Just people
Just people צילום: איסטוק

“You just don’t get it.”

So I was told in response to raising some facts and statistics that seem to run counter to the current left-wing narrative regarding race and oppression. In response to some honest questions about how non-conservatives view these data points, it was implied I was a racist for even asking.

“You support people who look like you,” and, “Why can't you understand that black lives matter just as much as every other life?”

That last comment is admittedly confusing, as I was also informed that “saying all lives matter is privileged, period.”

As for the questions themselves?

“I can’t answer those questions the way you phrased them.”

Apparently, it’s not enough to control the narrative; some folks need to control what you are allowed to ask, as well.

And then I saw this, from a black man, regarding attempts to “support” African-Americans:

“Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! …Your interference is doing him a positive injury…. of a piece with this attempt to prop up the negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice… the fault will not be yours, it will be His who made the negro. Let him live or die by that.”

But the author of those words died long ago. (You can tell by his using the banned word "negro.")

It was Fredrick Douglass, an escaped slave, active abolitionist, businessman, and author. The text is an excerpt from a speech he gave to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in April 1865. At the time, he was calling for blacks to be given the right to vote.

It turns out that Frederick Douglass was also the first African-American to receive a vote for president of the United States in a major party’s primaries. It was 1888 and the party was the Republican Party.

The first time that happened in the Democratic Party was just a wee bit later - in 1968.

There are very, very serious issues on the table - costing people's lives... Therefore, I believe we are obligated to consider what is true and what is false, what is conjecture and what is evidence, what is good and what is evil.
When Rutherford B. Hayes – also a Republican - was elected president in 1877, he appointed Douglass as United States Marshal for the District of Columbia. Douglass accepted.

So, not only did Republicans oppose slavery when Democrats supported it (not a single Republican owned a slave at the start of the US Civil War), for the most part they seem to have had no problem with black Americans holding office and voting.

This reality may explain Ambrose Bierce’s definition for “Negro” in his work, The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of cynical or humorous definitions he authored in the late 1800’s:

“NEGRO, n. The piece de resistance in the American political problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to build their equation thus: ‘Let n = the white man.’ This, however, appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.”

Was Bierce revealing his own prejudice or making fun of it in non-Republicans? I don’t know. He was, however, reflecting the popular assumption of his day: Republicans see African-Americans as equals – for good and for bad. Like any other.

I would argue that is still true today among the larger conservative ideological camp and, as a general rule, within the subset called Republicans.

If you accept this and you can accept Douglass’ approach, then you can understand your conservative friends and family a lot more – and stop implying they are racists.

There are very, very serious issues on the table - costing people's lives. I am sure we all agree on that. Therefore, I believe we are obligated to consider what is true and what is false, what is conjecture and what is evidence, what is good and what is evil.

How can we do that if all we say to one another is, "you don't get it" or "what I say is true, period," or we dismiss truth because of the identity of the speaker?

Rambam (Maimonides, the medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher) said something like, "Accept truth from whatever source it comes."

If we do not do so at this juncture, I believe, we run a very high risk of leading to yet more death and destruction, more oppression, more racism, more hate. Not less.

God forbid.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz is an experienced marketing and B2B copywriter, as well as an internationally published columnist and former opinion editor at Israel National News.com. Through NRK Consulting (nrk-online.com), Nissan provides writing and editing services to a broad range of large and small clients.