Jews, Blacks, and Destiny

In 2006, three Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape. Their accuser had previously made a similar false charge of rape some years before and changed her new story about the lacrosse players multiple times. Before arrests were made, the entire lacrosse team was cleared by DNA testing of any contact with their accuser. There was no reason the lacrosse charges should not have been dropped except that the narrative was so suited to society's expectations of class and race, that the public willed itself to believe. 

Had the charges been true, the place for the church would have been at the side of the guilty. John Wesley said a Christian must never accuse, only defend. It is for sinners, not the righteous, that redemption is offered, those who need the assistance, consolation, and help proffered by the gospel. How much more so, then, when the accused are not guilty, but are being hounded by a mob? And yet...

Not a single clergyman in North Carolina, so far as is known, spoke out on behalf of the falsely accused. Several joined in condemning them unheard, including their own school's chaplains. The local bishop -- two of the accused were Roman Catholic -- maintained an imprudent silence. Only a single church rally was devoted to the case -- convened in an historically black church, attended by many of the city's black pastors, civic and civil rights leaders. The invited keynote speakers were officers of the New Black Panther Party. They proceeded, from the pulpit, to denounce the accused, white people in general, and Jews. A joke was reportedly made about the Jewish-sounding name of one of the accused. Not a single pastor objected. None got up and walked out. It is possible that some of them joined in the snickering which followed the joke about the Jewish name.

Such a scenario would not have happened had the colors been different, and a neo-Nazi in full uniform (as were the Panthers) been invited to address a city's white leadership. Nor in a Chinese-American church. Nor in a Korean-American church. But the black church is its own institution, at times reverting to being only a cultural meeting house. Then politics can take precedence over piety.  Christians in China and Russia -- and yes, Africa, where the church is very conservative -- would most likely cut off their right hand before voting for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and transsexual integration. But American black Christians seem to have supported such measures en bloc, without giving them a second thought.  As a result, black Christians often wind up being "good Germans," not actively cooperating, but not actively opposing, what is promulgated in their name. And thus the brewing animosity towards Jews, which has been a canker lodged in black consciousness for decades, has never been adequately addressed.

The oddity of that situation becomes more glaring when one compares the histories of the two groups. Both were the children of persecution. Jewish villages in Europe were subject to random Cossack raids, burnings of homes, rapes, and murders. Justice for a Jew after such events was a chimera; they met with much the same societal antagonism or, at best, indifference, as did black Americans in the Old South in the face of similar crimes.

Moreover, there were never any grounds in the natural world for the two groups to show animosity towards one another. Few Jews lived in the Old South; Jewish immigration didn't get underway in any large way until after 1880. Original Black Christianity was never focused on Jews as villains. It was relatively new, and inherited none of the stain of the Inquisition, the Crusades, or pogroms. It had an innocence about it, like a treasure freshly discovered. Its devotees adapted the forms they read about and announced their own apostles, and saints, and wrote songs about Moses and their liberation. They identified with freedom from slavery as much as any Israelite.

There was no reason the two cultures could not have found common ground and worked together; and indeed, the Jewish culture was in the forefront of the Civil Rights movement. (As many as two-thirds of the white Freedom Riders were Jewish.) But early on, black culture began to be injected with a poison.  Anti-Semitism was present in the remarks of Marcus Garvey. James Baldwin began aiming darts at the Jews shortly after World War II -- just a few short years after the Holocaust (asserting that Jews were "doing the white man's dirty work," and comparing the riots in Watts and Harlem to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). Malcom X followed along in the same line. And then there was Elijah Muhammad, and the Nation of Islam.

No other ethnic group in the U.S. has followed in these footsteps. There is not a Puerto Rican equivalent of Farrakhan; no Nation of Islam among Native Americans, Asian Americans, or Latinos. Jews are not compared by other ethnicities to slave masters or blamed for every misfortune from recession to creating Aids (in order to get rid of black people) and to controlling the weather (for the same purpose). But with black American culture anti-Semitism has become so embedded that extracting it must challenge some of the most prominent voices in the community. 

Hence the silence during the Duke lacrosse case. Did the pastors squirm in their seats as they tried to ignore what many would consider, especially in the place where the gospel is preached, as blasphemy? Did not one of them speak up because of fear of being singled out?  Because they would risk their own status as leaders and face powerful opposition? Surely it was not because they were all in agreement. But they were not brave -- just as the Germans in the Hitler period were not brave.

And as a parallel -- perhaps as a consequence of this -- Islam has become respectable in the black community. No other religion has so penetrated the culture -- not Buddhism, which is the chic choice of Hollywood celebs; not Hinduism, with its karma-laden doctrines. But the religion of the Arab slave traders, is now touted as the "authentic" black religion. Islamic names in many places are replacing Christian names, even for those who are not Muslim. And with Islam comes anti-Semitism, which is embraced by more and more as an ingredient of black identity.

Odd, that only the black community is so affected.

One would not be hard put to find a pattern here: manipulate, divide, so that only blacks and Jews, natural allies, should become enemies. Manufacture rancor and then deeply sew it into the consciousness of one group, so that their identity becomes interwoven with antagonism. (See the Crown Heights riot, or the arson of Freddy's in Harlem, for example). Ensure that whatever contributions the black community might have made to the Jewish community -- including an introduction to a Christianity fresh and straight from the spring, without any subsequent polluted waters -- will be a well that will never be drunk from.  

If every man has a destiny, perhaps every people has one, also.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Acts 17:26-27  (NIV)

Too bad -- it was an opportunity black America missed. Squandered. And all in the name of dignity, freedom, and liberation. The Spoiler must be laughing.

In 2006, three Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape. Their accuser had previously made a similar false charge of rape some years before and changed her new story about the lacrosse players multiple times. Before arrests were made, the entire lacrosse team was cleared by DNA testing of any contact with their accuser. There was no reason the lacrosse charges should not have been dropped except that the narrative was so suited to society's expectations of class and race, that the public willed itself to believe. 

Had the charges been true, the place for the church would have been at the side of the guilty. John Wesley said a Christian must never accuse, only defend. It is for sinners, not the righteous, that redemption is offered, those who need the assistance, consolation, and help proffered by the gospel. How much more so, then, when the accused are not guilty, but are being hounded by a mob? And yet...

Not a single clergyman in North Carolina, so far as is known, spoke out on behalf of the falsely accused. Several joined in condemning them unheard, including their own school's chaplains. The local bishop -- two of the accused were Roman Catholic -- maintained an imprudent silence. Only a single church rally was devoted to the case -- convened in an historically black church, attended by many of the city's black pastors, civic and civil rights leaders. The invited keynote speakers were officers of the New Black Panther Party. They proceeded, from the pulpit, to denounce the accused, white people in general, and Jews. A joke was reportedly made about the Jewish-sounding name of one of the accused. Not a single pastor objected. None got up and walked out. It is possible that some of them joined in the snickering which followed the joke about the Jewish name.

Such a scenario would not have happened had the colors been different, and a neo-Nazi in full uniform (as were the Panthers) been invited to address a city's white leadership. Nor in a Chinese-American church. Nor in a Korean-American church. But the black church is its own institution, at times reverting to being only a cultural meeting house. Then politics can take precedence over piety.  Christians in China and Russia -- and yes, Africa, where the church is very conservative -- would most likely cut off their right hand before voting for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and transsexual integration. But American black Christians seem to have supported such measures en bloc, without giving them a second thought.  As a result, black Christians often wind up being "good Germans," not actively cooperating, but not actively opposing, what is promulgated in their name. And thus the brewing animosity towards Jews, which has been a canker lodged in black consciousness for decades, has never been adequately addressed.

The oddity of that situation becomes more glaring when one compares the histories of the two groups. Both were the children of persecution. Jewish villages in Europe were subject to random Cossack raids, burnings of homes, rapes, and murders. Justice for a Jew after such events was a chimera; they met with much the same societal antagonism or, at best, indifference, as did black Americans in the Old South in the face of similar crimes.

Moreover, there were never any grounds in the natural world for the two groups to show animosity towards one another. Few Jews lived in the Old South; Jewish immigration didn't get underway in any large way until after 1880. Original Black Christianity was never focused on Jews as villains. It was relatively new, and inherited none of the stain of the Inquisition, the Crusades, or pogroms. It had an innocence about it, like a treasure freshly discovered. Its devotees adapted the forms they read about and announced their own apostles, and saints, and wrote songs about Moses and their liberation. They identified with freedom from slavery as much as any Israelite.

There was no reason the two cultures could not have found common ground and worked together; and indeed, the Jewish culture was in the forefront of the Civil Rights movement. (As many as two-thirds of the white Freedom Riders were Jewish.) But early on, black culture began to be injected with a poison.  Anti-Semitism was present in the remarks of Marcus Garvey. James Baldwin began aiming darts at the Jews shortly after World War II -- just a few short years after the Holocaust (asserting that Jews were "doing the white man's dirty work," and comparing the riots in Watts and Harlem to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). Malcom X followed along in the same line. And then there was Elijah Muhammad, and the Nation of Islam.

No other ethnic group in the U.S. has followed in these footsteps. There is not a Puerto Rican equivalent of Farrakhan; no Nation of Islam among Native Americans, Asian Americans, or Latinos. Jews are not compared by other ethnicities to slave masters or blamed for every misfortune from recession to creating Aids (in order to get rid of black people) and to controlling the weather (for the same purpose). But with black American culture anti-Semitism has become so embedded that extracting it must challenge some of the most prominent voices in the community. 

Hence the silence during the Duke lacrosse case. Did the pastors squirm in their seats as they tried to ignore what many would consider, especially in the place where the gospel is preached, as blasphemy? Did not one of them speak up because of fear of being singled out?  Because they would risk their own status as leaders and face powerful opposition? Surely it was not because they were all in agreement. But they were not brave -- just as the Germans in the Hitler period were not brave.

And as a parallel -- perhaps as a consequence of this -- Islam has become respectable in the black community. No other religion has so penetrated the culture -- not Buddhism, which is the chic choice of Hollywood celebs; not Hinduism, with its karma-laden doctrines. But the religion of the Arab slave traders, is now touted as the "authentic" black religion. Islamic names in many places are replacing Christian names, even for those who are not Muslim. And with Islam comes anti-Semitism, which is embraced by more and more as an ingredient of black identity.

Odd, that only the black community is so affected.

One would not be hard put to find a pattern here: manipulate, divide, so that only blacks and Jews, natural allies, should become enemies. Manufacture rancor and then deeply sew it into the consciousness of one group, so that their identity becomes interwoven with antagonism. (See the Crown Heights riot, or the arson of Freddy's in Harlem, for example). Ensure that whatever contributions the black community might have made to the Jewish community -- including an introduction to a Christianity fresh and straight from the spring, without any subsequent polluted waters -- will be a well that will never be drunk from.  

If every man has a destiny, perhaps every people has one, also.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Acts 17:26-27  (NIV)

Too bad -- it was an opportunity black America missed. Squandered. And all in the name of dignity, freedom, and liberation. The Spoiler must be laughing.