Over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Torah portion Beshalah, Exodus 13:17-17:16; after the Israelites left Egypt for the Promised Land, Pharaoh is angry that he let them leave slavery under him, and he orders an elite chariot unit to attack them. The Israelites, terrified by the chariots, and they turn against Moses, saying, “Is it for a lack of graves in Egypt, that you brought us here to die in the wilderness?”, and talked about going back into slavery in Egypt. Moses tells the people to not fear, “The LORD will battle for you.” God tells Moses, “Tell the Israelites to go forward,” and Moses lifts his rod over the Red Sea, and the water part to let the Israelites through. After they cross to the other side, the Egyptian chariots attack, but God allows the waters of the sea to come down on them.
Pharaoh was originally frightened by death of the first born, including his son; rulers seldom do handle problems until it affects them personally; he therefore “gets tough” and tries to reassert his power over the Israelites, his former slaves. Tyrants, both political and economic, hate it when their once-docile subjects challenge their tyranny; when the once-oppressed people make gains, they old regime temporarily pulls back, but they plot again to take their former power back and put their subjects back down.
That’s what the MLK weekend is about-the ongoing fight against tyranny and for freedom and justice-it never ends. Any advance towards a more just and democratic society isn’t guaranteed, and that its defense is ongoing.
Upcoming is African-American History Month, and we’re up against efforts to force school boards throughout the country to ban books dealing with Black History or LGBTQ+ issues, acting like they’ll hurt white people’s feelings-this, from the faction that mocks people protesting racial and religious attacks as “snowflakes” and telling them to just put up with it.
The latest of this is from Tennessee, where the McMinn County School Board ordered the banning of the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman, depicting the horrors of the Holocaust- depicting the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats.( https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/holocaust-novel-maus-banned-in-tennessee-school-district) This came the day before Holocaust Memorial Day. The board complained about so-called “bad language” and a picture of a naked woman! Can a person be more ignorant? More stupid” One genius on the board said “It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff? It is not wise on healthy.” It’s because it’s HISTORY, dumbo, a terrible historical event, and people have to learn about it, so we don’t go through that again! These are the deep thinkers deciding on your kids’ education, Americans.
Still, their favorite enemy-of-the-month remains the evil “Critical Race Theory,” which (as I’ve said for the HUNDRETH time!) is a 40-year-old study about race as a social construct, which is pervasive throughout the legal system and in our politics, and not an individual attitude. It came about from the work of such legal scholars as Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, examining such patterns of discrimination as which areas of a city are “redlined”, which decides the residents’ ability to attain a loan, for one thing. It is also a tool for sociologists and literary experts to see the effects of racism in school funding, policing, utilities, advertising, movies, and so forth. (https://www.edweek.org/leadership/what-is-critical-race-theory-and-why-is-it-under-attack/2021/05) It is prevalent in law schools and graduate studies, and not-repeat, NOT! – taught to kindergarten kids to make them hate themselves.
The conservative reaction to CRT has always been the logical fallacy of “exaggerated extrapolation,” that it would cause such terrible things as discrimination against white people, gay activism in schools, the Black Lives Matter movement, and school shootings. This is immature, unwilling to confront one of the greatest stains and impediments to the development of our democracy.
Plus, the conservative attitude has always been self-centeredness, believing that everything should be as THEY want, whether it’s schools, neighborhoods, and sexuality; they don’t do a thing, they’re not forced to do a thing, yet they demand the right to penalize and police other people’s behavior.; it’s all about them, and they’re like little kids who don’t want to share.
This is what we’re dealing with in our politics and in our country; it’s gone on all through our history, taking different forms, different eras, and different power relations within our country. We must never give up our part of the fight; we must study the news, organize, educate ourselves on the issues, and finally, get out there and VOTE, and not allow anything or anyone to stop us. Our forebears went through this so that we can vote and have our rights, and I believe they’re looking on us; can we let them down?
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! America will be free! Bye!