Here, Miller's responding to a white politician in South Carolina, who was quoted in several Northern newspapers (including Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and Hearst's Herald) saying some not so nice things about black folks in Haiti, and some conflicting things about Booker T. Washington. Many prominent whites at the time--including President Theodore Roosevelt--considered Washington the de facto leader of black America, and admired his philosophy of punting social, political and civil rights for a vocational and small farming foundation (for African Americans in the South not even a generation out of slavery).
"Your position as to the work of Booker T. Washington is pitably anomalous. You recite the story of his upward struggle with uncontrolled admiration: “The story of this little ragged, barefoot pickaninny, who lifted his eyes from a cabin in the hills of Virginia, saw a vision and followed it, until at last he presides over the richest and most powerful institution in the South, and sits down with crowned heads and presidents, has no parallel even in the Tales of the Arabian Nights.” You say that this story appeals to the universal heart of humanity. And yet in a recent letter to the Columbia State, you say you regard it as an unspeakable outrage that Mr. Robert C. Ogden should walk arm in arm with this wonderful who “ appeals to the universal heart of humanity,” and introduce him to the lady clerks of the dry goods store. Your passionate devotion to a narrow dogma has seriously impaired your sense of humor. The subject of your next great novel has been announced at “The Fall of Tuskagee.” In one breath you commend the work of this great institution, while in another you condemn it because it does not fit into you preconceived scheme in the solution of the race problem.
(referencing Liberia and Haiti) Whenever a lower people overrun the civilization of the higher there is an inevitable lapse toward the level of the lower. When barbarians and semi-civilized hordes of northern Europe overran the southern peninsulas the civilization of the world was wrapped in a thousand years of darkness. Relapse inevitably precedes the rebound.
Your dose of Kelly Miller for 7/6/09. Savor and digest...