Social media is exploding with videos of seemingly random people demonstrating the worst of America. A few weeks ago, it was a tech CEO directing his hate towards an Asian family in a California restaurant for example. He was canceled as they say and forced to resign from his own company. Lately, it’s the anti-mask folks – causing scenes in stores and restaurants – and being caught on video doing so. The posters often say, “Twitter, do your thing.” And by now, we know what that thing is – publicly name and shame the offender.
We’ve seen a widespread movement in recent years to remove the confederate flag and monuments to confederate leaders and those who were proponents of slavery. Right here in Minneapolis, we have witnessed the renaming of Lake Calhoun for example. And after the murder of George Floyd, we witnessed dozens of statues across the country being torn down – including one of Christopher Columbus at the Minnesota State Capital.
But there is something else going on and very few people want to talk about it. When they do talk about it, it quickly disappears from the news cycle. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m talking about celebrities and athletes and a pattern of anti-Semitic language that goes mostly unchecked. I’ll be honest – I’m pissed off. And I hope you are too.
Mel Gibson continues to find work as an actor and director, and his history of Anti-Semitic language (and racism, sexism, and homophobia) is well documented.
In June of this year, rapper/actor Ice Cube posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets that filled the feeds of his 5.4 million followers. He continues to defend himself and to post more. Ice Cube is still in business and will inevitably appear on the Grammys or he’ll host SNL or maybe he’ll get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Oh…nevermind; he already has one.
Last month, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted a quote he (incorrectly) attributed to Hitler and went on a rant about Jewish world domination. The Eagles, who have a Jewish owner, issued a statement but no punishment. DeSean Jackson is still on the team. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson (no relation) who weeks earlier was hailed as a voice of reason after George Floyd’s murder, backed those statements by DeSean Jackson. Former NFL player, Larry Johnson, has been tweeting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as well. These are just three examples of what seems like a larger problem in professional sports. And no one wants to talk about it.
And then earlier this month week, Oakland A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson clearly threw up a Sieg Heil not once, but twice, in the dugout during a game. His apology was deemed sufficient. In it, he said he “blacked out” and didn’t realize it was offensive. Christenson did not face any consequences. I’ll tell you this – he’s lucky the A’s won’t be playing in Yankee Stadium this year.
There is one person who has used his platform to call out Hollywood and the world of sports – none other than NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In his July 14 Hollywood Reporter column he asks, “Where is the outrage over Anti-Semitism in sports and in Hollywood?”
Thank G-d for Kareem, who has always been one of the most intelligent and compassionate voices in sports. But guess what happened? Ice Cube fired back at Kareem with more anti-Semitism and the column quickly faded away.
The thing is that Ice Cube won’t be getting any statues or schools named after him. There is someone, though, who already has all kinds of things with his name on it, someone who is one the worst American anti-Semites of the 20th century. His name is Charles Lindbergh.
Charles Lindbergh is best known for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. That was 1927 and for many years afterward, Lindbergh was a bona fide American hero. Along with Babe Ruth, he might have been the most famous man in America after taking that historic flight. Some argue that our fascination with celebrity began with Charles Lindbergh. The Christopher Columbus statue was torn down at the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul, but the one of Lindbergh still stands. In Hopkins/Minnetonka, the Lindbergh Community Center sits on Lindbergh Drive – and is in earshot of the Adath Jeshurun synagogue. With my third kid at Gan Shelanu, I have driven on that road and past that building hundreds of times.
There’s only one problem: Lindbergh deserves none of it. Lindbergh became fascinated with Germany and German innovation. He took several trips to Germany in the 1930s and was awarded the Service Cross of the German Eagle by Hermann Goering in 1938. He refused to apologize for that medal or for befriending those who gave it to him. He became one of the most vocal and certainly the most prominent opponent of American involvement in the conflict – even though by then, the Holocaust was already underway. He spent much of his time giving speeches both in person and on the radio arguing for American isolationism. He called out Jewish-run newspapers, Jews themselves, the British, and the Roosevelt administration for pushing the United States into a war with Germany. Lindbergh had a penchant for eugenics and made several statements about the importance of the white race and European blood. By most accounts, Lindbergh was spewing the same ideals as Nazi Germany.
So I’m pissed off and I want to do something about it. There is no place for monuments to such a despicable man – and a man who unlike Columbus, walked this Earth just several decades ago. We know too much about him. We have his own words documented in print, on film, and on tape. If anyone deserves to be canceled, it’s Minnesota’s own, Charles A. Lindbergh.
Call me crazy, but I’m going to cancel Lindbergh in our own backyard. Who’s with me?