SCREEN-L Archives

April 1991


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 17 Apr 91 00:07:21 CDT
text/plain (69 lines)
> > I would agree that to refer to Jews as a race is indeed problematic.  But
> > think it is important in our academic and activist work to link anti-Semit
> > and racism as the oppressive ideologies that they are, regardless of who i
> > the victim of this kind of hate.
> I think you're making my point, Steve, by *wanting* to adopt the
> language of the bigots.  Why should Jews stand for the equation of
> racism and anti-Semitism just because the Other is socially constructed?
There's a distinction between wanting to adopt the language of the bigots, and
wanting to counter the rhetoric and ideology that oppresses Jews just like it
oppresses others.  Have you made that distinction?
I'm not sure I'm equating anti-Semitism with racism--linking, the word I used,
is more appropriate.  But I wonder what your motives are for implanting that
word into this discussion.
> Would women accept an equation of anti-feminism and racism?  Would
> the elderly accept an equation of agism and racism?  I think, especially
> among thoughtful people, we can point out similarities in construction
> and effect without having to invoke the political charge of "racism."
I can't speak for _all_ women, or _all_ elderly.  But I do know that people
don't fit into socially-prescribed cubbyholes.  Some women of color find it
very easy to link their feminism with fighting racism.  Some Jewish women find
the convergence of anti-Semitism and misogyny all too apparent with a term
like JAP (Jewish American Princess).  Some elderly people of color would
surely recognize the similarities between being discriminated against because
of age and being discriminated against because of their color, and would
surely use that knowledge to empower themselves in the fight against
In Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz's "10 Hotspots for Anti-Semitism," she specifically
asks whether anti-Semitism is "a form of racism?  You can argue this from many
perspectives . . .  What's important to recognize are the implications of the
argument.  If you maintain that racism and anti-Semitism are entirely
separate, are you prioritizing, ranking anti-Semitism as a less serious issue
than racism of any sort?  If you argue that they're the same, are you excusing
Jews from fighting racism against others on the grounds that fighting
anti-Semitism is enough?  The real question of course is not into what box,
what category, do we fit anti-Semitism, but--since we know the struggles
against racism and anti-Semitism are close linked--how do we fight and who are
our allies?"
The charge of equating anti-Semitism with racism evidences what you make
manifest in your last sentence--that anti-Semitism is serious enough to be
dealt with on its own terms.  In a way, this does a little of both of what
Melanie is talking about.  It keeps racism and anti-Semitism separate, and it
excuses Jews from fighting racism on the grounds that fighting anti-Semitism
is enough.
The need to link racism and anti-Semitism becomes all the more apparent in the
way the media portrays Black-Jewish relations.  As Melanie writes,
"Popular media foster and exaggerate
Black-Jewish conflict, a displacement in which Jews get blamed for American
racism and poverty, and Blacks get blamed for American anti-Semitism.  When
Jewish and Black concerns are polarized in this way, Jewish concerns will
always seem a little selfish, for the framework highlights Jewish privilege,
power, immunity from racism relative to Black people, and also obscures Black
strength . . . and significant common ground: the threat of garden variety
white racism."
I'm curious what others think of this latter statement, particularly in the
way in which media portrays anti-Semitism and racism.
Steve Carr
Dept. of Radio-TV-Film