Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Coates in 2008, The Negro Sings Of Zionism
Now, I realize that black nationalism has often been laced with a nice dose of antisemitism. But my point is that philosophically, Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann have much more in common with Marcus Garvey and Martin Delaney than with Fannie Lou Hamer and Martin Luther King. Black leadership--so influenced by Marin Luther King--would almost naturally be lukewarm to Israel, because Civil Rights philosophy not only explicitly rejects nationalism, it actually rejects violence--even in self-defense. Say what you will about Al Sharpton--his response to Sean Bell is Martin Luther King's not Huey Newton's. Thus when people shuffle out the old "Israel has the right to defend itself" number, I hear echoes of Malcolm X upbraiding MLK for singing "We Shall Overcome" as racial terorists bombed churches and sicced dogs on women. "This is part of what’s wrong with you -- you do too much singing," Malcolm once said. "Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging."

This isn't a criticism of Zionism. I came up in the orbit of black nationalism, went to a black college, and have made my home mere blocks from where Garvey used to lead his parades. Indeed, as the brothers say, Game respect Game. Plus our histories aren't exact matches. Antisemitism is at once older, and more present. Jew-hating is the western world's oldest ethnic prejudice, nearly four times as old as anti-black racism, plus the Holocaust is much closer to us than the epoch of slavery. But that doesn't stop me from, every so often, throwing in my old Malcolm tapes, or thumbing through David Walker's Appeal and wondering whether we took the right path

As a dude who came up banging Malcolm's "Ballot or The Bullet" like it was the Wu-Tang Forever, who recited Garvey's "Look For Me In The Whirlwind" at the school assembly, Israel is like a parallel universe, what Liberia could have been with the alteration of a few key historical variables. In Israel, cats like me see the shadows of another choice. Then we cut on "Flavor Of Love" and realize that it could not have been any other way.
Rania Khalek, at EI, responding to Coates' recent arguments.
“Reparations could not make up for the murder perpetrated by the Nazis. But they did launch Germany’s reckoning with itself, and perhaps provided a roadmap for how a great civilization might make itself worthy of the name,” Coates writes.

There are some gaping holes in this narrative.

First, it relies on a total conflation of Israel and Zionism, on the one hand, with Jews, on the other. And it accepts uncritically the ahistorical claim that Israel and Zionism were the victims of the Nazis, and therefore Israel was the appropriate address for “reparations,” the delivery of which could offer Germans absolution.
The second paragraph made me cringe but I understand the point. The link is to Joseph Massad.
Scientific anti-Semitism insisted that the Jews were different from Christian Europeans. Indeed that the Jews were not European at all and that their very presence in Europe is what causes anti-Semitism.

...Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture.
After 1947 European Jews began to call themselves white, to distinguish themselves from Arabs, and also from Mizrahi. For the full absurdity, see Sara Lipton and follow the links.

Did black Americans have a "right" to the new state of Liberia?  Do Syrians now have a "right" to go to Europe?  The desperate go where they need to.

Usually I link to "Jacobin" as "Hamas" (out of no particular antipathy to the latter) but the hipsters have a good one this time: An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Liberals Who Love Him

Liberia. The indigenous majority didn't get the vote until the middle of the 20th century. The country was run on Jim Crow.

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