Obama Introspection

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In the wake of Barack Obama’s victory, there’s been quite a bit of laudable introspection on behalf of the Jewish community — and particularly the Orthodox community — about lingering racism.

Dr. Elliot Prager, the principal of Morah, an Orthodox day school in New Jersey, wrote a beautiful and bold letter to parents lamenting the disturbing comments he heard from some of his young students.

Now come similar words from Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, the President of the Toronto Bais Din. On Cross-Currents, Rabbi Tradburks writes:

There is a tendency, I believe, in our world to paint the world in the paradigms of Yaakov and Esav – good versus evil. But we often paint the wrong people with the Esav label.

There are Esavs in the world. There are people who display principles and attitudes that are dark and evil. Arafat, Hamas, Hizbulla, Aryan Nation, Ahmenidijad.

But Obama is not one of them. He is an intelligent, liberal thinking man of integrity and great rhetorical ability. You may not like his attitudes or his platform. But that is a discussion in the realm of ideas not in the realm of good and evil. He is a good man, a man who wants good. (MORE)

Unfortunately, Rabbi Tradburks makes his case for Obama — and against baseless hatred — by invoking another culturally prejudiced stereotype.

The moral of the story according to Rabbi Tradburks: “We should not become Jewish rednecks.”


Posted on November 17, 2008

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11 thoughts on “Obama Introspection

  1. clara1

    Obama is not black, he is bi-racial–white mother and black father (from Africa). He’s the man for all the people.

  2. Jordanna Birnbaum

    I’m happy you brought this very interesting and pressing issue to light. Just this past weekend I was at a shalom zachor, when a discussion turned political. Unfortunately, there was no debate over issues or policies but instead blatant racist remarks were exchanged against Barack Obama. I realized that many people had used the “Israel issue” as a cover. Many of these people simply did not vote for Obama because he was black. It saddened me that even Jewish people who have themselves been sterotyped, degraded and oppressed throughout history spoke with with such an unforgiving and unjust tongue.

  3. Jordanna Birnbaum

    I meant that they did not vote for him because of their perception that he was black. They were not thinking that he is biracial when they made their comments about him.

  4. Jaiart

    Clara1, I am glad that you both like and voted for Barack Obama, but make no mistake. He is a black man. I find it interesting the way you wrote that he is not black…he is a candidate for all people. Is that to say that if you viewed him as a black man which he is, that would mean that he was not a candidate for…?

    I have never heard it said that a white politician was not white, but a candidate for… As if to say that white politicians can govern with the greater good in mind but not black politicians. Was that what you needed to believe in order to vote for him? As if to say that his “good” white genes will overrule his “bad” black genes?

    He even self identifies as a black man so who are you to say otherwise?

    Here are the facts, President Elect Barack Hussien (sp) Obama is a black man and he is the next President of The United States of America, Hail to the Chief!

  5. Ezekah

    Is it possible to criticize Obama without being called a racist?

    I saw an interesting cartoon last weekend about this subject. The first panel said that a majority of whites voted against Obama because of his skin color. The second panel that a majority of blacks voted for Obama because of his policies. I found this to be true. The news media never seems to mention white people that voted against Obama because of his policies or black people that voted for Obama because of his skin color.

  6. The Doctor

    Obama is a black man because he identifies himself as a black man. Regardless of residual Confederate era policies that define black as containing 1/8 black blood [or similar nazi laws defining who’s a jew] in this situation where he comes from a biracial marriage, he has chosen to identify himself in a particular way and I respect his choice.

    Regarding the racist business, it is possible to criticise Obama without being a racist. It is not possible to refer to him as “that one” or to lead rallies where crowds chant “kill him” and then call a black person who is present “boy” without raising the concern of racism.

    Not all criticism of Obama is racism, just as not all criticism of Israel is antisemitism. But some of it is.

    And regardless of saying “the news media never does xxx” in my experience the news media does look at all aspects of things. It’s only when media is selectively quoted to claim bias that this appears. I have seen the Washington Post [which I read daily and which is a favorite whipping boy of the right] quote white people who disagree with Obama’s policies [George Will, anyone?] and blacks who voted based on identity. Even the Palin people who voted for her regardless of her policies only because she has a pair of x chromosomes got their time in the sun.

  7. clara1


    I have black blood of which I am proud (however I have blond hair, blue eyes, and dead white skin–I pass for white). I am melungeon–you can look it up on the internet if you wish.

    I am sick of hearing whites saying that a drop of black blood makes someone black–it makes them bi-racial. My cousin has a bi-racial child and she identifies herself as bi-racial. I am really multi-racial.

    Whether Obama is full black, bi-racial, muslim, or whatever, he is a candidate for all the people. By the way my best friend is a black woman; I love her dearly, not because of her color but who she is. But being black helped make her the kind person she is and she has been discriminated against. She, I, and a white friend of hers went to Kentucky to the quilt show. After Atlanta, when we went into restrants, us two white ladies would be asked, “a table for two.” People watched us and it was scary (that was in the early 90s). The bus boys were all black and I mentioned this to her and she said that at least they had jobs.

    I don’t think I am prejudiced except against white supremest and living in TN.

    I think that Obama is so intelligent and his interaction with his family is heart warming. And I think he has picked a good bunch of people to work with him.



  8. clara1

    I’m sorry that my statement about Obama was misunderstood. I believe that his policies can make a difference. I do worry about his being protected. In the area I live in, there are a lot of people who hate him and hope the KKK will get him.

    I had one woman who is only five years older than me say that he will be killed like the other black man (Martin Luther King). I told her that things had changed and hopefully things like that wouldn’t happen again. She didn’t talk to me any more.

    There is a Nigger town in Sweetwater, TN. I have never heard the word Nigger so much in all my life as since I’ve live here. When I treat a black person as a human, they seem so greatful that it hurts that this still goes on. But, I’m a Kike so what can I say.

  9. The Doctor


    When I am confronted with one of those stupid forms that requires me to identify my “race” I frequently will write in “human.”

    BTW it’s only been about 100 years that we’ve been confronted with this stupid “caucasian/black/oriental/aborigine” racial categorization. Prior to that there were hundreds of “races” ranging from Irish to German to Japanese —consider the stupidity of defining an inter-racial marriage under those terms!

    And for the record, the National Cancer Registry, administered by the American College of Surgeons, requires us docs to report demographic data on all cancer patients for research purposes. We must classify patients as one of the following: white, african, latino, or Vietnamese. Go figure.

  10. Ezekah

    [The Doctor]When I am confronted with one of those stupid forms that requires me to identify my “race” I frequently will write in “human.”

    Ugh, I despise those stupid forms. I refuse to fill them out. Some paper pushers get so upset that I don’t fill out that “voluntary” form. I just circle the word “voluntary” and send it back!

    The election is over. That man is now OUR president, the president of ALL Americans. His skin color, religion, or hair style is now irrelevant. I will give him his honeymoon period and then we will see.

  11. clara1

    When i fill out forms, I mark all the spaces. At one school I am on their files as black. I was asked if I wanted this changed and I said no. I also write in multi-racial (which I am). Why some of my people came from Turkey (not the Thanksgivng kind) and other semitic bloods as well as white and American Indian.


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