What frightens the American left: new documentary 'Uncle Tom'
Chicago Tribune - July 1, 2020
Is there anything more frightening to the American political left and their high media priests of the woke world than Black Americans who think for themselves and refuse to kneel?
No. Black people who become conservatives and dare question Democratic Party policies, from social programs to public education, are a threat to control. And so, they are demeaned by Democratic politicians and either ignored outright or marginalized as race traitors, sellouts and “Uncle Toms.”
It’s a way to humiliate them, shut them up and cancel them. And the party’s handmaidens of the media play along.
But that’s one reason why Larry Elder’s stunning new film, “Uncle Tom: An Oral History of the American Black Conservative,” is so important, especially now.
Elder, the prominent conservative radio talk show host, discussed his new movie on “The Chicago Way” podcast that I co-host with WGN radio producer Jeff Carlin.
Elder is one of the producers and writers of the film, which was directed by Justin Malone.
“The ‘Uncle Tom’ movie simply asks a very simple question: Why can’t we have an intelligent, healthy discussion within the Black community without a whole cadre of well-educated, bright, thoughtful Black people being maligned and discarded as sellouts?” asked Elder. “What’s prompting this?”
It is an inspiring and optimistic film, a series of interviews with well-known and not-so-well-known Americans who think for themselves and refuse to see a victim when they look in the mirror. You’ll see the courageous American economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell, a personal hero of mine.
But those who are less well-known are perhaps even more compelling. You’ll also witness the dignity of small businessman Chad O. Jackson. He’s a contractor, not famous, but he wrestles with the big questions of politics and policy. After realizing he’s a conservative, he gets grief from his family of Democrats.
Jackson refuses to be herded out of fear. And that makes him heroic.
Right now, at this time, “Uncle Tom” just might be the most important film out there. The woke world priests won’t clamor to have it out on streaming services such as Netflix, because the left doesn’t want to acknowledge that Black conservatives exist.
But you can rent it on UncleTom.com, as I did. That’s what we did at home the other evening.
“The so-called war on poverty was launched in the 1960s,” Elder tells us on “The Chicago Way.”
“And what the welfare state has done, in my opinion, is incentivize Black women to marry the government, and allow men to abandon their financial and moral responsibilities to their families. We’ve gone from 25 percent of Black kids born outside wedlock in 1965 to nearly 70 percent now. You cannot attribute that to Jim Crow and racism. It has to do with bad government policy.”
Black voters are overwhelmingly Democrats, and without them there would be no Democratic Party. So when Black conservatives publicly consider the damage that the liberal welfare state has done to the Black family, or when they question big-city public school systems that trap minorities and resist providing educational freedom, there is a problem.
And they’re called “Uncle Toms.”
“I have long since gotten over the idea that I should react emotionally when someone calls me a name,” Elder said. “I now feel sorry that you have been so corrupted, by Hollywood, media (and) academia, that I, Larry Elder, am your villain? Not the welfare state? Not bad economic policies? Not porous borders putting downward pressure on wages for Black and brown people, but I’m the bad guy?
“What’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with your thinking?” said Elder. “Who has indoctrinated you like that? That’s my reaction.”
“Uncle Tom” doesn’t ignore American racism or tell us that bigotry vanished when Barack Obama was twice elected president. But it does deconstruct the insult of the title — Elder contends that the Uncle Tom character from the famous novel was a hero — and demonstrates how those who think independently are demeaned.
Dr. Ben Carson, a leading Black neurosurgeon who should be a cultural icon, is mocked by late-night talk show host Trevor Noah for not being able to “pass the Black test.” Carson’s precise manner of speaking is ridiculed. And Noah gets his audience to howl with glee.
Carson’s sin? He’s a member of the Trump administration, and so he can’t possibly serve as a role model for American children.
Noah is a comic, not a famous brain surgeon. And the mocking laughter from the mouths of the audience demeans them all.
Carson also sinned against the left while making a speech and drawing a comparison between immigrants and African slaves. Carson was ridiculed, mercilessly, by media. But another prominent Black political figure made the same point about immigrants and slaves, yet was not mocked by the left.
His name? Barack Obama.
“I don’t expect people to love me,” Elder said. “I feel the way (conservative activist) Candace Owens does in the film where she says, ‘I’m like an alarm clock.’ It may tick you off in the morning, but you know you have to get up and do what you have to do. I’m not here to be popular. I would love to be loved. But I know that’s not going to happen, because I’m telling people stuff that they don’t want to hear.”