Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crook vs. racist?

Back in the day, there was an election in Louisiana between two candidates for a governor (or a senator, I am not sure and am too lazy to look up). Much of the intelligentsia supported one of the candidates. The slogan of the intelligentsia was: “Better a crook than a racist” (this just shows you the realities of politics in Louisiana; as well as the realities of any politics, for that matter).

I was just thinking while reading this (I don’t know anything about this blog; it’s just the first source of that speech I found while googling) that I suppose people voting for the current president did not think in the same terms (not that McCain was a crook; I mean whatever flaw people who voted for Obama found in McCain was obviously worse that the flaws of Obama). I actually know a 22-year-old who was quite proud of the fact that her first act of political activism (nothing to be proud of ever, but never mind that) was to vote for Obama. I think it’s quite sad, to be honest.
 Like Obama, I am a graduate of Harvard Law School. I too have Muslims in my family. I am black, and I was once a leftist Democrat. Since our backgrounds are somewhat similar, I perceive something in Obama's policy toward Israel which people without that background may not see. All my life I have witnessed a strain of anti-Semitism in the black community. It has been fueled by the rise of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan, but it predates that organization.
We heard it in Jesse Jackson's "HYMIE town" remark years ago during his presidential campaign. We heard it most recently in Jeremiah Wright's remark about "them Jews" not allowing Obama to speak with him. I hear it from my own Muslim family members who see the problem in the Middle East as a "Jew" problem.
Growing up in a small, predominantly black urban community in Pennsylvania, I heard the comments about Jewish shop owners. They were "greedy cheaters" who could not be trusted, according to my family and others in the neighborhood. I was too young to understand what it means to be Jewish, or know that I was hearing anti-Semitism. These people seemed nice enough to me, but others said they were "evil". Sadly, this bigotry has yet to be eradicated from the black community.
In Chicago, the anti-Jewish sentiment among black people is even more pronounced because of the direct influence of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Most African Americans are not followers of "The Nation", but many have a quiet respect for its leader because, they say, "he speaks the truth" and "stands up for the black man". What they mean of course is that he viciously attacks the perceived "enemies" of the black community – white people and Jews. Even some self-described Christians buy into his demagoguery.
The question is whether Obama, given his Muslim roots and experience in Farrakhan's Chicago, shares this antipathy for Israel and Jewish people. Is there any evidence that he does. First, the President was taught for twenty years by a virulent anti-Semite, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In the black community it is called "sitting under". You don't merely attend a church, you "sit under" a Pastor to be taught and mentored by him. Obama "sat under" Wright for a very long time. He was comfortable enough with Farrakhan – Wright's friend – to attend and help organize his "Million Man March". I was on C-Span the morning of the march arguing that we must never legitimize a racist and anti-Semite, no matter what "good" he claims to be doing. Yet a future President was in the crowd giving Farrakhan his enthusiastic support. [read on
But — hooray for the free dental insurance. (Well, I personally don’t have it, but I am happy for those that do.)

Also, this caught my attention: “Growing up in a small, predominantly black urban community in Pennsylvania, I heard the comments about Jewish shop owners. They were ‘greedy cheaters’ who could not be trusted, according to my family and others in the neighborhood.”

But, which shop owners (or worse yet, factory owners, CEOs, etc.) are not “greedy cheaters who cannot be trusted”? You hear from many very intelligent, educated people with good character traits that they “don’t like capitalism”. Of course, they like being able to buy bananas while living in a northern state more than once a year. And pizza (which may be made locally, but most of the things to make it, including the ingredients and the tools, were brought from other states by those huge trucks or even from overseas). And they like to be able to afford to make use of air (or bus, or taxi) travel. And of the 99% of their life that would be impossible without capitalism. And yet, the people who provide them with the goods and services are not to be trusted and the system of free exchange of goods and services is bad.

Also, recently I heard from a family member that “there shouldn’t be business-type relations within a family”. I asked her: “Do you mean that if I own a business — or, let’s make it less evil, a lab — and your husband is a specialist, and I need exactly that kind of specialist, it is bad for me to hire him and allow him to provide for his family, while I get in return his service?” She said: “Well, no, of course not. I mean relations of a simpler lomd”. So, I said: “You mean, if I need a babysitter for my kids, and my niece is looking for a summer job, it’s better for me to hire a complete stranger, and my niece to go working for complete strangers than for us to help each other out with what each one is looking for?” She didn’t think that was too evil either. Whatever example I was providing was not evil. In the end, it seemed, some kind of business-like relations in a family are fine. As long as children don’t “borrow” two dollars from their parents and then demand those back. Well, yeah, that’s just a bit stupid.

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