Magazine article Tikkun

When Race Obscures Class

Magazine article Tikkun

When Race Obscures Class

Article excerpt

The Jewish proprietor of Freddy's, a Harlem clothing store, recently had his store burned by a protester who had been among the crowds of people demonstrating for weeks outside the store, protesting plans to expand the store in such a way that a popular neighboring record shop would have been evicted. Some of the demonstrators hurled anti-Semitic remarks at the Jews who lease or own this and other stores on 125th Street in the heart of the country's largest Black neighborhood. In response, the media were full of stories seeking to portray this disgusting act of terror, which resulted in the deaths of eight people, as another in the long list of episodes that exacerbate Black/Jewish tensions.

One might imagine this as the classic "Jewish bloodsucker," taking the profits he makes from the building he leased from a Black church and using them to build his Jewish community in Brooklyn. What, after all, is anti-Semitic or irrational about the community demanding that the stores that function in their neighborhood be responsive to that community's needs If the community had a long history of good relations with the Black-owned record store, is it really irrational for them to protest the planned expansion, which would have deprived them of their freedom to buy from that record store

But interpreting the behavior of these store proprietors as somehow acting as Jews is a distortion stemming from "the socialism of fools." Here we have a classic instance of people having legitimate grievances about the operations of the capitalist market and its principle of allowing the owner of money to make all the decisions without regard to the consequences for the community from which he derives his profits. …

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