Here. Let me help. It’s stuck to your chin like a half-popped zit, oozing all over the place.
Ok. Pull up a chair, in front of my very imaginary, but very luxe faux fireplace. I’ll pour you a beer. Or a glass of wine. Totes up to you. Comfy? Good. Let’s talk.
I seem to be getting the impression that just because you don’t overtly spew anti-Semitic slurs all over the place [yes, yes I know all about the Alt-right sites, internet comment sections, and a certain Cheeto’s mentions], that means America is no longer anti-Semitic.
*cough* Yeah. ‘Bout that.
You can be an anti-Semite without calling Jews names. You can be an anti-Semite by blaming us for our own oppression that is caused by non-Jews, just by the existence of our Jewishness.
Yes. That is possible. Even if it is so profoundly illogical it makes my head hurt.
Any time you tell a joke that punches down at a marginalized group [like Jews], you are behaving in a way that is racist. Those jokes dehumanize the very people in them, and the next time you encounter a Jew it’s that much easier to reduce them to a stereotype [which flourish in the “jokes”].
We don’t control the world. We’re very often dirt poor. We’re very often also considered non-whites in the Pure ‘N’ Clean Whiteness Power Hierarchy [we’re often put right above brown folks, but vilified to a greater extent than some brown/black folks–“at least they’re not Jews” is something that’s been tossed around about PoC a lot]. Sometimes we actually aren’t white. [My heritage both is and isn’t. But this isn’t a post about European vs Middle Eastern traditions.]
Often our Jewishness is just a cultural heritage that gets mentioned for weddings and bris’ and funerals and the few times a year we attend temple. More and more often, it has to become a cultural [or “in name only”] heritage because parents are turning away from faith as a way to save their own children from oppression.
- We’re living in a world where active propaganda work is being done in resurrecting the old blood libels.
- We’re living in the 21st century and people actually fucking believe in that centuries old shit.
- We’re living in a country where a major party’s candidate is openly supporting people who spout this nonsense.
I don’t say much about my faith, because my faith is intensely personal. I don’t say much about my faith because every time I do and someone I don’t know wants to spread my words around, I get nervous. I don’t know if this will be the time that someone says something hateful to me, or if they support me, or if they’re performing allyship in a way I’m just not that comfortable with [without informing me that’s what they’re doing].
I don’t say much about my faith, my inner spiritual being, because I watch other people speak of their Jewishness, and instead of being met with love [as Christians should have been taught to do, like us Jews are taught: to love our neighbors, the Christian text comes directly from Jewish traditions, we’ll forget all about the plagiarism ;)], they are met with hate piled upon hate.
I’ve watched Jewish synagogues be attacked and targeted in Western Europe. I’ve seen cemeteries desecrated, with slurs and Nazi symbols. I’ve heard and seen the denial of the West & the East of the greatest tragedy to affect the Jewish people as a whole–the Shoah. I’ve seen Jewish folks attacked in Jerusalem. I’ve seen a Jewish retirement center attacked within the borders of the United States. This isn’t just a world-wide problem, it’s here.
I’ve heard anti-Semitic slurs from supposedly liberal folks, and those cut the worst. Liberals are supposedly on the side of making the world a better and more equitable place, yet some still reserve a spot in their heads for hateful language against a religion and culture. The same folks who will scream that something is anti-Muslim, or racist, will often spout an old slur about Jewish people.
I’ve heard “You Jews” in a tone of voice that has made me scrape my chair back and look for exits–and this was from someone I had considered a friend.
I’ve heard my entire life that we have to hide our religion, because it’s still not safe to be openly Jewish in America. The land of the fucking free and we have to be careful who we say “I’m Jewish” to and how much we say.
Is it any fucking wonder that when I do speak of my Jewishness I use a half-dead language [Yiddish] and coded terminology to refer to my religious beliefs? And sigh in relief when I find I’m either talking to a religious scholar or another Jew, because they reply in kind?
As I’m also queer, this “hiding in plain sight” has been ingrained in me. Outing another Jew, without their permission, often feels like it has more permanent and more immediately deadly consequences than outing someone’s sexuality [I do neither, because it’s not my place, and I am not going to bear the responsibility for that]. It’s on par with outing someone who is trans*, in terms of how deadly it could potentially be.
So, you’ll forgive me America, if I don’t trust you to do the right thing. I don’t trust that you’ll prosecute hate crimes leveled specifically against Jews, with criminals who specifically speak to performing those crimes against Jews because of hate and anti-Semitic beliefs. I don’t trust that you’ll treat us reporting our harassers seriously. I don’t trust that you are my ally in the fight against the oldest hate, anti-Semitism.
But America, you need to stop. Right now.
No more “jokes”. No more spreading the blood libels. No more hate.
I love my country. I love my American-ness. My family, on both sides, has been here for a very long time, bleeding and suffering on behalf of making this country what it is today. [No really, in every major war America’s had my family was there and fighting. Well. Not the War of 1812, but that was a couple of sea battles and a burnt house in the Potomac, and some stuff in Canada but who cares about Canada?]
But I am not required to love your hate. I do not have to educate you out of it.
That burden is on you.