The Times of Israel has published a featured post, entitled “Do Black lives matter to Russian Jews?” written by Boris Khrichevsky, who is a teaching associate and researcher at the College of Education, University of Washington. (His shirt-tail bio explicitly notes a preference for “he/him/his,” so I hope no one will be offended if I comply.)
By my count, Khrichevsky’s post is 1,753 words long, which makes it about twice as long as the average blog post. That’s a lot to read, but you’ll be happy to know that I’ve done the work for you. Here is the earth-shattering, ground-breaking, jaw-dropping insight that Mr. Khrichevsky has uncovered and courageously revealed to all: there still is racism in the U.S.A. today. Wow! Hold the presses!
The foregoing does, of course, drip with sarcasm, but there is, I honestly believe, no other way to respond to what Khrichevsky has written. The truth is that, once you strip away all the hyperbole and obfuscation, the message of his post is just that: racism exists in the U.S.A. today.
Khrichevsky, who frequently resorts to academic jargon, would undoubtedly insist that there is “structural racism,” “persistent and overt racism,” “systemic oppression,”—all terms which he uses, apparently interchangeably, in his post. I’m sure, in his mind, those adjectives make a big difference. But in the minds of reasonable people, adjectives add nothing at all to the undeniable fact that racism does exist in the U.S.A.—as does antisemitism, Islamophobia, and many other varieties of hateful bigotry—and that we all need to do more to decrease its influence.
Human beings will never be perfect, so it’s likely that racism will never be entirely eliminated here or anywhere else in the world. Still, we need to strive to do better. But efforts to do better are not advanced by the exaggerated, ill-founded accusations that are the substance of Khrichevsky’s post.
As a person whose family emigrated from Russia to the U.S.A. when he was a youngster, he asks: “What happens when we recognize that the America we idealized, for which we uprooted our lives, lied to us?” The only implication here is that America somehow promised, before Russian Jews came here, that they would find a society perfectly free of any form of racism. When did America make such a promise? In fact, it never did.
Khrichevsky’s childish notions might have included an ideal America that would be perfect in every respect, but it is a sign of adulthood to realize that people and things we might previously have idealized—one’s parents or relatives or siblings, or one’s country—are not as perfect as we imagined them to be. Khrichevsky seems to still be struggling with that realization.
The great bulk of Khrichevsky’s very long post catalogues the kinds of injustice and oppression that characterized government in the Soviet Union. The implication we apparently are meant to draw is that there is great similarity between government in the U.S.A. and the government of the former Soviet Union. But similarity is in the eyes of the beholder, and Khrichevsky is, for all practical purposes, blind.
For example, he goes on for paragraphs about the lack of free speech in the Soviet Union and the samizdat system that was used to circumvent official censorship. And he makes these observations in a blog-post which is publicly available and which, he well knows, will result in no conceivable governmental action against him!
He rails against “systemic,” “structural,” and “persistent and overt” racism, which he likens to the widespread and semi-official bigotry that Jews suffered in the Soviet Union. But he essentially dismisses the fact that, from 2008 to 2016, the U.S.A. had a self-described Black president, and he doesn’t even notice that today a Black woman is running for vice-president.
He deplores the fact that “peaceful protestors” have been confronted and arrested by officers in military-style uniforms, but he does not acknowledge that persons he characterizes as “peaceful protestors” have included looters, arsonists, and people who have attacked law enforcement officers. Apparently, in Khrichevsky’s view, an ideal America would be one with no law-enforcement mechanisms at all. After all, the Soviet Union abused its law-enforcement apparatus, so (in Khrichevsky’s view) that means law-enforcement should be eliminated in the U.S.A.
I could go on, but I won’t. I’ve already written almost eight hundred words, and that is more than enough to establish that virtually all of what Khrichevsky has posted is a waste of electrons. And, who knows? Maybe if I keep this post very brief and concise, it too will be accorded “featured” status in the ToI.