Friday, December 1, 2023

More on Anti-Semitism in Nonprofit Discourse

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I have one more thing to say about this and then I'll let it go. Its not a comfortable conversation.  I don't blame Alan Waldenberg for telling my dean -- who knows better anyway -- that I am an anti-Semite.  I am a black man in America who grew up as always one of only a few in white neighborhoods and white schools.  My father was a military officer and we lived in officer neighborhoods.  As a young soldier, my father could not use the Greyhound bus station cafeteria to buy a sandwich on his way home from Ft. Benning, Georgia to Memphis, Tennessee.  In uniform.  A kindly bus driver collected his and other others' money, and bought sandwiches for them.  Its true though that anybody can be a racist and its not my point that I am incapable of racism. I use racism to include anti-Semitism.  But someone who knows racism probably knows better, though that is not my point either. 

I get it though.  My point is that people who live racism, see it clearly and more often.  And we call it out quicker, sometimes too quickly.  People who oppose critical race theory -- that, being undefined except as "black" -- are confirmed racists to me. You can hardly convince me otherwise, because I know what this is and I am quick to call it out. I assume by his Hebrew surname that my accuser is Jewish, a fact of no relevance if only his allegation were true.  My assumption makes it easier for me to understand the accusation, not because Jews or Blacks play the race card.  But because those who live it, see it more often and clearly.  I certainly do.  And nobody's learned or expressed sensitivity discounts the reality.  Mr. Waldenberg may see things clearly in my article.  My article, though, speaks for itself.

As regards the more narrow point of this post, this morning I came across an opinion piece entitled "Charitable givers putting colleges, universities on notice." It is in Philanthropy Daily, a useful publication put out by Center for Civil Society.  The Center for Civil Society is a conservative educational nonprofit that believes today's colleges and universities are "morally and ideologically adrift."  The headline caught my attention so I read it.  Here is what stopped me:

Colleges that are morally and ideologically adrift or that lack a clear philosophical or even religious affiliation, on the other hand, face an uphill battle for continued charitable funding from conservatives and non-conservatives alike. This is not necessarily new. But what is now evident is that many, including traditional liberal Jewish givers, have woken up to the fact that top-tier schools are nothing more than hedge funds with a school attached. 

Is it just me? I might play the race card too often, but I would bet the house that the word "especially" first appeared where "including" is now.  I am having an academic discussion, here not accusing anybody. But I am sensitive enough to think the sentence is not a mistake.  My radar is tall and may even cause some false positives.  I would not have used the sentence even if all that is meant is that Jewish donors, in particular, have stopped donating to big universities.  There is a genocidal war going on against Israel what else would we expect?  But this is the only time religion or heritage is mentioned, is all I am saying.

The biggest conundrum is that I have to acknowledge the racism to see what I see.  Perhaps at the risk of characterizing myself as a racist.  If nobody else sees it, does my seeing it mean I am a racist for being the only one seeing it?  I don't know the folks at Center for Civil Society. I know its political bent only from its publications.  The racism -- the "obvious anti-Semitic trope" -- that I see is implicit.  And if I am correct that the author may not even be cognizant, the racism is deeply hard-wired.  So I don't blame people for being reactionary in defense of their human dignity.  

darryll k. jones

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