Proof that a little knowledge is dangerous….Check this out from the New York Times:

Minister, a Bush Ally, Gives Church as Site for Alito Rally. The Rev. Herbert H. Lusk II is a maverick (emphasis added) black minister who took to his pulpit in Philadelphia in 2000 and pledged his support for a Bush presidency, a speech broadcast live at the Republican National Convention. Two years later, Mr. Lusk was criticized when he received a $1 million grant through the president’s new religion-based initiative to run a housing program for the poor.

This Sunday, Mr. Lusk has offered his church in Philadelphia as the site for a major political rally intended to whip up support for the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose confirmation hearings begin on Monday.

OK. Now for the dangerous part. From The Negro Cowboys:

One of the early Negro cowboys has been forgotten, and his name will probably never be recovered. He was a slave and a rather poor cowboy, hardly worth a place in history. But because he was inefficient, even lazy, he made his master famous.

He and his family lived on the San Antonio River in Texas, and they were owned by a lawyer, not a cattleman. In 1847, when the lawyer received four hundred head of cattle in payment of a debt, he entrusted them to the Negro and continued his practice and his business of land speculation.

The Negro neglected to do much branding, and the cattle roamed free, growing and multiplying on the open Texas range and straying far from their home ranch. Consequently, the herd had scattered when the lawyer sold his land, cattle and brand in 1856.

the lawyer’s name was Samuel A. Maverick, and the buyer of his ranch was A. Toutant Beauregard, an active and ambitious cattleman. Beauregard sent his men riding over several counties, searching for Maverick’s cattle. Whenever they found an animal unbranded, they claimed it as Maverick’s. Thanks to a Negro cowboy’s carelessness and Beauregard’s enterprise, every wandering animal, unbranded and unclaimed, soon came to be called a maverick, and hunting for such animals was called mavericking. Even men, for that matter, were called mavericks if they were free and independent and wore no man’s brand.

Now for the even more dangerous part: poor cowboy? inefficient? lazy? neglected to? carelessness? How about this as an alternative explanation?

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Debra Dickerson

Debra Dickerson, a Washington Monthly editorial advisory board member, is the author most recently of The End of Blackness.