To destroy a nigger, a kike, a dyke, or a faggot, by one’s own ace alone is to have committed a communion and, above all, to have made a public confession more personal, more total, and more devastating than any act of love: whereas the orgasm of the mob is drenched in the blood of the lamb.
In the church I come from—which is not at all the same church to which white Americans belong—we were counseled, from time to time, to do our first works over. Through the church I come from and the church to which most white Americans belong are both Christian churches, their relationship—due to those pragmatic decisions concerning Property made by a Christian State sometime ago—cannot be said to involve, or suggest, the fellowship of Christians. We do not, therefore, share the same hope or speak the same language.
To do your first works over means to reexamine everything. Go back to where you started, or as far back as you can, examine all of it, travel your road again and tell the truth about it. Sing or shout or testify or keep it to yourself: but know whence you came.
This is precisely what the generality of white Americans cannot afford to do. They do not know how to do it--: as I must suppose. They come through Ellis Island, where Giorgio became Joe, Pappavasiliu becomes Palmer, Evangelos becomes Evans, Goldsmith becomes Smith or Gold, and Avakian becomes King. So, with a painless change of name, and in the twinkling of an eye, one becomes a white American.
Later, in the midnight hour, the missing identity aches. One can neither assess nor overcome the storm of the middle passage. One is mysteriously shipwrecked forever, in the Great New World.
The slave is in another condition, as are his heirs: I told Jesus it would be all right / If He changed my name.
If He changed my name.
The Irish middle passage, for but one example, was as foul as my own, and as dishonorable on the part of those responsible for it. But the Irish became white when they got here and began rising in the world, whereas I became black and began sinking. The Irish, therefore and thereafter—again, for but one example—had absolutely no choice but to make certain that I could not menace their safety or status or identity: and, if I came too close, they could, with the consent of the governed, kill me. Which means that we can be friendly with each other anywhere in the world, except Boston.
What a monumental achievement on the part of those heroes who conquered the North American wilderness!
The price the white American paid for his ticket was to become white--; and, in the main, nothing more than that, or, as he was to insist, nothing less. This incredibly limited not to say dimwitted ambition has choked many a human being to death here: and this, I contend, is because the white American has never accepted the real reasons for his journey. I know very well that my ancestors had no desire to come to this place: but neither did the ancestors of the people who became white and who require of my captivity a song. They require of me a song less to celebrate my captivity than to justify their own.
James Baldwin, The Price Of The Ticket
On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.
In order really to hate white people, one has to blot so much out of the mine—and the heart—that this hatred itself becomes an exhausting and self-destructive pose. But this does not mean, on the other hand, that love comes easily: the white world is too powerful, too complacent, too ready with gratuitous humiliation, and, above all, too ignorant and too innocent for that. One is absolutely forced to make perpetual qualifications and one’s own reactions are always canceling each other out.
It is this, really, which had driven so many people mad, both with and black. One is always in the position of having to decide between amputation and gangrene. Amputation is swift but time may prove that the amputation was not necessary—or one may delay the amputation too long. Gangrene is slow, but it is impossible to be sure that one is ready one’s symptoms right. The idea of going through life as a cripple is more than one can bear, and equally unbearable is the risk of swelling up slowly, in agony, with poison. And the trouble, finally, is that the risks are real even if the choices do not exist.
“But as for me and my house,” my father had said, “we will serve the Lord.”
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I suspected in these families a meaning, which had never been there for me before.
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this [is] an immutable law.
It began to seem that one would have to hold in mind forever two ideas, which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own strength. This fight begins, however, in the heart and it now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. The intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me where I could have searched his face for the answers, which only the future would give me now.
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
NEGROES ARE ANTI-SEMITIC BECAUSE THEY’RE ANTI-WHITE
The root of anti-Semitism among Negroes is, ironically, the relationship of colored people—all over the globe—to the Christian world. This is a fact, which may be difficult to grasp, not only for the ghetto’s most blasted and embittered inhabitants, but also for many Jews, to say nothing of many Christians. But it is a fact, and it will not be ameliorated—in fact, it can only be aggravated—by the adoption, on the part of colored peoples now, of the most devastating of the Christian vices.
Of course it is true, and I am not so naïve as not to know it, that many Jews despise Negroes, even as their Aryan brothers do. (There are also Jews who despise Jews, even as their Aryan brothers do.) It is true that many Jews use, shamelessly the slaughter of the 6,000,000 by the Third Reich as proof that they cannot be bigots—or in the hope of not being held responsible for their bigotry.
Is galling to be told by a Jew whom you know to be exploiting you that he cannot possibly be doing what you know he is doing because he is a Jew. It is bitter to watch the Jewish storekeeper locking up his store for the night, and going home. Going with your money in his pocket, to a clean neighborhood, miles from you, which you will not be allowed to enter. Nor can it help the relationship between most Negroes and most Jews when part of this money is donated to civil rights. In the light of what is now known as the white backlash, this money can be looked on a conscience money merely, as money given to keep the Negro happy, in his place, and out of white neighborhoods.
One does not wish, in short, to be told by an American Jew that his suffering is as great as the American Negro’s suffering. It isn’t, and one knows that it isn’t from the very tone in which he assures you that it is. Furthermore, the Jew can be proud of his suffering, or at least not ashamed of it. His history and his suffering do not begin in America, where black mean have been taught to be ashamed of everything, especially their suffering.
The Jew’s suffering is recognized as part of the moral history of the world and the Jew is recognized as a contributor to the world’s history: this is not true of the blacks. Jewish history, whether or not one can say it is honored, is certainly known: the black history has been blasted, maligned, and despised. The Jew is a white man, and when white men rise up against oppression, they are heroes: when black men rise, they have reverted to their native savagery.
The uprising in the Warsaw ghetto was not described as a riot, nor where the participants maligned as hoodlums: the boys and girls in Watts and Harlem are thoroughly aware of this, and it certainly contributes to their attitude toward the Jews.
But, of course, my comparison of Watts and Harlem with the Warsaw ghetto will be immediately dismissed as outrageous. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is that while America loves white heroes, armed to the teeth, it cannot abide bad niggers. But the bottom reason is that it contradicts the American Dream to suggest that any gratuitous, unregenerate horror can happen here. We make our mistakes, we like to think, but we are getting better all the time.
Well, to state it mildly, this is a point of view which any sane or honest Negro will have some difficulty holding. Very few Americans, and this includes very few Jews, wish to believe that the American Negro situation is as desperate and dangerous as it is. Very few Americans, and very few Jews, have the courage to recognize that the America of which they dream and boast is not the America in which the Negro lives. It is a country, which the Negro has never seen. And this is not merely a matter of bad faith on the part of Americans. Bad faith, God knows, abounds, but there is something in the American dream sadder and more wistful than that.
[….] The most ironical thing about Negro anti-Semitism is that the Negro is really condemning the Jew for having become an American white man—for having become, in effect, a Christian. The Jew profits from his status in America, and he must expect Negroes to distrust him for it. The Jew does not realize that the credential he offers, the fact that he has been despised and slaughtered, does not increase the Negro’s understanding. It increases the Negro’s rage.
For it is not here, and not now, that the Jew is being slaughtered, and he is never despised, here, as the Negro is, because he is an American. The Jewish travail occurred across the sea and America rescued him from the house of bondage. But America is the house of bondage for the Negro, and no country can rescue him. What happens to the Negro here happens to him because he is an American.
When an African is mistreated here, for example, he has recourse to his embassy. The American Negro, who is, let us say, falsely arrested, will find it nearly impossible to bring his case to court. And this means that because he is a native of this country—“l\one of our niggers”—he has, effectively, no recourse and no place to go, either within the country or without. He is a pariah in his own country and a stranger in the world. This is what it means to have one’s history and one’s ties to one’s ancestral homeland totally destroyed.
This is not what happened to the Jew and, therefore, he has allies in the world. That is none of the reasons no one has ever seriously suggested that the Jew be nonviolent. There was no need for him to be nonviolent. On the contrary, the Jewish battle for Israel was saluted as the most tremendous heroism. How can the Negro fail to suspect that the Jew is really saying that the Negro deserves his situation because he has not been heroic enough? It is doubtful that the Jews could have won their battle had the Western powers been opposed to them. But such allies as the Negroes may have are themselves struggling for their freedom against tenacious and tremendous Western opposition.
This leaves the American Negro, who technically represents the Western nations [now calling themselves the International Community], in a cruelly ambiguous position. In this situation, it is not the American Jew who can either instruct him or console him. On the contrary, the American Jew knows just enough about this situation to be unwilling to imagine it again.
Finally, what the American Negro interprets the Jew, as saying is that one must take the historical, the impersonal point of view concerning one’s life and concerning the lives of one’s kinsmen and children. “We suffered, too,” one is told, “but we came through, and so will you. In time.”
In whose time? One has only one life. One may become reconciled to the ruin of one’s own life, but to become reconciled to the ruin of one’s children’s lives is not reconciliation. It is the sickness unto death. And one knows that such counselors are not present on these shores by following this advice.
They arrived here out of the same effort the American Negro is making: they wanted to live, and not tomorrow, but today. Now since the Jew is living here, like all the other white men living here, he wants the Negro to wait. And the Jew sometimes—often—does this in the name of his Jewishness, which is a terrible mistake. He has absolutely no relevance in this context as a Jew. His only relevance is that he is white and values his color and uses it.
The Jew is singled out by Negroes not because he acts differently from other white men, but because he doesn’t. His major distinction is given him by that history of Christendom, which has so successfully victimized both Negroes and Jews. And he is playing in Harlem [and the world], the role assigned him by Christians long ago: he is doing their dirty work.
A genuinely candid confrontation between American Negroes and American Jews would certainly prove of inestimable value. But the aspirations of the country are wretchedly middle-class and the middle class can never afford candor.
What is really at question is the American way of life. What is really at question is whether Americans already have an identity or are still sufficiently flexible to achieve one. This is a painfully complicated question, for what now appears to be the American identity is really a bewildering and sometimes demoralizing blend of nostalgia and opportunism.
Those credential [are] forged in the Old World—credentials, which cannot be, duplicated here, credentials, which the American Negro does not have. These credentials are the abandoned history of Europe [as well as Israel] the abandoned and romanticized history of Europe [and Ancient Israel]. The Russian Jews here have no desire to return to Russia either, and they have not departed in great clouds for Israel. But they have the authority of knowing it is there. The Americans are no longer Europeans, but they are still living, at least as they imagine, on that capital [or in that horror].
That capital also belongs, however, to the slaves who created it for Europe and who created it here; and in that same sense, the Jew must see that he is part of the history of Europe, and will always e so considered by the descendant of the slave. Always, that is, unless he himself is willing to prove that this judgment is inadequate and unjust.
This is precisely what is that this judgment is inadequate and unjust. This is precisely what is demanded of all the other white men in this country, and the Jew will not find it easier than anybody else to be hated. I learned this from Christians, and I ceased to practice what the Christians practiced.
The crisis taking place in the world, and in the minds and hearts of black people everywhere, is not produced by the Star of David, but by the old, rugged Roman cross on which Christendom’s most celebrated Jew was murdered. And not by Jews.
James Baldwin, Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White
As a new nuclear deal goes into effect with Iran, a growing number of US Senators call for still tougher sanctions. The White House says that’s the path to war.
Two big messages coming out of Washington right now on Iran. One, from the White House, welcoming an interim nuclear deal that, as of today, has started the suspension of Iran’s most advanced nuclear enrichment. And one from Capitol Hill, where a big contingent has now signed on to even harsher sanctions on Iran. The White House says it’s finally found a narrow path to a real nuclear deal. Congressional critics say they don’t believe it. They want more sanctions. The White says that is the path to war. This hour On Point: Deal or no deal with Iran, and the warning of a path to war.
– Tom Ashbrook
Robin Wright, journalist and author, distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” “The Iran Primer: Power Politics and U.S. Policy” and “The Islamists are Coming: Who They Really Are.” (@wrightr)
Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and The National Journal. Senior columnist, Haaretz.com. Associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Author of “The Crisis Of Zionism,” “The Good Fight: Why Liberals — And Only Liberals — Can Win the War ...” and “The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris.” (@PeterBeinart)
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the project on U.S. Middle east Non-Proliferation Strategy. Co-author of nine studies on economic sanctions against Iran. (@dubo1968)
TIME: A New Beginning In Tehran — “Since President Hassan Rouhani’s upset victory in last summer’s election, Iran has been consumed with a strategic recalibration. The signing of the short-term nuclear deal in November, which diplomats will spend the next six months trying to turn into an enduring pact, generated tangible change in Iran’s relations with the world. And among ordinary Iranians, it’s no longer off-limits to talk openly about eventual reconciliation with a country long known as the Great Satan.”
Haaretz: U.S. Senate sanctions bill is all about torpedoing a nuclear deal... — “Even if a reasonable time frame were specified, there’s a bigger problem. By insisting that Obama certify an end to Iranian missile tests and support for terrorism, Menendez and company are insisting that a final deal cover subjects it was never meant to cover. The interim agreement makes clear that the sole goal of current negotiations is to “ensure [that] Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.”
Wall Street Journal: A Bad Agreement Likely to Get Worse — “In the absence of verifiable Iranian commitments not to proceed with nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile research, there is nothing to stop Iran from having a designed bomb and ballistic missile ready to go. Once Iran completes a dash to weapons-grade uranium, it can insert the warhead and quickly have a deliverable nuclear weapon.” http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/01/20/iran-sanctions-senate-rouhani-kerry