By Ronald Court
You can learn a lot by reading the actual words written or spoken by someone instead of relying on what others write or speak about them. That’s why we go to such effort to make it easy for you to read BTW’s own books, articles and speeches on this site.
Similarly, I just read W.E.B. Du Bois’ autobiography to learn what made WEB tick. I wanted to get it from “the horse’s mouth” rather than possibly biased historians.
I learned more than I expected. At various times, WEB revealed himself to be jealous, resentful, idealistic, bitter and defensively full of himself. It seemed to me that he never quite felt at home in his own skin and consequently didn’t feel at home here.
Was he intelligent? Of course. Hard working? Sure. But history is littered with intelligent and hard -working people who traveled a wrong path. Even those who can back up their intelligence with power can get it wrong. Witness Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Julius & Ethel Rosenberg. One’s belief in a cause, no matter how sincere or well-intentioned one may be, is no guarantee that it, or methods to achieve it, is right.
Bio notes on WEB Du Bois sometimes mention that he renounced his US citizenship, joined the Communist Party and exiled himself to Ghana before he died. All true. But there’s more. (Click the image to buy your own book.)
He was well-intentioned and correct in some ways, but terribly misinformed and mistaken in others. I hope to provide some glimpses into the man without drifting too far into THINK tank territory. I must remind myself that the Society is a DO tank. Our aim is to help youths live constructive, productive lives, not merely to talk about how to do so.
Still, I’ll quote from WEB’s autiobiography from time to time to hopefully shed light on the emotional and intellectual state of the man. Here’s one for openers:
I think the greatest gift of the Soviet Union to modern civilization was the dethronement of the clergy and the refusal to let religion be taught in the public schools. (p. 285):
W. E. B. Du Bois
What an astoundingly ignorant thing for WEB Du Bois to say. What say you?