The thing about Jews is, we don't like to go to synagogue, or practice the requirements of our faith. We recognize Judaism as the team we were born onto, but find life too short for saying prayers or following kosher or any of that stuff. That said, some of the rituals are cool. We do like challah, though matzo, not so much, unless its rendered into matzo brei—egg matzo—a breakfast dish, which we eat with sugar, never salt. Jews enjoy bacon and pork chops too, though we draw the line at those big pink glutenous canned hams. Yuck.
Oh wait, maybe that isn't Jews in general. Maybe that's just me. Yup, definitely me.
See, I have trouble doing what so many individuals seem to do automatically: presenting themselves as the spokesmen, the embodiment and voice of their entire group. I know why they do it: it adds oomph to what is really their opinion. Me and all my friends, standing notionally behind me, nodding in agreement, in my fantasy world.
But Jews are not me. Or you. They are this enormous range of people representing a wide spectrum of beliefs, from black-hats ticking off every single commandment, to Stephen Miller, the president's shadowy, serpentine Goebbels. Every group is enormously diverse and complicated. I don't see how anyone can argue that fact, and in reality, they don't. They just ignore it.
Not only do people making statements pretend to be representative, but so do those who embrace them. Whom you accept as a spokesman for others says more about yourself than about the group you are trying to characterize.
On social media, the act of sharing the voice of the member of a minority group is often a kind of tacit slur. For instance. Social media throbs with that video of Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer Ariel Atkins explaining why looting is okay.
“That is reparations,” Atkins told NBC Chicago. “Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.”
That's dumb, and I imagine that most responsible people of all hues consider it dumb, and unhelpful, in that it allows folks to dismiss the entire movement as a rationale for stealing Gucci purses.
Sure, many are going to reject the message anyway, and if not with this they'd find someone else. Remember, many, maybe most people aren't looking to engage in the world in a meaningful way, but to cherry-pick facts that support exactly who they are and intend to always be.
But why make is so easy for them to do so?
While against violence and chaos, I nevertheless support Black Lives Matter because I know both history and current events. I particularly like "Black Lives Matter" as a slogan, a rallying cry, exactly because it is so understated. Compared to "Gay Pride" or "Never again!" or "Black is beautiful," "Black Lives Matter" is so modest, so utterly unobjectionable. We have significance. Our lives have meaning. Who could argue with that?
And the answer is, "Lots of people." Those who hate seeing police held accountable counter with "Blue Lives Matter." White supremacists float "All Lives Matter," as a kind of code that the only lives that matter are their own.
"Black Lives Matter" is part of a fine tradition of setting a subtle snare. If you look at the key moments in the Civil Rights struggle, the line is drawn, not at something grand—the protests are never over the right of Black people to sit on the Supreme Court. But over something ordinary: riding on a bus, eating at a lunch counter, attending 2nd grade.
A simple ask, that nevertheless draws out the haters, forces them to reveal themselves, to battle something prosaic. To oppose basic decency. To make them show up with their dogs and firehoses, then, or their pepper spray and batons now. And in that sense, BLM should do as much as it can to distance itself from the looting and riots that often follow their protests. If after his encounter with Alabama cop, John Lewis had led marchers to burn Selma, he would not have been as revered and effective as he became, nor would that encounter at the Edmund Pettus bridge be remembered the way it is. Not doing so hurts BLM and their cause.
In my opinion. Of course I'm one guy, and a 60-year-old white guy at that. I am not speaking for all white folks, nor all 60-year-0lds, nor all Jews. Unfortunately.