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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hate is Hate, Bigotry is Bigotry. Right?

I am someone who lived in South Central Los Angeles where I witnessed police brutality first hand. I am also a parent at the school where Philando Castile worked. I had decided to swallow my concerns about Black Lives Matter's "Israel is genocide platform" because the need is so urgent: we must make an end to the institutionalized racism and police bias that has seen Phil Castile and so many other Black men and women murdered. 

Then, last night, a parent and teacher told me of the Black Lives Matter rally at the Governor's mansion on that  the shocked, horrible day after Phil's death. In an open mike setting, he said, individuals screamed anti-semitism and homophobia, their comments un-addressed by those in charge. I asked for specifics and was told, "things like, 'we got to get rid of those gays, those queers,'" and "those white Jews stole all our businesses." For the last month, this man's white face has been red with grief and twisted with bewilderment. He was a good friend of Philando's, much closer to him than I.  He is not Jewish. The rally he attended was not run by our often out of control chapter, but by Nekima Levy-Pound's much more practical group. 

This thoughtful man also said, "When you do an open-mike, unfiltered, at an event like this, you commodify grief. It's the one that screams the loudest who is supposedly grieving the most and the one everybody listens to." And when you allow hate speech against gays and Jews to stand unanswered, you encourage bigotry--Flat, plain evil, awful bigotry--and invite it to flourish. 

Perhaps it is easier for me to excuse amtisemitism than other kinds of bigotry--this despite the fact that our synagogue was vandalized following that event. Perhaps what freed me was the screamed homophobic invectives. Whatever the case, what he said snapped me to decision. Our local chapters of Black Lives Matter will be hearing from me, both its leadership and those members that I know and care about. I hope they will speak out against both homophobia and antisemitism. 

And Black Lives Matter is not the only African-American group working for racial justice. For now--until they, as Philando's friend says,"Get their act together" about Jew-bashing and queer-hating and any other bigotry that anybody spouts, whether it's Trump or BLM, I will be working--passionately--with others to create the change we must make in our country's open bigotry against black lives. 


  1. These were outside agitators whose goal is to discredit BLM. They fired shots at the Jamar Clark rally's. They threw the first bricks at the 94 . BLM did not sponsor the the mansion protests they were organic. Rashad Turner is a hero in my book and a good friend. The point of activism and he has had great success there was a job fair for the first time ever at the state fair. The mayor just yesterday included money to add 3000 jobs in depressed areas of St Paul and is more committed to hiring from the neighborhoods the district is now considering a social media policy for staff and students. The point of activism is to raise issues create conversations around issue/ that are not being addressed or being changed to slowly. There is no place for anti semitism

  2. Here's the deal, Joan. Imagine that we're at a rally sponsored by the Anti Defamation League or B'nai Brith, something Jewish. The rally is to protest violence against Jews in, say, France. (Where there has been a lot of recent, horrendous attacks on Jewish targets and people are, justifiably, terrified.)
    Imagine that the rally involves an open mike, set up by the ADL, but then left alone, "because this is organic." Imagine that several of the speakers talk about evil Muslims--all Muslims--and denigrate black people, and put down gays and lesbians in the bargain. It's an open-mike, and these people spew hatred. The rally leaders say nothing at the time. They don't step in and lay out rules of civility. They don't step in and say, "We don't accept hate of any kind." Later, they claim these people were outside activists trying to discredit the ADL. Would you give them a pass?

    I wouldn't. Nobody would. The press, the city, would erupt with outrage. Nobody would be talking about how the point is to raise the issue of anti-Semitism, to create conversations about the rise in anti-Semitism in France. They'd be screaming about the bigotry spoken at the rally, spoken with the tacit approval (because silence denotes tacit approval) of those who were in control of that mike and that rally.

    And that is as it should be. Somebody put that mike and that amp up there, and that person or group was responsible for what came out of the speakers. I'm not talking about those who threw bricks at the 94, I'm not talking about Rashad Turner per se. I'm talking about the Black Lives Matter Activists who set up the mike and the amp. If we give whoever that was a blank check and we continue to support them without correction, we are choosing to support hatred. Anti-gay, anti-Jewish hatred. It's not enough to say, "Well, look at the wonderful results they're getting." Unless we stand up against hatred--everywhere, in every form--we are part of the problem. And Joan, if Rashad is a dear friend and a hero, please speak to him about this issue. Homophobia and anti-Semitism have no place in our city. This must be addressed, and openly.

    I'm not even going to get into the BLM umbrella organization that just released a platform with one plank the demonization of Israel as "genocidal." We all know what genocide looks like. Genocide looks like attempting to wipe out an entire population. Genocide looks like Turkey in 1915. Genocide looks like legions of slaughtered Tutsi piled in heaps. Genocide looks like the millions of stacked glasses outside a crematorium. We are fortunate to have photos of four of the children in our family who were among the millions of Jews who were exterminated--and they look like my kids. Calling Israel genocidal, speaking about Jews running the world, speaking about Jew landlords owning everything, or about Jews running black people out of businesses--these words can result in murdered children, as surely as demonizing gay people can result in murdered gay prople, as surely as our systemic racism in policing results in murdered black men and women. This will be true until all of us--you, me, everybody--has the courage to speak out, just as we must cry out that Black lives matter. I will continue making that cry. Just not with BLM. Not until I hear them decry antisemitism and homophobia.