I am sick of it. I really am sick of it.
I understand, better than most, what prejudice is. When I was a boy, I went bowling with friends. Someone else put chewed gum on my seat as a practical joke. I did not see it, and I sat on it. It ruined my pants. It never came off. My parents’ finances were lower middle class, and they could not afford at that time to buy me new pants. As I stood up, with the chewing gum on my pants at the bowling alley, a laughing teenager from a few lanes over yelled, “Jew bastard!” I was maybe seven years old.
Around age 12, one Saturday — Shabbat afternoon — I was in the park with friends. We were playing ball. Suddenly, a group of teenagers came riding on bicycles into the park, swinging metal bicycle chains, yelling “Jew bastards!” and “Kikes!” We started running away from them. It was time for me, a Kike and a Jew bastard, to learn karate and self-defense.
Years later, one Sunday night I was on the IRT subway train from Brooklyn to Manhattan, returning to Columbia where I went to college, after having spent my Shabbat (Sabbath) weekend with my mother (of blessed memory) and sisters, as I did every Shabbat. It was 90 minutes on subways and buses from Columbia every Friday to be home with family on Shabbat, and 90 minutes every Sunday night back to college. On the train I did my assigned weekend readings. As I was reading, suddenly a person grabbed the yarmulka off my head and yelled, “Jew bastard!” He was with two friends. I never have forgotten the image. The train was about to stop, and they were laughing and about to exit the train car — with my kipah.
Maybe my reaction would have been different if my sister, Debbie, had not hand-crocheted that kipah. Maybe my reaction would have been different if I had stopped to think rationally. But that was a last straw. I jumped up from my seat, slammed my book, ran at the three of them, and karate-kicked the fellow who was holding my yarmulka. I kicked him in a part of his body that rendered a serious question whether he ever would have children. He fell to the floor, clutching at what remained of his reproductive organ, as the train stopped and the car door was opening. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Never again!” I was not thinking of the Holocaust but of the chewing gum and the teens on bikes with those metal chains. The two friends of my assailant fell off the train car, and I kicked the other one — the one moaning and screaming with a suddenly high voice — off the car.
In 1980, I was in rabbinical seminary at Yeshiva University (YU). I was en route to Gemara Shiur (Talmud class) and was walking northbound on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan’s West 170s. As I was walking, there were two youths ahead of me also walking northbound; they were half a block ahead of me. I also saw two different fellows with yarmulkas — obviously YU students — walking southbound, just talking with each other. As the two YU boys reached the same spot where the two youths ahead of me were walking towards them, one of those youths hit one of those YU boys in the face, unprovoked. I could not believe my eyes. The youths started yelling “Kikes!” and “Jew bastards!” The youths laughed and continued walking northbound, laughing at the two YU boys, unaware of my presence behind them. I then was holding a very heavy book, Bava Kamma, a thick tractate of Talmud I needed for shiur (class). I was enraged. I ran at those two laughing youths. They never saw me, coming from behind. I reached them, and — with all my might — I slammed the assailant on the head with my Gemara volume. The assailant hit the ground. He seemed unconscious, maybe dead. I don’t know.
Later, when I was a fine litigator as a senior-associate eighth-year attorney at the Los Angeles offices of one of the top 20 law firms in the country, I noticed that, from the moment I had transferred to this firm, never once did they assign me to argue a motion in court. At my prior firm, Jones Day, I often argued motions — Rule 12 motions in federal court, demurrers in state court, discovery motions, even summary judgment motions — and I lost only one or two motions among dozens in my first three years … and never lost a case in my entire litigation career. Yet, here, for three years, they never once had me argue a motion. I could not figure it out. And then one day the managing partner asked me to argue a motion on a case that I was not even handling, an application on an RTAO — a Right to Attach Order — before Commissioner Levin. Only when I entered his courtroom did I understand: Commissioner Levin wore a yarmulka. That is why they had me in front of Commissioner Levin but never in front of anyone else.
I have encountered prejudice all my life. I wear a yarmulka, and that makes me different. My law school — UCLA — held graduation the year before mine on the holy Biblical Festival day of Shavuot. When we asked them to reschedule on grounds that Orthodox Jews could not attend, they would not. In my law school first year, my professor of criminal law would not allow me a “make-up date” to take an exam that fell on Yom Kippur. The UCLA Law School placement office scheduled all my job interviews with prospective law firms to fall on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot of my second year. When I brought the scheduling mishap to their attention, their response was, “Tough luck.” Later, as a professor at UCI Law School, I was approached by a law student whose contracts law professor had announced that anyone who misses any class session all term would suffer a reduction in his course grade, and that professor would not allow that student to miss class on Rosh Hashanah. Later, perspicaciously seeing where the greater society was headed, I voluntarily signed up for the first or second time the university offered a certificate course in “Diversity Training.” Each week we learned about another demographic group in our society — Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Gays, Women, the Elderly, Indo-Asians — and then we would bond as a group each week at a group lunch at a restaurant themed around that group: a Black “Soul Food” restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, an Indian restaurant. I privately approached the program director and said, “Y’know, for all the sensitivity and group bonding, you are isolating me as an Orthodox Jew. All the group meals are at non-kosher restaurants where I cannot eat, and all the gatherings are on Saturday afternoons, Shabbat, the day of my Holy Sabbath, so I cannot attend.” He looked at me — this master of sensitivity and diversity — and said, “We cannot accommodate everyone, Dov.” That’s how I learned about diversity. I not only have a formal Certificate in Diversity Sensitivity from the University of California, but I also know what it means.
So I am sick of hearing about diversity and sensitivity. I am sick of it. You know how I succeeded in my life? I did not whine about anti-Semitism. I did not tell all my classmates and professors and my readers that “you all owe me” for all the times I was called a “Kike” and a “Jew bastard” and a “Christ killer.” That you owe me reparations and you owe me compensation for the reduced grades I suffered for classes and tests missed on Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Rather, ya wanna know how I succeeded? I’ll tell you:
Like my mom and dad, both of blessed memory, and like all other members of my family, and like all my Orthodox Jewish friends, I never relied on a favor or compensatory advantage from government or institutions. I just knew I had to work harder and do better than others, such that “they” would not be able to keep me out even if “they” wanted. I had to get SAT scores in the top five percent in the country to be sure I would get into Columbia. So I did. To get into the law school of my choice, I had to get LSAT scores that blew the ceiling off, so I scored in the 99th percentile. No one was gonna give me Affirmative Anything. To get a judicial clerkship, I figured I would have to get onto law review, so I worked even harder than that and got named Chief Articles Editor of law review. (I confidentially was told later by two people on the outgoing law review editorial board, who had been at the vote where I was selected for that honor, that I actually had been one of the two finalists for Editor-in-Chief of law review, but that I had lost the vote because four people openly said they could not vote for an Orthodox Jew since he does not work on Saturday.) To get into a top 20 law firm, I needed a resumé that showed law review and federal judicial clerkship. To write for The American Spectator, I had to have writing skills that would impress Melissa Mackenzie and Wlady Pleszczynski and just enough snark to impress Bob Tyrrell. To be a law school professor, I had to have pedagogical skills that rapidly would make me too good not to hire and — in this era of cancel culture — have the self-discipline in the classroom to hide my beliefs from the rabidly leftist faculty members always on the prowl, looking for conservative professors and G-d-fearing adjuncts to extirpate.
So I am sick of it.
Like almost every other Caucasian in this country, I do not owe a thing to anyone “of color.” My two Bubbies (grandmothers) and two Zeydes (grandfathers) fled to this country from Poland and Russia in the period between 1881 and 1914, one step ahead of the Cossacks and Muzhiks who killed Jews in pogroms while yelling “Zhid!” and “khristos ubiytsa.” My ancestors — unlike Kamala Harris’s ancestors — did not own slaves. Rather, they were the society’s quasi-serfs, living behind ghetto walls. When my parents of blessed memory were born here in the 1920s they did not know slavery — they were too busy starving during the Depression, one step removed from being homeless and evicted with their virtually penniless parents. My Bubbie sold eggs on a street corner to get through it, and she stored the day’s leftover stock in her small Brownsville apartment; my mother of blessed memory would recollect all her life the memory of an apartment that perpetually smelled from eggs and how she therefore feared ever bringing a suitor to her home to meet her parents.
We grew up in a home that was free of prejudice. My parents taught me that all people are created equal in G-d’s eyes. Most all American Caucasians evolved to a color-blind value system. By the year 2008, just before Obama was elected, this entire country, except for society’s outlier, was free of prejudice. Everyone was equal. America never was about equal outcomes but about equal opportunities. With the 1978 Bakke case having been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court 30 years earlier, the United States had offered discrete minorities two generations of extra advantage to get into college, to own businesses, to enter professions. American cities were electing Black mayors. Two generations of Americans never had seen a segregated bathroom or bus or lunch counter. This country had achieved racial harmony. It was not that long ago that racial harmony existed.
And then we got Obama. What kind of “White-privileged systemic racist” country voluntarily elects a Black — with no demonstrable background other than having been a community organizer and an undistinguished one-term senator — to be their president? Has France elected a Black prime minister? England? Scotland and Wales? Italy? Germany? Spain? Poland? Russia? Has China ever had a leader who is not Chinese? Japan a leader who is not Japanese? Korea a non-Korean?
This country was built in part with the terrible Original Sin of African slavery. And yet more White American men gave their lives fighting to end slavery than have died in all other American wars combined. And it ended more than 150 years ago.
It ended more than 150 years ago.
The leftist mainstream media brainwash half this country, while the leftist social media brainwash even more than half of the Millennials and the Generation Z sorts who think Cardi B is their answer to Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But it all is lies. This country is not “systemically racist.” Obama changed the tone and tenor, destroyed the civilization, corrupted the national culture. He wanted to be transformative, and he was. He fooled a nation, the most racist-free, open, and tolerant society that ever was — into believing it is “systemically racist.” A society that let a bigot and hater like Ilhan Omar come in from Somalia. A society that allows a rabid race-baiter like Al Sharpton, who instigated street pogroms that resulted in deaths, to have a national TV show.
Do you ever notice that White leftists lead promoting the Big Lie — the New York Times 1619 Project, Hollywood, academia, the mainstream media? Do you ever notice that they do not give up their own jobs so that Blacks can have them? That is the trick — the old Three-Card Monte: if you are White as alabaster, but you keep moaning about “systemic racism,” maybe the people of color will not notice that you control all the positions of influence and power they covet? That you run the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, MSNBC, CNN. Give them a few token slots, hand them an Oscar or two — and maybe they will not notice that it is you, the Hypocritical White Leftist Power Infrastructure at the universities, in Hollywood, at the mainstream media, running Silicon Valley and social media, who actually hold the reins of power and run this country, determining — by wielding your influence and control of the media and over the minds of the mediocrities who cannot find news stories outside of Facebook and Twitter — who wins presidential elections, which tweets may appear on White-privileged Jack Dorsey’s Twitter and White-privileged Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and White-privileged Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Web Services and Washington Post.
I am sick of it.
The road to success in America is — and always will be, unless Democrat “progressives” have their way and degrade us into socialism — by self-help. If you rely on government to pull you up, you never will be equal to The Man because no one who gives charity, whether it is called “welfare” or “food stamps” or just-plain “entitlements” — will ever make you richer than they are. If you want to break barriers, you have to take advantage of all that America offers and make yourself indispensable in some way, leaving others unable to deny you. If you want better COVID prevention, get the darned vaccine instead of complaining about racism. Stop firing people who say a two-syllable word that starts with “N” when they simply are making a legitimate point or even trying to teach others about the evils of racism. In this perverted society, it is totally OK to say a once-forbidden word that starts with “F” — even on TV. Another word, referring to a woman’s private organ, that starts with “C.” No one gets reprimanded for that. But let a decent professor say a Chinese word that merely sounds like the forbidden word, and he is fired.
Here is a prophecy: If things do not change, and if those who historically faced prejudice before Obama and before Bakke intend to rely on blaming the Innocent and on extolling cultural trash like Cardi B and on “canceling” good people who are prejudice-free simply because the offenders believe in free enterprise and in self-help, believe in the Word of G-d and that there are only two genders, then 50 years from now the same disadvantaged groups who today rely on blaming instead of self-help will then be at the same exact rung on the social order that they are today, just as 50 years of racism-free society and Great Society “entitlements” have not accomplished equality of results today, even as newcomers from Asia entered this country these past 50 and 60 years and leap-frogged those already here.
As someone who has faced discrimination all my life, and has succeeded more than my parents and Bubbies and Zeydes of blessed memory ever could have dreamed — as have all my siblings and as did my former wife, Ellen of blessed memory and her family — I know firsthand the secret to the American Dream: Don’t rely on the government for equal results because the government only will botch most things it touches. Rather, rely on yourself for self-help and your immediate network of family and friends, and the people at your church, cathedral, synagogue or temple, and private sources for a boost when needed — and understand that all you need to do to succeed in America is to be good at something valued by others: whether it be LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at basketball, Jackie Robinson and Henry Aaron at baseball, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson at singing … or Thomas Sowell in economics, Ben Carson in medicine, Colin Powell in military leadership, the late Herman Cain in food entrepreneurship, Shelby Steele in philosophy, Stanley Crouch in culture, Richard Parsons in business, Obama in community organizing, Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan in race-baiting, or anyone else in any imaginable field whose story of success came from long hours of hard work and determination — and knowing that “systemic racism” is a canard adopted only by losers who are doomed always to be losers … or by their White liberal overlords hoping that no one notices them playing Three-Card Monte to retain their reins of control.