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July 20, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

--

1OPINION

CONTENTS

The Moral Imperative
Must Be Found

ALFRED DOBLIN

M

y grandfather was
born a Jew. A very
prominent and in-
fluential author in the Berlin
of the 20s and early 30s, he
did not practice Judaism. My
father, as he tells it, was rais-
ed Lutheran, and it was not
until the rise of the Nazi
movement that he became
aware of his Jewish heritage
as the family had to escape
from their homeland. Both
my father and grandfather, at
different points later in their
lives, converted to
Catholicism.
As a Catholic born in the
late 50s, I never experienced
the anti-Catholicism in this
country that could seriously
hamper say a Catholic can-
didate for public office.
Nowadays, papal loyalty by
political candidates or public
officials would be a novelty.
Politicians don't want to
"foist" their personal moral
convictions on their consti-
tuents. Everyone can believe
what they want and do what
they want — well, not quite.
There are restrictions. But
whose restrictions? In a socie-
ty becoming increasingly lax
on all moral imperatives,
what is viewed as harm or
destructive?
Racism is still pervasive.
Anti-Semitism runs just
below the surface of even
"enlightened" people's skin.
Have a cocktail conversation
about U.S. federal support of
Israel and you'll be embar-
rassed by some of the jokes.
Last Monday, I happened by
chance to be playing with the
remote control for my televi-
sion. I don't watch much
television, especially in the
early evening, but Fox's "21
Jump Street" caught my at-
tention. Even I am aware that
this program is aimed at a
younger audience and from
the little I know about it, it's
standard teen television fod-
der. But this particular
episode dealt with the rise of
white supremacist groups
and skinheads. The show
depicted the melding of two
different white supremacist
movements — one based com-
pletely on violence and the
other on cultural indoctrina-
tion — both movements firm-
ly rooted in hatred.
The skinheads were
stereotyped. The opposing
protesters demonstrating for

Alfred Doblin is editor of The
Michigan Catholic where this
piece originally appeared.

American values of freedom
for all were also stereotyped
and had violent tendencies.
There was even a yuppie
Nazi. The point, though, the
writers were trying to make
was that there is a great
danger in being carried away
by hatred — hatred against
any race, but also an even
greater danger in hatred
against the people who are
perpetrating the hatred
because then the cycle
becomes self-perpetuating.
I would have preferred more
depth to the characters' moral
dilemmas, but this was after
all just a commercial televi-
sion program. The most strik-
ing part of the program, for
me, was when a few
characters let loose a tirade of
racial, ethnic and religious
slurs.
I've had arguments with
clergy about the use of cer-
tain insulting words in news
stories. My feeling is if it's im-
portant to understanding the
incident, the word must be us-
ed or referred to with dashes
in a way that the reader com-
prehends exactly what was
said. The reader should
understand it, be struck by it
and feel the pain of it. If we
don't physically feel the pain
caused by abhorrent slurs, if
we don't recoil from them, we
do not learn how to stop the
hatred that causes the words
to have been said.

I still hear good Christians
argue that Jesus wasn't a Jew
or that God has to be white
and a man. Small points?
Perhaps. Unless you happen
to be Jewish, black, Asian or
a woman.
There are moral im-
peratives and they shape how
we think and act. The older I
become, the more I under-
stand why the Jewish com-
munity doesn't want their
children to forget the destruc-
tion of the Holocaust. Or why
blacks shouldn't forget the
riots or the Klan. Unless we
constantly try to understand
the painful experiences of the
past, we will lack the vision
to forge a different future.
Many of us have been
sheltered from this kind of
hatred so we must reach into
our past to find the common
link — a cross borne by a
father or great-grandmother.
But it has to be found and
remembered and told or their
pain will not be a balm for
their children but rather an
incendiary device waiting to
explode.
My grandfather was born a
Jew. 0

15

DETROIT

Hands-On Match

RICHARD PEARL
The computer is bypassed
to pair athletes and hosts.

22

CLOSE-UP

Funny Girls

WENDY ROLLIN
Some funny Detroit ladies
are making it in comedy.
Cover photo by Glenn Triest

33

INSIGHT

45

Homeless Crisis

ZE'EV CHAFETS
The Soviet flood spawns
tents, tension in Israel.

39

FICTION

Angel

MARIA POLLACK
Be careful what you wish
for; it may be yours.

45

SPORTS

The Natural

HOWARD ROSS
George Maskin has a 40-year
passion for kids, officiating.

53

LOOKING BACK

53 East Side
Adventure

Parents struggled, but Manhattan
was an adventure for the kids.

ENTERTAINMENT

King(ston) Of Horror

65

STEVE HARTZ
There's a new, blood-thirsty
freak from Detroit.

DEPARTMENTS

27'
30
40
64
76

Inside Washington
Background
Synagogues
Fine Arts
Cooking

86
92
94
97
126

Engagements
Births
Single Life
Classified Ads
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

65

8:47 p.m.
Friday, July 20, 1990
Sabbath ends July 21 9:55 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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