As a rather outspoken and opinionated blogger, I often receive hostile email and responses to my writings.
Naturally, I expect and welcome principled dissension and disagreement. While I always consider my perspectives informed and valid, I do understand that I am no final authority on anything, and there is room for my own point of view to expand and refine. Principled and valid critique throughout my life is in fact, responsible for much of my intellectual and political growth. Intelligent discourse has forced me over the years to have a more analytical, information-based and nuanced perspective on a variety of issues.
My beloved mentors and teachers for example, pushed me to be excellent by challenging and forcing me to better articulate and defend my positions through written and spoken word.
I often think back to one of my mentors, Dr. James Turner, now professor emeritus at Cornell University, and founding director of the Africana Studies & Research Center there. He consistently challenged my thinking and writing to be clearer, sharper and more critical. His persistent calls for me to edit and revise my master’s thesis seemed overwhelming but were most necessary to my intellectual growth.
When it was time to publicly defend my research prior to graduation, he rigorously interrogated me for over an hour pressing me to explain, clarify and support my assertions in front of fellow grad students, faculty and community members. It was an experience I’ll never forget and will always cherish.
Therefore I do welcome and embrace critique that is rigorous and principled. Furthermore, I also reserve the right to be critical of anyone and any idea, and I understand when others use that right to address something I say or write.
However, all critique is not substantial. There are some people whose criticism is invalid, whose logic is weak, whose pool of references is shallow and who – lacking the ability or willingness to dismantle my arguments intellectually – resort to ad hominem attacks.
Rather than employing the discipline to intellectually challenge my arguments, they attempt to attack me, and by doing so, expose their ulterior motives, weak character or lack of analysis.
I not only reserve a special disgust for people with such under-handed tactics toward me/others, but especially those who have a tendency to attack others like myself (who are critical of injustice), but withhold criticism of those people or policies that wreak havoc on the lives of Black people.
These people had nothing to say about the brutal attack of Rodney King, but became outspoken in criticizing the rebellion that occurred when his state-sanctioned attackers were exonerated; Such individuals excoriated Christopher Dorner’s desperate (and perhaps misguided) killing spree, but were conspicuously silent in addressing the valid issues of police corruption he documented in his infamous manifesto. Such folks failed to attack the obvious ethical issues at play when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, but had much to say in ridiculing the organized outrage of people protesting his murder.
People like this castigate the poor and their advocates, but have little to say about the avaricious corporate regimes controlling this country, the criminal Federal Reserve system, or inadequate
schools, privatized prison industry, and the sustained program of indoctrination that all serve to create and maintain poverty for and hegemony over millions of citizens. These types condemn youth rebelling in Baltimore in response to the murder of Freddie Gray. Such people have consistently refused to criticize the Obama administration whose policies and budgetary decisions negatively impact millions of people, but instead raise their dull, rusty swords against those who do. In another display of selective criticism, people like this defend the mismanagement, dishonesty, chauvinism, incompetence, lack of transparency and blatantly disrespectful behavior of various so-called Black public figures, and instead attack and attempt to silence those exposing and challenging them.
When Black and Brown people (the disproportionate victims of injustice in the U.S.) participate in this irresponsible witch-hunting, I am particularly incensed. As I once wrote on Facebook:
Black folk that fail to criticize policies/people/actions that are blatantly oppressive or unjust, but line up to attack those who are critical of such things, earn my complete and unadulterated skepticism and disgust. I hope they at least get paid well for being reactionary political attack dogs and defenders of for repression, incompetent or fraudulent leadership, and greed. However, integrity will always be priceless…
That statement, and this entire blog article is concerned not with uninformed people expressing genuine disagreement, (although their ignorance is highly problematic) but with those who have a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda to defend and promote today’s corporate pirates, robber barons, imperialist powers and compromised or fraudulent leaders.
This group of people you see, are malicious and hostile. Some specifically aim to support and justify injustice and corruption, while others focus on attacking those who seek to expose the injustice and corruption.
In either case, both types are severely misguided and threaten to stall progressive movements for social justice while allowing the enemies of humanity to continue their acts. I characterize these folks as “attack dogs.”
Attack dogs have a special place in the oppression of humanity. During our enslavement, bloodhounds were used to track runaway slaves. When Belgium colonized the Congo they used attack dogs to terrorize local African villagers. The Nazis also used attack dogs to intimidate Jews and guard concentration camps during WWII.
During the 20th Century, racist police forces in Birmingham, Alabama used attack dogs against young Black activists of the Civil Rights Movement.
Today the enemies of justice and humanity employ “two-legged dogs” to attack people who expose sites of corruption and repression.
These political attack dogs do the dirty work of their masters by discrediting their critics in blogs, social media, and television/print media. They do so as formal (paid) agents and collaborators, or as ignorant and maladjusted reactionaries posing as revolutionaries….
How can you identify them? They attempt to confuse and distort progressive discussions and movements by facilitating argument and division. They attack and seek to silence wise and empowering ideas. They speak or write revolution but resent those doing the work or implementing the ideas they only speak about.
But “We shall not be moved.” Just as conscientious activists fought and defeated ferocious attack dogs and their masters in the past, we shall fight and defeat you political attack dogs and your masters today. We will identify and intellectually dismantle you on your ultra conservative radio programs, in your right-wing magazines, via social media discussion groups you attempt to derail, and in elected offices.
We will identify and expose you as the weak and conflicted folk you are. And all of your petty, punitive and vindictive actions will return to you with equal force. We see you….
__________________Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and lead. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Currently, Agyei is a member of the Black Power Cypher, five Black Nationalist men with organizing backgrounds, who host a monthly internet show addressing issues and proposing solutions. He runs his own business publishing books, public speaking, and teaching Black people how to organize and fight for empowerment.
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.