I'm a Democrat. I’m a person of Jewish heritage. I count myself among those who can't stomach Donald Trump. Still, I'm saddened and disturbed that there are hints of anti-Semitism among some of my fellow liberals.
A little over a week ago, I shared a New York Daily News article on Facebook about how it's time those on the left denounce Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. What am I talking about here?
Individuals such as Tamika Mallory, who support Farrakhan. Mallory is a prominent activist and co-chair of the hugely successful Women’s March. She has posted photos posing with Farrakhan and heaped praise on him, describing him as the “GOAT” or greatest of all time. This about a man who recently compared Jews to termites.
Women’s March co-chairs, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, have also defended Farrakhan. Others on the left have too, such as Congressman Danny Davis.
But the day after I shared the article, I deleted it as the comment thread ranged from: keep your eye on the prize, stay focused, prioritize to don't get caught up in petty nonsense. In other words: Shut up.
Most people felt that the support Mallory and other left-leaning leaders have given to someone who spews anti-Semitic venom is unimportant, something to be glossed over.
One woman, an excellent, thoughtful writer, said she's "pretty sure some Russian troll farm is reading this and patting themselves on the back." I’ve learned to ignore social media attacks, but this one, from someone I respect, hurt.
But here’s my questions: Would she have had the same sort of dismissive attitude if professed social justice leaders of an important movement supported someone who was blatantly racist? Or misogynistic?
I don’t think so. Why has it been okay to tolerate anti-Semitism? Interestingly enough, there were at least a dozen people on the Facebook post who stood with me. Almost all of them were Jews.
Perhaps feeling the heat, the Women's March organization issued a statement last Thursday on Facebook that they do not "support or endorse statements" by Farrackhan about "women, Jewish and LGBTG communities." But the March's leaders have not yet personally spoken out against Farrackhan's anti-Semitic speech.
Disavowing Farrackhan and his anti-Semitic rhetoric is a pretty simple thing to do. Yet very few prominent liberals have done so, the exceptions being Chelsea Clinton and actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano.
More encouragingly, Women's March founder, Teresa Shook, called on the other March leaders to step down because of their refusal to condemn Farrackhan's anti-semitic (and homophobic) views. It's a start, but hardly enough.
Please forgive me if I'm a bit sensitive when it comes to anti-Semitism, but it's personal. My grandparents came here to escape pogroms in Russia, but I became aware of anti-Semitism when I was five-years-old and some kids called me a kike.
The parents of one of my roommates at the University of Illinois in Champaign, escaped the Holocaust. My roommate had no living aunts or uncles or grandparents because they were murdered by Nazis. (Also as a college freshman, a girl who lived down the hall believed Jews had horns.)
Way before tattoos became a wildly popular trend, I saw people with numbers tattooed on their arms. I instantly knew from whence they came.
A couple of years ago, after I wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, I was viciously attacked on social media by scores of neo-Nazis who said I should be gang-raped and killed.
While Dan Lipinski just won the election for Illinois Congressman of the Third District, his Republican opponent, an avowed Nazi, received 25 percent of the vote—55,000 people voted for him. It may not be scary to you, but it is to me.
The fear and pain of anti-Semitism isn’t with me front and center all of the time, but it pops up often, especially these days. I carry it around with me like a little girl weighed down by a too-heavy backpack.
I don't want to harm the Democratic Party, but I am sounding the alarms. I want the problem to be confronted and corrected and the Party be stronger for it. Otherwise, people like me are going to question if the left is still a safe place for them.
After my little rant here, I’ll probably heed the advice and shush. What's a little anti-Semitism compared to, well, Donald Trump? (Although a little anti-Semitism is like being a little bit pregnant.)
I’m reminded of the words from Lady Gaga's heart-wrenching song "Til it happens to you." The song is not, of course, about anti-Semitism. But for me, sadly, it rings true about the subject:
Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels
How it feels
Til it happens to you, you won't know
It won't be real
No, it won't be real
Won't know how it feels
Til your world burns and crashes
Til you're at the end, the end of your rope
Til you're standing in my shoes
Thanks for reading this Opinionated Woman blog post. If you don't want to miss the next one, just type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Uncategorized