Hurt people hurt people.
And helping people feel good feels good.
(Both things are true.)
I mention this today, because unfortunately, I was proven right about something insidious, and we’re going to talk about it.
In the past two weeks, we also saw a cultural firestorm lit by my nemesis: Kyrie Irving.
As my family, (and Twitter,) can attest, for the past couple of years, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that the Brooklyn Nets point guard was probably Bipolar, certainly narcissistic, and happy to torch any NBA team dumb enough to pay him tens of millions of dollars.
I was shouted down by everyone, who insisted the Brooklyn Nets would win so many titles, it would be worth appeasing an asshole.
Fast-forward to 2022, and the Nets, (for whom I’ve rooted since I was a boy,) a team mired in decades of mostly-losing, temporarily became the most hated team on Earth.
After two years of drama that would make Kurt Sutter blush, only then did things amp up a notch.
Kyrie Irving, (who by now has caused numerous controversies since I first went public with my critique,) promoted a virulently antisemitic film playing on Amazon Prime, and then he doubled down on his transgression.
He refused to apologize, while he gave a massive cultural boost to dangerous, antisemitic theories, which denigrated Jews, and then smugly claimed, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” which was code for:
Black people are the real Jews, and therefore can’t be antisemitic, because the people claiming to be Jews are actually imposter slave-masters.
It’s not like it’s any crazier than theories about the Rapture, but that is one dangerous, hateful, insane ideology.
My man Kyrie has dogged the media for years, calling us pawns, and worse, so now that he came after me as Jew too, I went full boycott.
Fuck that guy.
(Though I did watch Wednesday night’s drubbing of the cross-town rival NY Knicks, because the Nets finally suspended Kyrie Irving.)
Antisemitism is everywhere now, unfortunately, but it felt really scary when I called out art for antisemitism, for the first time, last September.
I saw a painting by Raymond Johnson, at the UNM Art Museum, a characterization of a Jewish woman from 1919, and it set off a weird Spider Sense in my head.
(Not a good one.)
Suggesting that such an ancient prejudice might accidentally show up in the uber-liberal art world, under the cover of “we didn’t realize it,” seemed a bit of a reach.
A month later, I had the same feeling at the Art Institute of Chicago, from a David Hockney painting.
If you want to make fun of rich collectors, sure go ahead. But when you title the painting in such a way that is has a Jewish name associated, it becomes a trope.
And yet again, in March 2022, at the San Francisco Art Institute, I told you all about Diego Rivera using a “trope” in one of his murals.
He put the short, hook-nosed Jew at the literal center of a Capitalist cabal.
(Doesn’t get more trope-y than than.)
So now that Kanye has gone full Ye, Deathcon 3 to the Jews, and Kyrie went full bigot, do you believe me now?
Here’s the deal.
Hating people because of the color of their skin, religion, gender, choice of romantic partners, the pronoun with which they choose to be addressed…
All these forms of judgmental hatred are lame.
Israeli Jews shouldn’t hate Palestinians any more than some faction of Black Hebrew Israelites should hate American Jews.
It’s the most uncool thing a person can do.
This morning, trying to find some writing inspiration, I noticed a book on my shelf that I’d never truly considered. A book given to me in a swag-bag at a portfolio review years ago, (so it wasn’t an official submission,) and who knows why I haven’t reviewed it before?
“Gays in Military: Photographs and Interviews,” by Vincent Cianni, was published by Daylight, back in 2014.
It contains the requisite, well-written essays, and a host of interview material, but I’m not going to delve into that today. With this much to read, and the density of captured experience, I’d say it’s more a book to be picked up and experienced, bit by bit.
(It’s not a book for one sitting.)
Vincent photographed a series of men and women who were emotionally tortured, during their time as American soldiers, as warriors.
For being gay.
During the 1990’s, Bill Clinton, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell fiasco, countless gay Americans served, but had to keep their private lives secret.
Or for many, have no private lives at all. In order to do their jobs, so many people had to give up the right to privacy, to a partner, or to happiness.
That is some nasty-ass discrimination right there, and thankfully the policy was done away with.
Everyone photographed in this book suffered while protecting us. Think on that.
But policies improve, and sometimes, our lives improve, when times are good.
Let’s all do our part to battle intolerance, and discrimination.
In the words of those gentle philosophers, Bill and Ted:
Be Excellent to Each Other!