In the time-honored tradition of so many American graduate students before me, many years ago after I dropped out of the Ph.D. program in English which I had nearly completed, I drove a taxi cab for several years. In Philadelphia.
How I came to punctuate a solid academic career that had raised reasonable expectations in my professors of potential future success with this tragic note is not relevant to this essay; a scene of some fairly predictable absurdity is, and is also relevant to this particular moment in the news cycle.
When I was driving a cab, having grown monumentally frustrated with the goings-on of the Black population of Philadelphia as customers—the nastiness, the violence, the hysteria, the thieving, the guns, etc., etc.—one night, as yet another Black customer exited the cab making quite clear his intentions not to pay, because I sensed he was a mere low-life and not a gun-toting killer, I couldn’t help myself. I began to remonstrate with him.
“Why are you doing this?” I yelled. “Don’t you realize you’re only strengthening justification for the negative racial feelings people may already harbor? Don’t you care how this affects other cab drivers and how they treat your fellow man? Why are you living down to low expectations? Why are you playing to the stereotype?” I shrieked.
The low life stood there grinning like the village idiot while I harangued him on his social responsibilities, but he was undoubtedly hearing nothing more than the sound adults make in Peanuts cartoons.
He stumbled away, completely unabashed, knowing he had nothing to fear. I, on the other hand, just couldn’t let it go. The muted trombone continued, although hardly quiet. My head still hanging out of the window, I continued screeching my sermon.
“Wah wah wah wah!!” And more, “Wah wah wah wah.” And finally, after I’d pulled out into traffic, still half out the window, my final thrust, “Wah, wah wah, WAH!!”
There, I’d got him. My lesson was delivered. I put the trombone away and settled back into my seat and drove on.
Rather silly of me, huh? Unfortunately, I have plenty more anecdotes drawn from the repertoire of the Theatre of the Absurd. After all, at that time I was a fully indoctrinated member of the liberal intelligentsia, and, doggonit, the world had to be made to conform to what I’d read in the books.
* * * * * *
Decades later, it’s déjà vous all over again. Once again, I’m having this same indignation roiling through me, and I’m experiencing a strangely familiar urge to open windows and start shouting. Only this time, my frustration is instigated by what I’m seeing on my computer screen. I’m observing with incredulity the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt and a significant number of other powerful Jewish movers and shakers pile on to a handful of celebrities who have made critical observations about Jews and Jewish power structures in the entertainment industry.
As RockaBoatus said in his essay, “Is the Golden Age for Jews Coming to an End?”:
Kanye West’s recent Tweets about Jews has helped to further open discussion on these matters. To the chagrin of many Jews, his claims and their consequences have only served to prove the very point he was making in his Tweets. He complained about the hugely disproportionate influence and power that Jews have in Hollywood and in corporate media. Though Jewish advocacy groups tried to sway public opinion by describing such notions as “old anti-Semitic canards,” their actions demonstrated the very truth of West’s claims when one corporation after another cut all financial ties from him.
“Huh?” I want to yell from the rooftops. “This is the move chosen by those who possess that vaunted Ashkenazi IQ? What?”
This isn’t any better than all those Black lowlifes who had no shame viewing cabs as their personal ATMs. After all, according to the dictates of critical race theory, Black people must eschew “planning ahead” as it is symptomatic of “whiteness.” And “planning ahead” translates as “thinking ahead” so perhaps it’s understandable that misbehaving members of Philadelphia’s Black community can’t see the future social impact of their actions. But Greenblatt et al couldn’t think that through?
Just like the fare-skipper, the Jewish movers and shakers have played right into the stereotype.