Oct 12, 2009 11:03 am


Channel surfing I came upon this exchange between Greta Van Sustern and Rice history professor Douglas Brinkley:

VAN SUSTEREN: But is it something that -- in theory, is the award for something that you have done, something that you've accomplished, or is it something for sort of an extraordinary background and inspiring hope because those are two very different concepts? . . .

BRINKLEY: I think most of them are for something very concrete, more of a Camp David-like peace accord, when you know, Begin and Sadat won, for example. That would be classic. . . . Ralph Bunch won, a U.N. diplomat. He won in 1950, an African-American. Many people thought Ralph Bunch got it because he was a leading African-American in the diplomatic world. . . .

I could not believe my ears. In truth, Ralph Bunche won the Nobel prize precisely for a very specific achievement - a precursor to the Camp David accords - the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and the Arab states. Amazingly, Douglas Brinkley did not know that and implied he got it for the color of his skin.

In 1946, UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie «borrowed» Bunche from the State Department and placed him in charge of the Department of Trusteeship of the UN to handle problems of the world's peoples who had not yet attained self-government. He has been associated with the UN ever since.

From June of 1947 to August of 1949, Bunche worked on the most important assignment of his career - the confrontation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. He was first appointed as assistant to the UN Special Committee on Palestine, then as principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission, which was charged with carrying out the partition approved by the UN General Assembly.

In early 1948 when this plan was dropped and fighting between Arabs and Israelis became especially severe, the UN appointed Count Folke Bernadotte as mediator and Ralph Bunche as his chief aide. Four months later, on September 17, 1948, Count Bernadotte was assassinated, and Bunche was named acting UN mediator on Palestine. After eleven months of virtually ceaseless negotiating, Bunche obtained signatures on armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab States.

Bunche returned home to a hero's welcome. New York gave him a «ticker tape» parade up Broadway; Los Angeles declared a «Ralph Bunche Day ». He was besieged with requests to lecture, was awarded the Spingarn Prize by the NAACP in 1949, was given over thirty honorary degrees in the next three years, and the Nobel Peace Prize for 1950.

Why is professor Brinkley ignorant about the achievements of a leading African American diplomat?

Because Bunche advocated integration, opposed the militancy of Black Nationalists and decried their build up by the mainstream media. All in all, a position not so different from that of another Nobel Prize winner, Martin Luther King. Of course, it is a position in variance with the protege of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the new Noble Peace laureate, President Barack Hussein Obama.

Unfortunately, so total was the victory of the Black militants that an American history professor of the caliber of Douglas Brinkley does not have to worry that dissing an opponent of Malcolm X would be challenged by contemporary African American historians.

I suspect if MLK had lived, he would have been consigned to Ralph Bunch's fate for he shared the man's values. It is worth reading what Bunche said about Black militancy:

The approach of the black Muslims is ridiculous.

I picketed drug stores and swimming pools in Los Angeles when I was a teenager. I take the position that I am an American first and a Negro second, an American of Negro descent. The people from whom I am descended helped build this country, and now I'm demanding my birthright. I'm not going to quit and I'm not going to surrender. And I'm not going to relinquish my birthright, as the black Muslims propose.

To set the Negro off is defeatism and cowardly and totally unacceptable. I'm never going to give up. It's an absurdity beyond belief that the black Muslims come out on the same side as the white supremacists. The first to come out for this separation were the communists in the 20s with their doctoring of self-determination for the Negro in the black belt—The boys sitting over in Moscow thought there was a nationalist Negro movement, believing the line taken by Marcus Garvey, you know, back to Africa. There was nothing practical about it, they didn't know where the hell they were going in Africa. They enjoyed the uniforms, it was a form of escapism. At the same time in Chicago and elsewhere they came up with the 49th state idea.

The press has behaved scandalously in building up Malcolm X far beyond the size of his following.

Malcolm X describes me as an"international uncle Tom" in part because of the attack I made on him a year ago at the NAACP convention in Atlanta. After that plane crash with all the people from Atlanta he said out in Los Angeles may there be one every day. I said anyone saying such a thing had to have a sick mind.

I think the NAACP in the long view has led the struggle—it's the base for all the progress that's been amde [sic]. It has run into difficulty now because it has competitors, and there's a disposition to go faster and faster. When in the opinion of the mass of people, the leaders don't zhow [sic]enough forcefulness, new leaders appear. But I've no doubt in my mind that the mainstay is the NAACP. If it had not been for the work of the NAACP, the new organizations would not have had the base upon which to build any progress.

As long as this problem of race remains, no government or administration can be said to have done enough.

Why do I care so much? The same media and intellectual preference for Militant Muslims is currently undermining democratic progress in the Middle East and is responsible for America being forced to fight two wars there. Moreover, I am disgusted by the fact that American historians so downplayed the achievements of Black moderates as to make historians such as Douglas Brinkley ignorant of them.

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Jewish Odysseus - 10/11/2009

Nice article, but I'm sure "Richard" Wright was not a Reverend to Obama...But "Jeremiah" Wright was, and is.