Week of July 26

I wake up in the morning, and one of the first things I do - I hate to admit it - is check Facebook. It is one of the sources I use for news. This morning, I was greeted by a fascinating article written by Armin Rosen of Tablet. Although it was written at the end of March, it popped up in my feed, and that's probably because the article was particularly prescient, describing a reality that has become ever more clear in the last month. The presence of black antisemitism and its penetration into the mainstream is pernicious and an issue of great concern.

The debate rages over whether antisemitism on the right or the left is the greater threat. What's always startled me about antisemitism on the left is that many Jews are on the left. One would think that the presence of significant numbers of Jews on the left would dissipate any incipient and insipid antisemitism; but that isn't the case. No one has, of yet, been able to explain to me why this is.

African Americans may lack many types of power in our society, but they do hold a certain moral authority that is powerful and undeniable. Witness the coverage of John Lewis funeral. This was not the funeral for a run of the mill congressman but one fit for an icon, a civil rights activist and leader. Lewis is rightly regarded as an American hero. I bring him up in this context to suggest that he is representative of the African American community as a whole as it relates to moral authority.

When we reflect upon good and evil, the civil rights movement appears again and again as a paradigm of a straightforward case of the battle between the two. In that African Americans were in the right, they are often granted a certain moral authority in our society that few else can claim. That is appropriate; however, that is exactly why the fascination that so many black celebrities - musicians and athletes in particular - have with Louis Farrakhan.

Farrakhan is a particularly obscene monstrosity that if the threat he presents were not so serious would be a wonderful topic for study. The threat he has presented and currently presents is so serious that we are not permitted the distance that study calls for. The problem that is contained in this person is too great and must be addressed now. Why is hasn't been addressed is the second issue I concede in this post perplexes me. So vile and scurrilous is this demagogue that I am regularly astounded that he is revered.

The subject that undergirds the psychodrama that is Farrakhan and his followers, the Farrakhaners, is the falling out in black-Jewish relations that has been ongoing since at least 1968. No one of stature in either community has been willing or capable of repairing it, and the rift continues to grow. Certainly, one step toward halting the increasing rift would be a repudiation of any black celebrity who expresses a favorable opinion of Farrakhan by quoting him or citing one of the bizarre and destructive ideas he promotes. The call for solidarity is so strong in the African American community, however, that denunciation has not yet taken hold.