The scholar and activist, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, has his face in the flames for his speech at the U.N. which challenged the world to stand with the Palestinians. People say his remarks at the U.N. were anti-Semitic.
His speech came at the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”
At the U.N. committee meeting, Dr. Hill urged the committee to accept an array of resistance tactics the Palestinians can use. He also called for an international boycott with sanctions against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.
Dr. Hill’s critics took issue with many parts of his speech, but how he ended his speech made people trip and rush to prepare a pink slip.
Dr. Hill ended his speech, and parts of his speaking career, with a controversial phrase.
As a result, CNN fired Dr. Hill, and the chairman of Temple University’s board, where Dr. Hill works, rained heavy attacks down on Hill, too.
While some Jewish people support Dr. Hill, others still call for his swift dismissal from every platform on the planet.
Dr. Hill’s message was for active solidarity.
But he shouldn’t have used the explosive six-word phrase that rang and banged — like an echoing expletive — since it clouded his otherwise clear and compelling message.
Since then, Dr. Hill clarified his intent with the potent phrase, and he apologized.
With words — impact still matters more than intent.
Connotations count even when they’re unintended. Intent still matters. Explanations still matter. But impact matters more.
With the impact, it’s about history and harm.
Given their history, and the forces against them, non-Jewish people must believe Jewish people who say something is anti-Semitic.
Trust and, if necessary, verify — should apply.
It’s also true that the world can both oppress and privilege Jewish people.
In a world driven by white supremacy, some Jewish people can enjoy white privilege and oppress others.
The past or present dangers do not give a pass to those enduring facts.
With those dueling facts, no one should allow anybody to cover a naked oppression with fig leaves. It doesn’t matter how they label and layer their leaves.
People must snatch the shaggy wigs, and they must snatch the fig leaves too. It’s a snatching that takes considerable discernment to know what’s real and what’s not.
It would be easier if the people wearing the cover-up accessories to hide oppression would do the honors and snatch them off themselves. But history tells us — people don’t and people won’t.
With Israel, justice-seekers must condemn the oppression. They can, and must, do so without being anti-Semitic.
People must critique and protest any aspect of a government that hoards resources, space, and dignity from humans.
People must also reject every illegitimate claim.
There are illegitimate claims of anti-Semitism, racism, and other evils.
White genocide is not real.
Reverse racism as a system against white people is not real.
Donald Trump claiming a reporter asked a racist question is really unreal.
When people with power sling baseless slop they deflect their own culpability and responsibility. Ultimately, it’s a sloppy and slanderous attempt to protect power and resist any solidarity with the oppressed.
It’s also true, sometimes people wrongly play the infamous “race card” out of hand. But the “race card” is the worst — when it’s used to protect an oppressive power.
Additionally, people who’ve always had a reserved seat at the table with stacked decks in their hands — and chairs pulled for their comfort — should logically err on the side of hearing and amplifying the most marginalized voices.
The focus should be on ending oppression.
When people say a statement is anti-Semitic, racist, or likewise — look for the individual and institutional prejudice; look for status; look for oppression and look at history.
In history, we find the oldest roots of most “-isms.”
The “-isms” cause systematic and sustained schisms, and society’s “-phobias” paint people in an inhumane shade. Both displace people. The measuring sticks are equity and a level humanity.
The facts matter too — past and present.
On blanket statements about white people, when a majority or plurality of people give a studied opinion on a subject, or we can see data, the information is a consensus that makes some generalizations relevant and not racist.
The facts aren’t always static, but they still stand and speak.
With Israel, it’s still an inescapable fact that several practices and policies from Israel oppress Palestinians.
If power comes with responsibility, then those with power bear the unshakeable and heaviest burden of accountability.
It’s difficult to say what’s true to the powerful.
Some messengers, especially Black messengers in US History, suffer unfair consequences others always escape.
When speaking to the powerful, there’s also an unfair demand that the messenger and the message be spotless, otherwise, people dismiss the message and the messenger.
As some truth-tellers speak up for the oppressed, those with power may reject them and eject them from every field.
But with the hard work to stop oppression, no one should ever evade the timeless duty to call a tool by its name.