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1.06


Why was Cornel West Hugging a Jew at the Summit?

OK, this is partially facetious question. You may have seen the video clip of Cornel West walking over to the picket line set up by the ADL and other Jewish groups opposed to Farrakhan's involvement. Actually, West's approach is the one I would want the whole Summit to take. Not to go out and indiscriminately hug people of the Jewish persuasion who happen to be manning anti-Farrakhan picket lines. But dialogue. Discussion. Bridging some of these gaps. We live in America. Black problems are severe but America's problems are severe too. We're not going to solve our own problems all by ourselves, because our problems are American problems. By the same token, America's problems will not be solved without us. If the new nationalism means moving to 5 southern states forget it -- it's not going to happen. If we're not moving to those 5 southern states, we _have_ to build coalitions with progressives in the Jewish community, and in other communities as well. That's why Cornel West was seen hugging a Jew at the Summit. And that is why, despite the hug, Cornel West was criticized on the Op-Ed Page of the Washington Post for participating in the Summit. ("Has Cornel West Read His Own Book?", by Richard Cohen, WP, 6/14) Cohen quoted West's "Race Matters":

"We black folk have been in the forefront of the struggle against American racism. If these efforts fall prey to anti-Semitism, then the principled attempt to combat racism forfeits much of its moral credibility -- and we all lose."

Further Cohen says:

"Several pages later, West makes an equally telling point. Referring, among others, to Farrakhan by name, [West] condemns the effort to misdirect black anger and frustration from anti-black racism 'toward Jewish elites and anti-black conspiracies in Jewish America. This displacement,' he writes, 'is disturbing not only because it is analytically and morally wrong; it also discourages any effective alliances across races.'"

For the life of me I can't understand why Cohen, Abe Rosenthal, and other Jews are trying to discourage West and other blacks opposed to anti-Semitism from sitting down and having principled discussion with Farrakhan. They should be encouraging it!


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Meanderings 1.06 -- June 11, 1994