Anti-Semitism and anti-black prejudice are no longer politically correct. The N-word and expressions such as kike and sheeny are seldom seen in print or heard on the media these days. However, racial and religious prejudice have taken on a new socially-acceptable guise. Obama and Israel are handy substitutes, fair game for expressing color or religious prejudice
My friend Moe used to be a Democrat. He now plans to vote Republican in upcoming elections. I ask if he approves of Obama’a health plan. “Yes, more or less.” Whether he favors paying unemployment insurance to the jobless for another year. He admits that this would be the decent thing to do and might also help the economy, and he agrees that the banks and brokerage houses need some controls. But, he insists that we now need a good Republican President, Tim Pawlenty for example. “But Moe,” I tell him, “Any Republican President is bound to bring into his administration people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Sharron Angle.” I quote several of their recent far-out pronouncements and ask, “Do you really want people with these viewpoints, obviously contrary to yours, running our Government?”
No matter what I say, he remains obdurate. I try unsuccessfully to find out what he really dislikes about Obama. He hems and haws, but the only answer I get is that he thinks that Obama doesn’t really love our Country. I didn’t pursue that for fear that his next statement might be that he wants to see Obama’s birth certificate. His final comment: “I like the Democrats, but I don’t like Obama.” Wow!
I brooded about our conversation all evening, and could only reach one conclusion. Although he would never admit it, consciously or subconsciously, Moe just doesn’t like or doesn’t trust African-Americans. A light went on in my head. Quite probably, many Americans, who would never publicly admit their prejudices and would hesitate to use anti-racial slurs, just find it easier to express disapproval of Barak Obama. There is an old Yiddish expression about a mother scolding her daughter, using invective she would like to use, but hesitates to use, with her daughter-in-law.
Thinking about it, I believe that many people in America and elsewhere aim their invective at Israel, when thy really have anti-Semitic feelings. Notice that, when Mel Gibson loses control and vents his anger by making anti-Semitic remarks, he is roundly chastised in many publications and repeatedly in the media. The latest story lasted for several weeks and still comes up on TV. Open anti-Semitism these days is taboo, not kosher, offensive and politically incorrect.
However, when journalist Helen Thomas recently opined that, “Jews should get the Hell out of Palestine,”, and “go home” to Germany and Poland, her absurd remarks got good commentary in USA Today, but very little coverage in other major newspapers.. The vast majority of Jews in Israel are not immigrants from Germany and Poland. To suggest that they resettle in the sites of the Holocaust shows a horrible lack of sensitivity. More important,Thomas’ advice to them strongly suggests that the Jews are not entitled to a State of their own.
Thomas has Lebanese roots, but these sentiments are of course shared by numerous individuals and Governments around the world. No matter what Israel does, she is in the wrong. No matter what Hamas and Hezbollah do in attacking Israel, Israel is still in the wrong. The Arab population of Palestine is much greater than it was when Israel was formed, but Israel is still accused of displacing the rightful owners of Arab lands. Criticism of settlements, occupation, blockades, Gaza all are really cover for the idea that Jews seeking a homeland in the Middle East (where their forefathers originated) is somehow illegitimate. Israel is of course not free of blame, but the international attacks on her are primarily emotional and spiteful. In short, they smack more of anti-Semitism, still virulent in many European countries, than they do of carefully thought-out commentary.
Racism and anti-Semitism are still alive and well in America, Europe and elsewhere, but in a new garb. Using a trite expression which has become popular these days, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
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