Although I am a political junkie and, going back to my early teens, always have been, this generation often makes me rue ever having taken an interest in public life. Living in a real world, I understand that I will encounter some lying and hypocrisy, even from really good people. As an honest person, I cannot say that my own life has been completely devoid of such moments. But the thing is, I do try to look into the psychological mirror, to judge myself privately, to accept (constructive!) criticism, and to do better. Once annually, that personal impetus is recharged for me on Yom Kippur, my religion’s Day of Atonement, which is not only about looking back but really is targeted more towards searching within one’s past to chart an improved road going forward. Indeed, that really is what all life is about for all of us: to improve our eternal souls, to work on ourselves and to become better people ourselves.
(This process of personal improvement should not be confused with the specious virtue-signaling that sees certain types pontificate publicly about how they want to take your and my money to “help” others. That changes nothing. The others do not get helped meaningfully, and the “do-gooders” remain as venal and self-centered as ever. Such virtue signaling does not make the socialist any better a person. He still glorifies Communist bread lines. She still lies brazenly about a world that supposedly is doomed in twelve years, even as she distorts history by saying to a generation of college ignoramuses that the 22nd Amendment was passed to prevent Franklin Roosevelt from seeking reelection. Actually, FDR died in 1945, and the Amendment was passed in 1947. She still will take steps to deny thousands of her neighbors much better, higher-paying product jobs. And she will be persuaded, somehow, that she is “The Boss.”)
In the journey of our lives, few of us start “the race” at exactly the same line, so we cannot possibly expect an identical race with the next person. Women and men each have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Christians, Jews, Muslims. Even within a family, a first-born enjoys different privileges but sustains different responsibilities from the next born. The last born is cuddled more but endures being taken less seriously. The middle child — advantages and disadvantages galore. Everyone ends up on the therapist’s couch — or should.
Even racial groups — Black and White. For all the talk of “White privilege,” the innocents born White know that the cup is half full and half empty. Likewise for those born Black. Asians in our country — same thing: pros and cons. Everyone.
Life is not about who is the richest, smartest, best employed, most muscular, best looking. Rather, life is about what each one of us does with what we have been given. In my lifetime, I cannot think of anyone who was worse looking than Aristotle Onassis. To play on the old meme, the only reason that his face did not appear in the dictionary under “ugly” is that it broke the printing press. But he seems to have done OK, for what he valued in life. Jackie Onassis thought so, too.
We know of incredibly rich people who commit suicide or whose nuclear family members do. Of fat people, skinny people, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and those of other faiths who rose to greatness or descended to infamy. That is what life really is all about. Not ultimately about conquering the Iron Throne, being the Lord of Downton Abbey, or even getting a TV slot. It is not about having a million likes or a million twitter followers or a million clicks. Rather, life is about what we do in our limited time on earth to improve our souls, improve ourselves, overcome our character flaws.
And that is why I so hate the hypocrisy, the mendacity, the shameless lying that dominates every moment of every day not only in other countries but also in this greatest country that humans ever conceived. If Social Media and cable television were imagined as steps forward in humanity’s evolution, the Digital Age has proven that humans remain humans. You can give humans texting, tweeting, apps, posting, Facebooking, and seven hundred 24-hour television stations — plus access via the internet to all the learning and truth imaginable — and people still are people. Some are evil, some righteous, most in between the two parameters.
A. Al Sharpton: Hater, Inciter to Violence
The latest example of this repugnant reality is the opposite ways two social icons — Kate Smith and Al Sharpton — recently have been treated. Kate Smith may have been physically obese, but Al Sharpton always has been a spiritual pig. Kate Smith was not intentionally cruel; she was naive. By contrast, Al Sharpton rose to notoriety by falsely accusing good men of raping Tawana Brawley and smearing her with feces. Sharpton incited race riots and an anti-Jewish pogrom in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that resulted in his incited frenzied mob murdering a Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum. Sharpton incited further race riots in Harlem that saw the burning of a clothing store, more frenzied Jew-hatred, and more death. Years of his speeches were infected by racist attacks on whole classes of people. Ways that he incited mobs to violence against Jews, against police, against White people, against gays.
B. Kate Smith: A Decent Person in a Different Era
Kate Smith sang one song, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” that also was recorded by Black singer Paul Robeson. That song is open to various interpretations. She also sang an embarrassingly stupid song, also in the early 1930s, with lyrics no less embarrassing than some of those in Stephen Foster’s iconic “My Old Kentucky Home.” (Uh-oh, let’s hope he’s not next. And wait till they find out the original name of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”) She did not write the lyrics but was given that song to sing as part of a movie role. If she were singing and filming today, she never would have agreed to sing it. We know that because Kate Smith strongly advocated racial fairness. In an era when baseball teams — including those that now suddenly will no longer play her iconic recording of “G-d Bless America” — still banned Black athletes from playing on their team,Smith had black musicians and entertainers on her radio variety show more than 40 times, including Bill Robinson (Bojangles), Count Basie, Cozy Cole, the Deep River Boys, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Duke Ellington, Eddie Haywood, Ethel Waters, the Ink Spots, the King Cole Trio, Maurice Rocco, and the Southernaires.
No one ever said “Boo!” about Kate Smith for more than half a century until a month or so ago.
Has no one else in Hollywood ever played a role and sung lyrics that were out of touch with today’s milieu? Obscene roles? Take Robert De Niro — please. He can curse out our President all he likes, and maybe he cannot be blamed for it because he never finished high school, so perhaps never learned how to engage in mature polemics. Besides, the word that he uses — “F – – -” — is word that he has used for years and years in his movies, all the ethnically stereotypical depictions of Italian-Americans as mobsters without souls. To my movie recollection, he never played an Italian-American United States Attorney. And that is understandable because, although he is a great mobster actor, his talents do not extend to portraying a legal scholar. That would demand too much of the movie-going audience. Even when he is not saying “F – – -” he is playing in movies with names like Meet the Fockers. With his limited vocabulary, he probably thought that was a great pun. Get it? The Fockers?Clever word play for the New Age.
Robert Da Zero.
It’s not that Italian-American mob actors cannot play great lawyers. Consider Al Pacino. On the one hand, Michael Corleone, “Lefty” Ruggiero (Donnie Brasco), and Scarface. On the other hand, one of the great jury summations of all time as Arthur Kirkland in And Justice for All. Also an attorney, John Milton, in the weird movie, The Devil’s Advocate. Even a bitter blind military-hero-turned-compassionate-quasi-attorney in Scent of a Woman during that powerful closing-argument soliloquy, as Frank Slade. Pacino can do Shakespearean soliloquies: Shylock in Merchant of Venice, Richard III and King Lear in those eponymous plays.
Can you imagine Da Zero doing Shakespeare?
As Hamlet: “To be or not to be, that is the question! Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer —oh, F – – – it!”
As Romeo: “But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east… uh, or is it the west? East? West? Oh, F – – – it!”
Consider the evil and villainy in Da Zero’s roles, one of which even prompted a nut job, who should have been executed, to attempt assassinating one of our greatest Presidents. Then contemplate the awful lyrics that Kate Smith was instructed to sing in an earlier day when she got a unique opportunity to star in an early “talkie” during a brief era when Hollywood hired stars based on their skills and gifts, not on their complexion, hair, and the coveted BMI factor. How can all her life’s work be obliterated so instantly by the kind of Truth Squad that tears down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, while elevating the race-baiting Al Sharpton to democracy’s kingmaker?
It is the kind of bald-faced hypocrisy and double standard that sometimes makes me rue the day I took an interest in the public sphere. The race-baiting Al Sharpton signed the White House visitors’ book more than did any other visitor during the Wasted Obama Decade. He ended up with his own television show. He portrays himself as a civil rights leader, and others complicit with the fraud, even though they have to know better in their inner selves, pay dutiful obeisance. Obama turned to Sharpton as he began his second Presidential campaign. Yet Sharpton has blood on his hands. He has been convicted in court of defamation. This is the Mad Kingmaker, the wormy Littlefinger, to whom every single Democrat seeking the Presidency first must turn for approbation and blessing, beseech, beg, and bend the knee?
All while Kate Smith’s recorded voice now is banned from belting out “G-d Bless America” from public arenas and stadia that played her rendition every day until a month ago.
This is the Metaphor of Hypocrisy for the New Age. May we in this land that we love see this long night end with the light from Above.