Matthew Yglesias, Radically Conservative Black-Supremacist?

October 7, 2008

from left to right, Wu-Tang Clan frontman Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah, Harvard alum Matt Yglesias, and the surprisingly tall Method Man break it down

The question posed in the title of this post is not one you hear every day, but bear with me. Most Yglesias readers probably passed over this comment the other day without giving it a second thought:

… the conservative movement is, at this point, 85 percent dullards and 10 percent clever charlatans.

At first glance, this seems like pretty standard fare from Matt. A slightly closer look leaves the reader wondering: is Matt having a bad math day, or is there a segment of the conservative population he doesn’t want to talk about? Does he think five percent of conservatives are neither stupid nor evil? Certainly there is very little evidence for that elsewhere. So what’s the deal?

This is yet another instance in which massive ignorance about the theological underpinnings of hip-hop among the punditry undermines their ability to provide insightful political commentary. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with this subject would immediately recognize that Yglesias is alluding to the belief system of the Nation of Gods and Earths, better known as the Five Percenters, after the final group in a division almost identical to Matt’s. Take it away, Wikipedia:

Five Percenters also teach that Black people specifically, and the entire world population more generally, can be divided into three groups:

  • The 85%, easily led in the wrong direction hard to be led in the right direction, who are the humble masses, mentally deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth about themselves and the world in which they live.
  • The 10%, who understand much of the truth but use it to their advantage to keep the 85% under their control through religion, politics, entertainment, economics, and other methods.

Uncanny, isn’t it? Given how neatly these categories line up with Matt’s understanding of contemporary conservatives, it seems safe to assume he is implying that the remaining five percent of right-wingers are something like these guys:

The 5%, who are the enlightened divine beings, the poor righteous teachers, having repossessed knowledge of the truth regarding the foundations of life and of oneself, and seek to liberate the 85% through education.

I’m the last person who would have attributed to Yglesias the belief that a out of twenty conservatives is an enlightened divine being, but I don’t see how else one can reasonably interpret his words. Does this mean that he is secretly harboring conservative views of his own? Does his use of 5-Percent doctrine as an analogy suggest that he himself subscribes to a belief system that holds that caucasians were created as a prank by evil scientist Yakub, counter-part to the Biblical Jacob? I don’t think there’s enough evidence here, but it’s pretty obvious that Yglesias owes us all an explanation.

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