Wednesday, October 8, 2008

bigotry vs. oppression

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a good post addressing some of the things I've talked about.
Allow me the liberty of generalizing here--whites are most concerned about racial bigotry. That is, "I don't believe in interracial marriage" or "I don't want black people living next to me" or even "I think black people are prone to crime."

Black folks don't like racial bigotry, but they're mostly concerned--not about racism as bigotry--but racism as oppression.
Where he describes racial oppression, it's largely financial: job discrimination and redlining. I think that's a big part of the reason people don't think of Jews as oppressed and why people don't offer Jews the level of consideration, including the right to speak for ourselves, that would be offered to other minorities.

But there are two points. First, those academic and cultural boycotts--those things are discrimination. Second, and I think this is probably deeper, the oppression of Jews has never featured economic dispossession. It's been there, but it's never been central so that we can say things have changed. The fact that Jews aren't disproportionately poor today does not mean the oppression of Jews has ended. In pre-Nazi Germany, Jews had attained economic near-equality. To say we're not oppressed today suggests we weren't then, either, but that's obviously ridiculous. Instead, the oppression of Jews has always been about violence, scapegoating, and blunting political power. Those things are still around.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sorry, Sally, but what you posted looks a lot like an ad.