Op-Ed: The Mis-Education of Henry Louis Gates, Jr

Op-Ed: The Mis-Education of Henry Louis Gates, Jr

By Abdul Arif Muhammad, Esq.

In an April 23, 2010 Op-Ed piece for The New York Times entitled “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. argues that a moral, historic, political and economic equivalency exists between the culpability and responsibility of some Africans who participated in the transatlantic slave trade with the nations of Europe and the American colonies .  This article perverts history and violates what Dr. W.E.B. DuBois called “scientific truth.”  The article was intellectually disingenuous from the stand point of history and scholarship.  

Carter G Woodson

The article is a perfect example of the “educated Negro” who has been taught to find his “proper place” at the back door, as stated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his book, The Mis-Education of the Negro.  Professor Gates demonstrates through this article that he has accepted his proper place at the back door, showing he is in the category of an “educated Negro” that has, in fact, been mis-educated.  It is not surprising then that when Professor Gates was mishandled by white policemen in Massachusetts, he felt it necessary to inform the police that he was a Harvard professor.  This is the mind of black inferiority masquerading as an “educated Negro” who has in fact forgotten who he is in the mind of White America.

 Sadly, the “educated Negro” state of mind has been a historic problem in the struggle of the masses of Black people for true liberation because there has always been a segment within the black community who are the buffers and apologists for the evil of White America against its black citizens.   This phenomenon has been discussed in several scholarly works including The Black Bourgeoisie, by Dr. E. Franklin Frazier; The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, by Dr. Harold Cruse; The Souls of Black Folks, by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and of course,  The Mis-Education of the Negro, by Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Professor Gates’ arguments are far below the standard of what one should expect from the Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.  Dr. DuBois was the first Black man to receive a Ph.D degree from Harvard University in 1895.  The irony of Professor Gates’ article is that Dr. DuBois’ doctoral dissertation was entitled, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to The United States of America, 1638-1870.  It was first published in 1896 as one of the Harvard historical studies.  This study properly placed the culpability and responsibility for slavery on Europe and the American colonies.  Whatever the role some Africans may have played, Dr. DuBois did not seem to view it as requiring research and scholarly attribution.

Henry Louis Gates

Professor Gate‘s claim that the idea of reparations is “compensation for our ancestor’s unpaid labor and bondage,” clearly shows the extent of his mis-education.  Reparations is a cry for justice borne from the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, over three centuries of chattel slavery where our ancestors according to Dr. DuBois were “worked to death,” and the injustices suffered by the masses of black people even down to this present day.  The issue of reparations is not solely based upon compensation because money alone will not solve the 400 year destruction of an entire people, who were robbed of the knowledge of themselves, the knowledge of their heritage, robbed of their names, language, and religion.  The cumulative effect of slavery was that Black people were destroyed in their ability to think and do for themselves.

 Reparations have to be determined based upon the extent of the injury inflicted, and the cost must be calculated to actually repair the damage done from slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching, raping of women, destruction of the institution of the black family, assassination of black leaders, shortened life expectancy from disease, poor health care, drug abuse, gang violence, black on black homicide, police brutality, racial profiling and mob attacks.  Professor Gates’ view that the call for reparations may be symbolic and impractical is profoundly egregious and shows his profound lack of understanding of the scientific truth of black suffering during slavery and since emancipation.    

Kwame Nkrumah

Professor Gates’ claims that Africans played a “significant role” in the slave trade and that it was “lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike” is astounding.  His view that equal culpability for the slave trade and slavery “should truly belong to white people and black people on both sides of the Atlantic” is a historic perversion of the worst kind.   Professor Gates obviously did not consider how Africa was devastated by slave trade from the 1500s to the 1800s; then, how she was systematically underdeveloped by European colonization from 1885 through the Second World War (1947).  It was not until Ghana, the first independent African nation, was established in 1957 by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, that Africa began her journey to repair over five centuries of European rape and pillage of her human and material resources.  Africa remains in that struggle today.  An excellent source for scholarship on this point is the book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Dr. Walter Rodney

 The co-conspirators, conceivers, planners, architects and designers of the transatlantic slave trade were the European nations.  The American colonies and the colonized West Indies sustained and nurtured the slave trade due to the wealth it generated.  This wealth fueled the industrial revolution in Europe and America, and ultimately made the United States a world power.  Where is the evidence of historical records to prove otherwise?  Another excellent source of scholarship on this point is the book, Capitalism and Slavery by Dr. Eric Williams.  Africans did not know the mind of the European nations in planning the destruction of a people.  Africans did not know that the Church sadly issued “papal bulls” from the pope sanctioning slavery of Africans because they were heathens, and needed to be civilized and Christianized.  Africans were not aware of the peculiar institution of chattel slavery and its destructive effects that evolved over centuries in the American colonies.  It is ludicrous to infer that visits to Europe by some Africans gave them knowledge of the holocaust of slavery.

 Professor Gates writes that slavery is one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization.  On this point he is absolutely correct.  Slavery was a crime against humanity and an entire people.   America has a very narrow window to escape the consequences of her deeds; unfortunately she has not yet shown she has the spiritual, moral or political will to repair the damage.   If there was a criminal prosecution Europe and her American co-conspirators would be charged with crimes against humanity for the murder and slaughter of untold millions of African people.  At best, those Africans who delivered their own brethren into the hands of their oppressors could be charged with the lesser criminal offense of being an accessory before the fact of false imprisonment.  In other words they were complicit in an aspect of an entirely different crime from the greater crime of Europe and her American co-conspirators.

 But the real point here is why is Professor Gates attempting to blunt and reduce the culpability of Europe and America in the horror of slavery?  He seems to have developed a pattern of this behavior.  On July 20, 1992 Professor Gates published an Op-Ed article in the New York Times to rebut the Nation of Islam’s book The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 1.  In this article Professor Gates attempts to minimize the role of Jewish merchants, traders, financiers and slave owners in slavery.  Can we fully comprehend the contradiction and hypocrisy of describing the behavior of the perpetrator of the crime as minimal, yet the victim played a “significant role” in the crime?  It is bewildering.  Is Professor Gates proving that he is a hired “educated Negro” by the rich and powerful to be an apologist against the legitimate cries for justice by a suffering people?

Finally, Professor Gates’ claim that President Obama’s genetic heritage of African and American parentage makes him “uniquely positioned to solve the reparations debate.” This statement does a tremendous disservice to President Obama.  The question of reparations is largely a legislative issue that is the responsibility of the Congress to address.  Should there ever be a Reparations Bill passed by Congress, only then would President Obama play the crucial role of signing the Bill into law.  Moreover, no one person, even our President, can be the sole arbiter and reconciler on the issue of 400 years of black suffering.  He could play a significant role in the discussion but the advancement of the issue of reparations is the responsibility of the more than 40 million black people who are the descendants of slaves.

 I conclude by offering to Professor Gates the words of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois regarding the culpability of England and America for slavery, found in Sec. 96 Lessons For Americans in The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to The United States of America, 1638-1870.. 

“It was the plain duty of the colonies to crush the trade and the system in its infancy: they preferred to enrich themselves on its profits. It was the plain duty of a Revolution based upon “Liberty” to take steps toward the abolition of slavery: it preferred promises to straightforward action. It was the plain duty of the Constitutional Convention, in founding a new nation, to compromise with a threatening social evil only in case its settlement would thereby be postponed to a more favorable time: this was not the case in the slavery and the slave-trade compromises … and yet with this real, existent, growing evil before their eyes, a bargain largely of dollars and cents was allowed to open the highway that led straight to the Civil War… 

It behooves the United States, therefore, in the interest both of scientific truth and of future social reform, carefully to study such chapters of her history as that of the suppression of the slave-trade. The most obvious question which this study suggests is : How far in a State can a recognized moral wrong safely be compromised? And although this chapter of history can give us no definite answer suited to the ever-varying aspects of political life, yet it would seem to warn any nation from allowing, through carelessness and moral cowardice, any social evil to grow. No persons would have seen the Civil War with more surprise and horror than the Revolutionists of 1776; yet from the small and apparently dying institution of their day arose the walled and castled Slave-Power. From this we may conclude that it behooves nations as well as men to do things at the very moment when they ought to be done.”

W.E.B. DuBois

Dr. DuBois who over a span of seven decades as academic, scholar, sociologist, author, editor, civil rights activist and Pan-Africanist  was truly an educated black man. As the Director of the institute at Harvard which bears his name it is my hope that this may provide some future guidance to Professor Gates that he might escape the syndrome of the “educated Negro” who has been Mis-Educated.

 original story: http://jessemuhammad.blogs.finalcall.com/2010/04/op-ed-mis-education-of-henry-louis.html

 (Abdul Arif Muhammad is an attorney, historian, researcher, writer, lecturer and former Editor-in-Chief of The Final Call newspaper. He is currently developing a series of essays entitled “A More Perfect Union.” Contact him at arifmuhammad@armatlaw.com)

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18 comments on “Op-Ed: The Mis-Education of Henry Louis Gates, Jr

  1. Great point about it being a legislative issue, that’s the exact point I made. That really takes it to the objective of Mr. Gates. You could pretty much throw out everything he says before he gets to the Obama-issue, it has no scholarly use, anyhow. He’s so busy trying to cut the argument off before it happens, that he’s thrown our ancestors under the bus to accomplish it. There’s no historical accuracy or context in his article, at all. He doesn’t wish to enlighten anyone, what he meant to get across is already in the title and that’s as far as many will read.

  2. “The issue of reparations is not solely based upon compensation because money alone will not solve the 400 year destruction of an entire people, who were robbed of the knowledge of themselves, the knowledge of their heritage, robbed of their names, language, and religion. The cumulative effect of slavery was that Black people were destroyed in their ability to think and do for themselves.”

    this is the part about reparations that gets lost in the debate about kneegrows gettin paid a check ala Dave Chapelle….
    superb point and op-ed…..you’ve outdone yourself….

  3. Shoot Henry Loius Gates. He’s gay, no doubt about it. They always go out and find these people and put them on tv and say, ‘NOW, HERE BLACK PEOPLE, HERE IS YOU ALLS NEXT LEADER”. ROLAND MARTIN, HENRY LOUIS GATES, RUSSELL SIMMONS, CORNELL WEST, MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, CHUCK D… THIS LIST GOES ON AND ON OF WHO THEY CHOSE TO PUT UP AS “OUR” LEADERS.

  4. The previous comment which commands a man be shot!!!, let alone the odious homophobia it expresses which is a minor offense by comparison, needs to be reported and taken down NOW!

  5. Everything on this site” commanding” young Black people to remain “ignorant” needs to be taken down. I don’t “command”. I just state a figure of speech. And while you takingthat down, Davey D, take down the comment I asked you back in October where the person called me the “N’word” and its “still” posted. “COMMAND”, Jeff W, please!!!

  6. Jews financed the Slave trade, who do you think this guy actually works for? Who do you think actaully committed the worst attrocity towards another race of people on the planet? And if you say “Hitler” – you are brainwashed and hate yourselves.

  7. (Crossposted response)

    I hear you, but I think that Skip Gates is about something more complex than your immediate response recognizes. It’s not about a blame game or “miseducation.”

    Do you think that one of the reasons Skip Gates (echoing Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem) is reminding us of these complicities of the past- “the banality of evil” – is to urge us ALL to look into the NOW regarding how we may be complicit in current atrocities?

    Interestingly, when Hannah Arendt attempted to describe similar complicites, as a warning to future generations and countries anywhere, the mainstream Jewish establishment attacked her and attempted to oversimplify what she revealed.

    Brief background context:

    German Hannah Arendt was Jewish. She sat in on the famous trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann, scouring the documents and testimonies.

    At the end of the trial, she wrote her equally famed, and still highly controversial, work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

    It serves as a stark, yet needed, warning to all future generations; as such, it wasn’t what people expected or wanted to hear.

    Arendt’s work matters then and NOW – and young people are drawn to the complexities it still reveals.

    The following excerpt(s) are from Amos Elon’s Introduction, “The Excommunication of Hannah Arendt,” to Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

    No book within living memory had elicited similar passions. A kind of excommunication seemed to have been imposed on the author by the Jewish establishment in America. The controversy has never really been settled. It is perhaps no accident that at this time of a highly controversial war in Iraq, Arendt’s books are still widely read and that, even though close to 300,000 copies of her book on Eichmann alone have so far been sold, this new edition is now published by Penguin.

    Eichmann in Jerusalem continues to attract new readers and interpreters in Europe, too. In Israel, where the Holocaust was long seen as simply the culmination of a long unbroken line of anti-Semitism, from pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar to Hitler and Arafat – David Ben-Guirion, the architect of the 1960 show trial wanted it that way – the growing interest among young people in this book suggest a search for a different view. A new Hebrew translation was recently published to considerable acclaim. In the past, the difficulty of many Israelis to accept Arendt’s book ran parallel to another difficulty – foreseen by Arendt early on – the difficulty of confronting, morally and politically, the plight of the dispossessed Palestinians. The Palestinians bore no responsibility for the collapse of civilization in Europe but ended up being punished for it.

    In Europe, the collapse of communist totalitarianism contributed to the renewed interest in Arendt’s work. Interest was further kindled by the publications, in the past several years, of Arendt’s voluminous correspondence with Karl Jaspers, Mary McCarthy, Hermann Broch, Kurt Blumenfeld, Martin Heidegger, and her husband Heinrich Blucher. All bear witness to a rare capacity for friendship, intellectual and affectionate…

    The main thesis of Eichmann in Jerusalem was summed up (not very felicitously) in its subtitle. It is odd, and sometimes mind-boggling to follow the overheated debates of four decades ago. Irving Howe claimed in his memoirs that the polemic in America was partly due to feelings of guilt, pervasive, and unmanageable yet seldom (until then) emerging into daylight. For this reason, Howe thought, something good came out of the confrontation with Arendt…

    …At the time of writing Eichmann in Jerusalem she had all but despaired of this and bleakly foresaw decades of war and bloody Palestianian-Israeli clashes. In the 1930s, she anticipated her criticism in Eichmann of the ghetto Judenräte by opposing the Transfer of Goods Agreement between the Zionists and the Nazis, an agreement that enabled German Jews to transfer some of their frozen assets to Palestine at a highly punitive exchange rate but ran counter to an attempted worldwide Jewish boycott of German goods. The Zionists, for whom emigration to Palestine was the overwhelmingly important priority, justified this violation as a “dialectical necessity.”

    By this time, Arendt had little patience left for all Weltanschauungen. She became more and more disillusioned with official Zionist policy in Palestine because of its failure to achieve a peaceful modus vivendi with the Arab population. She foresaw the spread of religious and nationalist fundamentalism among Israelis. These warnings seemed at the time as provocative as her book on the Eichmann trial. She argued on both moral and pragmatic grounds, insisting that Israelis must share power and/or territory with Palestinian Arabs. In retrospect, her warnings displayed considerable foresight. Today’s readers may be more willing to accept both her essays and her book on Eichmann on their merits.

    This was certainly not the case when Eichmann first came out. Most Jewish readers and many others were outraged. Friendships broke over it. Not long before, Israeli diplomats had successfully convinced the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith that criticism of Zionism or Israel was a form of anti-Semitism. Some of the published attacks on Arendt’s book are astonishing in their unbridled vehemence. In Israel the reaction was more complicated and the criticism was muted compared to the reaction in America. Outrage was much less pronounced perhaps because on a first reading, Arendt’s critique of Jewish communal leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe appeared to confirm Zionish cliché descriptions of “diaspora Jews” as servile, passive lambs who had meekly gone to the slaughter.

    Several of Arendt’s critics have since expressed some regret at their past fervor. Arendt was already dead when such apologies were first heard. Arendt subscribed to no isms and mistrusted sweeping theories. Her intuitions of the nature of political evil may find more sympathetic ears these days than when the book was first published. Evil, as she say it, need not be committed only by demonic monsters but – with disastrous effect – by morons and imbeciles as well, especially if, as we see in our own day, their deeds are sanctioned by religious authority. With her disregard of conventional scholarship and academic norms, she remains a stimulating intellectual presence. Thirty or forty years ago the mixture of social analysis, journalism, philosophical reflection, psychology, literary allusion, and anecdote found in the best of her work exasperated and annoyed critics. Today, it fascinates and appeals.

    …The resultant storm broke out mainly because of Arendt’s portrait of Eichmann as a diligent yet “banal” bureaucratic criminal. (The term “banality” actually appears only on the last page but is implicit throughout the entire book.) Eichmann’s mediocrity and insipid character struck Arendt on her first day in court. Her initial reaction, expressed in letters to Jaspers, McCarthy, and Blucher, was impressionistic. He isn’t even sinister, she wrote (Arendt used the common German term unheimlich, which can also be translated as “uncanny”) He was like a “ghost in a spiritualist sauce.” What was more, he had a cold and was sneezing inside his bullet-proof glass cage….

    …”[Eichmann] is actually stupid,” she wrote Jaspers, after listening to one of Eichmann’s exhortations “but then, somehow he is not,” [Er ist eigentlich dumm aber auch irgendwie nicht]. Her private letters from Jerusalem enable us to trace the slow development of her thesis. She plowed through the 3,000-page transcript of Eichmann’s pretrial interrogation by the Israeli police captain Avner Less and gradually came to think that it was mostly, as she first put it, a kind of brainlessness on Eichmann’s part that had predisposed him to becoming the faceless bureaucrat of death and one of the worst criminals of all time. She emphasized Eichmann’s moral and intellectual shallowness, his inner void. He was probably not lying when he told Less that he could never be a doctor because he could not bear the sight of blood.
    She concluded that Eichmann’s inability to speak coherently in court was connected with his incapacity to think, or to think from another person’s point of view. His shallowness was by no means identical with stupidity. He personified neither hatred or madness nor an insatiable thirst for blood, but something far worse, the faceless nature of Nazi evil itself, within a closed system run by pathological gangsters, aimed at dismantling the human personality of its victims. The Nazis had succeeded in turning the legal order on its head, making the wrong and malevolent the foundation of a new “righteousness.” In the Third Reich evil lost its distinctive characteristic by which most people had until then recognized it. The Nazis redefined it as a civil norm. Conventional goodness became a mere temptation which most Germans were fast learning to resist. Within this upside-down world Eichmann (perhaps like Pol Pot four decades later) seemed not to have been aware of having done evil. In matters of elementary morality, Arendt warned, what had been thought of as decent instincts were no longer to be taken for granted.

    In The Origins of Totalitarianism she still held to a Kantian notion of radical evil, the evil that, under the Nazis corrupted the basis or moral law, exploded legal categories, and defied human judgment. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, and in the bitter controversies about it that followed, she insisted that only good had any depth. Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet – and this is its horror! – it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies though for as soon as though tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because if finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.

    Eichmann was ambitious and eager to rise in the ranks, but he would not have killed his superior to inherit his job. Nor did he display any distinctive thought of his own. It was his “banality” that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of his time, Arendt claimed. She complained that while in the trial Eichman had been accused, absurdly she though, of having been the very architect, the brain, behind the Holocaust, his essential brainlessness was never even brought up or discussed. It wasn’t discussed partly because if was so hard to grasp. But it also was left unmentioned because Eichmann’s trial was a show trial, staged by Ben-Gurion at least partly for political reasons to prove conclusively that the Holocaust had simply been the largest anti-Semitic pogrom in history.

    Eichmann’s alleged banality was the main reason the book provoked such a storm. Most people still assumed that murder was committed by monsters or demons. Another reason was a brief comment on the Nazi-appointed “Jewish Councils” (Judenräte). Unable to see through the Nazi scheme, acting in the vain hope that they were serving the best interests of local Jews, the distinguished notables of the Judenräte had inadvertently become instruments of Nazi determination to eliminate a maximum number of Jews with a minimum of administrative effort and cost. Neither of the two points, of course, was new. Dostoevsky would not have regarded Arendt’s “banality of evil” as a cheap catchword, as Gershom Scholem did in an open letter to Arendt accusing her of heartlessness. When the devil visits Karamazov, he turns out to be a shabby, stupid, and vulgar lout. Before Arendt, others had emphasized the discrepancy between the personal mediocrity of monsters like Hitler or Stalin and the horrendous evil they unleashed on the world. Nearly everybody who attended the trials of mass killers after the war, some of them respected doctors and pharmacists, came away with the disconcerting impression that the killers looked pretty much like you and me. The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial. In a similar vein, Simone de Beauvoir said that at his trial after the war the French Nazi Pierre Laval seemed commonplace and inconsequential, an unimaginative and feeble little fellow.

    Similarly, long before Arendt’s book, many in Israel and elsewhere had charged the Judenräte with complicity with the Nazi scheme. Six years before the book came out, in a sensational libel case heard in the District Court of Jerusalem, the presiding judge had spoken far more critically about the Judenräte and about Jewish collaboration with the Nazis than Arendt did in that brief passage. Similar charges had been made for years in several well-known books, Jean-Francois Steiner’s Treblinka, Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and, of course, Raul Hilberg’s monumental The Destruction of European Jews, a book that Arendt repeatedly referred to.

    What was new and especially provocative in Arendt’s account was the insistence on challenging Jewish communal leadership. What might they have done differently? Her answers, offered only tentatively, derived from her view of the function of truth in politics. Should the Judenräte have told the Jews the truth, when they knew it, about where they were being deported to? How many might have been able to save themselves somehow had they known the truth? Why were the Judenräte notables so disciplined and servile to authority?

    Some community leaders were well aware that the deportees were going directly to Auschwitz (and not to some resettlement area in the east as the Nazis claimed). Open rebellion was of course unthinkable under the circumstances. On the other had, why didn’t the leaders of the Jewish councils refuse to accept the responsibilities assigned them by the Nazis? Insofar as they had moral authority, why didn’t they advise the Jews to run for their lives or try to go underground? If there had been no Jewish organizations at all and no Judenräte, Arendt suggested, the deportation machine could not have run as smoothly as it did. The Nazis might have been forced to drag out millions of people, one by one from their homes. In such circumstances, could not more Jews have been saved?

    If the Judenräte had not been so “Germanically” disciplined, if they hadn’t compiled detailed lists of potential deportees, if they hadn’t supplied the Nazis with these lists, if they had refrained from collecting the keys and detailed inventories of vacated apartments for the Nazis to hand over to “Aryans,” if they hadn’t summoned the deportees to show up on a certain day, at a certain hour, at a certain railway stations with provisions for a three-or four-day journey, would fewer people have died? Others had asked such questions before. But Arendt went further, implying that Jewish leaders had inadvertently allowed themselves to fall into a fiendish trap and become part of the system of victimization.

    “The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people,” she wrote.

    It is clear why this sentence was seen by so many as insensitive and shocking. That the Jews did have leaders and notables and local national organizations was well known. Many had served them well in the past. Many were doing their best to ameliorate suffering. Only a few among them fully understood the extent of Nazi plans for genocide. What would Arendt have said of these leaders if they had fled abroad, as many of them certainly could have, abandoning the Jews who depended on them? Would her argument have been less shocking had Arendt shown more understanding for the ghastly dilemmas facing the leaders who remained behind? Would she have shocked less if she had raised questions about their behavior instead of contemptuously attacking them? She did recognize that beleaguered people have a tendency to hope against hope that somehow things will turn out better if they can only buy time. Would she have shocked her readers less had she registered doubt instead of attacking? Would it have shocked less had she said explicitly that the Jewish leaders “inadvertently” collaborated in their own destruction? This was certainly what she meant to say.

    …The tragic role of the Judenräte was barely mentioned at the trial, least of all by the prosecution, which she suspected was covering up for them. Her suspicion would be proven right. The aim of the show trial had not been to convict Eichmann or examine the Judenräte. Two decades after the trial, the deputy prosecutor Gabriel Bach (later a Supreme Court Justice) told an interviewer that if all those witnesses had appeared in court and told the stories of the Judenräte, “no one would have remembered Eichmann!”

    At first, Arendt could not understand the uproar over her remarks on the Judenräte. Then she decided it was because she had inadvertently dragged out a past that had not been laid to rest….

    ….A nationwide campaign was launched in the United States to discredit her in the academic world. There was a startling disproportion between the ferocity of the reaction and its immediate cause. A group of lecturers – some flown in from Israel and England – toured the country decrying Arendt as “a self-hating Jew,” the “Rosa Luxemburg of Nothingness.” Four separate Jewish organizations hired scholars to go through her text, line by line, in order to discredit it and to find mistakes through most of them turned out to be minor: incorrect dates and misspelled names…

    Thinking, judging, and acting were closely linked in this and in other books by Hannah Arendt. Her position was that if you say to yourself, “Who am I to judge?” you are already lost. In her lifetime, Arendt continued to be marked, as it were, by the debate set off by her book. Even though many years have passed since she died, she is still the subject of controversy. One saw this a few years ago when a sensational book was published on the innocent love affair she had as a teenager with Martin Heidegger. The author depicted her as a self-hating Jew and as a silly bimbo sexually entrapped for life by her aging Nazi professor, a married man with two children. The book gave a crude version of her long and complex relationship with Heidegger; yet some reviewers seemed to take a particular satisfaction in the book’s simplistic account.

    As Tony Judt wrote a few years ago in The New York Review of Books, Arendt made many small errors for which her critics will never forgive her. But she got many of the big things right and for this she deserves to be remembered. She would have been wryly amused by the reawakened interest in her work. She once said that the saddest form of fame was posthumous fame. At the height of the scandal over Eichmann in Jerusalem, Jaspers wrote to console her: a time will come, he wrote, which she will not live to see, when Jews will erect a monument to her in Israel as they were just then doing for Spinoza. This has not yet happened. But we could be getting there.


    Skip Gates, with others, seem to be rendering a critique and warning – very similar to those of Hannah Arendt.

  8. Adolph Hitler was a Saint compared to what jews have done to Black Africans from stealing their Hebrew Isrealite identity ,God, land and riches, to finaning the transatlantic slave trade, to owning the plantations in America, to the prison complex and economic locks of Black Americans, to killing off a race of Black people in Africa with the AIDS virus for the land and resources, to minstrel to “hip-hop”. Hitler was a “Saint” in comparison and didn’t kill a smidgent of the people that jews have killed. They jews started this “Ham” myth (white supremacy) and stole everything from the Black race. They owe the reparations for the attrocity that they have done to the Black race. The Romans just need to point them out and not let them hide behide their race by changing their names, and not lift a finger. “Aldoph Hitler ain’t got nothing on the jews” when tt comes to what they are doingto our race. AIDS in Africa, yeah, that’s their doing!!!

  9. LOL Yeah Okmadea. aka Robert.. The truth of the matter is u support a Neo Nazi.. One who is notorious for hating Black folks as evidence by today passage banning of ethnic studies..Yes sir.. thats u my man.. a big supporter..

  10. Davey D, who is that to whom you refer as “notorious for hating Black folks as evidence by today passage banning of ethnic studies”?

    To Okmadea and or Robert: Back at you: “…please!!!”

    You want to play Dueling Genocides? I don’t. When I lived in L.A. some Armenians drove around Little Armenia in their cars on the day commemorating the Armenian genocide shouting “Number One, Number One”. I wasn’t sure if they meant their genocide was the best or the first – it was a bizarre sight in any case – which, someone suggested to me, was the intent. Neither was true and, truly, what does it matter. Hitler’s genocide of the Jews, which I’ll openly acknowledge is unfortunately referred to as The Holocaust, was not the first and not the worst in terms of numbers killed. Though it was, relatively speaking, horrific, as half the Jews in Europe perished during that period. Saddest of all, it was not the last genocide, as the kind of hate and vain attempt at rational justification for mass slaughter, the kind which spews from every word you write, still rules many a day all over the world.

    If “Shoot Henry Louis Gates” is just a manner of speaking, “He’s gay” is a manner of hating. He’s also short, and so I have little doubt you also take seriously Randy Newman’s lyric, “short people have no reason to live.” Or are you short, yourself? Short on compassion and the power to reason, that’s clear.

    You seem to have no conception that Jews, by the hundreds of thousands, also have stood against racism in all its forms. The cases of Jews standing against racism are too numerous to mention. This is not to deny in any way the complicity of some Jews in all sorts of horrors right up to Israeli apartheid today, a political reality against which thousands of Jews also stand and themselves get labeled “anti-Semite” by shortsighted Zionists (Jews and Christians). You need to look at these questions through the lenses of Class and Imperialism rather than a Race lens, which you deploy selectively to your own pre-determined end, to see what’s really going on.

    A to Z, I think your explication of Hannah Arendt is excellent but I think your drawing a parallel with Gates is off and doesn’t address what Gates actually says, according to Abdul’s critique. But thanks for giving my head more to do.

  11. Jeff I was referring to Russell Pearse the co-author of the immigration Bill and someone associated with White supremacist groups

  12. You might have a valid point, but your argument is filled with so many logical fallacies.

    The entire piece is laced with ad-hominem attacks, rather than actually addressing what Gates wrote. It takes you until the 5th paragraph to actually quote Gates for Christ’s sake. The rest before that is fluff and unsubstantiated attacks.

    And where the piece does actually try to engage Gate’s, it engages in silly distortions and editorializing. Most blatantly, you impute the language of “moral equivalence” to Gates, where no such language exists in the actual piece. If we want to engage in denial of history and complexity, then perhaps such attacks could stand. Gates is simply asserting that Africans played more of a role in the Atlantic slave trade that is often historically recognized. That’s not really a controversial premise.

    Another thing, namedropping cannot substitute for argumentation. Throwing out a bunch of names and generalities of famous black leaders and scholars does not equate to adequately addressing the arguments proffered by Gates.

    Moreover, you claim that reparations is not a matter of compensation, but “justice”. It’s frankly insulting to imagine that the amount of damage done by slavery, and perpetuated generation through generation could ever be construed as “justiced” by monetary payments. If you’re looking for looking for justice, look elsewhere.

    Perhaps there is a case for reparations, perhaps not. This piece does nothing to help either case.

  13. Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone who actually what they’re discussing on the internet. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to read this and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you are not more popular since you definitely have the gift.

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