By today’s definition of racism, I am a racist. It is irrelevant that I had three African American neighbors back in Queens whose skin color was not even a consideration. They were good people. Period. That’s all that counted.
Most of my attending nurses and other aides in the medical office that I visit on an almost weekly basis are Black. Or Hispanic. Plus, a Muslim. Each one is special. It never dawns on me that maybe I should consider going elsewhere.
Here in Baltimore, almost every major store is staffed by African Americans and mostly frequented by them, as well. I wish most of the folks we know from back home were as courteous and pleasant as they are.
Our electrician here is Black, as are many of our other repairmen, including auto. They are solid people and that’s all I care about. I just voted for an African American (Joe Pinion) against our Jewish senator (Charles Schumer) because I felt that Pinion was more qualified than Schumer. Race was zero as a factor.
But I am sure that I and many like me are considered racist. Why? Because we are politically conservative. It’s the politically correct label that counts, not much more.
President Biden could have extolled Barak Obama for being “clean and articulate,” but it was never a political issue because he identified with the right party. Yet candidate George W. Bush was wildly accused of dragging Blacks in chains and the accusation stuck, despite its obvious absurdity. Remember the Willie Horton ad placed by Bush Sr., which depicted a violent Black criminal getting away with murder? Bush was accused of evoking racist hatred, and he suffered for that, big-time.
No doubt racism was a huge part of American history. Nothing was worse in terms of human treatment than slavery. However, the country fought a bruising civil war under the leadership of President Abe Lincoln to abolish slavery. It has left a scar on our nation to this very day.
Nonetheless, bigotry continued to plague the country through the middle of the 20th century. Jim Crow laws enforced segregation until overturned by the courts in 1964. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was vital for the overturning of any remnant of racism. Then came the Black Panthers, which violently fought for Black political might. As with all terrorism, as much as it is reviled, it often accomplishes its goals. For example, the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat ym”sh, put the Palestinian cause on a fast track through the killing and maiming of thousands of innocents. Just a sad fact of life.
Naturally, Jews were at the forefront on the civil rights movement, both physically and financially. Liberal Jews everywhere were more interested in the plight of African Americans than their own causes.
Thankfully, racism in reality has been brought to a halt. All the major professional sports leagues are completely integrated, as are the professions. We even had our first Black president, who was elected to two terms.
But racism has somehow morphed into one big system of virtue signaling. If you follow the politically acceptable guidelines, you are good. If not, you are racist. Thus, if you objected to the violence of the BLM movement, you were a racist. If you object to the Critical Race Theory as an educational tool, you’re a racist. If you are against bail reform for hardened criminals, you are a racist.
All this would be half a problem, if fighting racism and promoting equality were really the fight. Yet we find that the very “victims” of racial hatred are its biggest purveyors. The attacks in the streets in New York are committed by nearly 90 percent minorities. The most widely promulgated anti-Semitism is promoted by celebrities like Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, who are still accepted in the mainstream.
Have you heard the racial hucksters like Al Sharpton speak up against the hatred coming from their own community? Has the NAACP issued a statement as the ADL does every time there is some perceived act of hatred against another ethnic group? Even our wonderful Jewish politicians such as Senator Schumer and Congressman Nadler, plus our otherwise silent established organizations, only speak up against Black anti-Semitism if it can be wrapped in a statement against Trump.
The so-called fight against racism is a one-way street. That is why to correct racism, other forms of racism such as the teachings of CRT or Affirmative Action are employed. It is feel-good patronizing but does nothing in the long run to eradicate interracial hatred.
If the leadership of the African American organizations – not to mention the Jewish ones – says nothing about the hatred towards others, such as against Whites, Asians, or Jews, then the whole claim of racism is a fraud.
I find it very curious that the Jews, who always have been the most benevolent towards the minorities, are its most declared enemy. Remember the race riots in New York, where other groups were the ones who physically beat up Blacks? Yet the Jews were the first to be vilified. The real enemies were never condemned.
I think the time has come for Jews to recoil from their natural good-natured instincts. Unfortunately, our enemies view our benevolence as a weakness, not a strength to be appreciated. Our generosity of money and energy is not being reciprocated with goodness. Let’s concentrate on our internal needs – and there are many. Being the do-gooders to the rest of the world is doing us no good. Quite the opposite.
Yes, I know the gospel of “Tikun Olam” demands that we make every effort to improve the plight of others, but not when it’s coming at our own peril. “To thine own self be good” is also part of the Tikun we need to achieve. Kanye West has made that abundantly clear.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.