Commentary on BVA’s Open Letter to the Community

Michael Davis

Last February, BVA’s Open Letter to the Community encouraged the Latin student body “to listen to black voices like Alice Walker, who teach us that remaining silent about toxic systems is just as toxic as the systems themselves.” When considering that Alice Walker views the Jewish people as a toxic system, this point falls somewhat flat.

If a student took the BVA letter’s advice and looked her up on Google, they would find immediate proof of her anti-Semitic views. The first result directs the student to Alice Walker’s blog, where inside they could find a poem of hers containing lines such as:

“Simply follow the trail of “The Talmud” as its poison belatedly winds its way into our collective consciousness.”

“Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only that, but to enjoy it?”

“Are three year old (and a day) girls eligible for marriage and intercourse? Are young boys fair game for rape?”

(For those unaware, the Talmud represents the Jewish cultural laws. The second two lines are common misinterpretations of the document used to justify hatred towards the Jewish people.)

If the student then scrolled past her Wikipedia entry and clicked on the third link, entitled “Alice Walker, Answering Backlash, Praises Anti-Semitic Author” (New York Times), they would find Alice Walker double down on her praise of David Icke and his disgusting anti-Semitism. His book And the Truth Will Set You espouses ideas based on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a pamphlet used as a centerpiece of Nazi ideology and as a justification for the Holocaust.

There is no question that Alice Walker and her book, The Color Purple, represent an invaluable narrative in the African-American experience. But there is also no question that Alice Walker is an anti-Semite.

The normalization of such messages contributes to a growing problem in America. According the Anti-Defamation-League’s most recent report, anti-Semitic incidents surged by 60% in 2017 compared to 2016, the highest single-year rise in the ADL’s almost 40 years of measurement. In the infamous Charleston march of 2017, anti-Semitism walked along racism and homophobia; participants shouted “sieg heil,” waved flags emblazoned with swastikas, and chanted “Jews will not replace us.” In Pittsburgh last October, 11 Jews were murdered while celebrating Shabbat.

I understand, however, that these problems may feel far removed from reality. So, walk with the Jewish people into our synagogues and temples for the high holidays. Walk with us through security perimeters and metal detectors and countless police officers just to allow the Jewish people to pray in peace. No, Jews are not as marginalized as other minority groups. But oppression does not happen in isolation. A rise in anti-Semitism, is, at its root, a rise in hatred. And a rise in hatred is a secular concern.

Correction: This article was originally said to have been written by senior and co-editor-in-chief Olivia Baker. It is written by senior Michael Davis.