Cone on Liberals


“The liberal is one who sees “both sides” of the issue and shies away from “extremism” in any form. He wants to change the heart of the racist without ceasing to be his friend; he wants progress without conflict…Black people know who the enemy is, and they are forcing the liberal to take sides. But the liberal wants to be a friend, that is, enjoy the rights and and privileges pertaining to whiteness and also work for the “Negro”. He wants change without risk, victory without blood…His favorite question when backed against the wall is “What can I do?” One is tempted to reply, as Malcolm X did to the white girl who asked the same question, “Nothing.” What the liberal really means is, “What can I do and still receive the same privileges as other whites and – this is the key – be liked by the Negroes?” Indeed the only answer is “Nothing.” However, there are places in the Black Power picture for “radicals,” that is, for men, white or black, who are prepared to risk their life for freedom. There are places for the John Browns, men who hate evil and refuse to tolerate it anywhere” (James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, P 27-28)


5 Responses to “Cone on Liberals”

  1. Rod of Alexandria Says:

    One of my favorite quotes from BTBP.

  2. Jeremy Says:

    I’ve never read this book and finally started today. It’s so powerful.

  3. Dave Says:

    That’s a great one, thanks. Obviously politically relevant as well, although I’m a bit reticent to co-opt translate black liberation theology for fear of implicitly diluting its power.

  4. Jeremy Says:

    Dave, it is great to hear from you. I hope Duquense is going well. I think all we can do is bear witness and let people know what he has to say. I stand convicted by what Cone says and am challenged by his painful honestly.

  5. Kierkegaard on the present age | the de-scribe Says:

    […] I would call ‘the liberal’ who does good up till a point (thinking in part here of this great quote)  Everyone sees the person as coming close to the ‘edge’ of safety and common sense […]

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