Archive for anti-Defamation League

An Open Letter to Dr. Laura

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by playthell
 The Dr. Laura I Remember

Hi Dr. Laura

You may not remember me, but I remember well the night we met.  Let me refresh your memory.  It was at a book party for the prolific and erudite Rabbi Shmuley Boetec about six years ago.  It was a posh affair on Fifth Avenue where you and I were guest speakers.  I was not familiar with your work beyond the fact that you were considered a prominent and well respected relationship expert.  In fact, that was the raison d’ etre for the discussion, as Rabbi Shmuley was also a celebrated relationship expert, having written the wildly popular Book: “Kosher Sex.”  I admired your spunk and intellect that night, as you boldly pointed out that you disagreed with some of the learned Rabbi’s relationship advice because he was a male chauvinist!

You might remember that I was the last of an impressive array of speakers, all of whom had been given strict time limits; I was the last to speak precisely because Rabbi Shmuley wanted me to speak with no limits.  This was because Schmuley and I were co-hosting a radio show on WWRL AM in New York at the time, he had heard my take on class, ethnicity and race in the US and he wanted the audience to hear my analysis of Afro-American / Jewish relations in historical perspective.

We had known each other less than a week, but after our first encounter on air he began to read up on me.  He discovered a feature story I had written in Emerge magazine, “Blacks and Jews: Our Tattered Alliance,” which had attracted a lot of attention in news paper reviews around the country and resulted in my being invited to present a lecture on the topic at Harvard – a recording of which I shall soon place online.  Shmuley, who has a great admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King – whom he has repeatedly said “has done more to bring the teachings of the ancient Hebrew prophets to life than any Rabbi I know” – thought my views on the subject of blacks and Jews in America would bring some much needed clarity to the muddled thinking on this subject.

Considering the uniqueness of the event – the audience was packed with blacks and Jews of varying class and educational backgrounds, religious and secular – I’m sure you must remember it despite your whirlwind schedule.  Hence you may recall the tremendous ovation my presentation received. For no one greeted my message more enthusiastically than you,  as you embraced me warmly and showered me with accolades.   I had no doubt that your expression of fraternity was genuine, as you gave me your private phone number and invited me to call and chat sometimes.

 Rabbi Shmuley

 spreading a message of racial Harmony in the US

That’s why I was shocked and surprised when I heard of the racial imbroglio that you now find yourself in.  I confess that I have not followed your career closely, but when I found myself being stalked by a deranged female fan of my radio show, you were the first person I considered calling for advice as to how to handle the situation.  Especially as she was using the internet to launch anonymous attacks and I had read where you had been the victim of several such attacks.  But I had written your number in a phone book and never transferred it to my computer file and when I looked it up the ink had faded on a couple of the digits and  I couldn’t make out the entire number; I started to call your show but thought the better of it.  But judging from the way you “helped” the young black female caller that touched off the present firestorm,  perhaps I made the right decision.

However it was then that I learned how big you had become.  According to the information I am reading now you are the biggest female radio show host in the nation – and the only radio host of either gender who has your own You Tube channel.   Now it has all suddenly come crashing down…what happened?  How could it all end with a single phone call?   I guess you must be wondering the same thing.  After taking a close look at the incident that precipitated your demise I would attribute your dramatic fall from grace to two fundamental factors: A lifetime of white Privilege and the arrogance it produces in dealing with nonwhites, and the hubris that results from feelings of omnipotence when one is constantly sought out by others for their superior wisdom in dealing with the trials and tribulations that life presents to us all.

Unless I am to assume that you had dropped a tab of acid, or ingested some other mind altering drug, when you were browbeating the black female caller from Colorado who sought your advice in dealing with friends and family of her white husband that constantly accosted her with racially offensive remarks, then the explanation for your behavior must either be the reasons suggested above, or you are indeed a cold blooded racist!

Since I grew up in the apartheid South in the hey day of white supremacy I think I know an avowed racist cracker when I see one, and you just don’t strike me as that.  But when ignorance, arrogance, and a sense of white entitlement are combined with hubris the result may well be a distinction without a difference.  How dare you assume that you know best when Afro-Americans should be offended by the use of the word Nigger?  Who appointed you the arbiter of our sensibilities?

Failing to heed the adage, “When you are already in a hole stop digging,” you attempted to justify your racist drivel by accusing the young black woman – who went by the nomme de Plume “Jade’ – of being “too sensitive.”  Then you offered the silly half baked explanation that because black comedians say “Nigger” it should be cool for whites to say it: “”I don’t get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it’s a horrible thing,” you screeched.  And you accused her of “NAACPing me,” what the hell was that all about?  I cannot imagine a response that more perfectly combines ignorance, arrogance and white chauvinism.  Since you are a Jew let me put this in terms that you will surely be able to understand.  Unless you really are as silly and shallow as you appear to be in this instance.

Have you ever heard Jewish comics perform in the Borscht Belt resorts of the Catskills?  Well I have.  When I was in the boxing business I had occasion to spend time in the training camps of the great pugilists Michael Spinks and Timmy Witherspoon, who trained at The Concord and Kutchers.  The way the deal worked was that the fighters were to make themselves as visible as possible while training there, which included having dinner in the main dining room, which is also where the floor shows were staged.  The shows always included a comedian, that’s why these Borscht Belt resorts became the training ground for so many great Jewish comedians.

Minnie Tonka: Jewish Burlesque Commediene

Would Jews find this routine funny if performed by a black woman?

What struck me most emphatically about the performances of these comedians was that Jews were often the butt of their jokes.  Just like black comedians working the chittlin circuit – although the comics of the past had a better sense of the racial realities and far too much self respect to yell “Nigger!” in public.  Yet when the language of the Jewish comics is appropriated by outsiders it was considered anti-Semitic.  Just like when whites appropriate the language of those black comedians Afro-Americans consider it racist!   Furthermore the anti-Jewish epithet ‘Kike” is a term German Jews created to describe Jews from Eastern Europe.

But does that give others the right to use this term with impunity?  When put in these terms it is clear that your logic does not hold and your argument falls apart!  Furthermore, no group on earth is more sensitive to ethnic insults that American Jews!  You all even have an organization with a vast research capability that monitors not only what is said about Jews in the media – broadcast and print – but also scours academic and literary texts for arguments considered injurious not only to American Jewish interests, but that of the far away state of Israel as well.

It’s called the Anti-Defamation League, and the black community has no watch dog guarding our interests that even begins to approach the power of Abe Foxman, who has destroyed quite a few careers of people for transgressions far less odious than yours!  If you don’t know about this, then you should Google the late great investigative journalist Robert I. Freedman and read his work on the ADL.  So why didn’t you tell Jade “Don’t do an Abe Foxman on me?”  You accuse black people of applying a “double standard” because we tolerate remarks from black comedians that we find offensive when others use them against us – although there is a clear difference in intent if your are laughing with me or laughing at me – yet Jews are just as guilty of this.  Double standards indeed!

 

Abe The Grand Inquisitor!

Why you did not recognize this is anybody’s guess; only you know for sure whether the motive was ignorance or arrogance.  I strongly suspect it was a bit of both – as opposed to the plain old racism of which you stand accused.  In other words, like most white media talking heads, you just didn’t have a clue what the fuck you were talking about!   According to the information I have been able to acquire about your academic training you hold a Doctorate in physiology from Columbia University.  Although that is an impressive achievement, it in no way qualifies you to pontificate authoritatively on matters that require knowledge of sociology, psychology and history.  Which means that you were in over your head to begin with in attempting to answer the question the caller put to you; hence a little humility would have been in order rather than the haughty arrogance you displayed.

Perhaps people who call radio show hosts to seek advice on matters about which the host has no demonstrated competence – either in terms of academic credentials, demonstrated excellence in performance, or a written paper trail – deserve whatever they get.  But then, arrogant radio show hosts who offend entire sections of the population with racial or ethnic insults that encourage injurious behavior against the offended group deserve what they get too.  And the spectacle of a millionaire bloviator – who has amassed a fortune broadcasting opinions she is unqualified to offer  over 250 radio stations nation wide crying about her First Amendment Rights being violated when listeners complain – is ludicrous!

It is a rare occasion when true wisdom flows from the mouth of Howard Stern, but he is certainly right regarding your ridiculous whining about having your first Amendment Rights violated.  It remains to be seen if he is also right in his prediction that you are faking the funk when you say that you are going to retire from radio, and you may be sure that I shall watch your career moves with interests.  And I shall henceforth offer critical comments on your bloviations when the situation demands it.

But let us dwell a bit on the First amendment issue, because it is a dramatic illustration of the point I wish to make about your ignorance regarding history.  It also demonstrates my long standing contention that white commentators don’t necessarily have to know what they are talking about to be provided a platform to pontificate to the multitudes on critical issues.  The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from suppressing unpopular speech, mainly speech critical of government itself.

It was conceived by men who knew all to well the tyranny that results from unchecked power because they had witnessed it under the monarchies of Europe.  This is the same impulse that led the architects of the Constitution to prohibit the government from establishing a state religion; for they had also witnessed the power of the Church of England.  What the first Amendment does not do, nor was it ever intended to do, is protect people like you from being muzzled either by your boss – in this case the station owners who broadcast your shows – or the machinations of the marketplace.

Therefore if parties who are offended by your caustic pontifications decide to boycott your sponsors unless they dump you, that’s not a violation of your First Amendment Rights!  And you discredit yourself as a serious commentator on important societal issues every time you say so.  Furthermore, it marks you as a hypocrite since the organized Jewish community is the best in the country at playing this game and I have never heard you utter a peep about it.

Of course –  like Rush and Sean and Glenn – you appeal mostly to mindless sycophants, the kind of people  the late great Dean of American letters and insightful judge of human foible and folly H. L. Mencken called “Boobus Americanus.”  Thus it is no surprise that you have received thousands of e-mails supporting you in your mindless folly.  But there is one e-mail that you must publicly disavow – and the sooner the better for the sake of your reputation – and that’s the one from Silly Sarah Palin, the verbose Alaskan barbarian.  The reasons why you must reject her offer of sisterly support is first because you are on record calling her a ignoramous and an unfit mother after John McCain choose her as his presidential running mate – thus you will look like a shameless charlatan if you don’t – and second because she is a transparent racist who is apparently willing to incite a race war in America if it serves her interests: political and personal.

Palin’s Role Model

 

 A Real Vicious Bitch!

Sarah is, by her own admission. “a pit bull in lipstick;” which is synonymous with an evil dangerous bitch!  And you cannot lie down with dogs without getting up with fleas.  How you handle your newly minted relationship with Sarah Palin – who is not only a transparent racist but is as shallow as a dry creek bed – will tell us even more about who you really are than anything you have said or done thus far.  As the Zen Master said to his devotee: “We’ll see.”

 

Ps: You say that you want to debate these questions: Really?

Well I’m available 24/7, call me ASAP and let’s get it on!

 

******************

 

 As always, Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

August 21, 2010

On Abe Foxman and the Helen Thomas Affair

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on June 10, 2010 by playthell

  Paleface who speaks with forked tongue

 

A case of the pot maligning the kettle

Upon hearing of Helen Thomas’ forced retirement after a distinguished career spanning 67 years in journalism, a half century of which was spent as a White house correspondent, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League openly rejoiced.  “…she’s a bigot and should no longer maintain a role as a journalist,” he declared. “There was a permissiveness about the questions she asked. Nobody ever challenged her. She always colored the news — she was always bigoted about Israel. This is better late than never, but it should have happened earlier.”   Although Mr. Foxman likes to present himself as the voice of the Jewish community, the fact is that many thoughtful Jews disagree with his narrow nationalist perspective.

Typical of those Jews who oppose his views is the writer of a letter on the Washington post website on June 7, 2010, regarding the fate of Helen Thomas.

Helen Thomas was forced to retire after making anti-Zionist comments in an interview where she never even uttered the word “Jew” or “Jewish” in that interview.  Only people who are ignorant equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.  Even Nathan Birnbaum, the man credited with coining the word Zionism turned against it in his later years. Together with my grandfather Henri B. van Leeuwen, an Orthodox Jew, they published a newspaper in the Netherlands the late 1930’s called ‘Der Ruf’ which argued like Helen Thomas that European Jews had no right to move to Palestine and displace the Palestinian people who had been there for many generations.  This week I demonstrated with hundreds of other Jews in Los Angeles to protest Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Does that make us all anti-Semitic?  I love and support Helen Thomas. She is my hero and absolutely right! “

Mr. Foxman, who is far from a paragon of objectivity on the question, offered this evaluation of Ms. Thomas’ career and how she acquired the famous “reserved seat” on the front row at White House Press Conferences: “”She got that seat because she was an icon, a trailblazer not because she was brilliant or an objective reporter. I’m glad she’s gone, period. It will be better for everyone not to have a bigoted journalist sitting at press conferences asking the first question.”  Here Foxman is arguing that anyone who expresses an opinion he disagrees with should be silenced: which means he preaches what he practices.

Just ask Jewish scholars and intellectuals who disagree with him like the theologian and prolific author Mark Ellis, or historian and son of holocaust survivor Norm Finklestein, or Marxist historian Lenni Brenner.  And the late Village Voice writer Robert I. Freedman – a brilliant investigative journalist – detailed the machinations of the ADL to silence and destroy the careers of writers and scholars with whom Foxman had disagreements.  It is well worth looking up his articles and reading them, Mr. Freedman died a very young man – in his early forties I think – and he often told me that he was being threatened by shadowy figures who warned him to quit the work he was doing.  Although Mr. Freidman is gone, his wife is very much alive and can testify to the truth of what I am saying.

We also have the disturbing case of Time Magazine columnist Joe Klien, one of the smartest voices at the center of the American political spectrum. A solid reporter and philosophical pragmatist Klien gave a candid critique of the right-wing neo-conservative movement, whose intelligentsia is largely Jewish and strongly pro-Israel, in a 2008 article.  Among other things he said : “a great many Jewish neoconservatives—people like (Sen.) Joe Lieberman and the crowd at Commentary—plumped for this war (in Iraq), and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties.”  He also said that they were prepared to risk “U.S. lives and money … to make the world safe for Israel.”

The fact that Joe Klien is Jewish didn’t insulate him from the charge of anti-Semitism by the Neo-Cons, and Foxman jumped into the imbroglio the day after the magazine hit the stands.  His critique is instructive, and demonstrates the extent to which he is willing to demonize anyone who holds ideas different from his rigid and self-righteous view of the world.  Dredging up the long history of Jewish oppression in Europe, Abe accuses Klien of promoting “age-old anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government.” Instead of engaging Klien in debate Foxman turned to character assassination.

Although Klein’s argument is demonstrably true, the attack on him became so intense he felt a need to speak out about it and defend his motives while reaffirming his Jewishness.

There is a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who unsuccessfully tried to get Benjamin Netanyahu to attack Saddam Hussein in the 1990s,” he writes “ and then successfully helped provide the intellectual rationale for George Bush to do it in 2003… Happily, these people represent a very small sliver of the Jewish population in this country…I remain proud of my Jewish heritage, a strong supporter of Israel…But I am not willing to grant these ideologues the anonymity they seek…I believe there are a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who are pushing for war with Iran because they believe it is in America’s long-term interests and because they believe Israel’s existence is at stake. They are wrong and recent history tells us they are dangerous. They are also bullies and I’m not going to be intimidated by them.”  

Furthermore, Mr. Foxman’s concerns about bigotry in Ms. Thomas’ case must be regarded as selective outrage given his actions in the past.  For instance, Mr. Foxman had no problem serving as chief apologist for Israel’s shameful policy of cooperation with the Apartheid regime in South Africa –  a racist clique who had been pro-Nazi during World War II – whose official ideology bore such a striking resemblance to Nazism their disagreements were distinctions without a difference.

And it is a matter of record that the ADL under his leadership spied on Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress for South Africa’s fascist Bureau of State Security, an agency with the blood of untold black people on its hands.  Furthermore, an article in the Jewish Daily Forward by Lenoard Fine recounts a meeting of Jewish groups in which Mr. Foxman was confronted by a Rabbi who asked him how he could work with the Reverend John Hagee, a pro-Israel Protestant evangelist, when Hagee had said such bigoted things about Catholics – calling the Catholic Church “The whore of Babylon” for instance – and Abe’s answer was “that’s not a Jewish issue.”  It does not require much imagination to conjure images of the hysterical reponse it would provoke in Mr. Foxman should a Catholic leader say: “I’m tired of hearing about the Nazi’s, it’s not a Catholic issue!”

Abe’s indifference to bigotry against non-Jews also explains why he is passionately criticized  by Jews whose moral concerns  extend beyond the narrow nationalist interests of the Jewish community – of which there are many. Some of them find Mr. Foxman’s morality and his politics abhorrent, just go to the website “Jewcy” and look up the critiques by Jewish writers regarding Mr. Foxman’s reluctance to call the Armenian holocaust “genocide” and his opposition to the US Congress passing legislation recognizing the historical fact that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians.

Hence while Mr. Foxman fulminates about Iranian President Mahmoud Armidinijad’s skepticism about the German genocide against Jews, he has nothing to say about the entire Turkish nation denying the Armenian holocaust. Since Turkey was the strongest supporter of Israel in the Muslim world – a situation that’s rapidly changing after the recent slaughter of nine of it’s unarmed citizens on a humanitarian mission to Gaza by Israeli commandos – could Foxman’s long time denial of the Armenian holocaust result from the same reasoning that led him into the arms of Big John Hagee?

Hence Abe’s selective morality is motivated by unabashed nationalist objectives; he is more than willing to embrace the most despicable bigots and even fudge the issue of genocide if it serves his interests!  Thus it is altogether fitting and proper to conclude that when it comes to moral principles Mr. Foxman’s allegiance is dictated by expedience.  Although the ADL leader has succeeded in making NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan a moral pariah who should be excluded from the public debate, Mr. Farrakhan’s transgressions regarding Jews have been purely rhetorical; he has committed no offenses comparable to the ADL’s collaboration with the fascist South African government, or Foxman’s apologies for Israel’s military cooperation with that murderous anti-black regime.

To say that Foxman has no moral superiority to Minister Farrakhan is to state the obvious!  And the fact that he has been able to make it appear so is a tribute to his vast propaganda machine.  The latest instance of Abe’s moral duplicity can be seen in his silence about the fact that the Rabbi who reported on Ms. Thomas’s statements can been seen on an internet video exposed by Keith Olberman on June 9, 2010 performing a racist skit ridiculing Hispanic people. I await Mr. Foxman’s public denunciation of the Rabbi – or will he decide this is also not of “Jewish interests.”

The Bigoted Rabbi

 

A Consummate Hypocrite!

 If Mr. Foxman is willing to debate these issues I can easily arrange it live on WBAI radio in New York, and put the entire thing online for the world to hear. But I seriously doubt that he will accept such an invitation, because he knows that the facts I have set forth here are indisputable, and besides, forthright debate with his critics is not really Abe’s style.  Political action and character assassination directed at silencing them is more his kind of thing.  That’s why he shamelessly rejoices at the destruction of Ms. Thomas’ career because she expressed an opinion that he finds offensive.  Whatever happened to protecting unpopular speech, which is the essence of our democracy?

Ms. Thomas is of Lebanese background, and her feelings about the horrid plight of the Palestinians under Israeli domination obviously represent the same type of nationalist sentiment for her kith and kin as Mr. Foxman feels for his.  And it is undeniable that her view is widely held among millions of Muslims around the world.  And let me say that from a Pan-African perspective – which is the black counterpart to Zionism, and even springs from the same intellectual roots in 19th century German universities where pan-Germanic ideas were ubiquitous – Ms. Thomas’ transgressions have been far less odious than Ms. Foxman’s.

Silencing the voice of Ms. Thomas – A journalist who paved the way for women in big time journalism and was so good at her craft that the Association of Professional Journalists, who is far better qualified to evaluate her career than Mr. Foxman, named a major prize in her honor – will not make the explosive Israeli Palestinian problems go away nor make us safer from terrorist attacks.  But it will give added credibility to those argue that the US media is controlled by Zionists – whether armed white christian fascist who routinely refer to the federal government as the ZOG i.e. “Zionist Occupied Government,” or the Islamic Jihadists who are dedicated to our destruction.  And it will also deprive the American people of a relentless watchdog willing to speak truth to power and keep those who rule us in check.  Whether Mr. Foxman understands this or not: That is precisely the role the framers of the US Constitution envisioned for the press!

 Helen Thomas: Venerable journalist

 

           All women journalist owe a debt to her

 ******************

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York 

June 10, 2010