Can we ignore this?

It wasn’t until I was 22 that I experienced words of anti-Semitism and even then they were overheard. 

I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Chicago.  Two middle-aged businessmen at the next booth were talking and one of them said, and then he tried to Jew me down.

I remember being more shocked than called to action.  Then I considered what to do.  I know what I’d do now but back then, in the late seventies, I weighed the options and chose the path of least resistance, which was to ignore it. 

I’m talking diva level ignoring

After all, it wasn’t my conversation and I’d be starting something in the middle of a public place that likely would escalate and certainly wouldn’t solve anything.  Clearly, those guys were idiots. 

These days, I’d give them a what for and say something like,

Can you clarify that for THIS Jew? 

…in other words

Or, well, perhaps something wittier, and hopefully something wiser.

Decades have come and gone and over the years I’ve personally heard and experienced a lot more anti-gay stuff than Jew-hating comments.  Nevertheless, Nazism is on the rise and once again we Jews, whether practicing or not, have once again been thrust into the social forefront of populations of people to be hated.

My Hebrew school teachers tried to warn me back in the sixties but being a kid living in the boroughs of New York City you didn’t get a lot of swastikas, Jew me down invectives or public physical pummeling.

Only a twenty-something born and bred in New York City could be surprised to hear something anti-Semitic said out loud in the late seventies.  It just wouldn’t happen in MY neighborhood. 

More likely I might have heard some invective about the Blacks.

Um yikes

Not from any of my friends (Note:  I can swear to that) but from the mouths of some of their parents, grandparents or random group of that groups’ friends.

Of course, this was a problem but at the time I was sure the world was changing.  I used to get into knock down, drag out fights with elders whenever I heard them say something I considered even vaguely, and certainly outwardly, racist.  I didn’t hear it often but enough to be enraged, enough to call them out on what I considered their ignorance, stupidity and offensiveness.

Yeah, wouldn’t you have liked to have known me as a 12, 15 or 18 year old?  I’m speaking to every adult reading this who has a relative that…well, you know.

This shirt feels right

Anyway, here we are well into the 2000s and the shit talk ignorance once spoken quietly or privately in most major cities, though a lot more vocally in rural areas, especially in the south and Midwest, has gone viral.

Check that.

Instead it’s become part of the public discourse.

We actually have global music stars, billionaires and former presidents openly and proudly spouting stuff teenage me would have gone apoplectic on. 

So naïve and dangerous are the ways in which the teenage mind operates.  And yet, how well-served would society be if it occasionally spent a little more time (Note: Or any time) occasionally listening to the outbursts of kids who haven’t yet learned how to lie or remain silent about what they really think as craftily as their elders.

I know a feel people who could benefit from this..

This is not a problem as 2022 sputters to its much awaited conclusion (Note:  For this Chair, anyway.  It was a terrible year as 12-month periods go).    Social media and global interconnectivity (Note: Whether we like it or not) has made it impossible to hide the rot and emboldened the rotten.

That being the case, we all get to be unruly teenagers daily, if we so chose.  Though like young people learn, constant angry verbiage gets tiring and after a while all you want to do is tune out (Note:  Take your choice of vices), rock ‘n roll (Note: See previous note) or have sex and do drugs (Note: See previous note once again).

Or, when you get to a certain point in life…ahem,..simply go to sleep.

Real 2020 and 2021 vibes

Though one of the few things Hebrew school taught me is that when you see Jewish stars and swastikas being merged together, it’s no time for sleep.

Rather, it’s time to speak.  And fight.  A lot.

I like coming-of-age movies about young Jewish boys as much as the next Jewish person.  Heck, I even wrote one back in the day.  (Note:  Google Family Prayers).

However, the way new films like Armageddon Time and The Fabelmans show us what it’s like to experience Jew hating (Note: And they do it far better than I did in my movie, since I don’t recall any Jewish trash talking as a boy), now comes across as positively quaint.

More on this scene in a later post… I’m sure

Time for, as Woody Allen once stated in Annie Hall, bricks and baseball bats because a satirical piece in the Times doesn’t cut it with Nazis.

Right, I know, we’re not supposed to quote him anymore, but, well, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Or am I jumping the…gun…I mean, shark…before it’s bad enough for what he proposed way back in 1977?

I mean, how bad does it have to get and how does a lifelong pacifist like me, who thus far has only fought back with words, weaponize for this?

Justin Timberlake – “What Goes Around… Comes Around”

Vote First

This week the spouse of the person third in line for the presidency got seriously attacked by a hammer-wielding, 2020 election-denying conspiracy theorist that regularly spouts racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views via a blog not like, but not 100% unlike, this one.

Now, before you go jumping to conclusions —

We here at Notes do NOT believe, as the attacker does, that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the power behind some cannibalistic, child abusing cabal. 

Step one

Nor do we traffic in the notion that non-white people, Jews or gays are evil incarnate.

And not only because the Chair is in the latter two of those three groups.

Rather it is due to the fact that we, like him, use the WordPress platform to regularly espouse our views for all the world to read, and perhaps rally behind, via our own personal BLOGs.

Tale as old as time

I was thinking about this a lot after hearing my fellow blogger broke into the Pelosi home after 2 a.m. bellowing, Where’s Nancy, struggling with 82-year-old Paul Pelosi before hitting him REALLY hard on the head.  (Note: Nancy was not at home, but hard at work rallying Democratic voters far away on the opposite coast).

Nevertheless, Mr. Pelosi suffered life threatening injuries from this attack – a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hand and arm that required surgery – but it is now reported he will be okay. 

This was not solely due to his doctors but also to the fact that an intuitive 9-1-1 operator dispatched the police to his home with a high alert warning.

Still, it momentarily left me wondering:

Exactly where do we stand with free speech in our presently advanced information age??

Quite a prickly situation

Oh, OF COURSE FREE SPEECH NEEDS TO CONTINUE! (He ranted). 

WHAT ARE WE, A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY OR…..RUSSIA? (He asked). 

OR A MAGA STRONGHOLD IN THE SOUTH OR MIDWEST? (He irrationally screamed).

OR THE HOUSE JUDICIARY GOP, which still has up the following three-week old tweet:

TRUMP.  ELON.  KANYE.

Yikes, indeed

Well, I guess that post is presumably in support of the free speech rights of people like Kanye West to go, as he just did, def-con 3 on THE JEWS.

Shoot (oops), even billionaires (Note: Up until this week) get to say anything they want, like the rest of us.

Or in solidarity with Elon Musk’s plan, after buying Twitter for $44 billion, to let back on the platform many of the hate spouting, fake conspiracy-promoting users whom former Twitter execs permanently banned for life.  Beginning with:

@realDonaldTrump.

Get ready America.

Fly, my pretties! Fly!

I don’t have answers as to where free speech ends and governmental intervention begins.

Nor do American politicians or its citizens if the last six plus years of the MAGA agenda to poison our social discourse with lies about the efficacy of the 2020 elections (and beyond), amid white power salutes and calls to lock up every elected official they don’t agree with, are any indication. 

Phew, that was a mouthful.

And we’re not done yet.

I have a headache

Because when there is no agreement on what is true, or what is even real, it’s hard to know where to even start. 

Or end.

When I was in graduate school in Chicago once upon a time in the seventies there was a big hoopla around the Nazis marching in the nearby suburb of Skokie, a primarily Jewish enclave. 

It was a provocative move to cause an encounter, we were all sure, so eventually it was decided that as heinous as Nazis were, it would be against freedom and even worse for democracy to not allow this monstrous group who supported the extermination of a race/my people, to be free to express themselves in a place where my people/that race most particularly presided.

Of course, this was in an era where almost everyone believed Nazis were heinous. 

A time very unlike today.

This could be the reason…

As I watched former President Obama campaigning this weekend in support of democracy and Democratic candidates in swing states like Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin he was incredibly inspiring.  But his words felt almost…

QUAINT.

Oh, he made the case and then some for the imperative to vote Blue in the 2022 election and beyond.

He proved without a doubt that to not elect these representatives could signal the end of democracy, not to mention extinguishing popular social programs like Social Security.  Not to mention more tax cuts for the rich and less affordable health insurance for the rest of us mere mortals.

Please don’t let this be you this November

But he was speaking to thousands of Democratic supporters who wanted to be inspired and be given numerous exciting, rational reasons to get off their phones and up off their asses to make a difference.

Still, it made me wonder if this was the only way to stop the MAGA movement for now.  Get every conceivable, rational, believer in facts and democracy that we all know to move up and out to the polls, even if we need to take them there ourselves.

And to worry about how free our free speech should be AFTER this election cycle.

To forget about the lies, and hate, and crazy right wing fan fiction on social media for right now.

Unless they try to stop us from voting.  And then we’ll…

Welp, see you later.

Well, we’ll cross that bridge in 10 days or less.  I guess.

A friend of mine sincerely asked me how I can be even slightly positive about the future of the country in light of where we are now. 

I immediately responded it’s because I spend a lot of my working life around young people in college, the vast majority of whom loathe the MAGA agenda.

Deniers aside, it is a fact that 65% of Gen Zers voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and that in 2024 they will be the most powerful block of voters.

Zoomers unite

So now is the time to TALK, not lecture to them, about their fears, their truths and the truth of what is going on in the country vs. what is passing for truth these days.

And ask them to vote for themselves, or as a favor to you, if you know them well enough.  (Note: Yes, guilt can work.  I’m living proof!).

And then get your butt and the butt of everyone else you know into a virtual/mail-in or literal voting booth.

Yes

We can then scream, rant, chat or even blog about the distorted views and/or rights of any crazy that comes to mind after that.

Because we will still have the freedom and luxury to do so.

George Michael – “Freedom! ’90”