Wrestling With 'Uncle Tom'

The new film by Larry Elder is the Left's worst nightmare.

Douglas Andrews · Jul. 9, 2020

“The word that I dislike the most,” says black conservative Larry Elder, “is not ‘Uncle Tom,’ not ‘bootlicker,’ not ‘bug-eyed bootlicker,’ not ‘bug-eyed, foot-shuffling bootlicker,’ not ‘coconut,’ not ‘Oreo,’ not ‘the antichrist.’ I’ve been called all those things. The word that I fear the most is being called ‘wrong.’”

Elder, who recently sat for an hour-long interview with the Epoch Times to discuss his new film, “Uncle Tom: An Oral History of the American Black Conservative,” was making the point that he’s often demonized by the Left but rarely called “wrong” for his assertions — assertions about such things as the welfare state’s destructive influence on black families, the awful results of black kids being raised without fathers, the effects of the downward pressure on the wages of unskilled blacks due to unchecked illegal immigration, the failure of government-run schools to teach black kids how to read, write, and compute, and the like.

But not being called wrong isn’t the same thing as not being attacked. And make no mistake: Elder and his fellow black conservatives take plenty of heat for their belief that blacks shouldn’t be beholden to the Democrats and their historically ruinous liberal policies. This makes sense, too, because blacks, more than any other voting constituency, are the key to Democrat power. They vote monolithically in presidential elections, especially, and any hint of the movement of blacks away from that rock-solid voting bloc, that Democrat “plantation,” is seen as an existential threat. (As our Mark Alexander has repeatedly pointed out, Democrats continued to advocate generational “Great Society” policies which institutionalize poverty and subjugate millions of Americans to what are, arguably, “urban poverty plantations.”)

So while Elder rarely loses an argument with liberals, he doesn’t tend to win a lot of converts along the way. That’s because, as former New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet once told him in a moment of unguarded honesty, “The Left, as a general rule, does not want to hear thoughtful disagreement.” To which Elder adds, “I argue that the black Left doesn’t even believe there’s such a thing as thoughtful disagreement.”

As might be expected, “Uncle Tom” gives a great and compelling look at black conservatives old and new, from Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams to the most dangerous woman in American politics, Candace Owens, who’s called by her critics “a black white supremacist.”

But, as John Kass writes at Townhall, we also get to hear from others. “Those who are less well known are perhaps even more compelling,” says Kass. “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.”

In the end, says Elder, “Uncle Tom” isn’t an angry film. “It’s a film that simply takes you on a journey of what happens when a person without any kind of political vendetta, without any kind of anger, simply suggests that maybe — just maybe — [black Americans] should be thinking about a different political party than the one [their] race has traditionally supported.”

In other words, it’s a film that embodies the Left’s worst electoral nightmare.

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