Attorney Aaron Schlossberg can be seen arguing with an employee at a Fresh Kitchen deli in midtown Manhattan and complaining that every member of the staff is speaking Spanish to customers when “they should be speaking English. This is America.” Attorney Schlossberg continues, “My guess is they’re undocumented, so my next call is to I.C.E. to have each one of them taken out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off my money—I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here.” This video is not the first of Schlossberg ranting racist slurs, but it is the most recent. Yet, his anger and racism are not new in America.
On April 05, 1976, Attorney Ted Landsmark had a meeting in City Hall, Boston. He, a black man, got caught in a protest by whites against forced busing to integrate Boston’s public schools. Seeing that Landsmark was in possible danger from the angry mob, an organizer of the march rushed to escort him out of harm’s way (not hold him as it seems). An angry teenager, using a pole from which an American flag hanged, charged Landsmark as if using a spear. The iconic photograph was printed in the Boston Globe as “The Soiling of Old Glory”, and a book was written under the same title.
Both the video of Schlossberg and the photo of Landsmark being attacked are easily found by a Google search. Now, the racism in both, and in many more instances, is not new in our country. Neither are the sentiments of each. However, what concerns me more than the racism is the anger of each and its cure. How do we as a country cure that cancer?
During the most recent Schlossberg video, the viewer will hear him and others in the deli shouting at each other. One voice can be heard call Schlossberg “ignorant.” While he may be many things, he, a graduate of George Washington Law School, is not ignorant. However, he is rude, mean, arrogant, privileged, and wrong, to name a few traits he exhibits. I offer the same for the teenager in Boston. And the fact that Schlossberg is Jewish does not excuse him from being a racist.
Racism is a potential we all share. Recently during a panel discussing the ills of the NCAA and its treatment of athletes, Mr. Jay Bilas, a former Duke basketball star, mentioned that no one complained when Jordan Spieth, a white golfer, left the University of Texas after one season and turned professional. He’s correct! And no one complained when Tiger Woods left Stanford after two years to turn professional. Now, I am not calling Mr. Bilas a racist because I do not know him and have only read his quoted words. However, I am saying that we must, as a country, stop using race as bait for our arguments and disagreements. Why did Mr. Bilas not mention Tiger Woods? Because the mention would not have supported his argument against the NCAA, is my guess.
Marilynne Robinson writes that rhetoric and politics were at one time viewed as honorable professions. While I can not engage as a politician, I can engage in expression of thought through words spoken or written. And, I must do it civilly in order to engage others and their ideas. Shouting, name calling, and other tactics only drive the other person away. We need dialogue in our country in order to reach accord with each other. No, we may not agree with other views, but we can understand other views and then work for the common good.
What we do or say reflects what we are. False pride and anger will fuel demonic feelings and not only kill others, but eventually destroy the bearer of such ills. Be still and listen, we are told. I find that good advice.