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Blacks Can Learn a Lot from Jews, Still

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Kevin Frayer

I have a close Jewish friend who I met in the gym after one of his daily workouts.  He’s 91.  

When Hyman and I bumped into each other just outside the gym back then, we traded courtesies, yapped a bit about the political goings-on of the day and parted with the usual, “You know, we should have coffee sometime.”  We did.   In fact, we enjoyed our political chit-chats so much that we met for breakfast once a week for the next seven years.


Whenever we get together, breakfast is a side dish – history and politics is the feast.  A feast mostly for me because, at his age, Hyman was an eyewitness to much of the history that shaped the modern world.  Blessed with the gift of wisdom, he’s a living depository for golden life lessons he refined in the harsh crucible of early 20th century living.  Those lessons glisten as congealed nuggets of wisdom in the course of our conversations.

He’d say things like:

“Better to earn a penny working for yourself than a pound working for others.”

“The truth is rigid but lies … you can twist.”

“When a nation has too many cultures, it ends up with no culture.”

“Wealth doesn’t make you immoral.  Poverty doesn’t make you moral.”

When Hyman was born in 1927, Hitler was six years from becoming Germany’s chancellor, he had just published Volume II of “Mein Kampf,” and he was 11 years from invading Poland.  Calvin Coolidge was president.  And Israel, 21 years into the future, did not exist.

At breakfast, as Hyman meanders through the nooks and crannies of history, his own family history – steeped in the trials, triumphs and traditions of the Jewish people – never fails to surface. As I listen, I can’t help but think about the similarities between the unique history of black Americans and Jews.


Both groups were forced into slavery in a foreign country.  Both suffered inhumane treatment for centuries.  And, both relied on an incomparable faith in the God of the Bible to get them to the “Promised Land.”  That’s why it was so natural for Martin Luther King, considered a modern-day Moses, to use the Jewish plight as a metaphor for the arduous journey of blacks through America’s wilderness.

“I just want to do God’s will,” King said in his “Mountaintop” speech the night before he was assassinated.  “And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land.  I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

But while the group experiences are similar, the group outcomes are vastly different today.  Why? A few clues surfaced, for me, during my talks with Hyman – things that Jews did even while they were “poor as church mice,” as Hyman put it.  

1. For Jews, building strong families, communities and traditions was never an option.  

2. Jews exerted great energy into inculcating a culture of ambition, business ownership and high achievement in their children.  

3.  Jews doggedly insulated themselves against failure with an iron-clad refusal to live as perpetual victims of history.   


I picked up many others, but another old Jewish group habit came to mind as I watched Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton and others embrace Kim Foxx and Jussie Smollett this week.

Hyman said that growing up, his parents admonished him to monitor his public behavior by always asking, “What would the Gentiles say?”  The question had nothing to do with bowing to the wishes of non-Jews.  It simply told their children that as minorities, their behavior – good or bad – shapes how the world sees their family, and the Jewish people.

Jews tend not to excuse the bad behavior of other Jews just because they’re Jews.  Character has no color.  

Smollett concocted an illegal hate crime; was indicted on 16 counts by a grand jury; and was effectively exonerated on all counts by a black state’s attorney who was complicit in expunging and sealing his record. This reeked to high heaven.

This is consistent with best practices …,” Foxx shrugged.  The 2,700-member National District Attorneys Association swiftly begged to differ.  Smollett even invoked the honor of his poor mother and the history of his “ancestors” to buttress his innocence, although planet Earth knows he’s lying.

That’s pathological.

“It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped,” Maxine Waters said in an interview at the NAACP Image Awards where she won the Chairman’s Award.  “So, I’m hopeful that he’ll go on with his career and that he will be successful.”


That’s even worse.

These same “leaders” excuse young blacks who don’t comply with police.   They exonerate the OJs of the world.  They throw out race cards against subjective “dog whistles” while ignoring the vitriolic Jewish hatred of Louis Farrakhan and Ilhan Omar.  They wink at the most degrading aspects of hip hop culture.  And, they vote for a party that perpetuates dependency, snuffs out the life of the unborn, and stoops to any low to get and hold on to power.  

What should the “Gentiles” say?

What do I say?  Most of this is not about advocating for black upward mobility, at all.  It’s about a color-blind addiction to power where the faithful walk in rigid allegiance to the catechisms of progressive orthodoxy.  

Think about it: Smollett, in a power position, paid two not-so-powerful brothers to create a hoax and, to save himself, is now implying that the brothers really beat him up.  They’re black.  The man mostly responsible for holding Smollett accountable, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, has been ignored, humiliated and marginalized.  He’s black.  So is Clarence Thomas, who they hate.  So was Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, who they ridiculed as plantation “house slaves” because they served a Republican administration.  This is not a “black thing.”  It’s an ideological thing.


The root problem with many blacks, especially the loud-mouthed leaders and pundits, is that they’ve switched religions.  They’ve “backslidden” from King’s Judeo-Christian ethic to embrace the cults of secularism, liberalism, leftism and progressivism – all under the cover of race.

The longer this remains true, the more likely it will be that blacks, as a group, will continue wandering in a political wilderness.  But there’s a quicker way to the Promised Land.  Just asked the Jews.

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