Words have meaning. Simply saying them without thinking doesn’t excuse you from their implications. And if you say them, then gaslight the public, accusing the majority of people of being racist, ignorant, or undermining your point, instead of apologizing and acknowledging your mistake, you are odious.
Now since this blog is about words and their meaning, I am going to jump into the fray about Marc Lamont Hill. If by now you haven’t heard about the venom Professor Hill spewed at the United Nations last week, perhaps you need to stay more in touch with the news on social media. And I say social media, because interestingly enough not one major media outlet covered the controversy. It’s as if the issue did not exist until CNN fired him for his open call for genocide. Sadly, many of MLH’s supporters insisted he was fired because of political views when it comes to the Palestine/Israel conflict, which flies in the face of reality.
MLH’s positions on political issues have always been well known, whether it was about the US government/society (supporting Jill Stein and his derision of anything GOP), about MENA/his proPalestinian ideology, and his support for Farrakhan. But that did not stand in the way of being hired by Fox and then by CNN. Nor did it stand in the way of his being granted full tenure at a prestigious university. So no, his being called out and fired is not about his politics. It is simply about his latest words and their implications.
MLH in giving a speech on Palestine Day at the UN, called for a Palestine from the “river to the sea,” and said that we need to stop fetishizing peace. Not a big deal you say?
Anyone familiar with the Palestine/Israel conflict understands that for the past 70 years, the term “from the river to the sea,” is code for the ethnic cleansing of Jews, and genocide against the State of Israel. It is the zero sum game perpetrated by the antisemites of the world that Jews are the only people, among all the peoples of the world, who are not entitled to a nation in their indigenous lands. It is the belief in the subjugation and alienation of Jews from their ancestral home, and that they among all the world are not fit to rule themselves. It denies the Jewish People the right to define themselves. It denies them the human right of self determination. It basically calls for the mass murder of those Jews, over 6 million, half the Jews on planet Earth, living in their ancient homeland.
What it is not, is a call for equality and human rights for the Palestinian people. To call for human dignity for the Palestinians is an honorable cause, and one worked on, and fought for throughout Israeli civil society. Israel, alone in the Middle East, is a nation with civil rights laws, and an independent active judiciary that constantly holds its government to task when human or civil rights are usurped. Yes, it is a right of all human beings to live free. But MLH’s statement does not mean that.
This statement, these few words, does not call for civil rights for Palestinian people. If that was your cause, then you would attack the Palestinian Authority, you would go after Hamas in Gaza, you would lambast Lebanon for its real apartheid when it comes to Palestinians, you would have marched and protested when Assad slaughtered the Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp, you would call out the Kingdom of Jordan for abruptly taking away citizenship from thousands of Palestinians, and you would have called out Kuwait for expelling over 300,000 Palestinians after the first gulf war, just to name a few instances of proPalestinian society hypocrisy. If you cared about Palestinians rights, as opposed to destroying Israel, then you would fight for the rights of Palestinian people to live free, and be considered equals throughout the Arab and Moslem world, where they are not.
But calling for genocide is not what MLH meant when he used this phrase, so he says. You cannot be an expert in the Middle East and not know what that phrase means. If you do not know that it is an eliminationist phrase, then you are most definitely not the person to ask about MENA. I do not have to go into detail about MLH’s association with, and support for, and honoring of the notorious antisemite Farrakhan, to say that he is gaslighting on this issue. Whether you believe that MLH is an antisemite or not is not even the issue here. (And yes, when the Jews tell you that something is antisemitic, it is antisemitic, and this simple phrase is abject antisemitism, no different than Hitler’s speeches.). It is the fact that here you have a university professor, a chair of an important department at Temple university, who claims expertise in an area, that does not even know the jargon of a conflict on which he purports to lecture others.
In fact, what happened next, is rather eye opening as to how MLH reacts to criticism. When called out by experts in the field, instead of pulling back, apologizing, and trying to fix the issue, he doubles down claiming everyone else is wrong and he is right. It is the extreme progressive left once again doing what it does best when dealing with Jewish issues. Here, Hill attempted to redefine hate of the other (Jews) to suit his own grievances, while dehumanizing the very people he had offended. It is an interesting phenomena, that when dealing with racism, misogyny and homophobia, we are told to listen to those offended, and to try to live in their world. But when it comes to offending the Jews, when it comes to being called out that you are embracing antisemitism, then according to those that practice intersectionality and left-wing politics, somehow it is the Jews who need to take a back seat, sit down and let their “betters” teach them what is and is not antisemitism.
So here are how words are important in this issue. When you go before an internationally recognized forum and speak words that have a defined meaning and undercurrent of genocide you are going to be called out. When you present yourself as an expert in an area, but then pretend to not understand the implications of your own highly charged words, you will be called out for your ignorance. When you refuse to apologize and double down on your own hate, gaslighting and prevaricating, then you are going to be derided for your hypocrisy.
Basically, if words matter to the point that we are supposed to think about every implication when we use words so as not to marginalize and deny some other person their humanity, then that includes Jews. If that equation does not include Jews, then you are, simply, unadulteratedly, without question, an antisemite.
And when you use a well-known phrase, that implies a call for genocide and promotes violence and terrorism against civilians, you do not have a right to be employed as a respected commentator by any news organization, company, or even educational facility. The first amendment gives every person a right to speak their mind, have an opinion, and to elicit support for their cause. But it does not give you the right not to be shamed, derided, called out for the evil bile that you spew, or marginalized yourself.