Politics, recent

Black or White, It’s the Same Old Anti-Semitic Pathology

Last year closed with a number of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York City area—including the killing of three people at a Jersey City kosher market by two shooters who had expressed interest in the fringe Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and a machete attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, NY by a suspect who appears to have referenced the same anti-Semitic hate group in his rambling manifesto.

Unlike the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooter or the 2019 Poway synagogue shooter, the suspects in these attacks weren’t white supremacists. Black Hebrew Israelite ideology is an exclusively black movement, whose various sects typically preach that black people are the true descendants of Biblical Israelites, and that today’s (actual) Jews are frauds. The Black Hebrew Israelites do not constitute a mainstream religious group, and certainly do not represent the views of ordinary American blacks. Nevertheless, the possibility that these crimes may be connected to Black Hebrew Israelite beliefs has elicited an uncertain reaction from public officials and commentators, who are more familiar (and comfortable) with discussions that center blacks as victims of bigotry than as bigots themselves.

Needless to say, black Americans should not be regarded as scapegoats for broader anti-Semitic currents within American society (of which the Black Hebrew Israelite phenomenon is but a niche component). Even the phrase “black anti-Semitism,” which sometimes appears in public discussion, seems misplaced, as its usage suggests some unique pathology distinct from “white anti-Semitism.” As the African-American Marxist academic Adolph Reed argued in a 1995 essay, “Black anti-Semites are no better or worse than white or other anti-Semites, and they are neither more or less representative of the ‘black community’ or ‘black America’ than Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Tom Metzger—or your co-worker or roommate who whispers about ‘their’ pushiness and clannishness—are of white American gentiles.”

Rather, Reed elaborated, “Black Anti-Semitism’s specific resonance comes from its man-bites-dog quality. Black Americans are associated in the public realm with opposition to racism, so the appearance of bigotry among them seems newsworthy. But the newsworthiness also depends on a particular kind of racial stereotyping, the notion that on some level, all black people think with one mind…Any Black anti-Semite is seen not as an individual but as a barometer for the black collective mind.”

Anti-Semitism among black people, as among everyone else, comes in different guises. Some of it is old-fashioned Christian anti-Semitism. Some of it is political anti-Semitism of the type rooted in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other venerable conspiracist hoaxes. And some of it is traceable to more modern leftist movements, which promote anti-Zionism in a way that can blur into classic anti-Semitic tropes that case Jews as inherently malevolent.

Black nationalists, such as the Nation of Islam and Black Hebrew Israelites, sometimes will integrate the paranoid, pathological aspects of anti-Semitism into a narrative centered on black identity: “They” are the ones who enslaved our ancestors; “they” are the ones who profit from the appropriation of black culture; “they” are the ones who conspired to get Malcolm X killed; and so on. But one could find corresponding claims in other manifestations of anti-Semitism, such as those promoted by white Christian survivalists or Arabs in the Middle East. These parochial details do not serve to define a wholly different species of anti-Semitism. They merely show how age-old conspiracist themes can be adapted into a narrative that suits a particular ethnic or political agenda.

But this boring truth—that anti-Semitism reflects the same basic ideological malignancy, no matter who is spreading it—is apparently unpalatable to some progressives. This includes University of New Hampshire scientist and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, who recently wrote a controversial, widely commented-upon Twitter thread in which she declared that “treating violent attacks on Jewish people by Black people like they are equivalent to white antisemitism is intellectually lazy, disingenuous, anti-Black, and dangerous both to non-Jewish Black people and to Jews.”

She added that “antisemitism in the United States, historically, is a white Christian problem, and if any Black people have developed antisemitic views it is under the influence of white gentiles,” and that American Jews are beneficiaries of “whiteness,” which she describes as “a fundamentally anti-Black power structure.” Moreover, “Black people become distracted by Jewishness and don’t properly lay blame on whiteness and Jews get attacked in the process. It is a win-win for white supremacy.”

It’s hard to know what to do with all this except to say that a Jew hacked or shot to death by an anti-Semite is a Jew hacked or shot to death by an anti-Semite. It doesn’t matter what colour they are or how much the killer or victim has internalized the idea of “whiteness.” A hate murder is still a hate murder. (Prescod-Weinstein notes that the Monsey, NY suspect had “a documented history of serious, delusional mental illness.” This is true. But it should be noted that when white-nationalist perpetrators are accused of similarly horrific hate crimes, mention of mental illness often is avoided or downplayed, since no one wants to be seen as minimizing the role of racism.)

As for Prescod-Weinstein’s claim that Black anti-Semitism must somehow be caused by “the influence of white gentiles,” that is an incredibly condescending view, for it denies black people their own agency. In reality, blacks are no different than whites: Some succumb to hatred, while others do not. Yet Prescod-Weinstein promotes a collectivist view of blacks as child-like noble savages who retain their purity and innocence until white people contaminate their minds.

This strain of thinking isn’t confined to just this single New England-based race activist, but typifies the fashion for sermonizing about “whiteness” that one now commonly sees in academia and social media. Increasingly, “whiteness” is presented quasi-mystically—as a sort of secular equivalent to the religious concept of original sin. As such, it is presented as supernatural and trans-historical, existing outside of politics and the material world, virtually beyond the realm of sociological study.

The problem with fetishizing whiteness (and the white supremacist system we supposedly all inhabit), even beyond the way it fills public discourse with the sort of nonsense emitted by Prescod-Weinstein, is that it inspires a spirit of fatalism. Racism becomes a mystically evil force that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Black people are helpless victims who can be programmed like robots to do anything—even to hate Jews. By undermining black autonomy and promoting a spirit of racial determinism, progressive activists are undermining the very methods black people use every day to transform their lives and defeat racism.

After lecturing black people about how they are “allowing themselves to be distracted by a false narrative rather than girding themselves to do the hard work of truly fighting white supremacy,” Prescod-Weinstein advises them to “keep their eyes on the prize,” and, tells them that “combatting white supremacy must involve unpacking why you think someone’s Jewishness is the meaningful signifier of why they did something. Do you mean their whiteness? Say whiteness then. Don’t be bamboozled by white Christianity.” The idea here, insofar as I understand it, is that it’s okay for blacks to offer a posture that is defensive, or even explicitly bigoted, so long as they make it clear that it is inspired by whiteness as opposed to Jewishness.

In other words, Prescod-Weinstein is arguing for replacing one identitarian framework with another identitarian framework, when the real problem is the identitarian trap itself.

One reason why anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise is that the tribalized nature of modern discourse, especially as filtered through social media, transforms economic and political problems into questions of culture and identity. When society is viewed as a collection of finely defined identity blocs, and social conflicts are framed as fights among those blocs, all variants of anti-Semitism are likely to become more prominent. If we want to combat this scourge—and all other forms of bigotry—the best approach is simply to stop using markers of identity as proxies for victimhood or moral worth.

 

Ralph Leonard is a British-Nigerian humanist writer. He Tweets at @buffsoldier_96.

Featured Image: 2012 photo of members of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge in Washington, D.C., part of the Hebrew Israelism movement, which regards American blacks as the true descendants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. 

Comments

  1. Prescod-Weinstein notes that the Monsey, NY suspect had “a documented history of serious, delusional mental illness.”

    Perhaps that gives the two of them something in common.

  2. allowing themselves to be distracted by a false narrative rather than girding themselves to do the hard work of truly fighting white supremacy,” Prescod-Weinstein advises them to “keep their eyes on the prize,” and, tells them that “combatting white supremacy must involve unpacking why you think someone’s Jewishness is the meaningful signifier of why they did something. Do you mean their whiteness? Say whiteness then. Don’t be bamboozled by white Christianity.” The idea here, insofar as I understand it, is that it’s okay for blacks to offer a posture that is defensive, or even explicitly bigoted, so long as they make it clear that it is inspired by whiteness as opposed to Jewishness.

    The idea here is that this vile, racist, woman is trying to convince black supremacists to attack white Christians, and not white Jews.

    But she has a major problem, black supremacists think Jews are fake Jews precisely because of their skin colour.

    White Jews who promote anti-white racism are even stupider than white gentiles who promote it.

  3. Thank you for this article. It’s incredible the kinds of things you’d never hear about simply because it doesn’t fit into the media’s preferred narrative. Kudos to Quillette for addressing it, and for the author’s cutting take. How the left doesn’t realize the way they strip non-whites of agency is reflective of a deep-seated racism is astonishing. It’s not surprising that the people who make the most noise about racism are overcompensating for their own private beliefs. As they say “thou doth protest too much.”

  4. Within reading the first few sentences of this article I guessed there was going to be some progressive blaming these crimes by blacks, on whites.

    The Nazis blamed and scapegoated Jews for all the evils of the world. Jewishness was innately evil. Now replace ‘Jew’ with ‘white’, and you have the progressive view. For progressives, whites are the new Jews.

  5. …if any Black people have developed antisemitic views it is under the influence of white gentiles …

    If?

    American Jews are beneficiaries of “whiteness"

    Okay, Jews are white-adjacent. I’ve suspected that for some time.

    Moreover, “Black people become distracted by Jewishness and don’t properly lay blame on whiteness and Jews get attacked in the process.

    So it’s not black people hunting down and killing Jews on the streets of New York. It’s really white people killing Jews by proxy.

    This Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a college professor, so she must be smart.

  6. What I find really disgusting is that a lot of Jewish leftists, a significant number of whom consider themselves ethnically Jewish but don’t practice the religion, use their White-adjacency as a vehicle to condemn whites while making exceptions for themselves on the grounds of ethnicity. Some of the white folks who rant most fervidly about their own damnable privilege turn out to be – let me phrase it bluntly for my humor’s sake – atheistic pinko Jews.

    Jews, along with Hispanics and Asians, are counted as white or nonwhite depending entirely on what argument involving them the Left wants to make at any given time; they are Schrodinger’s Honky.

  7. The kind of garbage people you get when STEM departments affirmative action-in people who tick as many intersectional boxes as possible.

  8. Antisemitism amungst Black Americans is hardly a new phenomena.
    Black radical groups in the 60’s were rife with it (especially Islamist groups), as are current Black nationalist organizations.
    Today’s self-appointed spokespeople of the “oppressed Black” wear their antisemitism almost as a badge of honour, with the more woke ones thinly cloaking it as anti Zionism.

  9. It was inevitable that once “whiteness” became problematic, that Jews would disproportionately suffer from hate attacks. This is because most people incorrectly diagnose the problem at the heart of all human strife, conflict, misery and suffering as Greed, Hatred or Intolerance. It’s not- the true roots of all human strife lie in resentment, closely followed by it’s evil twin, fear of reputation damage. The first is relatively straightforward, in that through the belief of the lump fallacy- in order for someone to be doing well, someone else must be doing less well- and this in turn allows people to externalise their own personal failings by blaming others, indulging themselves in the pathological belief that they have somehow been cheated of their rightful opportunities. The second factor is important, because it actually reinforces cycles of systemic racial disparities.

    It’s an awful truth- that the main cause of modern racism, is the abject fear of being branded a racist. For my proof, I offer only one word, but it’s a powerful word, nonetheless- Rotherham. Despite the fact that the systemic grooming of underage underclass white girls was in no way indicative of Muslim culture in general, instead being confined to a tiny minority of one specific ethnicity within the Muslim community, it was sufficient to paralyse virtually every British institution that should have helped these young girls. Police Officers didn’t want to know. Teachers looked the other way. Social workers and Child Services brushed off the repeated complaints of concerned mothers. Politicians and local councillors quickly became deaf and blind to the problem, with one noted exception. All because of the paralysing and overwhelming fear of the accusation of racism. Predictably, when Andrew Norfolk, having wrestled with his conscience, published the first of his stories, he was branded with every epithet he both feared and expected. Predictably, when the story broke, it was co-opted by those intent on furthering anti-Islamic sentiment.

    Human beings are heavily indebted to the mechanism of trust, to encourage the systems of reciprocity that allow human social lives to thrive, and our civilisations to prosper. Merit-based hierarchies cannot work without it, and it permeates right down to the very base of pyramid of all human structures, even if trust in competency, always precedes more developed forms of trust, such as trust in intentions, or the trust to deal fairly. This is why anything that hampers that trust is so poisonous, throwing a proverbial spanner in the works of all human relations. Because, in order for the narrowly construed contractual deference to exist between boss and subordinate, there needs to be the assumption of a level playing field, in terms of reciprocity- I will do for you, if you will do for me. It’s also incidentally, the reason why the Pareto distribution works so harshly to restrict the number of creative rainmakers within larger organisations, because distance in human relations weakens reciprocity, and the motivation that thrives off it. It’s also the reason why Government is ultimately doomed to failure.

    Interject race into the formula of any process that relates to hiring and promotions, along with the natural tilt to the level playing field that allows one party in the reciprocity relationship to make accusations for perceived bad treatment with impunity and no repercussions, and we have a factor that inevitably poisons the well of benign trust-based systems. And if you still don’t believe that undermining these systems of trust and reciprocity, is the primary modus operandi of modern racism, or that I am overstating the scale or the depth of the problem, then consider this- since the advent of #metoo, 60% of bosses now report feeling uncomfortable around young women, especially in relation to wanting to limit time alone with a subordinate, and time spent socially, outside the workplace. The is what happens when arbitrary factors such as race, sex, or sexual orientation begin to encroach on normal human relations.

    And what does this have to do with Jews, I hear you ask? Well, unfortunately they are natural recipients of the mistrust that comes from the resentment that is driven by the externalisation of human failings. Because of their differences, somewhat innate, but more because of their incredibly evolved mechanisms for raising bright, hard-working, intellectual kids, they produce more than their fair share in relation to the Arts, Literature, Music, the Sciences and virtually every human field that makes our lives more bearable, and more prosperous. For a tiny portion of the World’s population, they are hugely over represented in Nobel prizes and earn well above incomes, along with the wealth that stack up with it. So for those who erroneously believe that there is only one cake of human wealth to be divided up amongst us all, they are the natural targets- and should serve as the canary in the coal mine, for the extent to which our societies suffer from the pathologisation of resentment.

    A few years back, Melody Hobson entreated us all to be Colour Brave, not Colour Blind on Ted. Like many, I took her at her word, and believe things can and should change for the better. But unlike many, I wasn’t prepared to accept the concepts of systemic and structural racism at face value- I wanted to understand how they worked- especially given that we now know that both the test for, and the concept of, implicit bias is so deeply flawed.

    If anything, I’m more depressed than when I started. We know that arbitrary approach simply don’t work from the universities. With elite institutions trying to force proportionality of diversity at the top, and inevitably stealing a few of the best candidates from the next institution in line, we know that it isn’t long before the mid-range of competitive schools starts to experience drop out rates of around 45 to 50%. Similarly, the Tech Giants might be able to enforce proportional diversity, with great pay and opportunities, but this will necessarily rob the world of minorities who could have succeeded in other domains.

    Addressing the feeder systems that produce such inequalities of outcome seems to be the wisest choice. It has the advantage of fidelity to equality of opportunity, after all, and encourages a greater belief in the level playing field, by somewhat correcting for bad luck, by birth. There are now numerous schools both in America and Britain, that seem to be producing miraculous results with kids from poor, mutli-ethnic, high crime communities. The only universal factors in such paragons of education appear to be strict enforcement of low-level discipline (such as detentions), knowledge-rich curricula and a community of parents that are committed to the educational endeavour.

    But this in itself, is not enough- because we know that race can poison the normal processes of trust and reciprocity. Worse still, by allowing the social justice cause to be hijacked by those intent on turning it into a narrative of inevitable oppression, and oppressor, with whiteness as the analogue of original sin, the activists have quite unintentionally made things worse, not better. By dialling up the volume on race, they are sowing the seeds of mistrust, and making true reciprocity that much more difficult. Oh sure, a few kids at Google will prosper as a result, and employers will scramble to recruit the best minority candidates and promote them more rapidly, but ultimately they will only succeed in generating both more resentment, and greater fear of the dread accusation, in the long term. And for the kids stuck at the top of the oppression hierarchy , but at the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum, the situation will only become worse. Because for the marginal kids, with marginal educational achievement, no one will be willing to take the leap of faith in trust that is necessary to turn troubled young men’s lives around.

  10. As an occasional discursive rambler, I salute this fine example of the art! Thanks Geary.

    It is amazing how so many people seem to only look one stage ahead in the chain of consequences of what they argue for or do. They wouldn’t do well at chess. Think that too few people of whatever subgroup get into some profession, or educational stream? Use affirmative action to push matching individuals ahead of other applicants. The assumption, perhaps partly true, is that the people were being unfairly rejected due to some bias. Affirmative action fixes this by brute force.

    Yet proponents of affirmative action seem not to consider the next stages: pushed-forward people may fail at higher rates than normal, because they were, on average, less prepared / educated / motivated / interested / capable or whatever than those who would have been chosen without affirmative action. As everyone observes this over a period of years, it tends to make many people think that the singled-out group of people really are incompetent. Maybe they are regarding this particular skill set - for reasons of their base culture, inherent (on average) mental and emotional faculties, and/or due to inadequate education or interest in the field. No matter how these apply, pushing people into roles they - on average - don’t do well, cannot achieve the goal of a lasting change in attitudes and patterns of acceptance which would increase the group’s participation and overall achievement.

    I think affirmative action is pretty much the worst thing one could do to such groups of people.

    Thanks for this article. I have no special insights, but I think that that some important distinctions are lost in portraying Black Hebrew Israelite antisemitism as being just like more conventional antisemitism. The former has an amazing degree of nuttiness inherent in its core which would be entertaining and worthy of some kind of respect for extraordinary achievement in this field, if it was not so stupid, offensive and - sometimes - murderous. Ordinary antisemites hate, fear and/or are repulsed by Jews. This is a dull and tawdry affair compared to the drama of thinking that one’s fellow blacks are the true Jews and the so-called Jews are canny imposters.

  11. White females often feign the same “acceptance” of their white guilt with the implicit understanding that their gender shields them from true responsibility, thereby deflecting blame to the real villains, white males.

  12. Just read the following on SPiked:

    In Strasbourg, France, holiday home of the EU Parliament, more than 220 cars were incinerated during the ‘celebrations’ this year – twice the number torched last year. Firefighters attending the blazes were attacked. There were similar violent scenes across France, including reports of men roaming the streets with Kalashnikovs in Marseille.

    In Germany, meanwhile, a police officer in Leipzig had to undergo emergency surgery. Policemen were attacked with a burning shopping cart and fireworks. The local police union said that the violence this year had taken on a ‘new quality’. The attack is being treated as attempted murder. On the same night in the same city, 25 stained-glass window panes were smashed with rocks. The windows belonged to the 800-year-old St Thomas Church, the burial place of JS Bach.

    In Brussels, vehicles were torched and more than 180 people were arrested. Explosions in Sweden are not limited to New Year’s Eve fireworks – over 100 explosions were reported last year.

    Seems as though the Europeans are just as nasty as the poor old Americans

  13. I appreciate you bringing the (/scarcasm off) identifier (is that what it’s called???) to my attention. It’s something I really need to start utilizing, being that despite my best efforts, my sarcasm is - by all accounts - incapable of effectively transmitting from this keyboard to that whiteboard. In all seriousness, I bet I’ve had to apologize, no less than 3-5 times just on this forum alone, for being an assclown when what I was really trying to be was more of a 2nd… more like 3rd rate Gervais-smartass. Obviously, the deficiency lies on my end, but with this (/sarcasm) business, I can start ratcheting it up.

    As for the actual purpose of your comment, I’m sad to report a considerably lower level of confidence on the likelihood of that “sea change” occurring. But if I’m pessimistic on a sea change within the black community, I’m decidedly suicidal on the likelihood that the “press will mysteriously start reporting a lot more negative stories about [your] Black brethren.”

    For one, in the eyes of MSM journalists, your brethren are viewed not unlike the Catholic church views the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a word, sacrosanct. You or at least your brethren (are you black?) are made men. They cannot be touched or spoken ill of unless Al Sharpton first says they can. Instead of a halo like Mary, your brethren have been granted a code of omerta by the Left. It’s like diplomatic immunity if “diplomatic” was a synonym for “minority victim.”

    To your point, though, to the extent a sea change does occur, it will almost certainly occur via a social phenomenon called Belief Congruence Theory. A perfect example of this is Clarence Thomas. Belief Congruence Theory explains why, despite being black, your brethren are - to put it gently - not his biggest fans; while white social conservatives more or less are.

  14. I agree. I suspect it’s no more or no less than that of other Americans, but a key difference is that when blacks are called out for it, many progressives rush to their defence by offering rationalisations. This helps no one. People can learn and improve.

    In October 2018, I posted the below comment about how the blacks and Jews, who had been allied in the Civil Rights Movement, came to loggerheads in New York City.

    In 1968 New York City teachers went on strike, one of the largest and, at two months, one of the longest strikes by teachers in US history. Pay? Benefits? No, 83 of their number, almost all of whom were Jewish, were dismissed by the Ocean Hill–Brownsville Demonstration School District school board. The one black teacher who was also dismissed was done so accidentally, and he was re-instated once it was determined he was black and not Jewish. More than one million students were unable to attend class when almost 58,000 teachers walked off their jobs in support of their dismissed colleagues. The union president stated anti-Semitism was the cause for the their dismissal.

    A janitor heard a commotion is a classroom, entered it, found black students behaving wildly whilst the white teacher “did nothing”, and complained to the community that the white teacher couldn’t control the students. Their learning was being impaired. The teacher told his supervisors he was using a new teaching method that was unstructured and liberating - Montessori, iirc.

    This was seized by community activists and black educators. A new methodology may work for wealthy white children, but it was ill-suited for blacks. Because the teacher is white he was unable to understand black students’ needs. He and 82 others had to go for being white.

    These dismissals violated the contract between the teachers union, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and the board – teachers in NYC had tenure since 1917. Further, many of the teachers were dismissed by telegrams delivered to their classrooms.

    Said the telegram: The governing board of the Ocean Hill–Brownsville Demonstration School District has voted to end your employment in the schools of the District. This action was taken on the recommendation of the Personnel Committee. This termination of employment is to take effect immediately.

    The strike pitted the mostly black residents of the community, one that until very recently had been mostly Jewish and socialist, against the mostly white union, highlighting a conflict between local rights to self-determination and teachers’ universal rights as workers. The community changed faster than the teachers union had, and the teachers had tenure, so they weren’t going anywhere. Adding a wrinkle to the situation was the Afro-American Teachers Union (ATU), one that wanted its members to replace the then-present UFT teachers, which created a rivalry between the two unions. The ATU had once been part of the UFT, but it split as its members’ goals diverged from the greater union membership. The ATU wanted to implement an Afro-centric curriculum such as teaching African dance and how to count in Swahili. UFT members thought the curriculum would do little to advance blacks into tertiary education and employment.

    What led to this?

    The Nation writes:

    [NYC] Mayor John Lindsay, in the spring of 1967, had granted “community control” to Ocean Hill–Brownsville and two other New York City neighborhoods. The movement had been inspired by young Black Power leaders like Stokely Carmichael, who argued in 1966 that “We cannot have white people working in the black community—on psychological grounds…. [B]lack people must be in positions of power, doing and articulating for themselves.” At a rally held in honor of Black Panther defense minister Huey Newton’s birthday, Carmichael declared that black youth “are more intelligent than all those honkies on those school boards…. We have to understand that until we control an educational system that will teach us how to change our community, there’s no need to send anybody to school.”

    Parents and community organisers blocked the schools’ entrances to prevent the dismissed teachers from returning to their classrooms. Police were sent to move them. The NYC Board of Education agreed to reinstate the dismissed teachers, but the local school districts refused to budge. When the teachers were restored, the students and the black teachers responded by striking, refusing to attend class.

    Things got racial. Blacks accused the Jews of being racists. An anti-Semitic pamphlet was found: THE IDEA BEHIND THIS PROGRAM IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT WHEN THE MONEY CHANGERS HEARD ABOUT IT, THEY TOOK OVER, AS IS THEIR CUSTOM IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

    One of the ATU teachers read a poem on a radio station purportedly written by a student. It began: “Hey, Jewboy, with that yarmulke on your head / You pale-faced Jew boy – I wish you were dead.”

    At an assembly with the striking teachers present, bullets were thrown at them by community members, and some strikers were physically attacked by the community.

    Ultimately the city’s Board of Education retook control of the districts from the offending school boards, dismissed teachers resumed their jobs, and student academic performance continued to decline. The UFT filed a civil rights complaint against the ATU for excluding whites, perhaps one of the earliest examples of what would be later be called (inaccurately) ‘reverse racism’. The UFT won.

    Sociologist David Wellman, author of the influential Portraits of White Racism cited this conflict as an example of white racism. Blacks demanded institutional re-organisation, a change to the status quo, by demanding control of the school districts and hiring teachers to reflect the community. Blacks wanted schools to build their self esteem and celebrate their identity. Whites saw education as the way to prepare young people for their futures.

    By defending its members from summary dismissal the UFT relied on the ‘white structures’ of tenure, contracts, compliance with (contractual) law, and defending its members unreservedly, which is what unions were created to do. A union failing to do so renders itself superfluous. White teachers, who were mostly progressives, claimed they were not hostile to blacks; they were simply defending their rights and interests against the unlawful actions of a powerful school district trampling on them under the guise of racial justice.

    According to Wellman, the UFT’s actions were prejudice plus power equals racism. Though they were not overtly prejudiced, and most of the overt prejudice was blacks’ anti-Semitism, by relying on systems to protect their rights, i.e. their privileges, whites were nevertheless racists.

    “If the consequence of whites acceding to a black demand reduces black-white inequality and if whites choose to oppose it, then regardless of the principle invoked that opposition perpetuates the status quo.” (Emphasis mine)

    He adds: “The focus on prejudice is empirically inadequate. It presents an inaccurate picture of racism since it can detect only the racism of people who are prejudiced.” (Emphasis mine)

    At the heart of it was the view by the school districts that the teachers’ contracts were illegitimate because they interfered with the new administrators’ plans. The allowed causes for teacher dismissal were too restrictive and the termination process was complicated and long. Declaring it racist gave the districts the carte blanche to act. Buffoons such as Wellman give these abusive actions academic legitimacy.

  15. Thanks for the reply.

    Well, that’s bad news, isn’t it? Baldwin makes the point (in 1967) that anti-Semitism could also be due to anti-white feeling.

    Let’s all hope that the animus is due to hated of whites and not the hated of Jews, which is far worse. When a fella gets harassed or beaten for being white it’s much less painful than if the same fella is harassed or beaten for being Jewish.

    “You fucking cracker!” Practically pain free. “You fucking kike!” Excruciating pain. See?

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