Racism and Ignorance

Genrich L. Krasko*

“Sorry, m’am. We respect your voucher, but your kid cannot be transferred to our school. No, it is not discrimination. Your kid’s test scores are below the standards of our school, and we do not make exceptions...”

—Harlem High, year 2050

           

What I am trying to prove in virtually all my essays is that poor education is the main cause of almost all the problems our society is facing today, in the beginning of 21st century. In this essay I am going to speak about the problems that African-, Hispanic-, and Native Americans are facing in our society every day, and what should, in my view, be done in order to preserve our integrity as a nation.

Polarization, along racial/ethnic lines, is threatening to rip our society apart today. Ninety-two percent of blacks and 84 percent of whites agree that interracial relations today are only fair or poor. A poll also shows that 56 percent of blacks do not think that race discrimination will ever disappear. Only 27 percent of whites agree with this. On the other hand, while 65 percent of whites believe that race relations will eventually improve, only 44 percent of blacks think the same.

Perhaps America is the only nation in the world where the problems of race and ethnicity are so acute. Its uniqueness is, first of all, in its history of a nation created from scratch. America’s ethnic uniformity was impossible from the very beginning. Waves of immigrants from all over the world brought to this land their ways of life, traditions, and temperament.

But the event of incomparable importance was, of course, slavery. First hundreds, and then thousands upon thousands of people were forcefully brought to the New World to support the growing economy of the colonies.

To a student of history, this outburst of barbarity in the 17th and 18th centuries may seem absolutely irrational and ridiculous. It is not that the European nations never knew slavery—it did not disappear from Europe with the disintegration of the Roman Empire or the advent of the Middle Ages. However, in Europe, in the centuries usually referred to as the Dark Ages, slavery was not widespread as a socially significant phenomenon. In fact, servitude took the place of the slavery of the previous centuries. The status of slaves, who still could be bought and sold in slave markets, was not significantly different from that of serfs.

Ironically, slavery became more significant on the historic scene with the advent of the Renaissance—the flourishing of arts, the great achievements in science and engineering, intensive trade and travel, and the discoveries of new lands.

It was the intensive travel and the discovery of new lands that opened the new opportunities to acquire a cheap and, in most cases, a reliable, working force. The devastating Black Death epidemic in the middle of the 14th century, which took close to one third of Europe’s population, was one of the important factors in reviving the slave trade. Laborers were desperately needed even to farm the land. In slave markets of Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries, slaves from all over the known world were traded: Tartars, Slavs, Turks, Circassians, Arabs and Africans (Milton Meltzer, Slavery: A World History, 19 9 3, vol. 1).

The European-African slave trade began in the middle of the 15th century when Portuguese ships landed on the Atlantic coast of Africa and raided the nearby areas, or contacted aboriginal slave-traders. Slavery did exist in Africa. But these first African slaves were used by the Portuguese as a work force on their sugar plantations off the coast of Europe and Africa.

Medieval slavery was devoid of racism. “No stigma, racist or other, seems to have been attached to being a slave. It was an accident of fate that could befall any man” (Slavery, vol. 1 p.44). It was taken for granted that a slave had been brought from far away. Being a slave meant only some restriction in rights, but did not imply some kind of inferiority. With the growing African slave trade, the attitude toward the slaves as inferiors savages became stronger and stronger.

I did not meet, in literature, a psychological explanation of this phenomenon, which was an unquestionable step backward by the European civilization. It was not just an isolated little step, an error, to be quickly corrected by further development. The reemergence of slavery in the 15th century, and its flourishing in the 17th and 18th centuries have resulted—among other, less significant events—in the creation of a specific social climate in the American colonies, which left its permanent imprint on American society for the centuries to come. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the consequences of slavery are, perhaps, the most acute and pressing problems that America is facing.

In the Middle Ages, primitive knowledge of geography, difficulty in communication between nations and very restricted efforts in exploration of land beyond the borders of existing nations brought about numerous stories about fantastic lands and their fantastic inhabitants. Detailed descriptions of these creatures—two-headed, four-armed, three-eyed—could be quite often found in medieval books and, presumably, people believed in their existence of such creatures.

The great geographic discoveries of the Renaissance extended both the borders of the existing lands and the minds of people. No monsters were discovered. Rather, those remote and previously unknown lands turned out to be populated by two-legged, two-armed, one-headed creatures and yet different in one respect: their skin was black. These strange creatures led a primitive life— “almost like animals” —worshipped totems, spoke unintelligible languages. In short, in the opinion of the Europeans, they were savages.

Of course, the outburst of the new slavery was motivated and prompted by the intensive economic development in Europe and new colonies, and the urgent necessity for cheap labor. But the ease with which the enlightened nations succumbed to the moral abyss of mass slavery, albeit against the background of cultural and intellectual growth needs explanation. I think that psychologically the emergence of slavery in the world of quite an advanced humanistic culture was possible only because in the minds of the majority of Europeans the savages were not quite human.

Slavery, however, did not spread throughout the West Indies and the American colonies overnight. European countries—Spain, Holland, France, Denmark and England—began spreading their influence into the Caribbean soon after the West Indies were discovered. The Islands, with their warm climate and rich soil, were excellent for growing many agricultural products, among them, sugar and tobacco. In the 16th century, large plantations were established in the Caribbean Islands. These plantations needed a significant labor force, preferably cheap. The enslaved Africans became that force.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Caribbean economy had begun to decline, and the Europeans concentrated on the business of exporting slaves to the American mainland. Large European trading companies were established. They flourished due to the enormous demand for slaves in the American colonies.

The very beginning of slavery in America is traced to August 1619, when a Dutch ship sailed into the harbor of Jamestown, Virginia. On board were twenty Africans taken (perhaps bought) from a Spanish ship heading to the West Indies. The twenty people were sold for food, and the ship left Jamestown.

Those people were sold not as slaves but as indentured servants. Indenture—a contract that bound a servant to his or her master for a term from two to seven years (typically four years). Quite a few indentured servants were brought to the colonies from England. Being sold meant that the terms of contract were considered a payment for a servant’s transportation to America. When the contract expired, the servant became free, and, in fact, joined the Colony as a full-fledged colonist. Often the former master gave him a kind of severance pay—some money or clothing or even seeds, to facilitate the beginning of the new life.

Early records (see, e.g., F. Jackson and J. B. Jackson, The Black Man in America: 1619-1790) show that in 1624-1625 only twenty-three Africans were living in Virginia. The records—until approximately 1661—identified the Africans as “Negro servants,” but never as “slaves.” Gradually their status turned into that of slaves. This happened between the years 1640 and 1660.

At that time, the African population was split into three categories: freemen, indentured servants, and slaves. The latter category continued to grow until, by the beginning of the 18th century, the first category had completely disappeared. The golden age for slave traders had begun.

Of course, the process of enslavement in the colonies was prompted by the needs of a flourishing tobacco economy. However this process was significantly facilitated, if not motivated, by the psychological twist I mentioned above, which resulted in discriminatory and cruel treatment of black African servants, in contrast to that of their white counterparts. One of the first mechanisms to turn servants into slaves was punishment of runaway servants. The white runaways were typically punished by whipping. The Africans were punished both by whipping and extending their contract to life. From the legal point of view, the white servants were the subjects of either the English Crown or another European nation, and therefore were protected from arbitrary punishment. However, nobody defended the Africans. Eventually, appropriate laws were enacted that made slavery a legitimate form of life in the American colonies.

The evolution of the laws can be seen from the following examples (The Black Man in America, p. 18):

•“Children got by an Englishman upon a Negro woman shall be slaves or free according to condition of the mother” (Virginia, 1662).

•“All servants, not being Christian, imported into this country by shipping, shall be slaves for their lifetime, but such as come by land shall serve, if boys and girls till 30 years of age, if men and women, 12 years and no longer” (Virginia, 1670).

•“...all servants imported and brought into this country by sea or land, who are not Christian in their native country shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to Christianity afterwards” (Maryland, 1705).

 Eventually the anti-slave laws crystallized into what was known as the Black Codes. The function and objective of the codes was to protect the right of slave holders to their property. The slaves were not considered to be human beings. “Every aspect of the slave’s life was controlled by the Black Codes. They varied in particulars, but at the heart of the codes was the belief that the slave was not a person but a piece of property. The way to safeguard property was to ensure the domination of the slave by his master and to protect the master from any insubordination of the slave” (Slavery, vol. 2. p. 201).

All the Northern colonies had also legitimized slavery. The only difference from the South being that they did not need that large a labor force, since their economy was not of a purely agricultural character.

In a sense, America had been infected by slavery. It could have rejected this form of labor from the beginning, but was unable to do this. Apart from the obvious economic reason, there was also a deep psychological one—the one that I have already mentioned: the failure to recognize the African-Americans as humans.

Hunting down the savages—or buying from local slave-traders, loading the ships with them, and then selling them in numerous slave markets in America—perhaps did not seem either immoral or unlawful in those times. So strong was the conviction that the blacks were inferior, that neither the above-average educated people nor the church, more enlightened than the general populace, seem to be willing or able to raise any moral barriers to slavery in the minds of Europeans and American colonists.

Long after the European slave trade had been abolished, slavery in America continued to flourish. In spite of the fundamental contradiction between the principles of natural rights and slavery, the Founding Fathers were unable to include the abolition of slavery in the Constitution of the young United States of America. Even intellectuals found very sophisticated justifications for slavery, such as “bringing the savage within the pale of civilization and Christianity” (Charleston Mercury, Nov. 1854, as quoted in Ronald. T. Takaki's, A Pro-Slavery Crusade: The Agitation to Reopen the African Slave Trade, 1971).

Again, I see only one explanation for this ridiculous twist of history. These people—these colored slaves—were so very different, so much unlike the whites. True, they were no monsters, but were they really human beings? Or were they just kind of subhuman animals? The minds of people in the 16th century were well prepared to reach such a conclusion. Unfortunately, the enlightened 17th and 18th centuries did not significantly change that ideology.

I am afraid that was the only moral reason that had prevented civilized Europe and America from abolishing the newborn slavery immediately. The irrational conviction that the colored people were subhuman, in at least some respects, was not shaken even by the development of science and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

It is well known that even Thomas Jefferson, one of the most educated people of his age, and a Founding Father of American Democracy, was a slave-holder, and believed that black people were inferior to whites. In fact, he was rather brutal to his own slaves. At the same time he did acknowledge that all men had to have equal rights—to him blacks simply were not as human as whites. Jefferson is now threatened to be completely thrown off his pedestal (see Connor Cruise O'Brien, The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800. 1996).

Almost one hundred years later, Abraham Lincoln, with whose name the liberation of slaves has been connected, also believed that black people were inferior, although he opposed the slavery on moral grounds. Besides, the Civil War was fought primarily to prevent the dissolution of the United States rather than the abolition of slavery, although it was the question of slavery that precipitated the conflict. Lincoln was ready to sacrifice the abolition of slavery for the sake of the preservation of the Union (Kenneth C. Davis, Don't Know Much About the Civil War. 1996).

 

In fact, this kind of reasoning is, and has always been, the foundation supporting all the white supremacy movements (the Nazis being the most bestial of all time), as well as everyday racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia throughout the world.

In my view, the feeling of mistrust or fear or even hatred toward someone who is not like you and me, is a fundamentally biological feeling. In the animal world, this sense helps a species to survive the ruthless process of natural selection. Some animals even kill their own handicapped or other mutants, whose appearance does not fit the genetically imprinted image of a friend—for all the others are foes. Perhaps, this purely animal feeling in men helped at least the Stone Age society to survive. Social Darwinists of today would probably shun this explanation of racism as politically incorrect, although the evolutionary quality of the mistrust of the different can hardly be argued against.

It is interesting that this rudimentary behavior can be readily observed among children. They use to stigmatize, call names, reject from their activities and even exert physical violence on those who look different: the redheads, the lame, the infirm (in Russia, also the lefties), and even the nerds.

The history of human civilization is the history of how people have fought the animal instincts within themselves. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. The 20th century was filled with devastating victories of the animal in men. And now, on the beginning of the high-tech 21st century we are facing the same old enemies: xenophobia, ethnic strife, and the king of ultimate hatred—racism.

The history of America teaches us an important lesson. In the unending quest for human rights against all kinds of discrimination and, above all racial discrimination, who were and still are in the forefront? - The educated. And it is easy to understand why.

As I have discussed elsewhere, education, not training, is the opening of a window on the world. It allows us to see who we are, where we have come from, where we are heading. It gives us a gulp of fresh air, even if one feels there is nothing left to breathe. It tells us something about ourselves that we did not know before. It strengthens our soul. It makes us feel responsible not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but for the whole world.

Typically, historians explain social cataclysms as wars between the rich and the poor. In my view, however, at the heart of too much social strife is the war between the educated and the ignorant. The event on the global scale, the wave of communist revolutions throughout the world, does confirm my point.

What were the revolting Russian peasants doing back in 1917-1918? They were burning books in the landlords’ houses. Vladimir Lenin was an ardent anti-intellectual. In 1921 he wrote to the famous writer, Maxim Gorkii: “You are saying that the intelligencia is the pearl of the nation, but they are shit.” The Chinese’s infamous cultural revolution was aimed at only one enemy: the educated. The Red Khmers in Cambodia were infamous for having literally exterminated the educated—doctors, engineers, and even university students. And, of course, the Nazis burned books...

These are the extreme examples of what an organized and armed ignorance can do to human civilization. In everyday life ignorance is not that dangerous, of course. But racial hatred among uneducated masses is, and since the beginning of time, was the immediate consequence of ignorance. And there is only one way to fight it—education.

If I am right, and I do believe I am, then we have not just one problem at hand, but two. I do not know which one is the more difficult nut to crack. Besides they are tightly interwoven.

We do already have a vicious cycle. African-Americans are not motivated to become educated, because of the racism of American society. No matter how good you are, the white man’s society will reject you. However, the African-American (as well as other minorities, who feel underprivileged) simply have no other option but to wage a massive educational revolution.

The second problem is, of course, lack of education in whites.  The poor state of education in America is on everybody’s tongues. However, it is not generally acknowledged that one particular consequence of the country’s extremely low educational level is racism.  Despite the fact that it has been moved to the fringes of American society as an un-concealed ideology, it still smolders among the millions.

Racism, in all its manifestations—including mistrust, mutual suspicions and accusations—will disappear as a dangerous social phenomenon only with a good education, perhaps excellent education. No education about racism or training (and re-training!) course can do this.  So-called diversity training makes no more sense than does prevention of sexual harassment training.  A two-hour class will not convince a white supremacist (who probably also hates the government and the whole social structure of law and responsibility) or someone who accepts cheap racist stereotypes that a black man, although different, is not in any way inferior.  In the same way, you cannot convince a male chauvinist who does not respect personality in a woman that women, although different, have the same rights and abilities that he has.

One of the evils usually blamed for the distress and nihilism of black youths is the lack of self-esteem. The revival of some traditions from ancient African culture is, probably, a necessary step toward raising self-confidence and cultural identity of the young African-Americans. However, the recent Africanization of the pop culture has very little to do with the ancient African culture. The latter was based on deep religious believes, rituals, and oral tradition. While the present pop culture stresses only the antagonism with the contemporary white-dominated society, and the resistance to true cultural advancement. The proliferation of rap, with its violent anti-societal lyrics, is a pronounced example of this trend. As for the epidemic of tattooing and body piercing, it reflects only the existential vacuum and nihilism of people, and has nothing to do, even remotely, with the ancient African culture.

In my view, the attempts of liberally minded people in America to get rid of racism in education by forcefully eliminating the disparity in the education of whites and blacks, were counterproductive and actually failed. Desegregation of schools—bussing inner-city children to suburban schools—has not raised the children’s level of education but, rather, has lowered the educational standards and capacity of suburban schools. Moreover, it has resulted in the increase of racial strife between both the children and adults of inner-cities and suburbs.

The response of many of those most concerned has been to abandon the public school system for a better education of their children whenever possible. As a result, in many school districts, the school system has become as segregated as the most segregated schools prior to the beginning of this fiasco.  In fact, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, “Three quarters of African-American student attend schools that are more than 50 percent black or Latino, while the average white student goes to a school that is 80 percent white, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Overall, schools are more segregated than they were in 1970.”

This desegregation has nothing in common with that America fought four in the 60s.  Then it was about restoring human dignity and freedom; now it is about a bureaucratic action having nothing to do with educational desegregation that would eliminate much of the disparity in American society.

In my view, instead of reinventing quasi-desegregation, the main emphasis should have been first placed on improving the predominantly black schools and raising their standards to a high enough level. As in any revolution, the educational revolution needs thousands of people willing to devote their lives to the common cause. This revolution will need thousands upon thousands of devoted black teachers.

Is it nave to expect and therefore impossible to achieve? I will again refer my reader to history. The educational revolution did occur in the Soviet Union within two or three decades after the communists took over in 1917. It was accomplished by the many thousands of idealistic men and women who went into remotest villages of the enormously vast Soviet Union to teach both children and adults. In today’s former Soviet Union, illiteracy is unheard of. As for education in general, in many respects today it is superior to what it is in America, although it has began to deteriorate, partly due to attempts to implement the worst features of the American educational system.

The educational revolution in the Soviet Union was necessary for the communists, not because they praised the culture or wanted to promote education. It was simply because the scale of ignorance and, as a result, the semi-animal existence of tens of millions of peasants (I address the reader to Anton Chechov’s short novel The Peasants) were monstrously inadequate, even for the social purposes of the totalitarian regime the communists wanted to create.

What I want to say is that hungry, barefooted Russia, destroyed by the devastating civil war, found resources, both material and human, to wage the educational revolution. Why cannot today’s America, the richest and the most powerful nation in the world, do the same? In spite of today’s tendency to decentralize education, I believe that undertaking this revolution in education on a national scale is impossible without a center, a heart and a brain.

Should it be the government? Probably not. Not only because the bureaucratic behemoth of today’s government has compromised itself by its inability to do a good job. The whites—and no matter how many cabinet secretaries in the government are from minorities, the government remains white—cannot do it. No matter how much the white enthusiasts would like to destroy the black ghettoes, they will not be able to do that. Simply because they are strangers; they are not trusted, and they do not know what direction to take. The blacks must do it themselves. If not they, then nobody can.

No matter how enormous that task seems to be, when people are full of determination to change the situation and put their energy and passion into that cause, they win. Here is one of the success stories, as told by the former Secretary of Education William Bennett in his book  (The Devaluation of America: The Fight for Our Culture and Our Children, 1992, p. 67):

One of the best is the public system in local District 4 in New York’s East Harlem. In the early 1970s, District 4 was an educational basket case. It ranked last in reading scores among the city’s thirty-two school districts. Then, under the leadership of superintendent Anthony Alvarado, the district allowed parents to choose for their children among a wide variety of newly restructured schools, each offering a particular instructional focus. In some instances, several mini schools were created within the same building. Before the choice program began, only 15 percent of the students in the district could read at grade level. Recent test scores show 64 percent at or above grade level in reading and 53 percent at or above grade level in math. According to William C. Myers of the Free Congress Foundation, the number of students from the district who qualified for admission to one of New York’s prestigious specialized high schools increased from ten to three hundred, and today 96 percent of East Harlem graduates are admitted to college.

A few more examples are given in W. Bennett’s book. Among them, the story of Joe Clark, “America’s most famous principal” that was the basis for the script of the movie Lean on Me. By the willpower and determination of one person, supported by the efforts of a few enthusiastic teachers, the destiny of hundreds of teenagers had been changed for good.

I am not in a position to say, “Hey, guys, why don’t you get together and decide how you are going to do it?” Should it be the NAACP or some other organization? Or, perhaps, a Council of African-American Athletic Stars (yet nonexistent) who will lead? But it must be a body the people will agree to listen to, will want to believe in, will entrust their lives and careers to.

It is true that the revolution will require enormous material resources—funds not only to pay thousands of new teachers, building and equipping new schools, but also to create a network of summer camps and boarding schools. The latter may be necessary to break the vicious cycle of inner-city ghettoes’ social reality.

Of course, a necessary condition for the minority schools to be able to dramatically raise their quality of education is good financing. Success will probably be impossible unless the federal government takes over the financing of schools—all schools. What I mean is financing the construction of new school buildings and their maintenance, providing the necessary funds to pay teachers and to pay for the necessary teaching equipment (computers, for example), paying for other expenses necessary for the teaching process be a success—such as field trips, excursions, for example. The schools will not lose their independence within their school districts, but all the schools will have equal opportunities to deliver the highest possible education to all children, irrespective of the wealth of the neighborhood. This idea may seem too revolutionary for today’s America. But, in fact, there is nothing revolutionary about it. To realize it, is just a matter of common sense. Nobody questions why Medicare—the program that provides the means for sustaining physical health to all retired Americans—is directed by the federal government. Why should not federal government provide the necessary means for sustaining conditions for intellectual, emotional and spiritual he "Sorry, m’am. We respect your voucher, but your kid cannot be transferred to our school. No, it is not discrimination. Your kid’s test scores are below the standards of our school, and we do not make exceptions...” —Harlem High, year 2050 standards of our school, and we do not make exceptions...” —Harlem High, year 2050 as are below the standards of our school, and we do not make exceptions...” —Harlem High, year 2050 xt-indent:.5in">I do not know what part of the enormous funds needed for the educational revolution can be raised by the African-American superstar athletes, movie and TV stars and businesses. The contribution of the government will probably have to be enormous. A special educational tax may be necessary. I am afraid it will be necessary, in any case, in order to significantly improve the whole American educational system. But, first of all, the African-American community, at some high enough level, has to make the decision.

Just imagine that on our 1040 tax forms the box “do you want to donate $3 to the Presidential election Fund” has been abolished, and instead, a new box appears: “Do you want to donate to the Educational Fund: $1, $3, $10, (other)?” This Fund could raise hundreds of millions of dollars, and would cost most Americans less than a six-pack of beer. I do firmly believe that perhaps millions of Americans would choose to fill in the other box with two or three digit donations.

I am afraid, and I think that many will agree with me, that so far the leaders of the African-American community have not given it the right direction. Heavy rhetoric is aimed against white racism and discrimination, against attempts to reduce the entitlements and the affirmative action. The radicals even insist on establishing some kind of reparations that the whites must pay to compensate for slavery. Against this background, sober voices really concerned with the future of the African-Americans are not heard at all.

At the same time, since the racial climate in today’s America has worsened in recent years, responsible people in both camps insistently call for dialogues—for intensive and constructive discussions of the racial problems in America. Dialogues and discussions are always helpful. But this call seems to be as nave as the “Just Say No” call to stop the epidemic drug use.

When people talk about dialogues they mean some kind of meeting, or exchange of opinions in the press or on TV. I believe that honest and competent people will organize and participate in such discussions. However, what about the millions of blacks who are bitter and disgruntled, and the millions of whites who not only do not trust the blacks but even hate them? How about the stereotypes—on both sides—that are being constantly reinforced by the ugly reality? Can discussions break this vicious cycle?

I do not believe they can, although again, it is important to be involved in dialogue. What I do think will be really helpful are discussions on how to bring about the cultural and educational revolution. Unlike the abstract discussions on how to “improve the racial climate,” “enhance mutual trust,” for example, these discussions should be like meetings of a military general staff: constructive discussions of options, strategies and distribution of roles among various units before the general assault.

In October 1995, something that could have become very important for the future of our society as a whole, and especially for the future of the African-American community, took place. I mean the “Million-Man March” in Washington DC, organized by the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan, famous for his bigotry and heavy anti-Semitic rhetoric, might have had as his main objective just to prove that he was the man who could make that unprecedented event happen. But both for the majority of blacks (72 percent) and whites (53 percent), this rally—the call for black self-help—looked as an important step toward the integration of our society. At that time, although the media was debating whether the wrong  (Farrrakhn’s reputation as a bigot) could be made right, everybody agreed unanimously that the ball was then in the court of the black communities. It was hoped that the local leaders, under the pressure of those hundreds of thousands of people having personally experienced the enthusiasm of that rally, would take the initiative in this process of self-healing. Together with millions of Americans I did believe then, and continued to hope that this would happen. It seemed then that the powerful Million-Man March might be the beginning of the revolution I have been discussing.

Unfortunately, nothing significant has happened since. The African-American establishment is not doing anything constructive in the right direction. The ideas of the Million-Man March are dead. Instead of a call for self-reliance and a breakthrough in education, the intellectual Left—by supporting extreme forms of Affirmative Action and other forms of Afro-centrism on American campuses—enhanced by anti-democratic (and, in my view, anti-constitutional) political correctness campaigns, has antagonized a significant segment of Americans. And the reality is even more ugly that it was before. School drop-outs among African-American youth is higher than before, and 25 percent of African-American males are either are behind bars or are in conflict with American criminal system.

Concluding this essay, let me explain something important. Every year, at Passover, all over the world and, of course throughout America, Jews gather at a seder, the solemn Passover meal. Passover commemorates the event in Jewish history that not only cemented the Jews into an unbreakable entity, but also shaped the whole future of the Jewish people. Of course, this event was the exodus of the Jews from Egypt in the 13th century BCE. Many times, during this Passover night, millions of voices throughout the world repeat the same words: “...because we were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt...” We the Jews once were slaves, and we remember that. That is why the Jews have always been in the forefront of struggle for human rights. The African-Americans in this country do not have an ally more reliable and more devoted to their cause than the Jews. It is very regrettable that today anti-Semitic sentiments are spreading among the African-American community. What is most regretful in this trend, however, is that African-American intellectuals (both university professors and students) are in the forefront of disseminating all kind of anti-Semitic accusations against Jews (like the accusation of Jews having been active slave traders).

In any war, it is unwise to reject the support of an ally. In the war to come—the revolutionary war against ignorance—the blacks will need not only all their spiritual energy, determination and integrity, but also all the possible help they can solicit. And, they do not have to solicit help from Jews. When the educational revolution I am talking about begins, the Jews will be there, giving all their knowledge, passion, and even lives.   

Nobody can know what the future has in store. But, if what I have been talking about is true, then the educational revolution in America is not just desirable, it is a must. I firmly believe that if it happens, within a generation or two, the educational level of both the whites and the African-Americans will have dramatically risen. Then the imaginary conversation of the epigraph to this essay will be an everyday reality. I do believe it will, but in order for this to happen, a lot must change in our society. But, first of all, that change must happen in our heads.

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