A Blessing on Both Their Houses

July 29, 2014

Listeners and readers of my commentary know that I have spoken out against what I believe is Israeli misbehavior. So I get flooded with one-sided petitions condemning Israeli behavior. To make myself completely clear, I see merit and fault on both sides. I will not sign one-sided petitions.

I am reminded of my conversation with a Palestinian student who argued with me that Palestinians have the right to kill Israelis, any Israelis, military or civilian, and they have no right to shoot back, only to accept their fate. I questioned him to make sure I was hearing him accurately. What he was making clear was the attitude, or brain-washing, that dehumanized the other side. That is the attitude we have to fight against. Read the rest of this entry »

The White House Butler

September 3, 2013

My wife and I went to see The Butler Saturday evening. There were important differences between the lives of the actual Butler, Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents, and Cecil Gaines, the butler in the film. But those differences actually got to larger truths it is worth thinking about.

In the film Cecil learns from the rape of his mother and the murder of his father what he has to do to survive in the white world. He creates a safe place for his family and is distraught when his son puts body and soul at risk in the Civil Rights Movement. That didn’t happen to Eugene Allen but it did happen to hordes of African-Americans in the South and many elsewhere. The demonstrators, trained to be peaceful and nonviolent, to take it without giving it back, were met with bombings, beatings, murders and jail. And their families were in anguish. Read the rest of this entry »

Court Stabs Integration in Ricci v. DeStefano

June 30, 2009

The Supreme Court has decided that New Haven could not throw out the firemen’s exam because no African-American and only two Hispanic-American test takers passed the test. According to the Court it wasn’t discriminatory because the test wasn’t intended to be discriminatory.

Unfortunately it is easy to whitewash real discrimination by saying “he didn’t mean it” – a formula we all learned as kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Sotomayor’s Resignation from a Women’s Club

June 23, 2009

Judge Sotomayor’s resignation from a women’s club is the result of the typical conservative failure either to understand or support the fight against discrimination. Saying that women or blacks cannot get together to support each other because we have insisted that whites and men admit women and blacks is like saying that with the score 89-0 we’ll all play fair from now on. Read the rest of this entry »

The Second End of Reconstruction

May 5, 2009

For broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, May 5, 2009:

There are two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that will probably change American civil rights law radically. Four members of the Court have never been friends of civil rights law and have just been waiting for a chance to kill it. A fifth professes concern but has rarely supported it. It’s hard to tell how much of a difference whatever the Court decides will make at this point. But it is not a group of people I trust for a realistic assessment of our anti-discrimination laws. Read the rest of this entry »

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