Does Google really understand racism?

6 June 2021

9:45 AM

6 June 2021

9:45 AM

Opponents of the new racial extremism typically object that it vilifies white people in much the same way that classical racism does black people or other minorities. While this ideology does retail racist theories about white people (collective racial privilege, heritable racial guilt), when progressives want to get really racist, they invariably turn to another target: Jews.

Kamau Bobb was, until a few days ago, Google’s head of diversity strategy. The Washington Free Beacon uncovered a blog Bobb penned in 2007 in response to Israeli actions against Hamas in Gaza. It wasn’t your standard progressive plea for Israel to stop making such a fuss and let those nice Islamists drive it into the sea. This was, going by the Beacon’s reporting, eye-popping stuff:

If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself. Self defense is undoubtedly an instinct, but I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering [of] others.

Bobb is said to have further mused:

If I were a Jew today, my sensibilities would be tormented. I would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the long cycles of oppression that Jewish people have endured and the insatiable appetite for vengeful violence that Israel, my homeland, has now acquired.

Writing as he was on the anniversary of Kristallnacht — naturally — Bobb reportedly gave the Jews some tips on what to learn from their persecution in Europe:

My reflections on Kristallnacht would lead me to feel that these are precisely the human sentiments that I as Jew would understand; that I ought to understand and feel compelled to help alleviate. It cannot be that the sum total of a history of suffering and slaughter places such a premium on my identity that I would be willing to damn others in defense of it.

The Holocaust was not an educational programme; it was the worst crime in human history. Jews were not murdered to make their grandchildren better people; they were murdered in the hopes that their grandchildren would never be.

Shoah-scolding has become a common feature of progressive demonisation of Israel and of Jews in general, and while its practitioners believe they are enlightened humanitarians, their logic, stated plainly, is: why didn’t the Jews learn the lessons Hitler taught them?

Bobb is no longer Google’s head of diversity, not because he has been fired but because, in response to finding out he has a problem with the old anti-Semitism, Google reassigned him elsewhere in the company. Now, I’m not suggesting Google ought to have dismissed Bobb altogether — it’s not as though he did something truly heinous like write a memo — but its disparate responses to racism are telling.

Last summer’s protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s killing saw Google issue a 1,700-word statement about racism and pledge millions of spending within the company and in donations to outside groups. Yet Google has hitherto been silent on rising anti-Semitism and street violence against Jews in the United States and elsewhere. In Big Tech, as in the mainstream media, as on university campuses, racism is seen as something other than anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism as something other than racism.

Speaking of the campus, it is not coincidental that, according to the Beacon, Bobb penned this blog while he was a research associate at a leading university. It’s so much easier to be an anti-Semite on a university campus because on a university campus anti-Semitism is more commonly referred to as ‘the required reading list’.

All this is depressingly familiar from the Labour anti-Semitism scandal. But while British anti-Semites were kept out of power in 2017 and 2019, their US counterparts are more powerful because, even in the space of just a few years, the American consensus against anti-Semitism has crumbled in both main political parties and beyond. As with the Labour party, those who should have known better, not least in the Democrats, have ratcheted down their commitment to fighting Jew-hatred for reasons of party management, conflict-avoidance and white-hot terror of the fanatical grassroots. The Democrats’ problem is particularly dangerous because, even more so than Labour in Britain, as goes the Democrat party, so goes much of blue-state and national civil society.

If I were a Jew, I would wonder why progressives can discern racism in almost anything except anti-Semitism. If I were a Jew, I would ask how badly Jews in New York have to be beaten up, or how many ‘rape their daughters’ convoys have to drive through London, or how many rockets have to rain down on children in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Sderot before progressives understand that anti-Semitism is not caused by settlements or checkpoints or the absence of a Palestinian state but simply racism. If I were a Jew, when their belated and equivocal statements about anti-Semitism eventually come, I would tell these people to go to hell.

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