The title of this column is from a 1967 New York Times article written by James Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin, according to Biography.com, was an essayist, playwright and novelist regarded as a highly insightful, iconic writer with works like The Fire Next Time and Another Country. I found a link to Baldwin’s article while reading another New York Times article written by Ginia Bellafante on October 31, 2018 titled “Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?.” Ms. Bellafante wrote:
A related issue is that bias stemming from longstanding ethnic tensions in the city [of New York] presents complexities that many liberals have chosen simply to ignore. “When we were growing up in Harlem our demoralizing series of landlords were Jewish, and we hated them.” So begins an essay by James Baldwin that appeared in The New York Times in 1967 titled “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White.”
It is worthwhile reading Mr. Baldwin’s column to understand the phenomenons of “white privilege” and anti-Semitism.
Wikipedia defines these two terms as:
White privilege is the societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as white in some countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.
Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism.
The idea of white privilege has led some individuals, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, to portray themselves as non-white. According to Ms. Bellafante “anti-Semitic incidents have constituted half of all hate crimes in New York this year, according to the Police Department. To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20.”
White privilege and anti-Semitism are both racist ideologies. One discriminates against others based on the color of their skin, the second on a person’s religious affiliation.
How are White Privilege and Anti-Semitism connected?
Perhaps Mr. Baldwin put it best in his article stating:
The root of anti-Semitism among Negroes is, ironically, the relationship of colored peoples–all over the globe–to the Christian world. This is a fact which may be difficult to grasp, not only for the ghetto’s most blasted and embittered inhabitants, but also for many Jews, to say nothing of many Christians. But it is a fact, and it will not ameliorated–in fact, it can only be aggravated–by the adoption, on the part of colored people now, of the most devastating of the Christian vices.
Mr. Baldwin is connecting the hate for blacks to Christians and Jews. Perhaps Mr. Baldwin would be appalled by the statements made by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and members of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Capitalism, Jews and White Privilege
Mr. Baldwin also blames capitalism for the plight of the blacks stating:
Of course, it is true, and I am not so naÔve as not to know it, that many Jews despise Negroes, even as their Aryan brothers do. (There are also Jews who despise Jews, even as their Aryan brothers do.) It is true that many Jews use, shamelessly, the slaughter of the 6,000,000 by the Third Reich as proof that they cannot be bigots–or in the hope of not being held responsible for their bigotry. It is galling to be told by a Jew whom you know to be exploiting you that he cannot possibly be doing what you know he is doing because he is a Jew. It is bitter to watch the Jewish storekeeper locking up his store for the night, and going home. Going, with your money in his pocket, to a clean neighborhood, miles from you, which you will not be allowed to enter. Nor can it help the relationship between most Negroes and most Jews when part of this money is donated to civil rights. In the light of what is now known as the white backlash, this money can be looked on as conscience money merely, as money given to keep the Negro happy in his place, and out of white neighborhoods.
We see what Mr. Baldwin describes from his personal experiences today.
So what is the answer?
Mr. Baldwin concludes his article noting:
All racist positions baffle and appall me. None of us are that different from one another, neither that much better nor that much worse. Furthermore, when one takes a position one must attempt to see where that position inexorably leads. One must ask oneself, if one decides that black or white or Jewish people are, by definition, to be despised, is one willing to murder a black or white or Jewish baby: for that is where the position leads. And if one blames the Jew for having become a white American, one may perfectly well, if one is black, be speaking out of nothing more than envy.
Baldwin concludes, “The crisis taking place in the world, and in the minds and hearts of black men everywhere, is not produced by the star of David, but by the old, rugged Roman cross on which Christendom’s most celebrated Jew was murdered. And not by Jews.”