Monday, January 31, 2022

Racist Anti-Racists

The Anti-Defamation League has existed for over a century. Its self-described noble mission is "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Unfortunately, it recently seems to be betraying that very mission.

The ADL website provided the following definition of racism:


While one can quibble over nuances in this formulation, it's certainly generally correct and reasonable. But recently - I don't know exactly when - the ADL bizarrely decided that it was unsatisfactory. And so they changed it to read as follows:

This simply beggars belief. The ADL has adopted a definition of racism which is itself racist.

Of course, racism against blacks dwarfs racism against whites. But racism against whites most certainly does exist. Malcolm X was a racist against whites. So is Louis Farrakhan. And, most significantly, antisemitism is also a form of racism.  

The ADL's perversion of the meaning of racism is part and parcel of its alignment with Critical Race Theory and "progressive" approaches. In a related vein, it just hired Tema Smith as its new Director of Jewish Outreach and Partnerships. Tema Smith is an activist against injustice who sometimes seems confused about who exactly the victim is. When Ilhan Omar and British rapper Wiley were accused of antisemitism, Smith claimed that this was racism against them for being black. When Palestinians justified terrorist bombings of civilians and children in cafeterias, Smith argued that Jews have to be okay with it. When black people commit violent attacks against Jews, Smith believes that this means that the problem to be addressed is anti-black racism among Jews.

Now, some argue - and there may well be merit to their position - that this mindset is so taken for granted in many circles that it's important to have somebody who is part of those circles and nevertheless advocates for Jews and Israel. They might be right. But on the other hand, there comes a point where you are compromising values so much in order to reach certain people that you have to ask yourself if it's even worth it.


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52 comments:

  1. "Of course, racism against blacks dwarfs racism against whites."

    Of course? On an official level, the home country of the ADL has had legalized racial discrimination, on both governmental and private levels, against whites, and in favor of blacks, for well over fifty years by this point. On a non-official level, crime by blacks against whites is *vastly* greater than crime by whites against blacks. On a social level, any hint of anti-black racism- and even things deemed such which are nothing of the sort- meet with far more opprobrium than the opposite. These facts are not contestable. So in what way can you make that statement?

    In addition, you are a man of science. Can you in good conscience agree with such a blatantly unscientific claim that social and moral qualities have nothing to do with biology? Science has accepted that as a basic fact for...hmm, over fifty years.

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    1. VIOLENT crime by Blacks against Whites is vastly greater than violent crime by Whites againsst Blacks. NON-VIOLENT crime (like redlining and rent gauging) by Whites against Blacks is vastly greater than non-violent crime by Blacks against Whites, and overall more damaging than the violent crime.

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    2. You can robustly connect biology with social and moral qualities? Please elaborate

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    3. Avi: Tell that to the relative of a murder victim. Do I have to start naming names, none of whom, I'm sure, you've ever heard of?

      Ah, redlining. Good ol' redlining. When was that practiced again?

      And of course landlords never exploit white people.

      (By the way, those aren't crimes, and aren't necessarily racist.)

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    4. Isaac, you've never heard of sociobiology? Evolutionary psychology? These aren't far-out fields.

      There was a stir recently when Scientific American, in full thrall to Wokeness, decided to attack renowned biologist E.O. Wilson after his death because he pioneered these fields. Notably lacking in the attack, of course, was any actual scientific argument, because it's pretty much settled.

      It's also just logical. There's no reason why genes should affect every single thing in our body and then mysteriously stop at our necks.

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    5. Nachum, I wrote on this year's ago at http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2022/01/racist-anti-racists.html?m=1

      Merriam Webster, simple definition of racism
      "poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race"..."the belief that some races of people are better than others"

      Does Torah support the doctrine of Racism?

      Yes, and no.

      In its most elementary definition, as in the second definition above, racism is defined as the belief that one race can be inherently better than another.

      This is a fundamental attitude in G-d’s Torah! The Jewish nation IS G-d’s chosen people.

      This does not mean that Hashem hates other people. To the contrary, all of humanity is precious in Hashem’s eyes beyond our ability to imagine! All men are created in the image of G-d! But G-d subsequently chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as His first born. They are his most beloved nation when they keep his commandments.

      Are some races better than others? You bet. This applies to other nations as well. The descendants of Yefes were favored over those of Cham. Even within the Jewish nation, the tribe of Levi was chosen from the rest of the nation. And from Levi‘s tribe, G-d chose the seed of Aaron ober the rest of that tribe.

      Likewise, the descendants of David have an unalterable status above others Jewish families.

      Between and within races there exist better and worse. This does not mean that anyone is inherently bad. That’s absurd as it goes against the basic doctrine of free-will. Every human being makes that determination unhindered.

      However, the progenitors of Israel maximized their free will for the good, and their descendants were chosen as a reward for their forefathers. The same goes for the tribe of Levi and Yefes, and conversely Amalek and others.

      Oftentimes when the term “racism” is employed, it refers not in the literal sense, but to a RESULT of said belief (first definition above).

      Torah does not advocate that we treat others poorly because of the condition of their race.

      Although there are specific races singled out for punishment in the Torah, those are punitive in nature. Amalek must be avenged. Amon and Moav may not enter the Jewish faith because of specific wrongs they committed. In contrast “poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race” is unethical.

      Torah never advocates hating someone because of genetics.

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    6. I'm unsure what exactly would be meant by the "amount of racism". But the amount of *harm* caused by racism can be quantified, and the harm caused to blacks seems to be vastly higher than the harm caused to whites (at least per capita). Blacks were enslaved and lynched, whites weren't. Jim Crow targeted blacks, not whites. And so on.

      The dubious examples you give from recent years do not change that. Affirmative action does not really disadvantage whites - it mostly takes places from Asians and gives them to blacks, whites are not significantly affected (and Jews are arguably helped, as they do much better than Asians on the "intangibles" which modern college admissions rely upon). Comparing the level of crime by whites/blacks against the other is irrelevant, because little of that crime is the result of racism (AKA hate crimes). And how much exactly have you been harmed by being unable to express borderline racist thoughts about blacks?

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    7. "Science has accepted that as a basic fact for...hmm, over fifty years."

      Actually it hasn't. And Judaism has always argued the opposite.

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    8. I would love to read peer reviewed articles from journals in this field that come to the conclusion that there are differences in "social and moral" qualities (how is that even defined in a research setting?) between ethnic groups.
      And even if there are (maybe you're about to bring up the bell curve or something), judging **individuals** in any way differently is pretty much the definition of racism, so I don't even get your point.

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  2. Why not follow this blog's mission statement and provide a post on what rationalist judaism would say on racism, using chazal, rishonim and acharonim as appropriate? That would be original.

    Instead of providing material already all over the internet.

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    1. His "About This Site" on the side of the page states:

      "It also explores contemporary rationalist approaches, as well as being a forum for various other notes."

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    2. And my point is there has been precious little of that for the last five years or so. Almost as if the topic has now been exhausted. Without a reboot, it will fade into obscurity, as tends to happen with these movements.

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    3. I don't travel all over the internet. This was informative for me.

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    4. So be gone and let it fade into obscurity without your prodding.

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  3. In America in recent decades there has been much more racism and bigotry coming from the black direction than from the white direction...

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    1. Is that true? How much of America have you seen? Nevertheless, there is too much tolerance for racism coming from the black direction. That's why Farakhan is still a thing, and Trent Lott is not.

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    2. You obviously have been living in a bubble. Get out more. You might be surprised at what you discover.

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    3. Riverdale sure ain't no bubble!

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  4. If things like this motivate mass Aliyah by liberal American Jews then I am all for them.

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    1. I think that comments by Nachum and zichron here, somewhat representative of their communities as they are, will be enough to disencourage aliya of liberal Jews. Very sadly.

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    2. I don't know what I have written about racism on this blog that would prevent liberal Jews from emigrating from America, where I live, to Israel, where I don't.

      Who are liberal Jews anyway? If they don't keep mitzvos, it is better for them to stay in chutz la'aretz. Aveiros in EY are judged in a much stricter fashion. If they do keep Mitzvos, they are merely liberal in their politics, how would I stop them?

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    3. Yeah, people always have excuses. Now I'm one of them, apparently.

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  5. A member of the KKK fires 1 shot from a gunn blindly into a minyan. 8 members are of Ashkenazi descent, and 2 are Ethiopian. Was the attack racist? Until we know who the victim is, the KKK member is both racist and not racist. It's Schroedinger's Klansman!

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  6. "based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy"
    So if someone discriminates against a minority for other reasons, it's not racism? What if the racist believes in "separate but equal"- that would imply discrimination, but not a hierarchy?

    With crackpot notions such as this new racism definition becoming mainstreamed by the ADL, it's no wonder much of the political right in the USA has gone off the deep end. There are too many loonies on both sides of the spectrum.

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  7. 1. Is there any empirical evidence to show that all races are indeed equal?
    2. Is there any society that is indeed post-racial to show us that this ideal is even possible?
    3. Has the fight against racism produced anything positive? Do people fare better because of this fight?
    4. Are there any other methods of bettering the lives of minorities besides a 'fight against racism'?
    5. Have they been tried? What are their success rates?

    I am not trying to be facetious. I am trying to show that you are accepting the orthodoxy of a certain sub-set of society, without thinking critically about it. Basically, doing what you accuse others of doing.

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    1. "Has the fight against racism produced anything positive?"
      Yes. Less racism.

      "I am not trying to be facetious."
      Me too. So I'll won't write anything else.

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    2. "1. Is there any empirical evidence to show that all races are indeed equal?"

      No there isn't because there is NO biological evidence for race. It is a MADE-UP label without any basis in genetics.

      And what do you even mean by "equal"?

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    3. 1. Like all questions of morality, there is no empirical evidence.
      2. I haven't heard of any recent discrimination against Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans. That used to be a big thing. Why not try to extend this to other groups?
      3. Yes, blacks are no longer enslaved.
      4/5. Why not both?

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    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_racism

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    5. I was not writing my opinion. I was showing how there is an orthodoxy and conformity around the 'fight against racism' which is not based on logic or evidence.
      People are forced into a certain way of thinking, and even those who would question other conformist ways of thinking, do not in this case.

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    6. " all races are indeed equal? "

      What do you mean by "equal"?

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    7. Zdub, genetics can indicate race with a very high percentage of accuracy.

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  8. What does the ADL actually DO? Couldn't find a list of concrete accomplishments except dialogues and reports on anti-Semitism. Indeed, I found one link on their site "ADL International Affairs Top 10 Notable Accomplishments in 2019" and at #1 was their LIST of global anti-Semitism.

    And their long-standing ACTIVE opposition (until 5 years ago) to declaring the Armenian genocide as actual genocide was appalling.

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    1. Has the State of Israel gotten around to declaring the Armenian genocide as genocide?

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    2. The State of Israel has other things to bear in mind.

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  9. Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for this post.

    Two points (maybe others have made these points already):
    1. If you go further on https://www.adl.org/racism, the ADL says more. Additionally, they say they updated their definition in 2020. It is still deeply troubling.
    2. Tema Smith wrote some very strong words against Omar in the Forward: https://forward.com/opinion/419188/im-black-and-jewish-ilhan-omars-tweet-and-the-backlash-are-tearing-me/

    Again, much of your post is deeply troubling, but I suspect that there is more to the story. More details may moderate some of the objections you raised but likely won't negate what you said.

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  10. Liberal American Jews are in a big quandary. On the one hand, they are terrified of being described as a separate race- there are too many bad memories of the Holocaust for them to be comfortable with that. However, liberal orthodoxy says that minorities are *only* racial, so that leaves Jews out as a minority- and liberal Jews *really* don't want to be thought of as part of the (white) majority, because being white is not OK these days.

    (Side point: Hispanics aren't really a race, but the Left pretends they are, even if they're the King of Spain. Gays and other sexual minorities aren't a race, but they get honorary membership in the oppressed class. Women aren't even a minority, but they get it too. East Asians *are* a racial minority, but they don't count except under limited circumstances, like when companies need to get their minority numbers up. High-caste Indians are about the most privileged class in the world, but boy do they get the "minority" chits.) Jews get none of those Pokemon points. Except, little known fact, charedi American Jews are considered a "minority" for affirmative action purposes.)

    So liberal American Jews lately have adopted a sort of schizophrenic idea of themselves. They castigate themselves for being white and privileged just as much as the typical lefty white Christian, but at the same time vaguely stress that they're *not* white, and love to stress the tiny number of non-white Jews in hopes that the entire community can be swept along into that. None of it works very well, though, so when a "British man" decides to take a synagogue in Texas hostage, or a "French man" shoots up a kosher deli in Paris, Current Year orthodoxy, up to and including the president of the United States, can not do much but deny that it had anything to do with them being Jewish. Because their heads might explode.

    (Another side point: Of course the vast majority of Jews- and even more so American Jews- are white, in the sense of "caucasian." (And boy are they privileged.) At the same time, Jews *are* genetically distinct from even other whites. And in a world less insanely obsessed with these things- while, just as insanely, insisting they don't exist- none of this would matter.)

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    1. "liberal American Jews lately have adopted a sort of schizophrenic idea"

      Mostly just the "activists". And the ADL seems to have joined in that nuttiness. But I'll take the schizophrenia to the open racism that comes from some right wing Jewish circles.

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    2. I'll take pride in what I am and scientific fact.

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  11. Prediction: Within a week, assuming the uproar is loud enough, the ADL will back-track and remove the current definition.

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  12. Incidentally, I recently came across a clever observation from Rabbi Wein. Jewish immigrants to the US were tired of being the "other" and tried to blend in with the WASP majority, even as far as fighting the opening of religious schools etc. They succeeded to the extent that today Jews have none of the privileges that the "oppressed minorities" have.

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    1. None of the Black people I know can identify any "privileges" that being oppressed has given them.

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    2. You know lots of black people, Charlie?

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    3. Charlie - Can any of the white people you know identify privileges they have been given solely due to being white?

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  13. Absolutely no pressue, but I am still looking forward to hearing about Ani Maamin...
    You did mention that you would be getting into it and than CW came up which, as you pointed out, is important, but now I'm starting to feel like current events will forever take the platform:/

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  14. This story calls to mind the existence of an organisation in Weimar Germany that was known as the Verband Nationaldeutsche Juden. These were Jews who considered themselves to be Germans of Mosaic faith who supported the Nazis. Their support was rejected with contempt. Ms. Smith, ADL and many other leftist people of Jewish ancestry remind me a great deal of these misguided Jews in Germany.

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  15. Well, I lose no sleep with this. I never supported the ADL anyway. The ADL is for Jews who lost Torah and focuses on Antisemitism. Rather than focus on Antisemitism, you should be focusing on Torah, and then, maybe there would be no Antisemitism.

    Now it is even worse. They have caved into the CRT. Very sad. They support BLM racist views against Jews, whites, and Israel. Let's face it. Palestine was never a country. Israel was.

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  16. Nobody's claiming that Whoopi Goldberg is the biggest expert in this field, but it would be interesting to consider this in light of her recent declaration that the Holocaust wasn't about race.

    Interestingly, it was Greenblatt himself who seems to have set her right. But the fact that she said it- in all innocence, I'm going to assume, and she probably meant well- is very telling. (One of her fellow panelists said something similarly bizarre, about how it was all "white supremacy." Because we all know the Germans had no problem with, say, the very white English and Russians and...) Jews can't be a "race" in contemporary terms, and we can't even say that other people *think* they are, rightly or wrongly.

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  17. https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2022/02/01/a-whoopi-goldberg-teaching-moment-jews-race-and-the-other/?preview=true

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