Re: [sixties-l] (Fwd):Reparatiopns, DH & the Left

From: Marty Jezer (
Date: Tue Apr 03 2001 - 10:30:52 EDT

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Jeffrey Blankfort <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2001 6:03 PM
    Subject: Re: [sixties-l] (Fwd):Reparatiopns, DH & the Left


    Jeff Blankfort wrote (>)

    > Not only has free speech been confused with using one's money in a
    > political way by the Supreme Court, which, of course, favors those who
    > have it over those that don't, but this principle seems to have been
    > accepted among sections of the liberal intelligensia. That Horowitz had
    > the financial backing to place ads in a number of college papers gives
    > him an advantage that the first amendment arguably did not intend.

    What "liberal intelligentsia" are you speaking of? And, as I asked William
    what specifically do you propose to level the financial playing-field
    between those who have and those who don't have money to buy ads? To say
    it's wrong is easy. What's the solution?

    > Horowitz is hardly a victim or even a martyr in this, just a smart con
    > man who knew exactly what the reaction would be to his advertisements
    > and has already benefited in terms of media exposure and no doubt, more
    > funding from the neo-fascist sources that keep him afloat.

    He is smart, smarter than the folks calling for his censorship who have
    played into his hands.

    > Had Horowitz submitted his ad as an op-ed piece then an editor could
    > have solicited an opposing viewpoint.

    True, and that would have been the ethical thing to do, but he didn't, and
    that is what the left had to deal with and, in my opinion, calling for
    censorship only strengthened his hand.

    > A group of Jewish holocaust survivors has just filed a suit against the
    > US government for $40 billion because the US did not bomb the rail lines
    > to Auchswitz. Will anyone have the guts to say that this suit is
    > frivolous, or do Jews have a special exemption when it comes to
    > reparations, that African-Americans, do not?

    Yeah, it is outrageous and also an insult to the families of GIs who died
    fighting Hitler and who got a small death benefit for their service. But
    that's my point. Reparations are problemmatic. The issue is burdened with
    political self-interest I generally agree with what you say on the subject
    of the holocaust, except this one remark:

    >With all due respect to the Jewish victims of
    > the Nazis, that period of history was considerably shorter and with
    > considerably less victims, even at 6 million, that what was experienced
    > in black US communities. And there is no question that it was far more
    > devastating to the black community than the Holocaust was to the Jewish
    > for that reason.

    I find the comparison of victimization really tacky and self-defeating. But
    I do agree that the Jewish community has been more successful at using the
    holocaust for its own political ends than has the African American
    community. I too oppose the use of the holocaust to advance the cause of
    Israel, for many of the same reasons I oppose African-American reparations.
    You seem to oppose the former but approve the latter. I do not understand
    your inconsistency.

    > The suggestion that the legitimacy of reparations has anything to do
    > with whether or not black celebrities are huge philanthropists is
    > intellectually mind boggling.

    It may be mind-boggling in the abstract but to gain reparations means
    getting public support; and here perception counts, and this will become an
    issue that muddles the argument and undercuts the suppport . But I'm not
    convicined that the activists for reparations really care about getting
    reparations. It seems to me, by their choice of rhetoric and tactics, that
    they only want to make a point about the black experience in America. Yes,
    the black experience needs to be remembered (and does, in fact, get a good
    hearing). But where do you go from there? (See discusssion of pragmatism

    > It is not a question of giving knee-jerk support, but stepping back and
    > taking a good long look at American history and seeing where we are
    > today, seeing what is happening to undefended largely black inner city
    > schools, to see who is being incarcerated in our prisons. You are
    > arguing that justice should give way to pragmatism. And I say it
    > already has and that is why I despair for the left.
    There's nothing wrong with a little pragmatism in the cause of justice. The
    civil rights movement of the sixties faltered when ML King's pragmatic
    (though powerfully moral impulse) gave way to rhetorical correctness (The
    black power movement). In foreign affairs, the pragamtic (though moral
    movement) of the ANC in South Africa achieved at least most of its goals by
    understanding how much they could get from white South Africans and then
    pushed for that. In the expression of the 1960s, they kept their "eye on the
    prize." Compare the ANC success (admitting all the severe problems resulting
    from apartheid that has overwhelmed their governance) to that of the
    Palestinians who, given the opportunity of a settlement that would have
    given them most of what they wanted and what was possible, opted for
    rhetoric and ideology, and, in lock-step with the Israeli rejectionists,
    created the tragedy of today.

    Perhaps it confuses stuff to mix South Africa and Israel and international
    affairs with reparations, but in one way they are the same. If one wants
    justice for the African-American community, at least in terms of public
    policy, one has to frame the demand in terms of the
    achievable; the rest, to my mind, is ideological and rhetorical feel-good
    posturing that leads no where. As witness what happened during the 1960s.

     Marty Jezer

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