By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – I’ve been thinking a lot about that old documentary-style television show, hosted by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy, called “In Search Of.”
Even at a young age, I was generally intrigued enough to watch most of these syndicated episodes on UHF channels from start to finish.
For those who don’t recall – and it’s OK if you don’t – the episodes would be on topics on if Bigfoot, ghosts, Jack the Ripper or if UFO’s were real, etc.
I have been trying lately, as the world literally crumbles around us, to go on my own “In Search Of” journey.
What am I seeking? Oh, not much. Just the truth.
I don’t know much, but I know enough to know that the truth is generally nothing more than one’s own perceptions formed by their own realities shaped by life experience.
While that works with a lot of interpersonal situations – you know women saying “all men are this” or men saying “all women are that” – we really need to start airing out our other dirty laundry and meeting in the town square to peaceably parse out proven fact from fiction.
We are seeing this in the way a pandemic is being politicized by a so-called president who chides doctors and scoffs at science.
We are seeing it in the way the right’s only argument that they are not inherently racist is that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican (the parties switched places, in terms of being progressive, a long time ago).
But I’m going to look hard to my left, something I’m not always accustomed to doing, and to do some critical thinking and uncomfortable housekeeping about a troubling trend: A new gash in Black-Jewish relations, with – news flash — Louis Farrakhan playing puppeteer.
Let’s take the the DeSean Jackson situation. As both an Eagles’ fan and a cultural Jew (I consider myself a secular humanist, but my DNA makes me a purebred), I was deeply hurt than a player I cheered for all these years would open his quotations book to “Hitler” and “Farrakhan.” It was especially troubling after Jackson was brought back to Philadelphia by a Jewish general manager (Howie Roseman) and drawing a paycheck signed by a Jewish owner (Jeffrey Lurie), even after Jackson likely put himself on the shelf by doing needless backflips after a touchdown early last season.
Jackson apologized for misquoting Hitler, via Farrakhan, about Jews running the world. He basically gave a convoluted explanation that equates to him not knowing any better. He says he was just trying to “uplift his own people,” I guess by saying that, “If Jews can control everything, why can’t we?”
There was also a lot of mumbo jumbo about blacks being the real Hebrews, which is a theory put forth on street corners in places like Newark and Harlem and is gaining traction with those in the black community that have say and sway.
Just like with white disaffected youth and Neo-Nazism, the same is true with this nonsense that belies all archeological digs done in the Middle East in favor of something concocted from a “vision” in the 19th century.
One of the founders of this belief system — Frank Cherry — also thought the earth was square and that Jesus would return in the year 2000, but Cherry died in 1963 and was not a product of a formal education.
What’s the excuse today for extremists on all sides falling under the spell of beliefs that make wearing tin foil hats as popular as Kangol hats?
If anything, it is an indictment of a public education system that sends people into the world who are open to all kinds of theories – including white and black supremacy – and continue our downward spiral into fantasy-fueled suspicion and hate.
The irony is that, when it comes to quoting Hitler, the more accurate quote – outlined in Mein Kampf and put into action with dire results – was that of the “Big Lie.” It is, to paraphrase, that if you tell a lie – not matter how ridiculous – for a long enough period of time, people will start to believe it.
And people, particularly young black adults spurred to action after the horrific murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer who maintained a trance-like stare while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, seem to be taking their eye off the ball of seeking justice and blaming it on Jews who can’t handle the “truth” about who are the real Jews.
Jackson, who matriculated at one of the best schools in the country – Cal-Berkeley (below) – should not fall into the category of the easily duped. This is a harsh indictment of that whole system of big-time college sports, which is way more of a swamp loaded with snakes than pro sports can ever dream to be, as this is not the first time Jackson’s off-field choices has made us scratch our heads and it won’t be the last.
After the Jackson controversy, I did what I like to do, and took it to my version of the town square – Facebook.
There was feverish debate over the First Amendment, where the “truth” won the day; free speech protects citizens from the government but not an employer, which the Eagles are to Jackson.
There was also a lot of compare and contrast about Riley Cooper, the former Eagles’ receiver who was caught on tape saying the “N” word seven years ago. I tried to point out the subtle differences between the two situations – namely that Cooper was on the team for three seasons without incident prior to that regrettable moment and was there for three more after – but I couldn’t shake the general vibe that he was a “scrub” who got the benefit of the doubt because he was white.
There was a narrative that made it sound like her was handed a contract extension immediately after the transgression, like they waited for him outside a Klan rally without a contract in hand, when the reality – the truth — was that it was two uncontroversial seasons later.
Again, the “truth,” is that he was an OK player, as “scrubs” don’t last five minutes – let alone five seasons – in the league. And they don’t get five-year extensions for $25M. Cooper had a career year right after making the remarks while drunk at a concert he attended with several black teammates, and was a core special teams player and one of the best blocking receivers in the league.
Back when journalism was journalism, a Philadelphia reporter went back into Cooper’s past, all the way to childhood, and basically found a typical jock (he was also a baseball star in high school and college) who hung out with other jocks of all races (and probably lorded over non-jocks of all races).
As a skill position player at the University of Florida and with the Eagles, he was closest with the other skill position players, meaning he had plenty of black friends. I can tell you, from my experiences in locker rooms, the “N” word flies around like spitballs when there is a substitute teacher in middle school. Just a guess, but maybe he – in a lathered-up state – felt it OK to do the same.
It wasn’t OK, but it wouldn’t have been OK to cut him from the team when he had a part to play as a role player and when he took all the right steps to apologize.
The forgotten reality is that his black teammates, led by Michael Vick (below, with Cooper), accepted the apology — saying that doing so was one of the proudest moments of his career — and moved on.
To me, as a cultural Jew, it is not the same as thinking you are quoting Hitler – via Farrakhan – using Jewish tropes and stereotypes. Even with that, Jackson should not have been cut, either.
They agreed to make it a teachable moment and move on, just Cooper’s black teammates did in real time.
I was OK with the Jackson resolution, and so were many other Jewish Eagles fans.
In the town square, though, it was not so simple.
As such, as I battled with mostly black Eagles fans, my consternation worsened.
I encountered – repeatedly – a mindset even more troubling than what Jackson posted and then retracted.
If I didn’t see it once, I saw it 1,000 times: “What does he have to apologize for? He was speaking the truth!”
Here we go again.
In search of … the truth.
Making it worse, there were open debates about whether the Holocaust was any more tragic than slavery or what happen to Native Americans.
Some, right of cue, questioned if the Holocaust even happened.
And they were backed by others saying it was the truth that it never happened.
The “truth” can easily become a hand grenade — even on what it is supposed to be page for Eagles’ fans to talk football, which is what most of the white non-Jewish fans were imploring us to do.
Amid a deafening silence, athletes were coming to Jackson’s defense, and none – until 73-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and now Charles Barkley — were admonishing him. It’s a sign of the times.
Some alleged C-list celebrity, Nick Cannon (below), added to the chorus of twisted history that blacks are the true Hebrews, etc.
It’s out there, spreading through the black community like the way an unattended campfire becomes a forest fire.
Slowly, the righteousness of the Black Lives Matter movement is in danger being perverted and subverted into something else, setting it up to fizzle and fade into something that was “so 2020.”
At its core, “Black Live Matter,” means black lives matter the same, or also. If we get into an environment where it morphs into “Black Lives Matter More,” the ongoing cold Civil War will rage on.
Meanwhile, one of the black community’s most ardent historical supporters – the Jewish community (helped found the NAACP and fought and died in the South during the Civil Rights era) – is taking the hits.
And what I don’t get is why the truth as I know it is so frightening to confront. Black history is one of perseverance and overcoming adversity. It is one of redemption. There is no reason to make up anything when the real story – the true story – is 10,000 times more compelling.