Friday, February 01, 2019

That NEVER Happ--Oh, Wait, a Congressman Just Did It

Last month, I wrote a post that got some traction in the Jewish blogosphere, about how we sometimes seem to just randomly demand Black people "denounce antisemitism" among this or that Black speaker even in contexts where they have no real relationship to the particular antisemitic speaker other than shared racial background.

A lot of people responded favorably. But a vocal minority thought I was making the phenomenon up. "Nobody demands Black people condemn antisemitism at random! Where those demands are made, it's only in cases like Tamika Mallory and Louis Farrakhan -- where she's specifically praised the known antisemitic speaker!"

Yes, what an absurd thought? Who would ever do such a th--oh look, here's Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY):

If you listen to the voicemail Zeldin posts, one thing stands out very clearly: it's horribly, grotesquely antisemitic.

You want to know what doesn't stand out? Any mention, reference, or connection to Ilhan Omar. Because it's not there. Yet Zeldin just decided he was going to randomly call her out (they were in a larger war of words at the time) and ask "what part" of this antisemitic screed she "disagrees with". The caller doesn't talk about Omar, doesn't quote Omar, doesn't give any indication that there is any relationship to Omar other than presumed shared race (much of the call is about accusing Jews of harming Black people) -- but no matter: Omar apparently can be cold-called to deliver a denunciation.

Rep. Omar actually responded with a lot of grace, condemning the message as "heinous and hateful" and empathizing with Zeldin given that (unsurprisingly) she too gets a flood of bigoted hate mail. Does Zeldin take "yes" for an answer to his unsolicited call out? Of course not! He doubles down, asking her again "Are you saying you disagree w/everything said in that voicemail?"

So, yeah, this happens.

(Incidentally, while my critical readers generally thought my original post was a sub rosa defense of Mallory, she wasn't the case I had in mind -- which is why I wrote about "Black people who really do apologize for Louis Farrakhan's antisemitism" and clarified that "[t]his post isn't about them." The motivating case for me, other than the Charlie Rangel case I cite in the post, was actually Mercy Morganfield's expressed frustration about what happened after she condemned Farrakhan and antisemitism in the Women's March -- namely, that she was demanded to do so over and over and over again.)

No comments: