Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur – ModState interview Q’s

1) First and foremost, Dr. Rigueur, please accept my thanks as a minute token of both my gratitude in your being willing to discuss matters with us at ModState and, frankly, the honor it is to be part of a discussion with someone whose work I admire as strongly as I do yours.

2) With that, if you don’t mind, Ma’am, fill in our readers (and some of my fellow editorial staff members) with a bit about your immense academic journey which, to date, has you teaching at Harvard’s Kennedy school as…well, you tell it, Ma’am. J

3) As I’m sure you’ve become aware through the little tidbits of ModState you’ve seen (perhaps the picture I posted of myself with your wonderful book comes to mind) that we’re not afraid to verbally spar when the mood strikes. However, I steer clear of the ad hominem drivel the environment today is rife with. Do you feel that’s gotten worse, not just in the last eight years, but since the turn of the millennium? Like something’s changed?

4) Dr. Rigueur, somewhat early on in “The Loneliness of The Black Republican,” you make a point that is as sad, relatively, as it is intriguing; I’m paraphrasing here, but you express the deflating duality of some of the realities black Republicans have faced in being scrutinized (to put it mildly) by their race over their political affiliation and, conversely, equally dissected by their party over their race. I’d like to examine this a bit, if I may, in a few ways.

  1. a) do you feel that has changed since Reagan (not necessarily because of) and if so, for the better or worse?
  2. b) which element do you feel today is more severe: is it tougher in the black community being a Republican, or in the GOP being black?
  3. c) do you agree with some cynics that individuals like Alan Keyes, J.C. Watts, Herman Cain, Condoleeza Rice and, of late, Dr. Carson, that they’re the “token” representative and that they stand no realistic chance of ever winning the nomination of the GOP for POTUS?

5) One thing I’m sure that many (if not all) of our readers and some of my fellow staffers is, you yourself, are you affiliated with the GOP in any capacity? If so, how and, if you prefer to not answer that’s okay too, but is it a party you’ve supported in any (House, Senate, local, et al) recent elections?

6) Dr. Rigueur, I’m sure you’re familiar with the widespread interpretation and, in my studies, it’s a misinterpretation, but of Nixon’s so-called “Southern Strategy”…to hear it told it’s akin to Rutherford B. Hayes’ infamous bargain to remove Federal troops from Southern hotspots in exchange for the vote and yet numerous members amongst his staff, and several black supporters, have expressed it was not born of racism but simply reflective of the shift in dynamics in the South and a deeper reflection of Nixon’s own untold history with Civil Rights legislation? For instance, I’m sure you’re aware Nixon was actually a massive supporter of earlier such legislation while a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, legislation that did not prevail and yet Nixon is rarely, if ever, credited with having advanced the ball on the issue whatsoever, Thoughts, Doctor?

7) While we’re on the subject, it was, afterall, President Nixon who invited Sammy Davis, Jr., to the inaugural ball in 1968 (hence their famously photographed embrace) after Joe Kennedy allegedly pulled the plug on his invite in 1960. There’s also the mutual respect between both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nixon as well as Dr. King’s family and Nixon. While I’m not aware of whether or not the debate over Dr. King’s official preference in the 1960 election being settled (you may know the answer to that), Dr. King did acknowledge his appreciation for Nixon’s obvious support for Civil Rights measures. Why do you feel Nixon receives very little credit for his involvement and support? Is it a simple matter of victors writing the history books? And, bit of a caveat here, would Nixon prevailing in 1960 rather than Kennedy prove fodder for an alternate history novel? Strange caveat, I know. I apologize in advance.

8) Along those same lines, Dr. Rigueur, and I promise to move on fromPresident Nixon after this, but this is massively important…I feel that there’s a lot of unfortunate vulgarity that emerges on the Watergate tapes and his Naval career certainly, um, “shines” through in his vocabulary (I was enlisted Navy so the truth hurts hehe) , but one thing standing out to this day in particular is his use of the “N word.” Now, we’re talking about a man who stood to gain very little in the grand scheme of things, it would seem, for the huge political risk in pushing for the first-ever major variant of Affirmative Action, called The Philadelphia Plan, specifically geared towards leveling the playing field for black Americans, if I recall correctly, in government hiring scenarios. Then there’s the aforementioned political risk(s) associated with his friendships and support for Civil Rights legislation, et cetera. Is his being labeled a racist due to his usage of racial slurs an example of us missing the application of the adage “actions speak louder than words”? In essence, given all that he did, the, again, aforementioned risks taken, is it a somewhat unfair label? Or is it appropriate? Your thoughts, Dr. Rigueur?

9) Where do you feel the disconnect has come from in terms of academia and the media in the portrayal of whites as a majority? Granted, in this country, sure, but many students and people in general from the tail end of this generation don’t seem to grasp Caucasians as being a global minority, and somewhat greatly so. Is it a willful deception? I suppose it stems from being raised in the Deep South, my parents are Roman Catholic, but here I am having served in the Navy with friends of all colors and creeds, my parents always supportive of having good friends over regardless of their melanin count…I suppose I’m troubled, now that I’ve resumed my economics studies for the latter half of my bachelor’s at Penn State online, and it seems a bit of misinformation, that there’s this bloc of Euro Americans in the mainstream waiting, lurking, all 60%+ of the country somehow thick as thieves with the 1% and the police, to damn anyone not of that majority (that’s a minority) and…I know, I’m going on but I think you see what I’m getting at and I know you, Doctor, of all people, know far more on these historical queries and the histrionics in the mix…is this something you care to sort out, Dr. Rigueur?

10) Have you ever been down here to my hometown of New Orleans, Dr. Rigueur? Either way, when next you come down to The Land of Dreams (my personal favorite nickname for the city), we must reconvene, if possible, over coffee and beignets at Café du Monde in the French Quarter. That way my wife and I can serve as your locals slash fan-turn-tour guides. I’m fairly certain my fellow ModState swashbucklers are eager to welcome you to our enclave, our bizarre mishmashed cultural bastion here….which leads me to one final query (for today, anyway), Dr. Rigueur: in terms of common sense, the culture at large, common decency, for pulling ourselves up and surviving, emotionally, a sociopolitical climate riddled with gridlock and spite? I know I’m picking a bit on some Ivy League students here, but the overt sensitivity and wanting to be coddled and the seeming instantaneous reversion to charging racism because having a legitimate, articulate discussion and not becoming ad hominem, drifting into the ether or non sequitur…that’s too much work, there’s way too much effort required to think and talk….is there hope for these things, Ma’am? Do you see much of a path forward, an emotional recovery, if you will, Doctor?

11) Last but certainly not least, Dr. Rigueur, again I’m a massive fan of “Loneliness o/the….” and have already beat the drum and practically forced it onto family discussions (and hopefully garner up some more sales), and I thank you both as a huge fan of it and hope something else emerges soon for me to buy and, yes, also on behalf of ModState to include our staff and our audience, thank you. Ironically, our current fanbase is a near dead-even 33/33/33 percent split (white, Hispanic and black, respectively), almost more indicative of future trends than the current populace and….it was an organic process. $283.00 on Facebook ads and good ole social media….Dr. Rigueur, thank you again for this honor. Simply marvelous, Let’s reconvene in New Orleans someday soon and, from the bottom of my heart be safe out there and God bless you. Take care, Ma’am!


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