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“What’s the best way to deal with anti-Semitism in the United States?”
I think it’s funny that the people who are least Jewish are the ones who are most confused and upset by any rise in anti-Semitism. At the same time, those who are the most Jewish are the ones who are hurt the most by anti-Semitism. In Greater New York City, the Hassidim are attacked the most, both in mass shootings and in everyday crimes. But violent anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism on the Internet are two different things. One is a rock, while the other is a tweet.
Twitter is a place where tweets happen, but almost no ultra-Orthodox Jews are there. But you ask me this question because of anti-Semitic tweets, not because Jews are being stabbed. Stabbings of Hassidim don’t seem to have the same effect on society as crazy right-wingers. People are less likely to hurt Jews who live outside of the Jewish world because they don’t look Jewish. When Kanye tweets about anti-Semitism, people pay attention. These Jews are the ones who show you what anti-Semitism looks like at its best.
Anti-Semitism is a fact of Jewish life, so we don’t want a national conversation about it. It will always be there, in many different forms and flavours that suit any political taste. From where I stand, teens with stones have the same amount of power as Ye or Nick Fuentes.
Anti-Semitism comes in two forms: one is a local crime, and the other is a national political issue. We just want people who do wrong to be punished, and we don’t want mayors to tell the police to back off.
Meredith calls for a large group to work together, starting with education:
Anti-Semitism has been a problem for a long time, and sometimes it can be a matter of life or death. Anti-Semitism is based on lies, so Christian leaders must work with leaders of other faiths, politicians from all parties, and other well-known people to expose these lies. Anti-Semitism has happened at different times in history, not just during World War II. Children and teens should learn about this in public schools. It’s not enough to teach history in which Jews don’t show up until the Nazis start hunting and killing millions of them.
Marilyn makes her case for education in a shorter way:
Marjorie Taylor Greene, who casually compared the Holocaust to COVID mandates, seems to have learned something from her trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. If someone as offensively uninformed as she is can admit they didn’t really know what the Holocaust was, I’m sure just about anyone can learn from their mistakes.
DC wants a return to the basics:
Under the title of Bari Weiss’s interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a quote from Abdul-Jabbar: “Black people have to know that when they say anti-Semitic things, they are using the same kind of reasoning that white supremacists use against black people.”
This clear-eyed observation seems to me to express a principle that we have lost sight of in our current culture wars, which is that all forms of bigotry and discrimination, even when they are meant to fight bigotry and discrimination, make bigotry and discrimination much more acceptable everywhere. I don’t think this is just a problem for anti-Semitic people or for Black people who speak out. Membership in a racial, socioeconomic, or ethnic group has become a valid, if not a defining, factor in how some of us judge others, how we talk about them, and what we think they are allowed to say. Abdul-Jabbar is right that no group will ever be able to claim that kind of “reasoning” for itself. It’s contagious, and as long as we don’t stop it, other groups and causes will keep picking up on it.
Anti-Jewish speech can’t be stopped by the law. But the responses it gets and the conversations it starts (like the one you’ve started here) are some of the best ways to fight it. Private groups and businesses can and should call it out and punish it in any way they think is right, and it seems like they have been doing that lately. People in the public eye can and should speak out against it, as Abdul-Jabbar and others have done.
But there needs to be a bigger backlash against the lack of principles behind these kinds of statements. We can’t pick and choose which kinds of prejudice we don’t like. We have to all be on board with the idea, or we’ll just have to watch as hate speech becomes more common and accepted.
Glenn warns against discrimination or different treatment based on group membership:
One came from many. Identity politics is the poison in democracy’s well. People are put into groups for the sake of convenience and the shallow thinking of the time, so that we can talk about ideas and stereotypes instead of people. With this intellectual trick, we make people less important.
Of course, one’s culture is significant. We wouldn’t be as good of a people if our “melting pot,” which is a good term, didn’t have those different cultural tastes. If we are going to be a people in any real way, we will have to mix together. Culture, history, and identity are things that belong to an individual, not to the civitas.
All the Semitic peoples are a very old and respected part of our country’s culture. We owe them a lot, and the best way to show our thanks and respect is to treat them just like one of our own and not like someone else. Leave it to each of us individually to separate ourselves into our own unique identities and proclivities, but let us in deep respect treat one another exactly as if we were the same. No more, no less.
Errol warns against censorship that is based on punishment:
I think people like Kyrie Irving and Ye should be given the rope they need to hang themselves. If you punish them for saying that Jews control everything, you just prove their point. They go to their inner circle and say “See? Told ya.” Soon, the number of people going to that secret club will grow, and we may have a serious problem that seems to have come out of nowhere. This is why I think it’s wrong for Canada and other countries to make it illegal to deny the Holocaust. This doesn’t kill the idea because ideas can’t be killed. When you try to put a lid on them, they grow like a germ in a petri dish.
Most of the time, sunlight is the best way to clean. And it’s sad that we no longer know how to make fun of bigotry and racism. There is a certain kind of comedy that we no longer have.
Think of Archie Bunker. People making fun of Archie is not the joke; Archie is the joke. He is a character who says stupid things that make us laugh because we find his point of view to be funny. Since then, we have stopped making fun of people like him and movies like “The Producers.”
In recent years, Bryan Cranston talked about being asked to direct a comedy that made the KKK look, well, stupid. He said no because he thought it was “privileged to be able to look at the Ku Klux Klan and laugh at them and make fun of them for their broken and hateful ideas.” This is the wrong way to think. Humiliation is powerful and can stop someone from thinking hateful thoughts. It can also show that people like this don’t deserve to be taken seriously better than forced apologies.
DG says that anti-Semitism shouldn’t be ignored and that it should be punished:
I think it’s important to have some background. We no longer live in a world where poisonous ideas would die out if they had nothing to feed on. When social media came along, that world went away. Like four shots of tequila, the desire to make an immediate impact through provocative words has made people less careful than usual.
When deciding how to respond to Irving and Ye, it’s important to think about what they want to happen. They hoped that what they said would make a difference. The best and most appropriate thing to happen would be for them to lose power. These people are mean. Bullies need to be seen. And the kids of today are watching.
If Elon Musk wants Ye’s account back, Twitter users should stop following both of them. Or to get off the train. We don’t have no power here. We shouldn’t use power in an unfair way. The answer should fit the wrongdoing. Also, all observers who think these ideas are divisive, harmful, or at least mean-spirited should think about making a clear statement that they don’t agree with the offensive ideas.
“There comes a time when silence is a betrayal,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “To sin by silence when we should protest makes men cowards,” said Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Harvey points out that some people, like Donald Trump, think that any press is better than none, and he argues that Ye, Kyrie Irving, and Nick Fuentes should all be ignored rather than talked about because of their roles in American culture:
West is well-known, but most people don’t care what he thinks about most things because they see him as a nut whose opinion doesn’t matter, except for those who like him as an artist and not as a politician.
Irving is a sports person. Most people are more interested in how well he does on the basketball court than in what he thinks about politics or society. Fuentes is almost unknown to people who don’t agree with his point of view. His ideas are so far from the norm that he can’t change anyone’s mind except for a small group. Only people who agree with him care about what he says, except for the FBI and the [Southern Poverty Law Center], which follow him for a living.
I think it would be better to just ignore these people than to give them more attention than they deserve. Giving them more attention makes them feel like they are more important than they really are.
Anti-Semitism should be ignored, along with all other inflammatory, attention-seeking behaviour from anyone, but especially from celebrities. All of it is too much and too childish, almost like a toddler, so it doesn’t deserve a response. Some adults need to be in the room, and that should be the media.
And Jaleelah makes some points of difference:
Do you want to know what we should do about well-known anti-Semites or about anti-Semitism in America? Those are two different kinds of questions.
Disclaimer: I’m neither Jewish nor an expert in the field, so I won’t say I know the best way to deal with either of these problems. I will, however, offer one thought. Anti-Semitism in the United States is not mostly caused by “high-profile anti-Semites.” They are a threat, but most people get anti-Semitic ideas from other places. Extreme anti-elite and anti-outsider rhetoric, common conspiracy theories, and evangelical stories about the end of the world are all ways to start to hate Jewish people. So, your worries about “bringing attention to anti-Semites” don’t seem like a good reason to ignore them.
There will always be people with hate who support other people with hate. Anti-Semitism is such a big part of American culture that it won’t go away even if people who aren’t Jewish don’t talk about it. You might be able to ignore Kanye’s hateful comments, but people who are Jewish will always be asked about them. And the Jews have no good choices. Either they let anti-Semitism grow, or they fight it and get a bad name for being too strict.
So, what is the biggest threat of anti-Semitism, and how can we stop it? I’d say it’s the low-level anti-Semitic talk that happens in all American communities, especially when it comes from people in positions of power.
For the first 15 years of my life, I was pretty safe from anti-Semitism because I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and went to a school where most of the students were Jewish. My Palestinian Muslim grandparents taught me to respect Jewish people and stand up to people who try to turn us against each other. I thought it was crazy that anyone could think that Jews are part of a huge plot to control the media or the government.
I really think that religious, political, or educational authorities are the only ones who can teach Americans to believe such obvious hateful lies. Stop giving them reasons.
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