Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Mitch Albom and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar point out the obvious.

Namely, leagues and athletes giving a pass to some forms of hate won't work.

So it might seem surprising that after NFL star DeSean Jackson posted several anti-Semitic messages on Instagram last weekend — including a quote he (wrongly) attributed to Adolf Hitler claiming Jews “will extort America” and “have a plan for world domination” — there was no mass outrage from his industry, and no immediate punishment from his team.

In fact, although they labeled the posts "offensive" and "appalling," it took nearly a week before the Philadelphia Eagles finally announced the consequences for Jackson’s hateful messages: An undisclosed fine.

Think about that. A fine. Meanwhile, despite Jackson repeating the worst form of Jewish stereotyping and citing not only Hitler but Louis Farrakhan, who has called Jews “satanic” and likened them to “termites," only a handful of athletes (several of them Jewish) and some notable media voices criticized him.

And then Albom finds this gem from one of the NFL's most fervent BLM proponents:

Malcolm Jenkins, an NFL player with the New Orleans Saints known for social justice advocacy, seemed bothered that this was “a distraction” from the Black Lives Matter movement, saying: “Jewish people aren’t our problem, and we aren’t their problem ... We’ve got a lot of work to do, and this ain’t it.”

Albom's column is worth reading in its entirety--measured, eminently irenic and respectful throughout. It ends with a plea to not downplay any forms of hatred, and asks a rhetorical question about the silence. Which, it should be said, is not one which suggests a hopeful outcome. Nor should it.

Abdul-Jabbar also wades into the same waters, and reaches similar conclusions in a read-it-all column:

Recent incidents of anti-Semitic tweets and posts from sports and entertainment celebrities are a very troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement, but so too is the shocking lack of massive indignation. Given the New Woke-fulness in Hollywood and the sports world, we expected more passionate public outrage. What we got was a shrug of meh-rage.

When reading the dark squishy entrails of popular culture, meh-rage in the face of sustained prejudice is an indisputable sign of the coming Apatholypse: apathy to all forms of social justice. After all, if it’s OK to discriminate against one group of people by hauling out cultural stereotypes without much pushback, it must be OK to do the same to others. Illogic begets illogic.

Ice Cube’s June 10 daylong series of tweets, which involved some creepy symbols and images, in general implied that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks. NFL player DeSean Jackson tweeted out several anti-Semitic messages, including a quote he incorrectly thought was from Hitler (not your go-to guy for why-can’t-we-all-get-along quotes) stating that Jews had a plan to “extort America” and achieve “world domination.” Isn’t that SPECTRE’s job in James Bond movies?

Abdul-Jabbar lists several more episodes, offers the fascinating backstory for the song "Strange Fruit" and ends with this clarion call:
The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.
I suppose we can always hope. But even in the story of Nick Cannon getting the boot by Viacom for anti-semitic statements, the fact he could regurgitate a facsimile of the Nation of Islam's creation story about whites without a whisper of corporate objection isn't fully heartening.


  1. The square the circle, the left has adopted this new philosophy that "real" racism involves privilege + power. (You can go back through Shea's archive and watch him slowly adopt this philosophy over the last year or so.) Basically if a group lacks privilege and power, then they can't be racist - although it ends up being more about that their racism doesn't matter.

    Thus to the left, hispanics racism towards blacks don't matter. Muslims racism towards jews don't matter. Asian's racism towards blacks don't matter. Blacks racism towards anybody doesn't matter. The only racism that ever matters is if a white person who has all the privilege and power is racist towards anybody else.

    Even though anybody with a moment's thought on the matter can see the problem with that dumb idea.

  2. I am familiar with the "it's not racism if the racist doesn't have power" argument.

    I hate it with the fury of a thousand sons. One, it gives a pass to violence. Two, it makes large swaths of the powerless, suffering poor invisible because of the color of their skin. Three, it infantilizes non-whites, especially because of (4) it ignores the fact non-whites have amassed considerable economic, cultural and yes, political power in this country.

    Anyone who utters it is a drone chanting specious religious orthodoxy.

  3. And, yes, it's a deck-stacking exercise, too. Heads they win, tails you lose.

    Plus, it makes a mockery of equal protection under law and all of the laws that uphold that principle.

    It is unutterable poison that needs to be killed with fire, the ashes gathered and then launched into the sun.

  4. Well said, DP. And I will add when you see statements like "racism is a sin" and then this type of logic, you can't help but realize that it seems like Jesus takes away sins less than the white oppressors.

    Theodore Dalrymple has some great writing on this topic IIRC "the rush from judgement." Evan Sayet too.


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