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Make no excuses for them

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 24, 2006


A friend wrote this, in response to troubles that occured in several Groups in Care2:

 

“For people who haven’t experienced it and haven’t learned to recognise it, anti-Semitism can be a mystery to some. To many, it’s unconscious.Think of the 50s in the States, if you were here. Even the times just before Martin Luther King and that recent civil rights struggle. It was common for stereotypes of African-Americans to appear openly everywhere, in films, on TV, in books, in newspapers. African-Americans were always conscious of the discrimination they endured, the very open discrimination, but much of the rest of society needed to learn it was happening. Many unconsciously took part in it without knowing, by never questioning, by accepting the stereotypes and the racial epithets.

Most who used those racial epithets and laughed at or played along with the stereotypes of African-Americans would never have described themselves as racists. But they were; we all were. It came from ignorance, in most cases, but it was just as damaging, just as hurtful, just as horrid as the racism of the conscious racists.

And the conscious racists of those times? They didn’t hide their feelings but they, too, never described themselves as racists. They said they were realists. They claimed garbage like, the Bible supported separation of races and the Bible supported the “fact” that
African-Americans were inferior. They claimed blacks weren’t advanced enough or smart enough to be allowed the right to vote.

This was just a few years ago. And it was just a few years before that when Africans and other peoples of color were kept in this country as slaves. Slaves. Not just by the racists, but by the unquestioning majority, the ignorant majority. To many, if they were not black, the racism and discrimination was invisible. They didn’t see; they didn’t choose to see it.

Today, as a whole, we are not as ignorant. But that racism and the stereotypes created over centuries still poison relations between African-Americans and others in the States. We are only beginning to gain consciousness and work our ways out of this disaster of perception we have created. We are only beginning to free ourselves from this bile.

The racism we had and still have stayed with us because the majority didn’t question and a truly racist minority manipulated and hid their poison behind pseudo-science and pseudo-religion.

In many ways, anti-Semitism exists as does racism exist. From igonorance, from millenia of people creating Jewish stereotypes and Jewish scapegoats. Most people don’t know they may be taking part in it. How many have heard or used the term, “Jewing someone down,” and not thought a thing of it? How many have bought into the lie that “Jews killed Christ”? Or the stereotype of the “cheap Jew.” Most of you, if you do that, would never think of yourself as an anti-Semite. But everyone who is Jewish knows you are, even if you don’t realise it.

And then there are the true haters of Jews, who hide their hatred behind pseudo-religious pronouncements and other obfuscations. The ones who say they hate Israel – it’s easy to say that one – when they really hate Jews. And Jews are sensitive to anti-Semitism in the same way that American blacks are sensitive to racism. Jews recognise anti-Semitism in the same way that blacks recognise racism. It is ubiquitous in US society.

With racism, with anti-Semitism, with the bigotry against gays and lesbians, the bigotry against Muslims, the bigotry against Hispanics, even bigotry against “whites,” etc…..we are just beginning to look outside the darkness, just begining to learn. We have thousands of years of learning we must unlearn.

But like African-Americans know the true hater, the true and vile racist, so does one who is Jewish know and recognise the true hater, the true anti-Semite.

We have some here at Care2. Their names have been mentioned here. Make no excuses for them. They are not unconscious. They know their hate and spit their hate whenever they can. Make no excuses for them. They will not admit they hate Jews or are anti-Semites, but make no mistake, the lives of millions and millions of Jews have taught us who they are. Make no excuses for them. And let us be aware and learn to change.

Trust our perceptions – and help us, let us each help us, throw off these shackles of racism, sexism, bigotry and anti-Semitism. Let us help each other recognise who we are and what we are doing. Let us help each other free ourselves and banish this poison from all of our souls.” (© 2006 Knate S, used with permission.)

It really cannot be said better.

Realizing that I harbor prejudices against some people or Groups of people, because of their background, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or whatever it might be, is painful, and yet, recognizing bigotry in myself is the only way to up-root and out-root it in society. That takes courage, honesty and humility. May we all be brave, honest and humble.

Shalom!

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