The black community is reeling from the spate of attacks against major black officeholders. The Republicans are seeking to destroy the first black president, Barack Obama, and prevent his re-election by denying him any political successes.
Every day, Republicans show evidence of having become the party of “no.” I do not believe the Republicans’ attacks are in any way related to the president’s race, but rather his philosophy and programs.
However, the frequency and intensity of such attacks and the Republicans’ failure to work with Democrats on virtually all matters is intolerable. It may be due to the high regard which the public still maintains for President Obama, notwithstanding polls rejecting his comprehensive health insurance.
The media has reported that there is anxiety and shame in the African-American community resulting from corruption and ethics allegations, especially in New York, directed against Gov. David Paterson, Congressman Charles Rangel, Congressman Gregory Meeks and State Sen. Malcolm Smith.
Understandably, many in the African-American community feel the necessity of rallying around these officials simply on the basis of racial solidarity. They are wrong to do so, whereas earlier in our history and not so long ago, their reaction would have been understandable because of the discrimination that was so overt and prevalent.
No ethnic, religious, racial, or other community is responsible for the misdeeds of individual members of that community. And no individuals are responsible for the failures of entire institutions.
A Catholic parishioner is not responsible for the admitted failures of the Catholic Church to control and punish clergy who molested children.
Jews, and I am one of them, are not responsible for other Jews like former Governor Eliot Spitzer who was compelled to resign in disgrace and Bernie Madoff, who is now in prison for defrauding mostly other Jews and swindling them out of their assets in the largest Ponzi scheme ever detected.
Notwithstanding that we are not our brothers’ keepers, it is understandable that we are uncomfortable in these situations.
Nonetheless, we should stay level-headed and use our common sense and, instead of rallying around those who betray our trust out of community loyalty, we should engage in appropriate criticism of wrongdoers.
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