| Second Thoughts |

Words Not Heard

The path followed by the Jews is the path to success for any downtrodden group

 

In the current pandemic of mob violence engulfing the USA, what has been the reaction of the black preachers, the left-wing opinion writers, the liberal politicians running America’s major cities in the face of rampant vandalism? Condemnation? Disapproval? Denunciation? None of the above. The silence is deafening.

What we see instead, in the face of destructive evil, is acquiescence, surrender, and, in the final analysis, complicity. The words not spoken, the editorials not written, the condemnations not uttered, are thunderous, much more eloquent than the words actually uttered.

I have never been a city mayor nor a media editor, but I have ministered to a congregation all my life. If I were the minister of a black church, and if I had a modicum of courage and concern for the future of my people, this is the sermon I would deliver to my community:

I can no longer remain silent. I am watching the unraveling not only of American civil society, but of my beloved black community. I have lived the suffering and frustration of being poor and the object of discrimination. I, too, am wounded by the killing of blacks by police. I feel your pain, because it is my pain as well.

But we are reacting in a way that is self-destructive. By destroying civic property, we are destroying ourselves. By defaming the police, we are defaming our own community. Looting and vandalism and rioting cannot exist in any civilized society, and in our case, these behaviors are causing us untold harm in the long run.

We are not the only minority group in American history that has been the object of injustice and discrimination. Other groups have suffered similar emotional and physical harm but have somehow managed to overcome.

Surely you remember the anthem of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign: “We Shall Overcome.” We have come a long way since those days, and we will still have much to overcome, but we have made much progress at the same time. M.L. King never countenanced violence, and as a result, he aroused the sympathy of a nation, resulting in the Civil Rights Act.

It is also from other downtrodden groups that we can learn important lessons. For example, take a lesson from the Jews. They came to the USA as a penniless immigrant group, but by dint of their own exertions and efforts, gradually became self-sufficient and self-confident citizens.

The path followed by the Jews is the path to success for any downtrodden group. We ignore it at our own peril.

What they did not do is claim victimhood. They did not riot because of discrimination and injustice against them — which was rife. They did not loot; they eschewed all violence. Instead, they found strength in religion, in discipline, in teaching their children right and wrong, in strengthening the family, in cherishing parents, in stressing strong education, in learning skills, in respecting those in authority, in appreciating American freedoms.

As your spiritual leader, I say to you: If you would succeed as a minority group, restore the Bible into your children’s lives. Teach them that there is a G-d, teach them the Ten Commandments, to honor their parents; teach them thou shat not steal, thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not commit adultery. Teach them that not every wish and desire needs to be satisfied immediately; teach them the joys of occasional self-denial.

The black future is being destroyed by thuggery and criminal behavior. When your pick-up trucks back up to department stores into which you have broken, and you load up with everything you can put your hands on — is this the kind of behavior that creates a future for blacks? Yes, I know the resentments, the biases, the wounds, but this is not the way to fight them. What you are doing is confirming the worst prejudices about us. Whites say that blacks have a high criminal rate. How do we react? By breaking into stores. Whites say we have no respect for authority. How do we react? By burning down police stations.

I know my words are not politically correct, and I assume I will be roundly calumniated if not worse after this sermon, but I care too much about my black people to remain silent. What I say today is obvious, but they are not being uttered — in churches, in newspapers, or in any media. The truth must be spoken. If you really believe that black lives matter now and tomorrow, you will take to heart my words this day.

 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 832)

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