Home Editorials Understanding what it is to be anti-Semitic

Understanding what it is to be anti-Semitic

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

Maybe I am treading on dangerous waters when I say there are many people who are confused about being labeled as anti-Semitic—relegating them to being vilified, demonized, and even canceled out when making comments they don’t personally deem as being offensive, hostile, or prejudiced against Jews. It is never right to purposely engage in hateful and harmful rhetoric toward any group of people especially by intentionally promoting lies or untruths. But many Blacks are confused about questioning the actions of some Jews in some situations. What is rightfully considered offensive or anti-Semitic?

There have been some high-profile Black individuals such as Nick Cannon and Kyrie Irving who had to apologize or recant actions or statements that some viewed as anti-Semitic. Some people would argue that they don’t see these individuals as anti-Semitic or haters of Jews but as sharers of information that could be hurtful whether you view it as right or wrong. However, if it is the intent of an individual to share harmful rhetoric or untruths about Jews to promote hate and disunity, it can undoubtedly be assumed as anti-Semitic.

Sharing the history of slavery and the role of the Confederacy doesn’t make one anti-White unless it contains calculated lies, and one’s purpose is to promote hate. Is it possible to assume that some people say or manifest actions not knowing they are considered anti-Semitic? One would presume presenting prefabricated lies with the intent to promote hate or foster resentment or rebellion, warrants being labeled anti–Semitic. Many would argue this is not the case of some people being labeled anti-Semitic by the Jewish community.

Respectfully, in all honesty, can any group or race claim to be more racially targeted, stereotyped, and subjected to harm and hate than African Americans? However, those negatively targeting African Americans are not given the same seriousness as those alleged to be anti-Semitic. Those opposed to African Americans or their history are not made to apologize and are not vilified or cancelled. Is there a double standard? Where do we draw the line, especially when considering what is deemed to be anti- Semitic?

Can you understand why some people, especially African Americans, are confused at the insensitivity of those who are personally offended by anything negatively stated about Jews but ignore the attacks made against people of color? Shouldn’t negative statements promoting lies prejudice, hostility, and hate against any group be taken seriously? Concerning the teaching of history, is promoting hate and hostility as opposed to educating people (hopefully) to make amends going forward, given the same weight? Is teaching provable facts of history which may be uncomfortable to some becoming a liability?

No entire race or group of people can be considered collectively monolithic in their actions or views, especially when described historically or subjectively. Viewing all members of a race or group of people under one microscope is unfair and bias, but in reality people unfortunately relate to or identify with groups in generalities, whether right or wrong. Remember there are always exceptions to the rules in any given circumstance. We as a society have a proclivity in relating to specific actions of individual people in a group and judging everyone racially related to that group as a whole under one umbrella. Individuals or certain actions of people within a group shouldn’t categorize the whole group.

Stating historically true statements about a group showing some of them in a negative light doesn’t necessarily make the person sharing information a hater. Educating people on the ills or shortcomings of an individual, group, or nation is history and can be a definitive learning moment that can be beneficial in going forward—if the information is true. You can be too sensitive and take things personally, but that should not negate others from knowing the truth—especially if (for no other reason) to make amends or show compassion and empathy going forward.

The history of this country and the world is full of people and events, especially wars, that we are not proud of. But it happened, and it would be doing us a grave injustice to sweep these events under the rug because it makes some people uncomfortable. Not talking about injustices as if they didn’t happen doesn’t make them go away. The injustices only clandestinely permeate.

Let’s make no mistake, it is some individual’s or group’s intentions to spread hate and prejudice for divisive purposes. Although it is wrong, we must be cognizant that we are a country where we boast on having freedom of speech. Maybe we should revisit that constitutional right concerning rhetoric or speech which intentionally spreads lies and promotes harm and hate to discredit an individual or group. We must also be mindful that individual’s sensitivity concerning statements will vary, and we should not demand everyone to feel the way we do.

Answer the question: ‘Do you believe everyone alleged to be anti-Semitic is guilty and harbors ill- will and hate against Jews?’ This is not an irrelevant question, because many people (especially Blacks) are honestly confused. Something that may be controversial about Jews is considered anti-Semitic, but that is not always the case when hateful and racists comments are made targeting Blacks. Very rarely is an apology required or rendered.

Blacks don’t hate Whites because of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and Black Codes laws, discrimination, and segregation in this country. African Americans only want equality and amends for the wrongdoings of the past going forward. Reality or the truth only serves to better things going forward for those mistreated or devalued. Discussing the ills of the past caused by White oppressors doesn’t make Blacks anti-White or haters. It makes Blacks more vigilant, making sure these ills cease to exist. The question still remains: ‘Does saying anything a Jew may disagree with or question makes the content or deliverer anti-Semitic?’

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