Thought experiment: What if a white racist with a submachine gun broke into a convenience store in South Central Los Angeles, grabbed seven or eight African Americans who were shopping (maybe there was one Korean) as hostages for the release of some other white racists and then, when attacked, started spewing the N-word while shooting up the place, killing three or four of the African Americans and wounding three or four others, one or two critically.
How would President Obama react?
Do you think he would say there was something racial about the obscene incident? Damn right he would -- and he should. In fact, he would do it forcefully and immediately. After all, when Trayvon Martin died in far more ambiguous circumstances, he was quick to jump in, identifying with the 17 year old who would resemble, Obama said, his own son if he had one.
Now consider what our president said about the events at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris on January 9 in a new interview with Vox.com: “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
“[V]icious zealots… randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli”? That’s the way the way the president of the United States describes a dedicated jihadist murdering four Jews in a kosher market in one of the oldest and largest Jewish neighborhoods in Paris, the day after other jihadists shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices, killing even more people? No Jews, no jihadist, just more “random” violence, as if Ahmedy Coulibaly, the man who murdered the four Jews and had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, just stumbled into a kosher deli by accident with a submachine gun while on the way to Cafe de Flore for a cognac.
Now hold on, Simon. You’re not about to call the president of the United States an antisemite, are you? (Not yet. Give me a moment.) Inevitably some in the media found these remarks by the president a bit disturbing and queried Jen Psaki at State and White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
Question: Does the administration really believe that the victims of this attack were not singled out because they were of a particular faith?
Psaki: Well, as you know, I believe if I remember the victims specifically there were not all victims of one background or one nationality so I think what they mean by that is, I don't know that they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically but the individuals who were impacted.
Question: They weren't killed because they were in a Jewish deli though, they were in a kosher deli?
Earnest: John, these individuals were not targeted by name. This is the point.
Question: Not by name, but by religion, were they not?
Earnest: Well, John, there were people other than just Jews who were in that deli.
Yes, one of about twenty, but only the Jews were killed and the killer was there with the sole objective of killing Jews. He even said so himself before he shot them. Why do Psaki and Earnest make such outrageous and morally despicable statements? Who tells them to do it? To call Psaki and Earnest whores is an insult to prostitutes. Ms. Psaki is doing an excellent job of upholding the State Department’s long-time reputation for antisemitism. As for Mr. Earnest, that he could say what he did with a straight face makes him about as reprehensible a human being as you could find. I say “about” because nothing could top his boss.
If you’re asking me whether I think the president’s an antisemite, why don’t I put it this way. Barack Obama -- despite a claque of Jewish advisers (Axelrod, Lew, Emanuel, etc. I wonder how they felt when they heard this latest round) -- appears to have a very complicated, almost bizarre reaction to Jews. Maybe it's a weird competition between oppressed groups -- blacks and Jews -- or more of his not-so-masked appreciation of (and defensiveness about) all things Islamic.
And, yes, he clearly can’t deal with Benjamin Netanyahu, whose natural existential concern for his country regarding Iranian nuclear weapons is disruptive of the president’s desire to be seen as a peacemaker with that pathologically un-peaceful country that is the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism. How could anyone trust Obama to protect Israel’s interest against Iran’s religious fanatics when he can’t even acknowledge jihadists are deliberately killing Jews in Paris when it was on everyone's television sets for days?
You will have to excuse me for getting a little personal but I am more than a little outraged. Back when I was in grammar school, my best buddy was a kid named Andy Goodman. He was Jewish (I bet you guessed!) and the name may be familiar to you. He went down South in 1964 to do his bit for the civil rights movement. You may have seen the movie about what happened to him -- Mississippi Burning. Nowhere near as courageous as Andy and more than a bit frightened after what happened to him, two years later I decided to go down South myself. I felt I had to do something, too.
Now I live in an era when Barack Obama and so many others are trying to remind me and everyone post-Ferguson that #blacklivesmatter. Well, they do and they always did, for me and a lot of other people. But somehow our president, regarding Iran, Israel and the events in Paris, seems to have forgotten its obvious corollary: #Jewishlivesmatter. Until he gets that straight, I’ll be on the side of black people, but not for a second on his.