One would think that the American civil rights movement is as different as anything could possibly be from the racist, genocidal Palestinian movement.
But that is not the opinion of a group of black celebrities and left-wing intellectuals including Danny Glover, Lauryn Hill, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Cornel West, who have made a video together with Palestinian activists called “When I see them, I see us” (video here).
Only a pathological racist would deny that blacks in America can be characterized as a historically oppressed people and that the US is still far from having expurgated the racism that began with the institution of slavery and continued through the years of official segregation, unofficial but pervasive Jim Crow customs, and into the era of hidden – but still pervasive – prejudice.
One thing which characterized the civil rights movement, both as led by Martin Luther King Jr. and some of his more militant successors, was its focus on attacking white racism rather than white people. Obviously there have been outbursts of anger that have targeted whites in general, but – with the exception of the ‘Islamic’ strain exemplified by Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan – it hasn’t itself been a racist movement.
A reason for this is what can be called the cultural character of American blacks. Now I know that generalizations are dangerous and all people are individuals, but there are certainly ways of behaving that are supported by the cultural mores and religious and philosophical beliefs which characterize a culture. And while you can’t extrapolate from such a generalization to predict the behavior of a particular individual in a particular situation – that is ‘stereotyping’ – in an overall sense there is such a cultural character.
In this sense American black culture is kind and empathetic. Perhaps this is its reaction to adversity or comes from the historical prevalence of a humble Christianity, but if a person of any color falls down in the street, a black person is likely to offer help. And as is often pointed out, empathy is the best antidote to racism.
The contrast between this and the implacable hatred that is the essence, indeed the reason for being, of the specifically Palestinian culture (as opposed to the broader Arab culture) couldn’t be greater. When Odel Bennett ran through the Old City bleeding from the wounds inflicted by the terrorist who had just stabbed her husband and another man to death, she was kicked and spat on. Can you imagine a mass movement among American blacks to stab and run over arbitrary whites in the street? I can’t. But that is exactly what Jews are experiencing today in Israel.
The black movement in the US has recently been co-opted by academic post-modern/post-colonial (pomo/poco) theorists like Davis and West, who see American blacks as a subgroup of oppressed ‘people of color’ worldwide who are engaged in an often violent struggle to free themselves from colonialist oppressors. As a corollary, different moral standards are applied to the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘oppressors’, which allow the oppressed much more latitude of action than the oppressors.
Unfortunately this way of perceiving the conflict emphasizes and exaggerates racial differences, by making ‘white’ synonymous with ‘oppressor’ and ‘person of color’ with ‘oppressed’. It tends to change the struggle from a struggle against racism to a struggle against whites. In order to avoid the charge that they themselves are racist (which they are) the pomo/pocos redefine ‘racism’ so that it only applies to prejudice by ‘oppressors’ (whites) against ‘people of color’!
It is important to them to draw parallels between various ‘oppressed’ groups around the world. And Palestinian activists, whose movement elicits visions of terrorism and bloody violence, are anxious to be associated with the moral exemplar of the nonviolent civil rights movement of Dr. King.
Of course the ‘Palestinians’ do not even fit the paradigm of a colonized indigenous people. They are the opposite, foreign colonialists who want to drive the indigenous Jewish people out of their homeland. But they have hitched a ride on every ideological train that goes by, from Nazism to communism, and now pomo/poco leftism.
It is a match made in Hell, between the racist and genocidal Palestinian movement, whose goal is not to obtain human rights for themselves but to take them away from another people, and the struggle of American blacks to be treated decently.
The masked faces of Palestinian stone-throwers are more reminiscent of the hoods of the KKK than of anything related to the civil rights movement. There is no parallel between these, and the attempt to draw one is obscene. It damages and dirties the African-Americans that are associated with it, and can only hurt their just cause.
James Taranto is a frequent contributor to WSJ; a fine writer, he often pipes up about racial matters in a way that makes him a natural target of supporters endorsing continuing the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and legal organizations that take issue with his concept of the state of repair of US racial relations; they assume no progress. I am paraphrasing here, but he has taken umbrage at the idea that there is still an abundance of racism in America, specifically against blacks, by totting up the various legal mechanisms and quotas that protect and assist blacks… something like the following: There have been over 50 years of enforcement and improvement of violations of various sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (one of LBJ’s legacies) including monitoring and punishment and the overhaul of voting and registration practices throughout the South, set-asides in colleges around the country including modification of the approval process for admission to favor minorities, legal recourse for victims of unfair housing practices or job discrimination. These changes are nearly set in stone.
And all of these measures have demonstrably reduced and, in the case of colleges and housing and jobs, eradicated institutionalized racism, and, in fact, have over-compensated to the disadvantage of non-minority groups. The backward slide of black youth and the constancy of black poverty, the working against civil society so noticeable in the flare-ups in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York… after such a prolonged attempt to rebalance the ill effects of racism, has other causes and does not have to do with some fundamental American racism… a story for another time. Why do I mention this?
The American experience of racism and what’s been done to overcome it is a great example of success by comparison with Palestinian religious Jew-hatred. There are few successes in the overall Palestinian history of relations with Jews; individually there are many exceptions that prove the rule, but just as the grievance business of black leaders in America has taken over the political levers enacted to disrupt racism, to make it seem as if there were no progress at all in American race relations, so have the Palestinian leadership and their long history of mis-educating and inciting generations of children taken over the support industry of European NGOs, UN moralizing, Quartet and Obama meddling, and European and US funding to preserve and nourish the terribly false sense of grievance they claim justifies their homicidal rage.
Black grievance-mongers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, their intellectual sympathizers like Danny Glover and Cornel West, rabid anti-Semites like Alice Walker and the whole caboodle’s useful idiots ARE VERY MUCH like the Palestinians, a mirror image of exploiting a situation in spite of fact and reason, to try to prevail in a battle about right and wrong where they have decided wrong is right, pays better and has the best chance of knocking down Jews and the US for ideological gains. It’s a philosophy that is gathering strength among young blacks in America and leads them to endorse wickedness.
What an extraordinary immoral position to take.