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It’s an innocent word. All words are in and of themselves.

Until they are attached to people, events and things and then they can and often do take on a tone all their own. We all know that in reference to a whole plethora of words we do not use in our society. The “N” word, the “R” word are examples.

Collaborator simply means “to work together, especially in a joint intellectual undertaking”. Scientists collaborate in their efforts to build a robot to walk the red dirt of Mars. Certainly a laudable effort.

But the word came to take on a very negative tone after WWII when it was learned that various people in various countries had “collaborated” with the Nazis in order to gain safety, extra food, preferred treatment of some sort. There were Dutch collaborators, as pictured here, and French. There were Jews who sold out other Jews.

To be a collaborator became the name of someone who had sold out, saved his own skin at the expense of others, someone who for some personal gain was willing to do the bidding of another group who was acting against one’s own kind, however defined.

The world is full of collaborators, unfortunately.

I have something to say. It in no way is limited to the folks I’m going to talk about. There are their counterparts in every other group I can think of. I’ve been reading Max Blumenthal’s, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. For several chapters now, Blumenthal has been documenting the Religious Right and it’s stranglehold on the Republican Party. He has been documenting how some  African-Americans, sexual misbehavors, gays, and women have been willing to shill for the Right, and doing it by attacking in the most virulent manner their own kind. 

They all have their reasons, they all can give excuses, but in the end, they are those who would walk away from themselves and their families and friends in order to achieve some personal goal. It might be money, prestige, or power. It is never pretty. It always makes one slightly sick.

We see it in the guise of so many Black conservatives (I use the term Black here because they almost universally decry the use of the term African-American since they are promoting the trope of “we are all equal” now). We see it most recently in the various low-level Republican women who have been shoved before microphones to insist that the GOP has no war against women, but this is all just some ploy by Democrats to scare women. We see it in Log Cabin Republicans who look aside as members of their party demean and verbally abuse our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, in the name of God and “traditional values.”

I have said nothing about the tragedy in Florida relating to the murder of Trayvon Martin. You are all most clear on the facts I am sure. It is heartbreaking to see this play out. It is heartbreaking to listen to grown men of African-American descent, talk about how as young men, they learned rules of behavior that no white male would and will ever hear.

  • Don’t run in public places. You will surely be thought to be running from some crime you committed.
  • Don’t speak back to police officers no matter what they say. Don’t argue. Don’t maintain eye contact.
  • Don’t be alone, but don’t be in such numbers that you will be thought a gang.
  • Don’t carry things in your hands, no matter how innocent they may be.
  • Don’t go there  or there or there at night, during the day,  . . .

Can you imagine this? Can you? I can assure you it is the reality of life for the teen American Black Male. I have witnessed more than one distraught mother, shaking her head as she looked at me with tears in her eyes. “I told him not to go . . . or to be with. . . . ”

Have you ever heard radio tapes between patrol officers and dispatch when investigating an arrest? I can tell you that it is common that  the “suspicious activity” often involves merely a black male late at night being in a place that is “white”.

I worked in Detroit. At the time, the most ritzy part of the greater Detroit Metropolitan area were the “Grosse Points”, actually several smaller suburbs, but home to the car giants, the Fords and Iacocca. They were all white. There were NO blacks in residence, other than the help. Do you know what constituted “suspicious activity”? A car with black youths crossing the line from Detroit into their jurisdiction.

The case of Trayvon smacks exactly of this kind of thing to me. And as usual, but for the hue and cry from the African-American community, it would have gone unnoticed.

But there are voices that I am not hearing at all.

I have not heard Alan West, that staunch conservative from Florida say a word. I have not heard Alan Keyes say a word. I have not heard Herman Cain say a word. I have not heard any of pandering sycophants that pass for African-American Republicans lift their voices in horror and dismay. (Nor of course are we hearing from the Religious Right either. Fox has been nearly silent)

And I wonder why.

Except I know.

Their “constituents”, nay their masters, those lily-white haters of all things non-white won’t tolerate it. No, they mouth, on behalf of whitey, the crap that racism is over in this country, and that we judge “by the content of the character” thereby abusing no only the sensibilities of rational people but also demeaning  the greatest civil rights leader of our time. If West or Keyes or Cain raise their voices, they will be accused of  “playing the race card”. The white head will shake and bemoan, “he’s just like them all, always using race, instead of. . . .” Hear the echos of Mr. Zimmerman? “they always get away. . .”

So don’t expect to hear much from these fine Black conservatives. They condemn themselves. But then what is new?