What are you doing this year for Kwanzaa? T’his was once a ludicrous question, but in today’s urban America public agencies, newspapers, and businesses trip over themselves showing their unqualified support for this anomalous occasion. Presented now as a religious, if not a national event, Kwanzaa immediately follows the “Judeo-Christian” holidays. It is one thing to wear mismatched socks, and another altogether to mix and match politics and religion. After all, those who have most vociferously supported Kwanzaa’s establishment are the same folks, white and black, who are always on the lookout for displays of religious faith as benign as a menorah or Christmas tree in a public square.

Kwanzaa is so established in government-sanctioned public life that an otherwise valuable, remedial writing textbook. Evergreen, reports that “Maulana Karenga introduced Kwanzaa to America in 1966.” Kwanzaa was not introduced to, but invented in America by Karenga (a/k/a Ron Everett). It is one of those pseudo-African practices, like naming children “Tawana” or “Lakeisha,” or wearing “crown” caps, that confirm real Africans’ worst misgivings about American blacks.

Kwanzaa exists to enhance black Americans’ self-esteem via a zero-sum calculus that requires them to insult “European Americans.” The very term “African American” bespeaks superiority to its black users; “European American” is a half-educated obscurantist’s version of “honkey.” As per philosopher C.L. Stevenson’s concept of “persuasive definitions,” Afrocentrists seek to impose terms of discourse that confirm their beliefs without the need to argue them.

In December 1994, a columnist in Harlem’s Amsterdam News, New York’s oldest black newspaper, complained that commercialism had soiled Kwanzaa’s purity. Conversely, in his 1994 pamphlet “Kwanzaa,” Harlem community activist Cedric McClester gave “a special thanks to Mr. Jose Ferrer, a true marketing genius and a living example of the Kwanzaa principles”:

The true significance of Kwanzaa lies in the seven principles it is based on. Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economies, purpose, creativity and faith are not only good principles to live by, they are also universally recognized as proper guides for cohesive socialization.

Most Afrocentric statements of faith are meant to be taken literally by white devils, but read “Black” by “Africans.” If the seven principles of Kwanzaa were “universally recognized,” there would be no need to state them, and they would be out of place in a specifically black celebration couched in East African Kiswahili (“Umoja, Kugichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Juumba, and Imani”). One hears always from black nationalist leaders and their “progressive” white stooges of the need for “unity against those who would divide us,” as if Martians were corning from outer space to break an indivisible human solidarity. The solidarity of course, is that of black nationalists against whites—and black opponents. It never occurs to black nationalists’ white supporters that they play the role of “Uncle Toms,” prostrating themselves before those who hate them because of their skin color.

White “liberals” demand respect for blacks’ “right to self-definition.” Fair enough—if blacks want to celebrate Kwanzaa privately. But as part of a consciously anti-Christian movement, Kwanzaa owes what popularity it enjoys entirely to its having been imposed on children, black and nonblack alike, through public schools and publicly funded agencies, often with the help of powerful whites. Not only is its establishment unconstitutional, but liberals who denounce every attempt to reintroduce public school prayer have been curiously quiet regarding the state establishment of Kwanzaa. Apparently, some self-definitions are more equal than others.

McClester claims that Ron Everett/ Maulana Karenga’s invention, which “began as a cultural idea . . . has blossomed into the only nationally celebrated, indigenous, non-religious, nonheroic, non-political African-American holiday.” That’s a lot of “non’s.” Just before denying that Kwanzaa is a religious holiday, McClester praises Allah. Immediately after denying that it is a political holiday, he describes Kwanzaa as “an expression of [Everett’s] nationalist Us organization.” He denies that Kwanzaa is a “Christmas substitute,” only to note that “Dr. Karenga recognized the undue hardship that the over commercialization of Christmas has for black people and others who are at the lowest rung of the social strata. Therefore, those who find Kwanzaa to be more meaningful to them, now have an option and can still be part of the holiday season,” Are we to believe it is a mere coincidence that Everett/Karenga chose the week of December 26-January 1 to celebrate Kwanzaa?

In other words, no matter how one views it, Kwanzaa poses problems. If Kwanzaa is political, why should Americans recognize a holiday not the property of all the people? And if Kwanzaa is religious, then it has no claim on public propagation, unless other religions get parity.

To be sure, for most black nationalists Kwanzaa and the Afrocentric counterculture it is a part of represent little more than fast-buck schemes. However, for Kwanzaa’s empire-building founder and his politically influential supporters, this counterculture provides a racial stronghold in which blacks can be as “nasty as they wanna be,” a counter-religion to destroy Christianity, and a state-within-the-state that seeks, ultimately, to destroy the state surrounding and supporting it. Too many of Kwanzaa’s white supporters have a sentimental attachment to the notion of a Marxist worker’s revolution that long outlived their connection either to Marxism or labor. They refuse to face the fact that race, while a potentially revolutionary factor, is no substitute for working-class action. They prepare for a whirlwind that supposedly will sweep away the garbage of history, leaving clear the road to progress. Instead, this whirlwind will blow away the nation’s moral and religious foundations, laying waste to all roads, knocking out all sign posts, and leaving a panicked, confused people to find its way—or to yield to someone claiming to know the way. They likewise refuse to acknowledge that a racial whirlwind already came through not long ago, with horrific results. Note that such a scenario poses much greater risks to blacks than to whites. And as a Jew, I am particularly enraged that so many of Kwanzaa’s white apologists are themselves Jews.

Be that as it may, one is not obliged to sit back and watch as things “work themselves out” in the name of “self-determination.” For the “self” being invoked is a violent, irrational changeling that can only breed anarchy, with worse up ahead.