More From Alder's Ledge

January 16, 2020

Nazism, Malaysian Style

(patches used by Malaysian neo-Nazis)

Hitler’s belief in a dominant race can be transformed to fit any number of neo-fascist hate groups around the world today. You see it in how Modi twists the Nazi flare to turn the focus from race to religion while still maintaining nationality as the core of his Hindu nationalist platform. India's take on a Nazi like state still needs the issue of nationality, often associating Islam with other ethnicities outside of India, to drive the fanaticism behind making a state based on radical Hinduism. But take a little trip over to Malaysia and you find Nazism alive and well in a nearly perfect transplant of the German version. That is because Malaysia’s nationalists have a very diehard focus on race that, like Germany, uses religion as a prop. When Malaysian Nazis speak about their brand of nationalism, they are solely speaking about the white supremacist style “blood and soil" brand of it.

Malaysia as we know it today was formed on the racist belief that the dominant Malay ethnicity had a right to all of Malaysia. This was in spite of the fact that Malays are not the Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia but rather, given a more accurate and much longer timeline, relatively new to the migration of peoples who have swept over the lands that currently comprise Malaysia and Indonesia. Yet with the focus of nationality being the present, and only on the states formed out of colonial maps, the justice for Indigenous Peoples who have been made second class citizens by Malaysia is not of concern for the nationalists of today. The Malaysia they know is one where the Malay is king and all others are either to be subjects or driven out. That not so pleasant aspect of post-colonial Malaysia, one intentionally overlooked by racists like Malaysia's PM Mahathir, gives the roots of radical nationalism like that seen among Malaysia’s neo-Nazis. It is the racist foundation of society that feeds the “fringe" by allowing them to tap into what the rest of society has conveniently ignored but so frequently benefited from.

Mahathir’s own written works could be dissected to show how political power in Malaysia has only ever been harnessed through the deliberate and skillful manipulation of Malay privilege as well as both overt and outright racism towards other ethnic groups. Mahathir gained much of his influence via grievance politics and promises of securing the privileged status of Malays while offering justification for the discrimination faced by minorities in Malaysia. While Malaysian politicians have often pretended to be working on behalf of all ethnic groups in Malaysia, they more often than not have served the interests of the dominant ethnic group at the detriment of minorities. This persistent pandering to the racist views of the majority has engendered a climate in which the most depraved of extremists can find fertile soil and feel comfortable growing without fear of being cut down. From jihadists to Nazis, Malaysia’s problem with radicals is one of its own making and a direct consequence of society’s willingness to look the other way.

Malay Power

(Hitler salutes at a Malaysian Nazi concert)

In the early 2010’s the political movement Perkasa was compared to the American Tea Party by Malaysian commentators as the Malaysians watched their own far-right take to the streets. One striking indication of how little Malaysians wanted to deal with their own racism was in how commenters repeatedly whitewashed the blatant racism of America’s Tea Party movement in hopes of diminishing the equally Nazi-like racism of Perkasa. While political commentary did often admit that Perkasa had racist motivations behind its fascist politics, the comments were always immediately followed up with explanations for why Malays could magically not be racists. Around the same time the Nazi music scene in Malaysia was kicking off as far-right groups found a soundtrack for their Nazi inspired movements. The band Boot Axe, taking direct inspiration in its name from white supremacist terminology and references to Nazi “jackboots", rose to the forefront of the skinhead style scene. Swastikas, deaths head emblems and the Nazi SS were all on clear display as the skinheads ignored the fact that they were all far too brown to have ever been accepted as Nazis by the originals. Hate filled lyrics showed that they irony of their Nazi fetish didn’t matter much to the Malay supremacists. Hate was all they had and all they needed.

A hatred of minorities among the Nazi scene in Malaysia uses events like the pogroms of Chinese communities in Malaysia during the 13th of May, 1969 ethnic violence. The racism of Malaysian society as a whole was on full display on that day in 1969. The Malaysian majority used ethnic Chinese communities as scapegoats for a political loss suffered by the politicians who had spent their time race baiting the ethnic majority. Nazis in Malaysia today view themselves as the next batch of storm troopers prepared to dish out the same violence upon any and all minorities in Malaysia, regardless of the fact many ethnic minorities they hate are the actual Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia. Their belief that they are defending the socioeconomic interests of their race (which technically is a hodgepodge of ethnic groups that passed through the region over time) shows the racially inspired hatred of the movement. But there is another aspect to Malaysian Nazism… religion.

(Malaysian Nazis, note the SS death's head shirt)

When Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir calls Jews “hook-nosed” and “the source of all the world’s problems" he is not just appealing to the anti-semitism that is so prevalent in Malaysia but is directly appealing to Malaysia’s neo-Nazi movement. His hate filled literature and speeches are lapped up by Malaysia’s Nazis because their brand of Nazism uses a view of Jewish people that is filtered through German Nazism as well as less than moderate interpretations of Islam. Just as how Mahathir views Malay identity as being intertwined with Islamic identity in the Middle East, Malaysia’s Nazi movement views Hitler’s Final Solution as a key part in dealing with the people Mahathir claims are “the source of all the world’s problems.” Largely due to the fact that this view of Malay identity does not limit Malaysia to its borders but extends it to Jerusalem and all of the Islamic world. The irony of including Muslims on the basis of their faith, ignoring their racial diversity, as allies while excluding minorities in Malaysia solely on the basis of ethnicity is not lost on the Nazis though. Many of Malaysia’s neo-Nazis bridge the gap here by tweaking Malay identity to include the jihadist mantra of defending the ummah as something of their sacred duty. 

Religion is frequently used as a intoxicant among extremists regardless of political leanings, ethnocentric views or outright hatred of their targeted victims. The love and peace of the faith itself is discarded in favor of cherry picked verses that would otherwise justify the violent ends of the radicals when interpreted as they wish. Malay Nazism is no exception. By relying on Islamic verses that profess less than tolerant views of homosexuality and non-Abrahamic faiths, Malay Nazism draws a hard line that mirrors that of Islamic extremists of any other background. Taking a page from their Christian Nazi comrades, the Malay Nazis use scripture to justify their hatred of LGBT communities by claiming homosexuality threatens their view of a “pure Malay race". Many of these deviate along the same lines that white supremacists do by once again circling their hate for LGBT people back to their hatred of Jewish people by claiming Judaism is the root of homosexuality (yet Judaism is equally intolerant of LGBT people). This illustrates rather well the method in which religion, all religion, is frequently used to insulate the group and encourage the otherizing of groups deemed unworthy or outcasts. Which is why Nazism, everywhere, so often relies on religion as a method of securing its prospective followers and hardening its existing extremists.

How Can Asian Nazis Even Exist?

(Nazi tattoos in Malaysia)

This question has been asked by many articles written by Malaysian authors wishing to push the notion that Nazism is a whites only problem. That somehow Malaysians are incapable of being rabidly racist to the point of adopting one of Europe’s worst sins as their own. Yet Nazism does not grow out of nowhere. This brand of extremism needs specific conditions to be met before it can spring up like a weed that can never fully be exterminated. Neo-Nazism thrives when society’s majority decides to secure their own interests at the expense of all others. It takes root in a climate of hostility towards those perceived to be outsiders, when nationalism dictates who is a member of the group and who must go away. Nazism is a byproduct of the indifference society shows towards the most vulnerable and the most easily scapegoated. When Malaysia permits the ethnic majority to dictate who is and is not Malaysian, it feeds the growth of extremists like the Malaysian Nazis. When Malaysia goes looking for minorities to blame for the ineptitude of its government, it raises a generation of potential skinheads. Mahathir’s time as Prime Minister has been a godsend to the growing Nazi movement in Malaysia. But no one politician is to blame. Instead it is Malaysian society as a whole, the same as American society shares collective blame for Nazis on its streets, for the rise of Nazism in Malaysia. Malaysians have tolerated and frequently coddled its extremists because these skinheads are no threat to the Malay majority. And yet Nazism in Malaysia is no less a threat to the global community than White Supremacy is. When Americans ignored neo-Nazis during the 1980s and 1990s the consequences were felt in Oklahoma City and later around the world. Malaysia’s neo-Nazis are not isolated. Their music, their symbols and their chants are shared with their white counterparts. The internet has made the world smaller in a million ways and one of those has been that hate can spread from fingertips on iphones and be around the world in a blink of an eye.

January 5, 2020

From Cultural Appropriation To Using Us As Props

Jewish people of African descent have been in the United States just as long as Jewish people of European descent. Both communities have deep roots with cultural practices and beliefs shared across racial distinctions between them. However both have different experiences when talking about antisemitism and the appropriation of their culture and identity by racial extremists and Christians masquerading as Jews. We also have different ways of identifying and different words used for doing so. This last point is where the rise of black nationalists coopting the identity of Jews of color comes in.

Hebrew Israelites

Cultural Appropriation To Get Closer To God

There are authentically Jewish communities across the United States which happen to be Jews of color which identify as Hebrews and/or Israelites. These communities are Jewish in the same way non-Jews view European Jews as being Jewish. Their connection to our shared heritage, ancestry and religion should never be diminished nor should they face discrimination on the basis of their skin color. When others claim to support Jews and fight antisemitism, these communities must also be included in the discussion and the challenges and oppression they face must be addressed – regardless of how uncomfortable that might be for anyone else.

Then there are the racists who have continued to appropriate the identity of African-American Jews by attempting to redefine what being Jewish means so that it includes them and excludes all the diverse communities of Jews around the world who don’t fit their prejudiced views. These imposters take portions of Judaism and Jewish culture and blend it with cultures completely alien to Jewish tradition (of any background). The other cultures they exploit range from indigenous and tribal cultures across the globe which happen to be people of color and a skin tone they approve of. Some take the identity of Aetas in the Philippines and mischaracterize the indigenous group as a fabled “lost tribe" so that they can claim ancient origins while ignoring the entirety of Aeta culture and history. Others point to random black communities in China to once again exploit and mischaracterize the histories of these peoples to the benefit of the exploiters. This behavior is seen in regards to Judaism by how these groups also fail to even learn Hebrew before calling themselves “Hebrews", instead mixing languages to come up with gibberish sounding like “ancient Hebrew" they claim to have rediscovered. The complete disregard for the cultures they are appropriating comes from the fact that the intent behind this behavior is that of seeking a sense of superiority to others. There is no need to study the people you are attempting to dispossess of their identity when you already view them as subhuman. A view clearly seen in their frequently violent street preaching attacks.

Jewish identity among Christian extremists is viewed as a way to get higher up the ladder and closer to an imagined god. It elevates the extremists, if only in their own eyes, above others by claiming to be “God’s Chosen  People” (a phrase that is often the source of debates among actual Jews anyway). For black nationalists like the Black Hebrew Israelites groups this also helps elevate their cult above others on the basis of race in addition to religion. By appropriating Jewish identity they view themselves as superior to whites, all Christians and Muslims, and Jewish people not of their select skin color. It is an attempt to assign power to themselves and enhance their self worth. The racism within it is fed by the belief that this one act of cultural theft will give them power over others either in this life or the one they imagine comes next. 

Violence within the movement is a natural outcome of the movement’s own preaching. Adherents can no more be expected to remain peaceful indefinitely in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement than can be expected from the Atomwaffen Division members. When the underlying message of the movement carries the belief that other human beings are evil incarnate and that evil must be fought against, at some point blood will be spilled. And even if the violence does not materialize in physical aggression from every member, passive aggression and tacit support of all active members enables it. Members of hate groups are never innocent of the crimes they helped create. Simply belonging to the group is an act of enabling it and does carry some guilt with it. When a member or an attacker inspired by the group carries out an attack like that in Jersey, the entire group deserves no protection from condemnation and its leaders must face accountability for the crimes they have encouraged. However doing this means once again segregating the hate groups, the imposters who appropriate Jewish identity and culture for their own gain, from the actual Jewish communities of color. Something some white Jews are having a hard time doing.

Hate Preachers 

Farrakhan Spent 2019 Spreading Hate Speech

Islam, like Christianity, has a less than peaceful history with Judaism. The fact that it claims to have branched off, and this is the nicest way it can be worded, from Judaism so as to use the connection to extend its existence beyond its prophet has lent to much of that hostility, arising from both Jews and Muslims alike. Nobody ever likes being used as a prop in somebody else’s story. And at times there are those who grow tired of keeping the token around. These hate preachers decide that the prop has outlived its usefulness and instead need replaced by the faithful of their own religion. While the Islamic prophet frequently preached of tolerance towards “the people of the book", men like Louis Farrakhan preach that “the Synagogue of Satan" (borrowed from Christian antisemites) need destroyed. 

Farrakhan has often been shielded by liberals because the man has worked his way into the establishment. His ability to use incredibly violent hate speech towards Jewish communities while being protected by liberal celebrities and politicians (such as when he called Jews “cockroaches" only to be protected by members of The Women’s March in 2019) has shown followers that hatred of American Jews has a certain threshold of acceptability among leftists. As long as the group is willing to be used by leftists, there is no limit to the amount of abuse they can heap upon minorities not willing to be used as props. This is the same behavior you see among minorities who seek out rightwing fame knowing full well that doing so could encourage violence against members of their own community. Tokenism has its perks for those willing to play the role for either side. Farrakhan knew this all along and has exploited it for his own gain. Now he operates with impunity as the establishment seems willing to take whatever pushback comes with his constant incitement of violence against American Jews. 

The consequences of allowing men like Farrakhan to obtain and exploit the platforms they have is the generational divides between communities that they create. When Farrakhan and his followers push conspiracy theories and hate speech towards Jewish communities they make it increasingly hard for communities to come together and work towards common goals. This divide has been exploited by Trump’s regime as the rightwing portion of American Jews use it to exploit tensions and pull moderates to their side. Christian extremists use it as justification to play the saviors they see themselves as while pushing policies that harm both people of color and Jewish communities as well. Yet there has been no significant call to ostracize Farrakhan and his cult. Instead his protectors have spent all of last year circling the wagons and pretending that Farrakhan is being used as a scapegoat. Without holding hate preachers, regardless of color or religion, accountable the left shows that they are just as willing to exploit minorities as the Republicans are.

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The recent attacks and street preaching incidents raise the stakes in deciding how to isolate the extremists and unify Jewish communities in the face of such parasitic hate groups. It also brings up the issue of racism and how Jewish communities should react. Yet for all these questions there is one clear statement to be made: it is not the place of non-Jewish communities to dictate to us how we should answer any of these. It will also mean that white Jewish communities need sit down and allow Jewish communities of color to speak out about how these attacks affect them, as they experience this in ways we do not. This is a subject in which many of us who are used to speaking will have to shut up and listen instead. Any account of how these issues are faced by Jewish people of color will require anyone reading this to find and listen to somebody from the community as this blog does not and cannot speak for them.

January 2, 2020

Antisemitism and Our Fake Friends

Thoughts...

What is antisemitism? Any post about this topic seems to need that defined since so many people seem unaware of what actually is antisemitic and how often they tolerate, even condone, antisemitism in daily discourse and their daily lives.

Antisemitism for the sake of this post is defined by the prejudiced views of Jewish identity, Judaism as a faith and cultural aspects of Jewish communities around the world. This includes, but is not limited to, the clear hatred of any and all three aspects listed above and expressions of that hatred both verbally and physically. It entails the applied prejudices of what you expect a Jewish person to be when that view is applied to the detriment of Jewish people. This includes what could be perceived as positive views that, when applied, strip Jewish people of their agency and right to self-determination and the ability to define for ourselves what our identity means. It also includes the appropriation of Jewish identity by people who are not Jewish, regardless of the reasons given. Though all these listed, and those touched on below, are not rigid in definition since intent and context always must be applied to show the harm of the actions/words deemed to be antisemitic.
Now to illustrate some forms of antisemitism…

The Fetishized Jew

A fetish is an inanimate object to which the observer attaches meaning, attributes and meaning which otherwise do not exist without the application of the observer's views. When an entire people are turned into a fetishized object for the sake of another group it should be clear how this is detrimental to the targeted community. It can be argued that Islam and Christianity do this to Jews in the many interpretations of the two religions. The need to “branch out" from Judaism to add credibility and a sense of antiquity to the newer Abrahamic faiths has meant pigeonholing Jews into characters meant to play a secondary role to their prophets/messiahs and the adherents of the newer faiths. Jewish resentment for this behavior is then ignored or, historically speaking, punished. The roles cast for Jews in the two faiths also are less than favorable and, from the view of the fetish, insulting and dehumanizing. It should be clear to anyone that this behavior creates divisions that cannot be ignored indefinitely. Especially when those perpetrating this behavior have so often found themselves in the majority and therefore without any compulsion to stop it, let alone apologize for it.

Fetishized views of Jewish people also appear in secular culture when the “good Jew" image is applied in how society dictates what Jewish people should say, think, look like and what views we should support or oppose. The fetish is not permitted to actually live as an individual but rather expected to conform to the prejudices of the observer. Individuality is prohibited through the constant application of negative responses to it and latter enforced by outright abuse. The latest example of this is the politicized charges of antisemitism against Bernie Sanders simply because he does not fit the “good Jew" image a sizable portion of society holds.

When applied to the Orthodox Jewish community the fetishized view of them becomes even more abusive in that this time the fetish exist only as an outlet for the aggression of the observer. They can neither achieve the status of a “good Jew" or strive for acceptability once fetishized in America since the prejudices against them have no favorable application. So once applied these prejudices serve to isolate the community and enforce their segregation via the application of the observer’s prejudices and thus abuse follows. Then when the targeted community complies, the prejudices become more hostile and abuse becomes even more aggressive. This is an example of how the stripping of our humanity and replacing it with prejudiced views of what we should be often manifests and is experienced differently given other aspects of our identity. Orthodox Jews experience antisemitism differently than reform Jewish communities in the same way Jewish people of color experience antisemitism differently. Each of our diverse communities therefore experience this form of antisemitism differently.

The Evangelicals and Their Savior Complex

The image of solidarity in America is frequently portrayed far differently than it is applied in real action. After every antisemitic attack there are always Christian leaders who rush to express their undying support for us poor downtrodden Jews. It is a mad rush to speak over Jewish anger so that the images of Orthodox Jews praying can be seen in new articles and TV broadcasts as Christians talk for us. Instead of lifting up Jewish views of what drove the latest attacks on us, people like Donald Trump decide to shed some crocodile tears before thumping their chests and talking about how much they love Israel. Our blood is cheap in the eyes of those who spend their time chasing ambulances to the next synagogue massacre. 

We are not lambs to be sacrificed for the gains of Christian leaders or politicians of any party. Your support of Israel means nothing when you stand atop the graves of Jewish Americans just to shout out praise for Tel Aviv. This form of antisemitism not only cheapens the value of our lives but also places a bulls eye on our backs as you pretend to grieve. We are Americans and yet the fetish mentioned above is one that assigns us loyalty to a country to which we do not belong. It excludes us from American society while pretending to protect us. 

Solidarity is only ever achievable if both parties can shoulder the burden equally. This is impossible when the burden is applied by the Evangelical leadership in America. When your view of us hinges on stories in which we are vilified in one verse than turned to saints the next only to end with our ultimate destruction by fire, chances are you can never shoulder the burden of antisemitism but rather are a source of it. But the failure to address antisemitic passages in the Christian bible isn’t the only problem here. The overwhelming sense of needing to rush in and save us is just as damaging. 

It is impossible to pick apart the depths of antisemitic views held by large portions of Evangelicals in America. That alone could be saved for another post. But I will say this: the belief that “standing with Israel" after each attack on Jews in America is antisemitic. American Jews are not represented by some foreign government. Playing savior to us will not bring you closer to any god. When this is the motive for denouncing attacks, you can skip it. It is obvious that there is no sincerity in it. And the motive behind it is insulting, not loving.

The “Hebrew Israelites" and Other Fakes

I will address the appropriation of Jewish identity by non-Jews in the same way one would when talking about white people appropriating cultures they have historically colonized: Do not do it. It is really that simple. You can enjoy bagels, attend a Hanukkah celebration and not try to pretend to be Jewish. But really if those are the ways you are doing it then you are still not as monstrous as the next lot…

Black Hebrew Israelites and other versions of this cultish crowd are all antisemitic. All forms are potentially violent as well, regardless of what their apologists claim. There is no expression of their beliefs in which the adherent is not guided towards violent dispossession of Jewish identity from actual Jewish peoples. Their beliefs also rob actual Jewish people of color of their heritage, culture and identities by stripping them of their identity and applying it to Christians of color who fetishize Judaism. Not only do these groups not understand Hebrew or Jewish customs and culture, they refuse to admit the extent of Jewish diversity. Diversity that includes Jewish communities of Asian, Hispanic, European, African and Middle Eastern ancestry. With that in mind it is impossible to not label these groups as equally antisemitic as white nationalists movements that also target Jewish peoples with violent hate speech and dehumanizing characterizations. 

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These posts will continue as I have time to put them together. Like I have said above, antisemitism is difficult to define and there will be plenty of people who don’t like or agree with how I have used it. But it is important that society takes a long hard look at what forms of antisemitism exists and are expressed in both the mainstream and in the shadows alike. 

July 22, 2019

Patriotism As A Drug



The Addict:

It is part of human nature to want to belong, to be accepted, and even to have a purpose. We long for this from birth and strive for it even at an early age. Those desires lead us to seek out friends, join social activities were we believe we will find it and to work hard to gain acceptance from our peers. It is baked in to every culture and every society the world over. It can especially be seen in the rabid nationalism of our times.

Nationalism is a manifestation of our inherent need to belong. It gives us a community to which, we assume, we cannot be removed and will be accepted within. It fills that need we have as human beings. But it comes at a cost. Nationalism requires us to define the group in such a way that distinctions between who 'belongs' and who is presumed to not belong must be made. It is exclusionary and tribalistic. And in many cases, nationalism when defined by race and ethnicity, is flatout racist.

But nationalism works because it comes with a drug. It comes with the addition of patriotism. And patriotism is meant to make those who believe they belong in the group feel good about having gained that acceptance they crave. It fills the desire for a purpose as well since it becomes a necessity that must be maintained rather than a happy little byproduct of nationalistic fervor. It imposes upon the "patriot" a demand to show it, to exhibit it arrogantly, and to further exclude those who alledgedly don't belong.

As society rachets up nationalistic rhetoric the demand for obscene displays of patriotism goes up. To continue belonging to the crowd, the user has to up their dosage. In doing so, the user becomes less likely to focus on other issues, no matter how important they might seem, and begins to reject aspects of their daily life that contradict their ever growing desire to fit in with the crowd of their choosing. The rhetoric gets amped up again, the user repeats the cycle and focuses more and more on being a 'patriot'. No matter how detestable, or despicable even, the image of patriot becomes, that desire to belong remains and the drug they have found helps them feel accepted. The high is worth all the downright vile things that comes with it.

The Dealer:

Our world currently has a host of strongmen and neo-fascists who are more than willing to sell their poison in a nice easy to swallow form. People like Trump are more than aware that the target of their rhetoric have already dabbled in it before and can easily be baited with just the right pitch. It is the hook that only needs to be set.

The "us vs them" narrative is an age old part of populist rhetoric. It is used to make the distinctions between those who belong and those the dealer wants removed. It works because those who think they are the in-crowd feel accepted by the message as well as having found a purpose within it. It bestows on them a sense of pride, a sense of selfworth that might have been otherwise missing, and a sense of superiority. All they have to do is maintain their place in the exclusive circle that their prejudices have carved out for them. And this is where the drug comes in.

Patriotism can be used as both a sedative and a stimulant... given you know how to use it. Dealers like Trump know how. And as was seen in his latest klan meeting, with the chants calling for an 'outsider' to be "sent back", it is clear how the stimulant portion works. This aspect of it just requires massive doses of patriotism, such as rallies. That creating of spaces where the dealer's targets can feed off each other's energy, creating a desire to one up the other, is exactly how Trump targets his cultish klan with the drug of their choosing.

For those not willing to attend Trump's narcissistic orgy fest, the sedative part comes through passive partaking of patriotism. That sparklers and cookouts on the Fourth sort of addiction to it. It is a form of patriotism that allows the user to pretend the group they belong to is fine, perhaps some rough patches here and there, but otherwise ok. It permits a placid acceptance of evident wrongs in society while still allowing the user to feel pride in belonging to it. It silences the people who are often the same ones repeating lines like "all evil needs to succeed is the silence of good men".

This will not be the part where I tell you something like "but wait, there is still a good form of a patriot". There simply is not. And frankly the world would be a far better place with far fewer patriots.

The problem with believing you can be patriotic while still dissenting from the notion that some people belong and others should be in cages is that patriotism is derived from nationalism. Nationalism is nothing more than our way of deciding who belong where. Therefore there can be no real reason that a patriot is any better simply because they might be more tolerant than the outright racists currently leading many of our countries.

April 30, 2019

We Don't Need Saviors


We Don't Need Saviors

The American rightwing has frequently come to the defense of Jews after repeated shootings in American synagogues. The Evangelical conservatives see it as a part of their sacred duty to stand by Jewish people right up until the return of Jesus. And it is that savior complex, with all its opportunistic tendencies, that drives the conservative side of the debate on what is and what isn't antisemitic.

So what is antisemitism and what is not antisemitic? That question is very complex and yet can be readily answered in a way that keeps the conversation within guardrails. Antisemitism is the professed hatred, mistrust of Jewish people. It manifest in conspiracy theories of Jewish people holding disproportionate power, influence within society as well as darker myths of Jewish people conspiring for domination of the destruction of select other groups of people. It can also be as passive as any other form of racial discrimination in which assigned characteristics that are meant to otherize Jews and deem Jewish people as untrustworthy or unworthy of being considered equals. These are straightforward ways to define antisemitism that can, when reasonably applied to daily life, help Americans identify when somebody is displaying antisemitism. But even then this does not weed out the more insidious ways in which antisemitism has been baked into American society, as well as much of European and Middle Eastern societies, with influences ranging from religion to cultural differences. 

In America the discussion on antisemitism is often far less concerned with the wellbeing of Jewish people as individuals, which runs counter to the American culture of individualism, but rather often aims to collectivize Jewish people in a manner that makes Jews easy to pigeonhole. This lends itself to more nefarious forms of antisemitism. The stripping of a Jewish person's individual identity and affixing a perceived view of Israel, for better or worse, is antisemitic. And this is where the savior complex mentioned above comes into play. 

When Meghan McCain, with whatever good intentions she believes she might have, stands atop Jewish peoples' shoulders and speaks over us as she "defends" us - this is that savior complex. She routinely replaces our identity as American Jews with that of being members of a collective that is identified only by Israel. Israel being a nation means that it has citizens of its own, some of which happen to be Jewish, and obviously as American Jews, we are not part of it. But the Christian view that all Jews must be part of Israel, especially when approaching that final book, has been driven deep into the Christian American mindset. It forms a barrier that keeps American Jews from fully being part of American society and absolute equals in every single way that Christian Americans naturally see themselves as. It denies the same level of participation in the conversation by American Jews by leaning heavily on the notion that at some level we can't be as dedicated to the country we belong to because of the insinuation that we are also loyal to a country we do not belong to. The duel loyalty trope is ironically one that McCain has accused Rep. Omar of making, yet this savior complex that McCain so often engages in is founded on the belief that we, as Jews, do not truly belong to America.

While Christians in America have plenty other antisemitic stumbling blocks to work past, such as the routine deicide charges, the savior complex that conservative Christians so often exhibit is one that needs addressed. American Jews need true allies and support during times like these, as attacks on our communities increase in frequency and levels of violence. But we don't need saved. We don't need to be looked at as an opportunity to get on that pro-Israel Evangelical soapbox. We need people to simply recognize that antisemitism has deep roots in America and the only way to stop these attacks is to address each and every spring from which these roots are fed. It should be seen as the sacred duty of anyone who believes in Jesus to look at themselves, at their own communities first and reflect on how they themselves might very well be contributing to the hatred of any other people, be it Jews or immigrants or Muslims. 

Several of the following posts will be addressing antisemitism and how it works. These will discuss what distinctions should be made between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, why Ilhan Omar is not the antisemitic hate preacher the Republicans are casting her as and the need for all extremists who peddle antisemitic views to be taken on without relent.

April 29, 2019

White Supremacy And American Apathy



With a record number of hate groups in the United States, at 1,020 as of January, showing no signs of slowing down in their continual spread across America, the United States has a problem with hate. To be more specific, the United States has a problem with white supremacists and the hate groups that feed the white power movement in America. It is a problem that has spread across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and over Canada and America as well. It is an international threat that the United States government is willfully turning a blind eye to. And in doing so, the Trump administration is creating a breeding ground for terrorists that can strike, and have, anywhere around the world at any time.

The Islamic State showed the West that terrorists can effectively exploit social media to incite and organize terror attacks around the world. World leaders and tech companies all rallied around calls to strip the ISIS accounts of their online platforms and limit the flow of propaganda and information sent out by the well organized terror group. Anonymous and Western countries found themselves working towards the same cause for a change. It has proven effective in countering the weaponizing of social media and online formats. But when it comes to white power terrorism, when it comes to a terrorist threat that has its origins in the West, suddenly those efforts are extremely limited to a few key players (such as Germany's government for example) while major ones (such as America) refuse to bring that same tenacity to the fight against white supremacist terror groups. 

The inaction by the United States has led to a *30% increase in hate crimes against people of color, Muslims, Jews and other minority groups in the United States (*according to the FBI, measured over a three year time span ending in Dec. of 2017). In 2018 the hate crime rate rose by an additional *10% in the United States 30 largest cities, showing a continued upward trend (*FBI statistics for 2018). White supremacists showed the most desire to take normally non-deadly hate crimes to the next level in 2018 by killing *40 people in the United States and Canada, up from 17 people killed by white supremacists in 2017 (*Southern Poverty Law Center stats for 2018). Making the threat of being killed by a white supremacist far more likely in the United States than being killed by any other terrorist threat. 

It is hard to imagine any other terrorist threat being allowed the room and comfort to operate within the United States, let alone abroad, and to claim lives each and every year, without serious and aggressive action being taken by the United States federal government. Both Republican and Democrat administrations have launched drone strikes, bombing runs, invasions and endless wars in the name of 'national security'. Countless war crimes have been committed in by the United States, in the name of each and every American, because Americans felt threatened by terrorism coming from abroad. Yet even hinting that white supremacists should be shutdown/deplatformed is taboo in America. We can't even hold an honest discussion about the threat to American lives because white power, a clear and present danger, is held in such regard, and shielded by exaggerated interpretations of the constitution, that one can only come to the conclusion that white supremacy is a sacred cow that America isn't willing to do away with.

For years now the country has been asked to at least take an honest look at the inequalities within the system that offer white supremacists support in their desire to retain influence as well as social and political power. The discussion gets side-railed by many things, ranging from a history of refusal to adequately address racism to outright denial of racism itself, but most often is shutdown by white supremacist spreading fear among white Americans that somehow any steps to address racism would make white people second class citizens. An outright lie. A lie that illustrates how the movement uses fear to fuel hate, hate to create fear and that entire cycle itself to create attacks on minorities.

This refusal to address racism, and bigotry of all forms, when talking about white Americans has only been exploited by politicians who, like Trump, often share the views that white supremacist hate groups thrive on. Which is exactly how America ended up with a White House riddled with white supremacists. The system starts at the ground level and rises from there. Trump's hate is not an anomaly - it is the direct result, and the most logical conclusion, of America's white supremacist roots. 

Until the United States can be forced to truly address the issue, that being the inequality of its systems and society, white supremacist terrorism will proliferate. More lives will be lost and more "thought and prayers" will be offered over the graves of people that should have never had to die due to American indifference. The power structure, as it is today, favors the hate that America claims doesn't define it. 

December 11, 2017

And We Are Back.

A Screamers Post 

In the wake of the Holocaust the world was made to stand face to face with the reality of what we, all of us, can do to others. At our worst, we are monsters. All we have to do is lose the capacity to see the value in others, the ability to empathize, and then find a reason to view them as "life unworthy of living". 

"Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions," Primo Levi, Holocaust Survivor.

We often focus on the leaders we can easily identify and, as much as they deserve it, vilify. They become a symbol of what we hate. Often a symbol of what we hate about ourselves. They take on that role because they acted in ways that show how hateful and vile we as human beings can be. And while they deserve our condemnation, we often fail to scrutinize those who helped them gain the authority they needed in the first place. That would require facing the mirror images of ourselves and witnessing the monsters we wish not to be.

During the Holocaust the killings were only made possible by the complacency and silence of those not targeted for extermination. The deportations were made possible by the willingness of men and women to carry out such abuses without questioning the authority of those who had ordered them. And the fanaticism it took to fight and defend such heinous crimes was made possible by everyday men and women surrendering themselves to the fear which drove the will of the majority. 

Today we find ourselves learning once again that leaders are not the sole reason atrocities occur. Or at least now, in the age of leaders like Trump, we should be learning this lesson before it is too late. We should be vigilant in monitoring society around us for signs that we are being led along toward actions and policies that deliberately target others for harm. We should be ready and willing to openly challenge our governments, our religious leaders and even our friends and family when they push ideas that encourage us and others to either join in or carry out actions that harm minorities and marginalized portions of society. We must be relentless and refuse to grow tired as we stand for the rights of all peoples regardless of what faith they believe in, where they come from or what race or ethnicity they happen to be. If we are to avoid being judged as people who stood silently by while others suffered, we must scream.