We Should Fight Anti-Semitism and Racism With Vigor

Let’s reflect on what happened this week. Yes,  lets’s just look at this week’s events.
  • A man walks into a convenience store and murders two African American men because he couldn’t get in to a Baptist church to kill more African Americans.
  • 11 people were murdered Saturday when a man armed with three pistols and a semiautomatic assault-style rifle attacked a synagogue in Pittsburgh — the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States.

Our nation is in moral peril.

As a Catholic, African American woman I am concerned.

Jews and Christians share a history, dating back to Abraham, and that it was the Jewish people who gave the world an understanding that there is one Almighty Creator. The biblical stories, which reveal God’s loving relationship with God’s chosen people, also tell of the struggles of those people to live in response to God’s unconditional love. Jesus drew from these scriptures for all of his teachings. The two Great Commandments, which are commonly ascribed to Jesus, actually originated in the Torah. “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” is Deuteronomy 6:5, and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” is Leviticus 19:18.

Catholic liturgy and ritual is certainly situated in Jewish tradition. The Passover meal, which was most likely the occasion for the Last Supper, became the framework for Catholic Mass. Both rituals begin by telling stories–stories of pain and stories of joy, but always stories of God’s redemptive love for God’s Holy People. The Passover meal and Catholic Mass both glorify God, as with the Jewish recital ofDayenu, “For that alone we would have been grateful.” Following the blessing of the unleavened bread and the wine comes the sharing of the meal, which closes with a prayer of thanksgiving. The strong parallels between Passover and Catholic Mass include a lighting of candles that begin both rituals and a sacrificial lamb–the Exodus lamb, slain to free the Israelites from Egypt’s enslavement, and Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died to free the world from the bondage of its sinfulness. In our classes we emphasize that our religions have a common origin but developed in some different directions.

Millions of citizens throughout the world are no longer considered as inviolable persons: they are mere things to be juggled at will by gangster governments. Atheism, Communism, Nazism, excessive nationalism and arrogant militarism have brought back to the civilized world the servitude of man. The anti-Semite, like the atheist and the Communist, refuses to recognize in his neighbor the image and likeness of God.

America in the first half of the 20th century was a profoundly racist nation.
Jewish people and people of color have been openly barred from clubs, colleges, neighborhoods, and mainstream American life. In 1939, the anti-Semites had two causes: keeping America out of the European war, and keeping European Jews out of America. They had two famous men in their ranks. Henry Ford was a true rags-to-riches hero. He was also an anti-Semite, who railed incessantly against “the Jewish plan to control the world” in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent (circulation allegedly 700,000), which Ford dealerships distributed free of charge. A collection of Ford’s ghostwritten columns was published as The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem — a best-seller in Germany. I am not making this up. Look it up. Charles Lindbergh, who may have been an anti-Semite, but most certainly claimed publicly that Jews were trying, partly through their ownership of the media, to draw America into the war. Lindbergh represented ‘America First’, the powerful isolationist organization that, in fact, ejected Henry Ford for his anti-Semitic views. (See The Isolationist Movement.)
African American troops working on the Trans-Alaska Highway were forbidden to go into Canadian towns, because their white commanding officer claimed “…they will mate with the Indian population and form a mongrel race.” Yes, that is real. Today we are placing stumbling blocks to African Americans voting.
Nationalism is rearing its ugly heads.  ‘America First’ is a dog whistle to nationalism.
We must speak out clearly about the reprehensible behavior and actions that steal the worth of men and women.  The worth that marks that all are inherently created in the image of God. Period.  There are no exceptions to that.
NONE.
Every human being is created in the image of God.  Therefore, their life is of value.  Behavior that devalues anyone is an abomination.

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