Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On being anti-antisemitic

Here's So You Think You're an Anti-Racist? 6 Critical Paradigm Shifts for Well-Intentioned White Folks (via). These are pretty basic in the anti-racist community. For example, racism is a problem white people have. Unfortunately, the impact is felt more acutely by people of color, but it isn't located in people of color.

Not that many white people really get these things, but I've been often surprised to be in spaces where these things aren't controversial only to find that these attitudes don't apply to antisemitism.
The most anti-racist shift for white people is to understand that confronting racism is going to be uncomfortable, difficult, emotional, and painful. So why do we put so many resources into human relations programming? Who might we be trying to protect?
But talking about antisemitism stifles debate, so we should just be quiet about it? Or so I'm constantly told.
I don't believe color-blindness is possible. I see difference. If I can't be honest about that, I don't have much potential to be an effective anti-racist, do I? And if color-blindness is possible, I don't believe it is desirable. Why would I want to deny what may be a powerful, impactful part of somebody's identity?
But Jews are supposedly well-assimilated and without problems. That whole history of oppression - can't we stop harping on it already? Actually, there's a very deep assumption that goes back a long way that Jews are sort of fossils and Jewish difference is just weird. Even anti-racists can have trouble accepting Jewish difference as legitimate.
I'm not burning any crosses. I don't own slaves. (And neither did my great-grandparents!) So this racism thing isn't my issue, right? Well, not exactly. As long as I can understand racism as individual acts of wacko White people, I can pretend that I have no part in it.
Tops the list for antisemitism. That whole Holocaust thing - wacko White people. There's an incredible refusal to accept that the Shoah actually has moral reverberations. It becomes something we Jews use to blackmail the world.

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