I saw them walking through Selma on Saturday night.
It was the weirdest thing. I had never seen so many Orthodox Jews in Selma before. They looked out of place walking toward the highway strip that is cluttered with chain hotels and fast food restaurants. It turns out what I was seeing was a group of Orthodox Jews who had come to Selma on a solidarity mission from DC:
“Traditional Jews refrain from carrying money, working on the Sabbath or driving—something that precipitated mile and a half walks to and from a Selma motel where they were staying.
Police provided security during the long walks in darkness and drew praise from walkers unfamiliar with the territory.
Herzfeld said the purpose of the group’s visit was to “educate ourselves about the civil rights movement” in the community where violent voting rights events became embarrassments for the town 52 years ago. …”
I regret that I didn’t stop to talk to them about their Selma experience. It had gotten too dark to snap photos and my battery was running low and I left Selma on Saturday night to return home to write about ‘civil rights icon’ John Lewis:
“It was that simple notion of voting that lingered anxiously in my mind this past Shabbat as I walked for hours through the streets of Selma, Alabama. I was on a Martin Luther King weekend solidarity mission organized by my friend Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who runs the modern Orthodox Ohev Shalom synagogue in Washington, D.C. A few months ago, at his Shabbat table, Herzfeld invited me join his community for the three-day journey to honor the civil rights movement. Having a teenage daughter who loves any idea that includes the words “social” and “justice,” I signed up for the adventure. …
But as we walked through streets with abandoned buildings and broken down homes, with one storefront after another peddling “pay day loans” and a boarded-up building with an old “Rite-Aid” sign, I couldn’t help thinking about the limits of Johnson’s “most powerful instrument ever devised by man.”
What good is the powerful freedom to vote if you’re living in a place that feels like an enormous prison with a Walmart? …
One of the few remaining Jews in Selma shared some candid thoughts with me about how Selma is often used by political leaders at all levels for “photo-opportunities”— to burnish their street cred for fighting for Black rights. …”
I would have loved to sit at that Shabbat table!
We could have had a real conversation about race. I would have been like, “so you came all the way from DC to visit Selma on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and after walking around town in The Current Year you learned the truth about Selma. How does it feel to have been lied to all these years by the fake news Lügenpresse?”
The Alt-Right can see it. The Shabbat group from Washington, DC sees it. Selma is a real place with real problems which in 1965 was transformed by the Lügenpresse into a symbol in a sacred Narrative. The sacred Narrative is a simple morality tale of good triumphing over evil. ‘Civil Rights Icon’ John Lewis was on the side of the saints and the martyrs who famously confronted Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Everyone knows that white supremacists were defeated in Selma and the Voting Rights Act was passed.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge isn’t a bridge anymore. It is a magic bridge. It has a deeper meaning. You could call it the social justice bridge. By coming to Selma and walking over the magic bridge, you are like a Medieval pilgrim on a journey of penance, in this case for the modern day sin of racism; that simple act makes you a ‘good person’. You are visiting a holy place of the Civil Rights Movement. Obama recently invoked Selma as a symbol of progress in his Farewell Address (i.e., “from Selma to Stonewall”), but the truth is that the entire story of Selma was fake news which our ancestors lacked the means to combat at a time when the mass media was consolidated in the hands of a few liberal television networks and major leftwing newspapers which had a Narrative to push.
The Narrative neglects to mention the fact that Selma’s segregated downtown commercial district was largely dominated by Jewish businessmen. They were the ones who owned all these decimated, abandoned stores that the Shabbat group saw in modern day Selma. ‘Civil Rights Icon’ John Lewis participated in boycotts that wrecked Selma’s economy. Year after year, John Lewis parachutes into Selma for the photo op on the magic bridge. As time goes on and a younger generations forget real history, his actions in Selma become more and more legendary. He is forever the Horatio on the Selma Bridge.
But it is not 1965 anymore. The Fake News Lügenpresse is furious that President-Elect Donald Trump slammed ‘civil rights icon’ John Lewis and told him to focus on violent crime, blight, burning racial tension and poverty in his own district. Lewis is said to have a “free pass.” He is said to be beyond criticism and reproach by the media. In reality, Selma desperately needs us to shake things up and take John Lewis down a peg or two. We need John Lewis to stop marching in Selma for prosperity can return to the city.
The sorry state of Selma in 2017 reveals the truth of what President-Elect Donald Trump has been saying. Thanks to decades of fake news from the Lügenpresse, Selma has been transformed from the ‘Queen City of the Black Belt’ into a desolate, crime-infested, racially polarized wasteland that its own residents are abandoning. The local economy has been destroyed by John Lewis’s marching. Blacks control every level of power in Selma and overwhelmingly voted for Obama twice and Hillary in this past election.
The Shabbat group from Washington, DC came to Selma and saw “a place that feels like an enormous prison with a Walmart.” We completely agree. That’s what we saw too and all the marching in the world by John Lewis isn’t going to do anything about the crime, the poverty, the blight, the despair and the lack of economic opportunity – the real problems of the 21st century – that the Lügenpresse is hiding from the public in Selma.