Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Racism and Antisemitism: A Consideration

Don't forget that there are now three posts before this post. . So this is an in-between of sorts of the posts I am doing about Racism and Antisemitism. You can read Part 3, Part 2, and Part 1 to get the first posts I did on this topic.

Before I get to the segment about what African Americans and Jews can do to fight back against racism and antisemitism there are a few more videos I found that may drive the importance of this home. This post has some graphic photos in it so be prepared. They are things that need to be seen, because it is the doom or men/women to forget.

These videos are from Marco McWilliams of RezaRitesRi.com who visited The University of Rhode Islands Feinstein Providence Campus to experience their Strange Fruit Lynching exhibit. There he met exhibit producer and curator Lisa McLeod.

University of Rhode Island Lynching Exhibit - part 1 of 3

If you are Jewish and you think that the first video has nothing to say to us, watch part 2 of the this video and see that Jews were being lynched also.

University of Rhode Island Lynching Exhibit - part 2 of 3

In the first few moments of this video there are some things that should be considered for the present.

University of Rhode Island Lynching Exhibit - part 3 of 3

Further, to see how the racists and antisemites switch back and forth on who they hate, and even use Jews and African Americans against each other, I submit the story of Leo Frank.

Leo Frank, 1915

The lynching to death of Leo Frank represents one of only four cases of a Jewish-American being lynched in United States history. (There was a case of a double lynching of a Negro and a Jew in Tennessee in 1868; there were two other cases of American Jews lynched in the 1890s.) Frank, the manager of an Atlanta pencil factory, was accused of murdering teenaged employee Mary Phagan in 1913. Despite evidence linking the factory's African-American janitor, Jim Conley, to the heinous crime, a jury of Frank's Atlanta peers found him guilty and Frank was sentenced to death by hanging. Not only did the prosecution ignore evidence pointing to Conley; it used Conley as its main witness to condemn Frank. This was a unique moment in southern legal history - the testimony of a black man in Jim Crow society used against a white defendant. Subsequent appeals were denied, with even the United States Supreme Court refusing to hear the case.

Even after Frank’s housekeeper placed him at home, having lunch at the time of the murder and despite gross inconsistencies in Conley’s story, both the grand and trial jury chose to believe Conley. This was perhaps the first instance of a Southern black man’s testimony being used to convict a white man. In August of 1913, the jury found Frank guilty in less than four hours. Crowds outside the courthouse shouted, "Hang the Jew." Historian Leonard Dinnerstein reports that one juror had been overheard to say before his selection for the jury, "I am glad they indicted the G-d damn Jew. They ought to take him out and lynch him. And if I get on that jury, I’ll hang that Jew for sure."

Facing intimidation and mob rule, the trial judge sentenced Frank to death. He barred Frank from the courtroom on the grounds that, had he been acquitted, Frank might have been lynched by the crowd outside.

Despite these breaches of due process, Georgia’s higher courts rejected Frank’s appeals and the U. S. Supreme Court voted, 7-2, against reopening the case, with justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Evans Hughes dissenting. Frank’s survival depended on Georgia governor Frank Slaton. After a 12-day review of the evidence and letters recommending commutation from the trial judge (who must have had second thoughts) and from a private investigator who had worked for Hugh Dorsey, Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment That night, state police kept a protesting crowd of 5,000 from the governor’s mansion. Wary Jewish families fled Atlanta. Slaton held firm. "Two thousand years ago," he wrote a few days later, "another Governor washed his hands and turned over a Jew to a mob. For two thousand years that governor’s name has been accursed. If today another Jew [Leo Frank] were lying in his grave because I had failed to do my duty, I would all through life find his blood on my hands and would consider myself an assassin through cowardice."

On August 17, 1915, a group of 25 men, described by peers as "sober, intelligent, of established good name and character" stormed the prison hospital where Leo Frank was recovering from having his throat slashed by a fellow inmate. They kidnapped Frank, drove him more than 100 miles to Mary Phagan’s home town of Marietta, Georgia and hanged him from a tree. Frank conducted himself with dignity, calmly proclaiming his innocence. Townsfolk were proudly photographed beneath Frank’s swinging corpse, pictures still valued today by their descendants. When his term expired a year later, Slaton did not run for reelection and Dorsey easily won election to the governor’s office.

For U.S. Senator Tom Watson, the malevolent Georgia Populist, Frank's violent death -- he refrained from using the word lynching -- "put Jew Libertines on notice." Ironically, at an earlier stage of his career, Watson had professed his intention to "make lynch law odious to the people." By 1915 he defended lynch law and warned: "The next Jew who does what Frank did is going to get exactly the same thing we give Negro rapists." (source 1) (source 2)

Not only the US, but even here in the Middle East my thoughts turn to events like the Hebron Massacre of 1929. The Hebron Massacre refers to the mass murder of sixty-seven Jews in 1929 in Hebron, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by false rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim Holy Places The carnage had a deep effect on the Jewish community. The survivors were forced to flee Hebron, and their property was seized by Arab residents and occupied until after the Six Day War of 1967.
The Baltimore News 1929 Hebron Massacre of Jews

Sound familiar? People being executed based on false information. The mutilation, murder, and raping of a people. This was not the first time this had happened to Middle Eastern Jews.

I ask myself the question of what happened to the racists and antisemites from the photos in these videos? Where are they now, where are their children? How do I know that the TV producers of today are not some of the children of people in these photos? How do I know if supporting one politician vs. another I am not supporting those whose families sponsored these kind of things? When I think of the 3rd video with the thousands who showed up to the lynching festival, I wonder where did all of those people end up? Did they just all of a sudden change their minds when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated? Did time and different circumstances make them think differently? On some level I really doubt it, but how can I know? How can I sleep soundly at night when I don't know if I may have been walking with and talking with someone who was a part of that situation?

Though I don't live in America anymore, and I hope to never return to live in America I feel a certain bond with the information in these videos. As I mentioned I have encountered racists Jews and antisemitic African Americans. I have also witnessed people trying to outdo each other with statements like, "Slavery and racism against blacks was far worse than the Holocaust" or even "The Holocaust was far worse than slavery." My response to both types is to take a photo of an African American being lynched and a Jew being murdered by a Nazi.

Lynching of an African American man 1889

Murder of a Ukranian Jew 1940's

Do you think the victims in those photos really cared which situation was worse? Do you think the fact that one was hanged and the other shot while over the previous victims makes one situation worse? Do you think either man would have traded places with the other? The situations are different, but the outcomes were the same. To try and use these kind of situations to trump someone else belittles the memory of BOTH men, and elevates those who MURDERED them. What thoughts ran through their heads before they were executed? What prayers might they have said before their deaths? What would they have become if they had lived?

Do you still think that racism and antisemitism are not related? They are closely related as if they are brother and sister to me. They are different, have different histories, and were birthed at different times. Yet, they come from the same grounds. They take root in the same soil and their fruit can be taken and fed to anyone, including their intended victims. Just look at the Russian Jews here in Israel who to have become skinheads and neo-nazis. Just look at the various gangs such as the Crips and Bloods that sprang up in certain black communities in America.

Antisemitism and racism are fruits that come from the same tree. If you are a Jew and are racist you are also an antisemite because both are fruits from the same tree. If you are African or African American and are antisemitic you are also a racist because both fruits come from the same tree. Jews and African Americans have been lynched and murdered in America and in around the world for HUNDREDS of years. You can't ignore one and act like it doesn't affect the other. Maybe it is time for REAL dialog on these matters within and between both of these groups. God knows the racists and the antisemites are dialoging.


Miriam said...

heavy stuff.

Invisible Woman said...

Great post. EVERYONE should see lynch images and know to their soul that this noose BS is not a joke.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey IW,

I completely agree with you. I remember when I was a kid my grandmother told me stories of a lynching that her family witnessed. The image of what she told has stuck in my head since then. It is an unfortunate history that many people are ignoring. It is something that America definitely needs to come to to terms with. I think about all the lives that could have been.

Anonymous said...

The day of the rope is at hand. White people have taken too much and it has now come down too "rights for whites". Please, take a look at the country and crime rates, and decreasing educated youth, and increasing "dangerous" areas and the fact old people and children are not safe on the streets at night, or day for that matter. It's sad to know that mine as well as other kids are losing their schools and their education because of lowered SAT scores and "adjusted" grading curves because of the state of our country. Can anyone possibly see a pattern between the decrease in our productive society and increase in violence in society, in relation to the increasing population of non-whites? Crime rates rise. Unemployment rates rise. Whites in this country are decreasing and non-whites increasing. Coincidence?
People can talk about the holocaust and lynchings, BUT at the same time, they ignore the news at the time of rapes and murders of blacks against whites and murderings of white women and children. NOW there is the war where Israel is shown killing women and children. THAT'S not a big deal, and of course you won't see any of it on the jewish run media, as they do not want to make their homeland look bad. As a person of European heritage, all I am saying is WAKE UP! History is so tainted and corrupt, you can only see what they want you to see. The thing that most groups are afraid of, is a white back lash, and I must say, it's been planned and is on the horizon. Scary to think of what future this country has in store, but we need to stand for our race.

Ehav Ever said...

Hello Anon,

Thanks for you comment. I don't live in the US anymore so I can't comment directly on race issues in the US anymore. Yet, I think there are a number of issues that influence crime rates beyond race. One of the reasons is that race as it is defined in the US is more a mythical thing. For example, when you say white do yo mean Irish and Germnas? What about Italians and Greeks? I ask because there was a time when German Americans claimed that the Irish were causing increased crime rates and lack of standards, etc. There was a time when others blamed it on the Italians, so on a so on. Also, as you point out people often see those things that directly affect them more clearly than they do things that don't directly affect them. So for example, an argument has been made that one of the reasons race relations in the US are tense is because those in power did not try to correct the mistakes of the past early enough. It is like saying, if slavery had never become institutionalized towards African Americans and had been kept as indentured servitude then America would not have had to have dealt with the long bitter years of race issues between whites and blacks. Another example, if the constitution had been fully implemented from the start for all regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, the country would have been saved years. So if "whites" are suffering today because of interaction with African Americans, the blame should be placed on those who either brought Africans to the US or the ones who implemented institutionalized slavery as well as Jim Crow. If neither situation had existed, just as if sexism had never existed and people had been treated as equals from the start the fabric of the US more than likely would have been completely different.

Also, crime is something that exists in higher and higher levels in all regardless socieities regardless of how many non-whites live in them. There are those who say that crime rates would have been at the same level had the US been all white. Once again the question becomes, well who is considered white? Are all European people white, or just a segment of it? If so who decides these things? Better who decided them, past tense. Also, from the standpoint of a Native American they may say that crime rates and such increased the minute the Europeans landed in America. That being that the Europeans who conquered America were the ones who brought crime, disease, etc. with them. The Native American view may be that everything was perfect until the Europeans arrived. Here in the Middle East we have a similar issue. For example, here in Israel this land has had a LONG history of switching hands from various groups for hundreds of years. So at this point Jews, Samaritans, Arabs, Bedouins, Druze, etc. all have a legal right to live here. Yet, these are issues that only we in the Middle East can solve. The solutions won't come from the West, they have to start from here. The solution may be a final decisive war. The solution may be negotiations. The solution may be us breaking ties with the west and all being Middle Eastern Israelis and Middle Eastern Arabs.

In short, for America, I think the best way to deal with the issues you mentioned is for people on all sides to have serious discussion and debate about the issues. Things are not always so white and black, so there are times when people learn from communication. The reality is that not all whites are racists, and not all blacks are criminals. By like token some whites are criminals and some blacks are racist. Maybe if rational people from both sides sat down and had real up front and frank discussions about the issues they could learn from each other. Just my thoughts.