New York - THE anti-Semitic outrages of Crown Heights are aimed at the Jews of only one neighborhood in one city -- for the moment.
But American Jews who do not understand that the same kind of political thugs will do their best now to lead the same kind of street thugs to fire Jewish property and break Jewish bones in other cities are blind to reality, deaf to history -- and suicidal.They are matched in self-destructiveness by those influential prominent black Americans -- politicians, clergy, businessmen -- who are disgusted by Crown Heights but stand aloof. They either do not understand or are not willing to say out loud that Crown Heights can do more damage to American blacks than to American Jews.
Have they already forgotten that the weapons the black pogromists of Crown Heights use against Jews are precisely the weapons white pogromists in the South used against blacks?
First, the cooking up or blowing up of a grievance against a minority. Then the stoking of mob madness with the essential evil -- the idea that a civic grievance true or imagined can be the justification of violence. Then dehumanization and demonization by vile racial epithet, ax handle parades and screams for lynch laws inevitably followed immediately by beatings, arson, killing.
Can black Americans not really see that the legitimization by silence of these weapons when used by black bigots against Jews can and will be used by white bigots to justify using them against blacks? And meanwhile the world watches and sees in a black neighborhood of America the one thing that so many people everywhere hate and fear most -- terrorism, and out in the streets.
But nobody has very much to be proud of. The press treats it all as if it were some kind of cultural clash between a poverty-ridden people fed up with life and a more powerful, prosperous and unfortunately peculiar bunch of stuck-up neighbors -- very sad of course, but certainly understandable. No -- it is an anti-Semitic pogrom and the words should not be left unsaid.
Television and some of the newspapers treat the hate peddlers who come running, or crawling, whenever there is a racial problem as if they were at least as important as the mayor. It is one thing to report on the sayings and doings of these political thugs -- we should know. It is entirely another to elevate these people into respectability and magnify their status in society. Journalists who do not know the difference are in the wrong business -- a misfortune not for them but for their city.
And if the mayor or his police commissioner did not order the police to stand by and do little while the rioters rampaged that first couple of days, as police officers charge, please tell us who did.
By meeting with the Sharptons and Maddoxes of New York the mayor is almost as responsible as the press for elevating them.
Some Jewish organizations acted as if Crown Heights did not quite concern them. Their usually ferocious faxes were either silent or blurped out diplomatically balanced condolences to all concerned.
Actions can be taken to prevent other anti-Semitic outrages -- the same actions that were taken to stop anti-black outrages. Most important is to get it across that using grievances real or imagined as an excuse for violence will not be tolerated -- not by black society or white, not by the press, not by City Hall, not now, not ever. Violence should be met immediately by effective police action and then by all available legal punishment of the rioters and their manipulators.
Talks yes, meetings among blacks, Jews and other whites certainly -- but they should be only among those who believe in the compact of society against civic violence. Meeting with the political thugs is useless and only strengthens them to lead the next riot. Political and social ostracism can be an effective weapon against them and their apologists. It would show their followers that they are balloons full of poison gas, but not political power.
Now the political thugs are out in Crown Heights distributing leaflets calling on black "heroes" to keep fighting the Hasidim and the police in the streets, urging them on to blood and shame. These are the real enemies of the American blacks, not those strange people in the strange clothes.