I virtually never publish guest posts. But this one was so good, perfectly puncturing the bubble of stupidity surrounding the non-question “are Jews white?” that has given rise to tens of thousands of mostly nonsensical words, that I couldn’t resist. – vr
Don’t Appease the Wokeness Crocodile
By Rachel Peck
Jews today are threatened by a dangerous animal: the Wokeness Crocodile.
The Wokeness Crocodile is a strange beast that feeds on a dangerous, immoral proposition: that whites are automatically guilty of racism, and that Jews are white and, therefore, also guilty. And the only response of many Jews – especially progressive ones – is to try to prove that Jews are not white.
They hope that this will convince the crocodile to spare them.
For example, Jewish students at Brooklyn College were recently pressured into saying that they were white and therefore should be excluded from discussions about social justice. Those who objected were told to get their whiteness in check, or to be quiet because they were white and privileged. Jewish leaders who went to bat for them missed the point.
Brandeis Center attorney Denise Katz-Prober argued that “Jews should not be relegated to a category of white, privileged oppressors.” Katz-Prober noted further that the students’ complaint follows another filed against Stanford University in October, over the placing of Jewish faculty and staff in “segregated ‘whiteness accountability’” discussion groups, against their objections.
The problem isn’t that Jews are “mistakenly” thought of as white; many of us are, in fact, white. The problem is relegating anybody, whatever their color (or any other immutable characteristic) to a category that is definitionally negative, and holding all individuals in any group accountable for the bad actions of some members of the group, whether past or present. We used to call that racism and it was morally abhorrent. It was evil when applied to blacks in this country, and it is evil when applied to whites or any group today. Martin Luther King, Jr, would be appalled.
Whoopi Goldberg was suspended from The View so she could “reflect” on her recent words about the meaning of the Holocaust. Her boss is also missing the point. In the rightful hue and cry over minimizing Nazi racism against the Jews, the import of Goldberg’s dismissive words, “This is White people doing it to White people, so this is ‘y’all go fight amongst yourselves’” was lost. What she was saying was that genocide is only bad when whites do it to people of color. Which is another way of saying, “Sorry, Jews…and Armenians, Ukrainians, Cambodians, Tutsis, Bosnians, Uyghurs…
Both Judaism and the American way of fairness explicitly say that we are not to be judged by the deeds of others, nor punished for their sins. As the prophet Ezekiel wrote thousands of years ago, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.” And as King said, we should be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.
Rather than appeasing the crocodile, Jews should be attacking it. Instead, we are scurrying down a blind alley and abandoning the only principles that can truly protect us and other groups who face discrimination and hatred: the American belief in equality under the law, and the Jewish belief that all humans are made in the image of G-d (b’tzelem elohim) and therefore of equal worth. But instead of standing for traditional Jewish and American values of justice, Jews are trying to prove that we’re not really members of a supposedly evil group. Dear Wokeness Crocodile, go after them, not us! As Winston Smith screams in George Orwell’s 1984, Do it to Julia! Not me! Not me! Do it to Julia!
Instead of protesting segregated accountability groups or categorizing broad groups of people as oppressors, some Jews are begging to be let into the victims’ club. But this strategy is wrong. It is an un-Jewish ideology that says you have original sin because of an accident of your birth, and that being a victim is somehow a ticket to acceptance by others. Moreover, thinking of yourself as a victim is not a strategy for survival. During thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and murder, we survived by being strong and sticking to our values: justice and the inherent worth of every human being.
If those values worked then, they will work now. And they just might save us all from the crocodile.
Rachel Peck is a writer and editor, and president of Jewish Editorial Services (https://jewisheditorialservices.com/).