Happily, a dilemma that I faced has been resolved.
In a rare case of do nothingism succeeding, I don’t have to decide whether to keep, or end, my longtime membership in the NAACP.
A crisis was ignited in July, when Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted a stupid false quote that was anti-Semitic, along with praising Louis Farrakhan. He was mildly criticized — I called for him to be chastised, not fired — while some came to his defense.
One defender was Rodney Muhammad, the head of the local NAACP.
Wait! It gets better.
In response to my column, Muhammad argued with me online, saying Farrakhan is not anti-Semitic — he clearly is — and he said Jews attacked Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He failed to produce evidence of that when I challenged him. And then Muhammad himself posted an anti-Semitic caricature on his Facebook page, with language about being “ruled” by people who could not be criticized, clearly meaning Jews.
He was called out locally, but would not back off and claimed he didn’t know the caricature was offensive.
Calls were made upon both the local and national NAACP to denounce Muhammad, or replace him.
To the disappointment of Jews and their friends, both buttoned up and went mute.
That’s when friends of mine, who know I am a member and supporter of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, asked if I would continue my membership. It was a dilemma, and I told them I would decide when my annual membership fee was due.
In what Muhammad would find ironic, if not disgusting, one of the founders of the NAACP was Jewish.
After a race riot rocked Springfield, Ill., in 1908, according to the NAACP website, “a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard (both the descendants of famous abolitionists), William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice.” Moscowitz was the Jew.
And although Jews are small in number, only 2% of Americans, I don’t know of any other white ethnic group that is more solidly united behind the idea of racial equality than Jews, nor any group more supportive of Black Americans.
As an example, no discussion of the civil rights era is complete without mention of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner: James Chaney, a Mississippi African-American, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, two New York Jews, who were murdered by the KKK near Philadelphia, Mississippi, as they worked to enroll Blacks to vote in 1964. (None of this is to diminish the deaths of other whites in the civil rights struggle.)
So the silence of the NAACP was deafening.
And it remained so until last week when it was reported the national NAACP would remove and replace the Philadelphia leadership.
Really, how could a civil rights group do any different? How could it allow a hater of any stripe remain at the helm of the Philadelphia local? It shouldn’t, couldn’t, and didn’t. . . After a time.
I heaved a sigh of relief, and so did the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
“This has been a painful period in the long-standing and exceptional relationship between the Black and Jewish communities,” said Steve Rosenberg, COO of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
“We look forward to working with the NAACP to forge closer bonds with our two communities to address systemic racism and bigotry of all kinds.”