Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Being Anti-Semitic

My great-grandfather, who is also the grandfather of my mom's cousin, Richard Pryor, is Jewish and I must say that I am outraged at the anti-Semitic words and tone on display at these town halls. Even if my great-grandfather was an Irish Catholic I would be just as outraged. There are no words really to describe the woman who screamed "Heil Hitler" at an Israeli man who was discussing the health care system in his country.

This is exactly the kind of anti-Semitic racist tone that is being set at these town halls, killing two birds with one stone, defacing President Obama posters, depicting him as Hitler and thus degrading African Americans, and shouting inflammatory racists terms, degrading Jews. How insidious to transform such an evil one who murdered and nullified these same ones. Honestly, the ignorance is so pervasive at these town halls it may not have even been rationalized in this way. Nevertheless, the impact remains and it points to the insidiousness of racism.

What we are witnessing is the same racist spirit that was very present at the McCain/Palin rallies, epitomized by the blonde middle-aged woman in red who uttered that purposeful disdainful phrase, "He's a Muslim," to the tea parties to the town halls today. While we may have freedom of speech, such freedoms may also be our unraveling. By this I mean, if those of us who are rational thoughtful caring human beings do not outright condemn such language and posters we are condoning this kind of behavior.

When this woman yelled "Heil Hitler" at the Israeli the poor man couldn't believe it. He tried to express himself rationally by saying "I want to talk, not against Obama or for Obama. I want to talk about [health care]." She didn't care about what he had to say in the very least. She continued with her irrational racist babbling. If the Republicans do not come out in numbers and say that they condemn such language and posters, they are condoning this behavior and these actions. Silence sanctions.


septembermom said...

An outrage. This kind of verbal assault should never be allowed to go without a strong condemnation from every public official. Arguments fueled by hate and ignorance should not be tolerated.

Judith Ellis said...

True that, Kelly!

Marion said...

This is so sad. Who are these people and where did they learn to hate like that? It's pure ignorance, I think. In high school I did a research paper on the persecution of the Jews throught history and it forever changed my life and opened my eyes to the evils humans are capable of. I still shudder when I recall some of the horrors I read about. Everyone should have to study how hatred and racism destroys people.

Where do we draw the line at free speech? I don't know the answer. Thanks for making me use my aging brain cells again, Judith! Blessings & Love, sister-friend!

Judith Ellis said...

Marion - I too have studied human nature and realize how inhumane we can be to one another. I do not think, however, that the Jews or any other nationalities or religious groups have had a harder time with this than others. Human nature is human nature. But what is incredibly important is how we respond to such discriminatory practices, both those who are being discriminated against and the discriminators. I think this matters most in propagating or eliminating such.

You ask a great point about free speech. This was essentially my point when I asked in the post about the illegality of screaming fire in a crowded theater. It is also my point when I wrote in another reply that the Apostle Paul wrote that " "All things are lawful unto me, but not all things are expedient." Shouting hate is not expedient.

By the way, the ACLU, a largely Jewish liberal organization, would vehemently defend the rights of this woman and many others who perpetuate hate. The point is while we believe in such freedoms if I scream fire in a crowded theater the safety of many is impaired. If I carry loaded semi-automatic weapons at a presidential event, the president's life could be in danger as well as those in the crowd.

Wisdom is the principle thing.

Peace and love to you, my sister friend.

Bob said...

The greatest ethical lapse is people being silent while others of their party say vile things. Where are the good Republicans while this sort of thing is going on?

Murakowski. Anybody else? Where is John McCain? Lindsay Graham? Mitt Romney?

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, so true, Bob! So true! Thank you.

Marion said...

Thank you, Judith. You are so generous with your wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Your reply cleared many things up in my mind. And I agree, where are the Republicans in all this..Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

Much love to you, Marion, my dear friend. I appreciate you.

rebecca said...

This is unbelievable. I felt as if that poor man was going to have a coronary. I've no use for people like this and my usual response to this kind of behavior is to give it no value and ignore them. They and their actions speak for themselves and I do not feel I need to defend myself. Against whom? Lowlifes (is this spelling correct? LOL!) like these? Uh-uh. I refuse to get agitated over someone's blatant ignorance and hatred and bigotry. We have so much of that much, why would I give it any more value or give them a voice? I suppose I could get into it with them, but at what cost? My health? Sorry, I know what I am and who I am and a person such as this opinion of me means nothing.

And, yeah, let's keep on having these heated arguments, let's keep with the name calling, let's keep carrying guns at presidential events because all of these fall within our rights....and, each time we do, we lose a little more of our selves in the process -- our sanity, our health, our safety, our peace, because they will always be at stake. No, Judith, we don't seem to moving forward here and lifting ourselves up to be, instead, we are sinking deeper into that muck of hatred and bigotry and what of the children? What are we teaching the next generation?

Shameful and despicable behavior.

Judith Ellis said...

Rebecca - I agree with much of what you have said. The biggest problem that I see is leadership not speaking out against such. I also think that it is very important for average Americans to speak out. In fact, most times these are those who demand change and leaders then fall in line. There is no doubt that holocausts are happening all the time because of our sanctioning of them through our silence and lack of action. I do agree, however, that sometimes it is better not to respond to certain individual situations that are not highly public. For example, once someone called me a nigger. I completely ignored him and went on about my business. I had already made my point to him clearly without calling him a single name. It was the point itself that angered him.

But this situation would have been different in a town hall where no one addressed such provocative words there or thereafter. Had that woman said such to me before the cameras I'm afraid I might have rendered her incapable of responding through my words. Hopefully, they would have been in good taste, minus explosive expletives. Just kidding, the presence of the camera alone would have saved her, I think. Excuse me. I'm from Detroit and Mayor Coleman Young, the smart Tuskegee Airman and righteous defender of the People against McCarthyism who stayed as mayor much tooooo long, was the leader of my youth and young adult age. :-) He swore up a storm with the best of them, even on national TV with Ted Koppel on Nightline. My family sat in utter shock as we watched our mayor, the rest of the nation too.

Thanks, Rebecca, for your comment. I too am always aware of our youth and would always hope to be the best example for them.

rebecca said...

I agree with what you say here as well. There are times when one must speak out and it is something that I do often against racism, religion, politics (all the taboos) and it doesn't make me popular many-a-time. But it is in these situations when confronted by such ignorance and hatred that I sometimes feel that silence is the better part of valor. In front of cameras, I will bow to you and give you the floor and grin from ear to ear hearing you put that person in his/her place (and be clapping and saying 'amen' the entire time! LOL!). I don't know if I could've done that. But, then again, one never knows how one will respond in any given situation. I would hope that if my response is to answer such ignorance, that I at least sound intelligent and articulate and not get caught up in anger myself. That is my fear. Once we become too emotional, it all goes downhill sister.

Judith Ellis said...

Rebecca - All joking aside, I don't think that ignorant woman would have listen to the reason of anyone and to be honest I probably would not have even responded to her. Period. With people like her sometimes if you tussle with them you just get dirty. This was the beauty of Rep. Barney Frank's dismissal of another ignorant woman at yet another town hall meeting who compared Obama's health care policy to Hitler's.

What kind of policy might that have been? Extermination? How ignorant and base! What a foolish woman! (Now, I must admit that I just felt like getting really really dirty right there. Whew!) Her mother should be ashamed. But come to think of it her mother is probably as foolish; the apple typically doesn't fall too far from the tree. Yikes!

I respect your comment here about anger. But it’s not that anger is all bad, eh? Scripture says that "Anger rests in the bosom of a fool." If it abides there, it is destructive. Scripture also says "Be angry but sin not." Anger has a place. Jesus Himself was angry at the hypocrisy of religious folks, but never at those who missed the mark. He called more than a few of the Scribes and Pharisees out, calling them vipers and full of dead men’s bones.

You're super!

John O'Leary said...

I'd love to hear more politicians - and talk radio shows - begin to respond to these agitated speakers by asking questions like, "What does that word mean?" (For example, "socialism.") The few times I've heard that done, the accuser is stopped in his/her tracks. I've yet to hear anyone characterize a person or policy as "socialist" who demonstrates they know what the word means: "someone advocating state, public or common worker ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods."

Judith Ellis said...

Good point, John. I caught the repeat of Barney Frank's town hall meeting yesterday on C-Span and he did a lot of what you're suggesting here. Many times civil discourse was had and those screaming "socialism" and waving defaced photos of President Obama as Hitler were silenced with such questions--well, until the next asinine let's make a ruckus on queue question.

Nate Merrill said...

The irrational idiocy that is the American mob mentality is making me sad for our country.
Why aren't people willing to be educated by unbiased sources? Why do they believe with such sincerity the mainstream news media soundbites? What happened to people taking time and reading to learn? Is our society so based on fast paced, instant gratification that we can't even take the time to slow down to educate ourselves to make quality decisions about very important matters?
As a teacher I hope that my message of education through information before "opinionation" works.
Thanks you.

Judith Ellis said...

Nate - First, thank you for the work you do as a teacher. Teachers are among my favorite people. Your points here about the state of the country really concern me too. It indeed seems that we are more willing to accept the opinions of others instead of educating ourselves. I suppose this has always been a matter for concern. But I think that perhaps with all of the new media we more readily believe that we are actually thinking and learning instead of merely have information downloaded. Information is not knowledge without the process of thought; the same can be said for an informed opinion. I hope you will pop through again.