For example, I grew up very liberal. My parents were dedicated Democrats and I was very influenced by the surrounding culture, which comprised a constant drip-infusion of secular Leftism.
And you could not detach yourself from the unending drip of:
- newspapers with their exhortative editorials, their witty & (seemingly) sensible advice columns, and comics with a definite liberal slant (except for Family Circus);
- TV & movies with their fine-tuned brainwashing in favor of secularism, paganism, degeneracy, & hedonism;
- books written by enthusiasts of either secular liberalism or Westernized paganism;
- university classes taught by only Leftist professors
- the non-Orthodox Jewish community that embraced liberalism as their religion and tried to weave that into their Judaism (with disastrous results which they refuse to acknowledge to this day);
My situation should have been hopeless.
But like I said, Hashem inserted several cracks in the liberal façade along the way.
The "Crazy" Neighbor Down the Street
And even though I disdained him as a child, his bumpersticker at least introduced me to the idea that something might actually be wrong with the UN. It always seemed like an unquestionably good & necessary entity—sort of like the American Constitution.
If you grow up in an ideologically homogeneous society, it may never even occur to you that something could possibly be faulty or even wrong—even if it obviously is.
Now, of course, I think that neighbor was right on the money.
Too bad I never thought to ask him for his side of things. I think he would have been happy to explain things to me.
And I would've learned something.
The Boycott that Fizzled Out
I even boycotted Coca-Cola for a while, writing them a letter of protest for their involvement in the then apartheid of South Africa. In reply, Coca-Cola sent me a copy of a letter from the obviously black Desmond Tutu, who praised Coca-Cola.
Included were also large shiny booklets featuring laughing black South Africans in Coca-Cola’s clean & brightly lit factory. They were even enjoying free cans of Coca-Cola on their break.
The accompanying text assured me that Coca-Cola provided employment for masses of black South Africans, enabling them to achieve a living standard they could never otherwise enjoy.
I realized that it might all be propaganda, but there was no way for me to know for sure.
It also taught me that these things aren’t so clear-cut as small yet zealous minds would have you think.
And thus ended my boycott.
Who's the Real Racist?
He was bullied there simply for the color of his skin and even drop-kicked in the back of the head walking down the hallway.
He told of a home life where he and his only brother were completely ignored by their parents.
“They only like each other, not us,” he said.
This extended as far as his mother making dinner for her and their father in the evening, and sitting down to eat—without the kids. He said that he and his brother tried to get their attention—including beating each other up to see if their parents would intervene or even look in their direction, but their parents never did.
Joe's words painted an image of him and his younger brother gazing at their parents as the parents sat eating at the dining room table in full view of their children.
Obviously, a white kid attending public school in the inner city is certainly not more “privileged” than the non-white kids attending the same school; the student population is drawn from the same neighborhoods. Furthermore, he was Italian. How many Italians owned black slaves in the South or enabled racism at the institutional level prior to the “Civil” Rights movement?
Finally, it's very likely that Joe ended up experiencing much more racism--and more aggressive racism--for being white than his aggressors ever experienced for being black.
In other words, all the liberal justifications for bullying & racist behavior against a non-minority (although he was a minority within his school) just didn’t hold water.
Irony of Ironies
And no, they weren’t Jewish. Her Aryan father stood up to the Nazis and as a result, they dragged him off to Auschwitz, where he died.
Because of this, I felt an affinity with her.
At that time, however, I did not know that merely opposing Nazism did not automatically mean one opposed the Shoah. After all, Russian and Polish partisans vehemently fought the Nazis, even as they either ignored or actively participated in Jewish persecution.
Also, the first people dragged off to and murdered at the death camps were mostly non-Jewish political opponents of the Nationalsozialisten (AKA the Nazis). The Jewish annihilation came later.
So it could be that her father just didn’t like socialism. Or totalitarianism.
Or maybe he preferred Communism to Nazi Socialism.
On the other hand, the underground White Rose society of Germany definitely opposed the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
So who knows?
But based on my limited knowledge at that time, her father’s fate caused me to feel an affinity for her. And aside from that, she was an excellent teacher and one of my favorites in high school.
She was intelligent, straight-forward, and used her dry wit with a lot of skill.
And one story she told never left me.
When she first graduated with her degree in teaching, good jobs weren’t available for young & inexperienced teachers.
The only openings were in inner-city schools where no one wanted to teach. From there, you could work your way up to more desirable locations.
She related how her first teaching job was so dangerous that police patrolled the hallways and teachers taught from within a locked glass booth at the front of the classroom. If a student acted up, the teacher simply pressed a button in the booth and a policeman (what, not a policewoman??!!) came in and removed the problematic student.
Yet 100% protection was impossible. Getting to and from the classroom, plus lunch breaks, required teachers to leave the booths.
“I was thrown down a flight of stairs,” she once stated, “simply because I was white.”
And again, it was hard for me to blame white racism on such behavior.
It also offended my sense of fairness to hear that the once-little girl forced to escape Nazi Germany, the daughter whose father was murdered in Auschwitz for opposing genocidal proponents of a "master race," was assaulted for her race.
And it was also hard to ignore the question of who’d really suffered more discrimination in life.
And like Joe's tormentors, the student who attacked her likely grew up and interacted with only other people of his race. Where would he have had the opportunity to experience any racism?
Had a white person ever sent him flying down a flight of stairs?
In fact, had a white person ever aggressed him in anyway? (Hard to imagine, given the circumstances.)
Even if he’d experienced wary non-black storekeepers or non-black women who moved their purses out of reach as he passed them, it likely happened because of his gang-dress & mannerisms rather than the color of his skin. (And that’s if he experienced such things. He may not have, unless he'd left his neighborhood.)
But what about her, growing up in America with a mother who spoke in the enemy’s accent during WWII and after?
And what was it like growing up as a half-orphan, knowing what had happened to her father?
Her father died fighting an overwhelming force of some of the most brutal and bloodthirsty racists of the 20th Century—yet she was assaulted because of her own race?
I’m sure the irony wasn’t lost on her.
It wasn’t lost on me either.
The Torah is Right Yet Again!
But the Torah also states “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof—Justice, justice you shall pursue.”
And abusing or discriminating against people simply for the amount of melanin in their skin is never just—no matter what their race or the race of their abuser.
It's not compassionate either.
Try explaining that to today’s liberals & social “justice” warriors.