Wow. Following President Obama’s decision to publicly release the long form of his birth certificate to address Republican crazies, conspiracy theorists and cynical opportunists (or all three like Donald Trump) I read a brief essay by Clarence B Jones which, like others since, squarely placed the hallucinatory ‘controversy’ in racist territory … and also echoed one of my own themes: The urgent need to courageously speak out and not remain collusively silent. (Of course it’s a challenge.)
A factually non-issue was permitted become a national issue, not because of Donald Trump and the media. No, this was the ultimate result, of the silence and tacit acquiescence of white political, religious, and community leaders, especially leaders of faith-based organizations, who sat, said and did nothing to counter this insidious new form of 21st-century racism. The silence and abnegation of moral leadership, by persons whom we should have otherwise expected to publicly to challenge this growing “birther” issue, is a stain on the conscience of our nation.
In 1963, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, then president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) was the speaker who immediately preceded Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the March On Washington. The AJC was one of several major organizations participating in the March On Washington on August 28, 1963.
Obama’s decision to release his “official” birth certificate in an effort to silence the challenge to the legitimacy of his American citizenship reminded me of the words of Rabbi Prinz on that occasion. He said:
When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.
Is the “need” of Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th president of the United States, to “prove” his citizenship, yet again, another example of what some people called the dawn of a “post-racial America” following his election?
White political leaders, especially in the Republican Party, should hang their heads in shame. Wednesday, April 27, 2011, should be remembered as day of moral ignominy in America. It was a day that symbolized the disgraceful and tragic silence of the “good” people among our political and community leaders who did nothing to publicly challenge the irrationality of Donald Trump and others who peddled their racist garbage of President Obama’s non-citizenship.
Well said Clarence B Jones. Read the full essay here at Huffington Post.
That’s haunting: Not bigotry and hatred, but ‘The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.’ — Rabbi Joachim Prinz, 1963
From my July 2010 post, Why speak up?
We have maintained a silence closely resembling complicity.
Think about it.
To those of my friends and others who are ‘keeping their heads down’, ‘staying out of it’ or, in some cases, kidding themselves that the particular liar they are working with is ‘not so bad’ — ‘the best of a bad bunch’(?) — or, in their own way, ‘an honest person’, I say (kindly): Get real.
Take encouragement, as I have, from the plucky souls who pipe up and point out the cracks in the artifice. Celebrate and applaud their courage, as I try to do. And, if you can, follow their example. I acknowledge the challenge you face. We all do.
At any time, in my view, you are either a force for good or ill — opposing evil or assisting it:
‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.‘ — Edmund Burke
I know I come across as a sort of zealot at times. I know my views can appear harsh and judgmental — black and white. I know it. Truthfully: I feel an obligation to do the right thing and speak up — to tell the truth as I see it.
Choose. – P