By Regina Brett/JNS.org –
My husband isn’t a sports fan, so I was surprised when he started talking basketball.
He was the first person to tell me about Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and the nasty comments he made about black people.
“It gets worse,” my husband said.
“Sterling is Jewish,” he said. “This is bad. This is really bad.”
In my view, it was bad, but bad for Sterling, not for the entire Jewish people.
Like many Jews, my husband worries that what one Jew does wrong reflects poorly upon all Jews. Sadly, history backs him up on this. Too often people who wanted to hate Jews would point out the most flawed Jew they could find to bolster their anti-Semitism and attack all Jews.
But when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy recently told The New York Times that African-Americans were better off as slaves, he didn’t cast a shadow on all ranchers or on all people who live in Nevada. He spoke only for himself when he said, “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.”
Bundy was a blabbering bigot speaking only for himself.
And so was Sterling. He was speaking only for himself and only to his girlfriend, who recorded the conversation after Sterling grew angry that she posted a photo of herself with basketball great Magic Johnson on Instagram.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling said.
He went on to say that she could sleep with them, he just didn’t want her to bring them to his games. Ouch! He’s not only racist, he’s sexist. Here’s a guy who is 80, parading his young mistress in front of his wife. He’s worried his girlfriend will find young black men more attractive than him and doesn’t want the world to know.
Sterling, whose birth name was Tokowitz, happens to be Jewish. Isn’t that a neutral fact? Like having blue eyes, brown hair or skinny legs?
But as my husband knows too well, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.” History proves too well people were out to get the Jews in country after country, century after century. When can you stop being worried? When does any one Jew represent every Jew?
It’s tricky. When that Jew is generous, you want to claim him or her as a mensch. When that Jew is a racist, you want to disown him or her. Can you have it both ways?
We Catholics are different. I’ve never heard a fellow Catholic lament over another Catholic’s foibles, “Oh, no, and he’s Catholic, too.” Maybe we’ve lowered our bar. Heaven knows too many priests and bishops did that for us with the pedophile priest scandal. My church recently declared a …read more