group’s “music” derived from the blacknculture of the ghetto. In November anneven greater African-American peaknwas scaled with the news that Dr.nMartin Luther King, Jr. pilfered significantnportions of his doctoral dissertation.nThe latter discovery might seem toncast a shadow over the thriving industrynof discrediting Euro-American historynand culture and weaving a new mythologynof racial consciousness that AlfrednRosenberg would have envied. But thenrationalizations for King’s academicnshenanigans with the typewriter werenready to hand.nFirst, the plagiarism was minimizednby those who discovered it. The WallnStreet Journal reported that at thenMartin Luther King Papers Project atnStanford University, director ClaybornenCarson asked that staff membersnnot use the word “plagiarism” whenntalking about what they had found.nThis led to wiseacre code about “the Pnword,” but it didn’t prevent one of thenproject’s interns, who had not yet beennbrainwashed in the labyrinthine reasoningnof Afrocentrists, from collapsingninto tears.nThen there’s the “so-what” response,narticulated by, among others,njournalist Clarence Page, who is usuallynabove such extenuations. “As onenwho exalts Dr. King for the wisdomnand courage he showed long after hisnstudent days,” wrote Mr. Page, “Inreacted to this latest flap with a shrug ofnthe shoulders and a hearty ‘So what?'”nBut the shoulder-shrug defensenseemed a little premature when hardlyna soul had yet suggested any negativenimplications of King’s loose-fingerednscholarship.nBy far the most fascinating excuse,nhowever, was the elaborate syllogismnconstructed by the hard-core Afrocentristsnand those who toddle after them.nScholar Keith Miller, who is writing anmonograph that reportedly will shownthat King also lifted lots of other people’snwriting for his books Stride TowardnFreedom and Strength to Love asnwell as for his Letter From the BirminghamnJail, says that King was a pastnmaster at what Mr. Miller calls “voicenmerging.”n”Voice merging,” says the Journal,nis the art of “blending other people’snwords” with one’s own, an art formnthat truly seems to be a genuine African-Americanninvention. When whitenboys merge voices, it’s just plain plagiarism,nand they lose their jobs, get thenboot from graduate school, and windnup chairing Senate committees.nIn an article published last year, Mr.nMiller expands on this novel conceptnof the merged voice while evaluatingnKing’s habit of “borrowing” languagenfrom other people without giving properncredit. “With respect to King’s languagenduring his public career, he didnabsolutely nothing wrong,” says Mr.nMiller. “He was trained in the blacknfolk pulpit, which is an oral tradition; Innthis tradition, language was seen as ancommon treasure, not private property.nHis sense of language comes out ofnthat tradition, not out of his academicntraining.”nThat’s all very well, but it stillnmeans, even if it’s true, that the languagencommonly attributed to Kingnmay not have been his and that insofarnas we evaluate his achievements on thenbasis of his command of language andnhis oratory, those achievements arennow diminished. Moreover, the idea ofn”borrowing” language is itself interesting.nDid King plan to give the languagenback later on?nBut what is most intriguing aboutnthe “voice merging” defense is that itnstrides directly out of the “differentncultural standards” line of reasoningnthat underlies the whole concept ofnAfrocentrism. One of the hidden purposesnof Afrocentrism as an ideology,nand of the whole racism racket bynwhich traditional values are challengednas racially biased, is to concoct justificationsnfor the lackluster performance ofnblacks in the United States. Plagiarismnis OK, this reasoning holds, because it’snpart of African-American culture.nSimilarly, last year at the Universitynof Virginia, black students questionednthe legitimacy of the school’s traditionalnhonor code by claiming it was inherentlynracist. Though blacks constitutenonly 9 percent of the student body atnU.Va., 27 percent of the honor codencases investigated in 1988 and 1989ninvolved blacks, and 75 percent of thenblack students tried for honor violationsnwere convicted, as opposed to 30npercent of the whites who went to trial.nThe Afrocentrist argument is that notnonly are the trials biased but also thatnthe code itself imposes white standardsnby which blacks can’t be fairiy judged.nThe logical implication of that argu­nnnment is in fact racial separatism such asnboth Louis Farrakhan and TomnMetzger support, and the New YorknTimes reports that persistent poor blacknperformance in schools is instigatingncalls for separate educational facilitiesnfor black students. “Today,” says thenTimes, “the impetus for more equalnbut separate education is largely fromnblacks themselves,” a plan that Dr.nKenneth Clark, who spent his lifentrying to end school segregation, says isn”outrageous … a continuation of thenwhole segregation nonsense.” The ultimatenrationalization, of course, is thenmotto, “It’s a black thing. Younwouldn’t understand” — a slogan thatnparalyzes serious discussion and helpsnlock blacks into a plantation mentalitynthat docilely accepts the pornographicnbullwhip of 2 Live Crew and thenshackles of plagiarism dressed up asnreal scholarship.nAfrocentrism offers sophomoricallynfraudulent and bloated claims of racialngreatness that tell us nothing authenticnabout real African and black Americannhistory and culture and in fact oftenntrivializes them. Bragging that insignificantnhistorical figures like Nefertiti andnKing Tut were black is rather likenboasting that Millard Fillmore and hisnmother were white, and trying to fabricatena fake “Afrocentric” history is nonless degrading than Jimmy the Greek’sndiscussion of the comparative racialnanatomy of thighs. ;•;.nMoreover, by pretending that Africansninvented everything from pyramidsnto the Pythagorean theorem,nAfrocentrists simply engage in an act ofncivilizational plagiarism. Champions ofna real and distinctive African civilizationnwould hold up its own uniquenachievements, not merely copy off ofnthe desks of the Europeans sitting nextnto them.nLike everyone else, black Americansnhave a history and a culture and a rightnto be proud of them, but they have nonright to manufacture new myths thatnfalsify and degrade their own and othernpeoples’ pasts. When the Afrocentristnlobby learns that only the truth willnmake them free, they will give up theirnpathetic fables, forget about cooking upnexcuses for themselves, and let thenunmerged voices of their people speaknclearly and honestly and without thencant of propaganda and delusion,nnFEBRUARY 1991/9n