A Mural & A Swastika

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Hanging out with my brothers eventually leads to a discussion about basketball–specifically, about the Sacramento Kings. This weekend, when I was home for Rosh Hashanah, the case was no different. I don’t specifically remember the argument we were having, but I do recall my older brother finishing up his point by saying, “Let’s see what Sactown Royalty has to say about it.”

Sactown Royalty is our go-to blog for all things Kings. But when we jumped online to settle our argument, we were immediately stopped by another piece of news. Apparently, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, someone defaced a large mural of Omri Casspi in downtown Sacramento with a swastika on his forehead.

If we wrote about every time a swastika was graffiti-ed onto a synagogue or a Jewish tombstone in this country, we’d be a very different blog (and a much more depressing one). It just happens too often for us to really pay attention to.  So my reaction to the Casspi-swastika incident was not one of shock.

It might surprise you to hear this but as sad as it is to say, this incident has probably done more good than bad. I say this because the issue of anti-Semitism has been exposed to a group of people who normally aren’t exposed to it.

I’m not one of these paranoid guys who thinks that everyone is the world is secretly an anti-Semite and that any time there is the slightest criticism of Israel or a famous Jew, it is just the first step towards the next Holocaust. But while I have rarely experienced anti-Semitism in my life, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t.

Sactown Royalty has a strong community of readers and commentators. And I’m happy to say that the comments on the site over the incident have been of shock that someone in the Sacramento community could be so hateful and ignorant. But some others have argued that we shouldn’t be talking about the actions of one racist loon.

I’ll say this much. Sacramento is an awesome place. And its population is no more racist and anti-Semitic than any other town in America. But to say that I was surprised by this incident wouldn’t be true.

Here are two quick stories that aren’t meant to paint Sacramento as a haven for anti-Semites, but to remind the good people of Sacramento (and everywhere else) that while this may be somewhat isolated, it’s not a lone incident.

1) Growing up, I remember my Jewish school in Sacramento having incredibly tight security out of fear of anti-Semitism.  I want you to keep in mind that this is an elementary school. In other words, lids with guns was not the problem here.

2) My dad was a rabbi in Sacramento. I remember after his synagogue had to be evacuated after a bomb threat, we had undercover cops sitting outside my house to protect my family for a couple of days. I don’t remember being scared or anything, but it still is a strong memory in my mind 15 years later.

As I said, I think this incident will do more good than bad for the Sacramento community at exposing real anti-Semitism in this country. But let’s not pretend that this is the first (or going to be the last) time anti-Semitism will creep up in this country. But at least we have sports fan on our side now.

Posted on September 13, 2010

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