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Associated Press File Photo / Candace Owens, one of the co-founders of the Blexit Foundation, will speak at a private event in Chattanooga Saturday, though some activists are criticizing her appearance.

The ideology that demands purity in thought and speech among Black Americans is alive and well in Chattanooga.

A local Black activist has criticized an area venue for hosting an event by one of the founders of an organization that promotes entrepreneurship and free enterprise for minority communities in escaping government dependence and poverty.

The activist, Cameron Williams, was arrested for blocking emergency vehicles last summer during protests and fired from his job at the Chattanooga Public Library in February for allegedly burning books by conservative authors.

The criticism is an attempt to force The Signal music venue to back down from hosting a private event on Saturday featuring conservative speakers, including Candace Owens, the co-founder of the Blexit Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of urban and minority communities.

It is the same strategy Georgia activists used to shame Delta and Coca-Cola in Atlanta into criticizing new voting laws, which were said by activists to restrict voting rights but now have been analyzed as expanding those rights.

Williams in his criticism invoked the tired and worn tropes of Nazis, white supremacy and the KKK to excoriate Blexit, which was founded by Owens and Brandon Tatum, both of whom are Black and whose organization promotes "the importance of self reliance" rather than government dependence.

The activist should perhaps check out a history book or two in making his comparisons. Nazis considered Black people to be an inferior race, and white supremacists and the KKK haven't exactly been on their side.

Blexit, on the other hand, openly seeks a better life for Black Americans through educational initiatives, free markets and criminal justice reform.

The Signal, to its credit, has not backed down, rightly saying the event is private and that, like any other private events, the opinions expressed during the event do not necessarily reflect those of the business.

A statement from the business also said "we made the decision long ago to be inclusive of everyone."

Williams, employing the straw man rhetoric often used by other activists, said he doubted The Signal would be inclusive if someone like the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan were to be the speaker.

We don't know, of course, because no one has asked.

However, just in the past few years, two similar men widely criticized for inflaming racial hatred, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Rev. Al Sharpton, have spoken in Chattanooga. We don't recall anyone criticizing the Chattanooga Convention Center for hosting an event featuring Sharpton or Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist Church for entertaining Wright.

So we wonder how this type of intimidation would be tolerated if other words were substituted for Black conservatives.

For instance, how well would criticism be received of a club for hosting followers of the Marxist-founded Black Lives Matter? What would be the upshot if a local restaurant was criticized for hosting a Hamilton County Democratic Party event? How about criticism of a business that wanted to rent space to any organization whose aim was to promote or sell abortifacients?

In fact, the above groups meet all the time. Many people don't like what the national Black Lives Matter organization stands for, but they don't deny their local followers the right to meet. A majority of Hamilton County residents disagree with the stances of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, but they don't believe they should prevent them from gathering. And a number of organizations and businesses offer and promote abortifacients, but they aren't denied occupancy for their services.

Blexit is, in fact, only an extension of what has been taking place at the presidential ballot box since the election of Barack Obama. In the 2020 election, 52% of Black conservative men, 33% of Black men in the Midwest, 26% of Black men with a high school diploma or less and 20% of Black men with advanced degrees voted for Donald Trump. And 8% of Black females voted for him.

No, what concerns Williams and others is the loss of the monolithic Black voting bloc that has been present for the Democratic Party for nearly 60 years. Just over a year ago, when Black and Hispanic employment under Trump was the lowest on record, that bloc was crumbling even quicker. The coronavirus vaccine and the Biden administration's expansion of the welfare system may have slowed it, but we don't believe it can be stopped.

When any American — Black, white or otherwise — understands they have the ability to empower themselves and make of themselves anything they want without the crutch of federal government support, it is freeing.

That is what Blexit promotes. Indeed, one of its slogans is "We the Free." That's what we should all want for ourselves and for all our fellow Americans.

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