You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone, keep your dirty laundry
“Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley, released 1982
In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Chip Johnson asks why so many Oaklanders focus on the killing of a young Black man in Florida, Trayvon Martin, because the alleged killer was not Black. Yet Blacks kill fellow Blacks on Oakland’s streets in alarming numbers. The truth can be hard to face. I recall the turbulent ‘Sixties ‘60s when some Blacks boasted they could not be racist since they’d been oppressed. And to hell with Whitey if he disagreed.
All groups have dirty laundry. Asians often are portrayed as America’s model minority. But ask San Francisco’s crime task force if what happens in Chinatown and other parts of the city keep them busy. The recent killing of five Asian Americans near City College by a Vietnamese ex-convict informs us that we’re all different just the same.
Jews included. America alone produced Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine, and dozens of Nobel Prize-winning scientists; Supreme Court justices like Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo; entertainers like Fanny Brice, Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand—not to mention rockers like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed; authors Philip Roth and Grace Paley; and baseball greats Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax; plus countless business people, professionals, artists, factory workers and auto mechanics.
Other names resonate in American-Jewish history, too: Jacob Levinsky, Dopey Fein, Dutch Schultz, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Abe Bernstein and Moe Dalitz. Not a Ph.D. among them. They and many others made their mark in organized crime. Eastern-European immigrants, of whom I am a descendant, did not always find America the Goldene Medina—the Golden Land.
Truth be told, we Jews have our share of dirty laundry. Today, of course, we’re rarely involved in violent crime. But Jews on Wall Street—mixed with plenty of non-Jews—played a role in the subprime mortgage mess that shattered our economy. Nowhere is it written that to be Jewish is not to be human. Rather, as I wrote last week, we are tasked to overcome the yetzer hara—the bad impulse. Our record is impressive but not perfect.
Witness some of our cousins in Israel last Monday. According to the Jerusalem Post, some 300 fans of the Betar Jerusalem soccer club, following a victory over Tel Aviv B’nei Yehuda, attacked Arab workers at the Malcha Mall. They also chanted racist fight songs. Betar fans apparently have a reputation for anti-Arab outbursts.
But another aspect of this story bears telling. Wednesday night, 150 protestors gathered at the mall to support the rights of all Israelis. And Israeli police arrested 16 suspects. Six were brought to court and face indictment next week. The resolution may not be perfect. There’s lots of work to do in Israel regarding anti-Arab sentiment. And God knows, just chipping away at anti-Jewish sentiment in the Muslim world will take Herculean effort.
So another truth must be declared. The more we expose dirty laundry to fresh air, the easier it is to get it clean.
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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at davidperlstein.com. Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. SLICK! also is now available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.