welcome on his show: liberal, conservative, black nationalist, Pan-Africanist, progressive, socialist.
For three days this week, listeners got to hear something truly remarkable - African-Americans either endorsing or excusing the terrorist acts that, when the final tally is made, will have taken thousands of lives at New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon just outside our nation's capital.
"The show had the gamut," Young said this week, "from the ones who said we have to go in and bomb 'em to those who sympathized and said they understood why it happened."
That would be "sympathized" with the terrorists, mind you. One caller at least had the guts to say, "I'm glad it happened. We dropped a bomb on them, so they dropped a bomb on us." Others were wimpy, opting for comments that went something like, "I sympathize with those people who've lost loved ones, BUT ... " or "I'm sorry about the loss of life, HOWEVER ... "
What followed the buts and howevers were expressions of sympathy for the likes of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Libya's Col. Muammar el Kadafi and O-Slimey bin Laden of whatever country has the bad taste to have him. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth for the plight of those poor Palestinians who have suffered under Israeli oppression. One caller even said the crashing of planes into the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon was God's punishment of America for its sins against other nations.
Let's stay with that divine punishment theme for a second. If there are black Americans who use that logic - mercifully, they're very few, albeit loud and wrong - couldn't others claim Israel's oppression of Palestinians is God's divine punishment of Arabs for all the blacks they've slaughtered en masse over the years?
Black folks of the "we love Hussein-Kadafi-bin Laden" ilk don't like to talk about that, of course. When Libyans went on a rampage last year - killing scores of black African immigrants in the country and lynching the ambassador from Chad - not one of these terrorist lovers raised a voice in outcry. The bloody history of the Arabs vis-a-vis black Africans - a horror story of slave raiding, genocide and murder - over the years is on the record but seldom acknowledged.
Chancellor Williams, author of the black nationalist and Afrocentric work The Destruction of Black Civilization, wrote about it. Had he restricted himself to simply bashing Europeans, he'd have been a hero among those blacks who show an almost slave-like devotion to Arab terrorists. But by attacking those Arab Muslims who killed and enslaved blacks, he became persona non grata. He didn't adhere to the party line. Williams died poor, lonely and forgotten in a Washington nursing home in the early 1990s.
Also forgotten by these terrorist-huggers are those blacks who surely died at the Pentagon and World Trade Center Tuesday. Anyone who's ever visited the mall on the lower level of the WTC has seen Americans of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds visiting the shops, stores and eateries or walking along to one of at least seven subway lines that run into the complex. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims are probably among the dead.
The terrorists didn't care about that, of course. They wanted to kill Americans, as many as possible. They didn't care if they were black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Muslim. They thought not a wit that some of those slaughtered might actually be sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.
That simple though terrifying fact hasn't quite dawned on the Hate America First Club. If this tiny gaggle of African-Americans really feel this way, they should leave the country. That's not said in the spirit of "America, love it or leave it." It's not meant to imply that those who don't agree with the majority opinion should pack up and leave. It's offered as the most pragmatic course of action.
Because when the next terrorist bombs hit, those hurling them aren't going to ask potential victims how they feel about America. They're not going to ask, "Who's pro-Arab and who's pro-Israel?" Their goal will be to kill as many Americans as they can. To avoid the ultimate irony of being blasted to bits by the ones they most adore, pine for and even genuflect to, Afro-America's Hate America First contingent should move to neutral territory.
"They needed an opportunity to vent," Young said of the Hate America Firsters, "so I let them vent." Young might also have been too drained from thinking about the loss of life.
"It didn't hit me until [after television news people] started having conversations with folks in hospitals and with those who still have loved ones trapped in the debris," said Young.
That sounds like a man filled with compassion. It's a pity some of his listeners can't make the same claim.