"Song of Solomon"
[One of two books by Morrison that are required reading
at the U.S. Naval Academy]
This book is evidence of the 'shadow' de-facto Race and Gender Studies Program at the U.S. Naval Academy, housed in the Department of English there. Morrison’s other book of this same genre is 'Beloved,' a detailed review of which is at the link at the end of this book review.
This book is reviewed because it was brought to our attention by a mother of a young midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. The young man has a strong desire to pursue a career in the sea service. There are role models in his community who have served their nation in this service. Their exemplary character and devotion to duty to our nation have inspired him to answer a similar calling. America desperately needs such young men to protect and defend the Constitution and preserve the Republic.
A problem arose when the young midshipman was assigned this book to read and submit a written review of it in his English class -- a required academic course. The professor, a young black female, carried out the English Department's mandate that the book and the lesson be required for successful completion of the course. And if not met, the Mid would not graduate and receive his coveted commission.
His mother assured me that her son had been raised to respect individuals of all races and that her husband's life-work had especially addressed the needs of black Americans in their town. Consequently, she was sympathetic to her son's frustration with being forced to study a book which stressed a theme of 'hatred of white people' within a textual framework of extremely foul and dirty language. She asserted that the descriptions of white and black people in the book did not fit any living person or group of people in her son's life and he did not relish having to read a book filled with such 'hatred' of white people. Her son also expressed anguish that an 'honest' evaluation of this book in his review would result in his failing the course and impede his goal of a naval career.
This is the same mother who had called me over a year before this episode and asked me whether or not I would recommend that her son enter the Naval Academy. She had known of my efforts to expose the New Age 'ethics' program at the Academy and the political correctness that had engulfed that venerable institution by the infusion of radical feminists and other 'cultural Marxists' by an unknowing and politically malleable flag-rank Navy leadership. I counseled her to allow her son to follow his dream. It was clear that any young man who had internalized the kind of moral code that her family represented could not be corrupted by any amount of mental 'conditioning' that he might encounter at the Academy. I told her that only she and her husband knew the strength of their son's commitment to the moral climate in which he had been raised. If they were assured of this commitment, then they should support his goal. I urged her to send him to the Academy. America needs leaders of such strength in their faith.
A year or so later, upon recieving this mother's entreaty to 'help' her son find someone at the Academy who would sympathize with his dilemma, I decided to first read Toni Morrison's books to find the source of her son's concern. Thus, this review.
I found that, in general, Toni Morrison's books fit the genre that is promoted by Oprah Winfrey through her very popular Book Club. The Wall Street Journal (Crossen, Cynthia, "Read Them and Weep: Misery, pain, catastrophe, despair ... and that's just the first chapter," 13 July 2001) describes this world. "What kind of world is it where the men lie, cheat and kill, the women are suicidal alcoholics and adulterers, and the children are unloved, abused and kidnapped?" Of course, it is Oprah's World.
"Usually set in small towns, often in the South, Oprah Club books feature the kinds of people who work double shifts just to stay ahead of the repo man ... More emotional than intellectual, they often find themselves puzzled by how they got themselves into such terrrible messes ... Like Oprah Winfrey herself in childhood, the heroines of these books are usually victims of oppression -- social, racial, sexual, economic and, especially, familial. Typically, a girl or woman believes she's stuck in a dungeon of -- take your pick -- abandonment, abuse, persecution, bereavement, addiction, poverty, loneliness, bigotry or mental illness. After an epiphany, she realizes she must marshal her gumption (often for the kids' sake) and strike out on her own. Sadder but wiser, she resigns herself to her imperfect fate and, naturally, haunting memories."
Toni Morrison, a graceful storyteller, is one of Oprah's favorite authors. "...no dictionary is required for most of these works, nor is an appreciation for ambiguity or abstract ideas ... Surveyed as a collection, Oprah's choices are predictable and parochial. She knows what her audience wants -- tragedy and redemption -- and that's what she serves ... If you believed Oprah's books realistically depicted contemporary life, you would have to kill yourself, especially if you're female. In Oprah's world, men hit women and children as naturally as bats hit balls."
"A shocking number of people also die in Oprah's books, often violently. They drown, crash, and hang themselves; they're strangled, smothered and stabbed ... [In one book], a husband recounts putting his hands over his wife's 'nose and mouth and eyes, this discipline to stand firmly in the face of her struggling, her grasping and twisting and kicking ... There's nothing wrong with creating fictional worlds of misery ... But a steady diet of melodrama and tragedy only reinforces some peoples' feeling that life doesn't offer much in the way of compensation for its miseries." This dark summary holds in spades for Toni Morrison's books reviewed here.
It is clear that Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is a natural born story-teller. She has a gift for stringing a story line through subtle threads that surprise and delight a reader when the final connections are made. Mystery leads to suspense which results in vivid revelation when all of the events come to a final conclusion. She connects her characters and the events in their lives which captivate the reader and holds his attention through the seeming myriad of 'extraneous' detail which appears to be culled from popular press accounts of the sordid side of American culture -- that of an underclass of people.
Morrison constructs a cast of characters who represent a rootless, degraded, hopeless, and desperate underclass which could have been created from white trash from Appalachia (or Maine -- read 'The Beans of Egypt, Maine' by Carolyn Chute; reviewed on the Internet at http://www.enmu.edu/ReaderlyWriterly/hate.htm under the heading, 'I hate that book.') just as well as a black underclass. But her characters are nearly all black. And her story is that of a black middle-class family which adapts to an upwardly mobile 'white culture' and is laced with the the predominant theme that the white man is evil and the root of all the depravity of character and circumstance in every black man and woman's life -- whether middle-class or underclass.
Morrison's characters are deeply depraved. The subterranean currents in the story are pornographic; necrophilia (an adult daughter who lies naked in bed at the side of her dead father, kissing him and sucking his fingers); incest (the principle character copulates with his cousin, both adults); and a mother who 'nurses' her son (the principle character -- nicknamed 'Milkman') who, if not yet a teenager, was old enough that his "...legs dangled almost to the floor..." when she nursed him while holding him in her lap. Her son was "...too young to be dazzled by her nipples, but he was old enough to be bored by the flat taste of mother's milk..."
The names of the characters and places were chosen to accentuate the ignorance, illiteracy, and oppressive circumstances in their lives -- in America in the post-war 1940s. Macon Dead (the family name given to successive generations of males in the ancestral line of the main character -- Milkman), Pilate (a female aunt), Corinthians (a female sister), Guitar (Milkman's peer and friend), Empire State (a member of Guitar's hit-man gang), and Not Doctor Street (the street where the Macon Deads lived).
All of this depravity is described in the context that the 'white man' was entirely responsible -- those in the past for slavery prior to the Civil War and those in its aftermath in an oppressive America right up through the 1940s. The Macon Dead family is described in the context of trying to emulate the hated white people of America. Consequently, these black white-wannabees are contemptuously regarded by the black underclass surrounding them as well as their underclass black relatives. Two examples of Morrison's text are chosen to exemplify this theme -- and the absolutely foul and depraved language used by the author to drive home her point of contempt for black men in particular and hatred for white people in general. Yes, whitey is the cause of all of this depravity.
Macon Dead, the father of Macon Dead (the Milkman) is a man of substance who has acquired property which he rents to black underclass tenants. He is notified by a courier that, "Porter (a tenant) gone crazy drunk again! Got his shotgun!"
"'Who's he out for?' Macon began closing books and opening desk drawers. Porter was a tenant and tomorrow was collection day."
"Ain't out for nobody in particular. Just perched himself up in the attic window and commenced waving a shotgun. Say he gotta kill somebody before morning."
"Macon knew that Pilate (his sister) had sold Porter the eagle (bootleg booze). He locked all his drawers save one -- the one he unlocked and took a small .32 from."
"You know how to use that thing, Mr. Dead sir?"
"I know how."
"Porter's crazy when he drunk."
"I know what he is."
"I ain't aiming to get him down. I'm aiming to get my money down. He can go on and die up there if he wants to. But if he don't toss me my rent, I'm going to blow him out of that window."
"[Porter] was very specific about whom he wanted to kill -- himself. However, he did have a precondition which he shouted down, loud and clear, from the attic. 'I want to f___! Send me up somebody to f___! Hear me? Send me up somebody, I tell ya, or I'ma blow my brains out!'"
"As Macon and Freddie approached the yard, the women from the rooming house were hollering answers to Porter's plea."
"What kinda bargain is that?"
"Kill yourself first and then we'll send you somebody."
"Do it have to be a woman?" [Note: implies homosexuality]
"Do it have to be human?" [Note: implies bestiality]
"Do it got to be alive?" [Note: implies necrophilia]
"Can it be a piece of liver?"
"'Put that thing down and throw me my goddam money!' Macon's voice cut through the women's fun. 'Float those dollars down here, nigger [Note: Why would a black author degrade a black man so, with language which, if used by whites, would be completely unacceptable?], then blow yourself up!'"
"Porter turned and aimed his shotgun at Macon. 'If you pull that trigger,' shouted Macon, 'you better not miss. If you take a shot you better make sure I'm dead, cause if you don't I'm gonna shoot your balls up in your throat!' [Note: some would say that the author used crude, base language.] He pulled out his own weapon. 'Now get the hell outta that window!'"
"Porter hesitated for only a second, before turning the barrel of the shotgun toward himself -- or trying to. Its length made it difficult; his drunkenness made it impossible. Struggling to get the right angle, he was suddenly distracted. He leaned his shotgun on the window sill, pulled out his penis and in a high arc, peed over the heads of the women, making them scream and run in a panic that the shotgun had not been able to create. Macon rubbed the back of his head while Freddie bent double with laughter."
"For more than an hour Porter held them at bay: cowering, screaming, threatening, urinating, and interspersing all of it with pleas for a woman. He would cry great shoulder-heaving sobs, followed by more screams."
"'Come down outta there, nigger!' Macon's voice was still loud, but it was getting weary."
[Note: Observe that Morrison feels free to use the dreaded N-word, completely and absolutely forbidden to white people in today's America. But blacks do use this word, everyday, in describing other blacks. Of course, if your children attend a public school with a large fraction of black students, you know that this is a completely acceptable dichotomy in today's culture. Why does Toni Morrison use it here? Because she wants to make the point that Macon Dead, though a black man, is acting like a white man and has himself become 'oppressive' of blacks by the simple fact of attaining middle-class status in America.]
"'And you, you baby-dicked baboon' -- he tried to point at Macon -- 'you the worst. You need killin, you really need killin. You know why? ...I know why...Everybody know why.' As he sank deeper into it, the shotgun slipped from his hand, rattled down the roof, and hit the ground with a loud explosion. The shot zipped past a bystander's shoe and blew a hole in the tire of a stripped Dodge parked in the road."
"'Go get my money,' Macon said."
"'Me? Freddie asked. 'Suppose he...'"
"Go get me my money."
"Porter was snoring. Through the blast of the gun and the picking of his pocket he slept like a baby."
In addition to her use of the N-word above, there is an even more direct example of Morrison's racial prejudice displayed in this book. It turns out that Porter, the drunk, is in fact a member of a secret hit-man gang of black men who have sworn vengeance for each and every perceived oppressive act attributed by this group of underclass blacks to the 'white man,' including RANDOM killings of white people. The presence of such a gang is revealed to Milkman by his friend, Guitar, who is a member of the gang. Thus, Morrison becomes a motivator for the practice of RANDOM drive-by shootings that became epidemic in the 1990s, especially in gang initiation rites.
In the middle of the story, Morrison describes a conversation between Milkman and his friend, Guitar. "'Okay, said [Guitar], 'but you have to know that what I tell you can't go any further. And if it does, you'll be dropping a rope around my neck. Now do you still want to know it?'"
"'I suppose you know that white people kill black people from time to time, and most folks shake their heads and say, 'Eh, eh, eh, ain't that a shame?"
"Milkman raised his eyebrows. He thought Guitar was going to let him in on some deal he had going. But he was slipping into his race bag. 'I can't suck my teeth or say 'eh, eh, eh.' I had to do something. And the only thing left to do is balance it; keep things on an even keel. Any man, any woman, or any child is good for five to seven generations of heirs before they're bred out. So every death is the death of five to seven generations. You can't stop them from killing us, from trying to get rid of us. And each time they succeed, they get rid of five to seven generations. I help keep the numbers the same.'"
"There is a society. It's made up of a few men who are willing to take some risks. They don't initiate anything; they don't even choose. They are as indifferent as rain. But when a Negro child, Negro woman, or Negro man is killed by whites and nothing is done about it by their law and their courts, this society selects a similar victim at random, and they execute him or her in a similar manner if they can. If the Negro was hanged, they hang; if a Negro was burnt, they burn; raped and murdered, they rape and murder. If they can. If they can't do it precisely in the same manner, they do it any way they can, but they do it. They call themselves the Seven Days. They are made up of seven men. Always seven and only seven. If one of them dies or leaves or is no longer effective, another is chosen. Not right away, because that kind of choosing takes time. But they don't seem to be in a hurry. Their secret is time. To take the time, to last. Not to grow; that's dangerous because you might become known. They don't write their names in toilet stalls or brag to women. Time and silence. Those are their weapons, and they go on forever."
"You? You're going to kill people?"
"Not people. White people."
"I just told you. It's necessary; it's got to be done. To keep the ratio the same."
"And if it isn't done? If it just goes on the way it has?"
"Then the world is a zoo, and I can't live in it."
"Why don't you just hunt down the ones who did the killing? Why kill innocent people? Why not just those who did it?"
"It doesn't matter who did it. Each and every one of them could do it. So you just get any one of them. There are no innocent white people, because every one of them is a potential nigger-killer, if not an actual one. You think Hitler surprised them? You think just because they went to war they thought he was a freak? Hitler's the most natural white man in the world. He killed Jews and Gypsies because he didn't have us. Can you see those Klansmen shocked by him? No, you can't."
If this doesn't convince you of the innate racist viewpoint of Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize winner, and author whose book is REQUIRED READING in the English Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, nothing will. It is obvious that not one of the senior flag-rank naval officers at the Academy who allow this blazen racist literature into the core curriculum have read this book. And if they have and still support its inclusion in the list of required subject material for graduation, then they are suspect of being more than innocent accomplices. This blatant Marxist propaganda is far to the left of the gentler-softer 'cultural Marxism' which has infected the humanities departments of our leading universities. We cannot, dare not, need not allow this cultural rot of Critical Theory to infect our nation's core combat naval leadership.
It is beside the point that Morrison ends her story by having the protagonist, Milkman, who is eventually pursued by his friend, Guitar, in a quest of pure greed -- succeed in neutralizing Guitar's evil intent. In a twisted logic of justice, the black Milkman, a caricature of a middle-class black going 'white,' becomes the target of the Seven Days. Both Guitar and Milkman fall to their presumed death by Milkman's charge which carries them over Solomon's Leap, the legendary cliff where a spiritual progenitor escaped his oppression of slavery by 'flying like a bird back to Africa.' This is the same theme that began the story as another of the Seven Days committed suicide by 'flying off a high building' to escape his mental anguish of having to kill white people in the name of vengeance. Morrison's demented 'glorious' ending to a story intended to glorify the history of black Americans' past in the pursuit of social justice is nothing but a twisted tale which embodies the worst elements of 'cultural Marxist' Critical Theory. A movement designed to destroy the foundation of our constitutional republic. It has absolutely no place in the education of young naval officers at the U.S. Naval Academy or at any other of our premiere military academies.
Toni Morrison’s other book on the required reading list, Beloved, is reviewed at this link.