How I Belatedly Learned Right & Left
One day, maybe a month ago, I noticed that my new socks came with letters. Letters from the alphabet. Well, only two letters, actually. One of them I at first believed to be a symbol for the corner of something — the kind of thing you see on your screen when you carelessly press a wrong key on a remote part of the keyboard.
But then on the partner sock there was a different symbol — not a symbol but really an “R” — the letter “R”! At once I deduced that the symbol on the first sock was an “L.” In this way “They” were telling me that, you guessed it, one sock was designed to be worn on one particular foot, the other on the remaining foot. “Whew,” I congratulated myself, I’d done a good morning’s work.
But how did I even know the difference between a right sock — or a right lane or turn, or right hand — and its left counterpart? How did I know which hand was my right hand? Wasn’t I supposed to know which was left and which right by feel?
But didn’t this, for some unexplained reason, have something-or-other to do with the American Revolution, or maybe, at least, with Benjamin Franklin and his key up in the lightning storm and his intuitive proclamation about which way electric current flowed, which I believed meant left to right — which confused me even more because I didn’t know which was left or right…
But somehow it began to dawn on me, maybe knowing left and right wasn’t political at all… and instead, to get at today’s Truth I had to go back, fade way back, deep into my own history…
What Else I Didn’t (or maybe did?) Learn in Queens
In 1951 my parents bought the first car they actually owned since I, for my part, emerged from the womb and put my lungs to use. It was a brand-new “Deluxe” Chevrolet1 with automatic transmission to make it easier for my mother to learn to drive — and thus to relieve my father on a coast-to-coast trip to California.
Previously, the only car I was familiar with really belonged to Mr. Cullenin, my father’s silent partner at Bonita Bra. Or maybe Mr. Cullenin had discarded the car, a serviceable maroon Oldsmobile, having acquired a fancier. My understanding is that Mr. Cullenin supplied the money to establish this women’s undergarment factory while my father designed the products — bras and girdles — and managed the workers, with whom he was very popular. Watching him, perhaps I became prejudiced in favor of those who carried out the work, ran the machines and produced the goods — as opposed to those who profited, often cruelly, from the workers’ efforts.
Outside the factory, on the street, on the driver’s side of the Oldsmobile (was this the right side or the left? — I wasn’t equipped to say!) at a spot below where you could crank the window till it disappeared inside the door, there was a bronze-colored little oval with initials that weren’t ours: “RC” To me that oval was a reminder of the tentativeness of our status in this city of eight million: the car wasn’t owned by us and could be taken away at any point when the mysterious laws of this universe so chose.
Still, weren’t we better off than the workers who had the use of no cars and took home a wage that covered only what they needed to survive — and to rear the next generation of workers — though their hours at labor created far greater value?2
Mr. Cullenin occasionally sat in an enclosed front office, insulated from the ranks of workers at their machines, behind a mahogany desk and beneath a big swordfish plaque. I had assumed this was a real fish that Mr. C. had caught, though its wood-like appearance told my brain there was a contradiction, something to be learned here. But to speak true I’m not altogether sure, in spite of these memory-images, that I’d ever even met this Mr. C.
So, I suppose this means I came from a petit-bourgeois background — and experienced what Lenin characterized as an unreliable petty-bourgeois revolutionariness (which he distrusted but still managed to use effectively). Even Mr. C. wasn’t much of a capitalist: but enough that when in 1951 he wanted to sell the business my father had to let it go — he didn’t have the money.3
So in this way Mr. C. — this small capitalist — precipitated
- our trip to California,
- the purchase of the first car that my parents actually owned,
- and my total confusion about right and left! (See below.)
The Bonita Bra factory, on the second floor of a five-story building on East 21st Street, had three or four rows of Singer sewing machines, maybe a total of 70, all operated (as far as I can remember) by women. My father was a whiz at these Singers; I can picture him demonstrating a stitch or a feature to a “new girl.”
They sold a lot of bras to Sears. For example, on our 1951 California trip Dad went into a Sears store in Mitchell, South Dakota4 and found last year’s Chanteuse Form-Fit model Bonita Bra in a 34 double D, rather on the racy side for those days…
On this same trip, somewhere between Mitchell and Wall, South Dakota, Dad told us a story of his own trip out West as a young man, in 1935, a year before he and my mother married. At that time he was traveling with Frank Wallman — partner in an Upper East Side linoleum store with my father’s best friend Sidney Price, a.k.a. “Pinya.” And it sounded like one of my aunts was along.
I wasn’t sharp enough to pursue the nature of Frank’s connection with, like, a girl — a bona fide member of the opposite gender! But Dad’s story had to do rather with the nature of the Great Plains water. According to the story, Dad — in pretend or real shock — had “spritzed” the mineral-laden terrible-tasting water out of his mouth — and it made a hole in Frank’s shoe!!
I actually met this Frank once, in his lonely later years, but failed to carefully check his shoes.
I remember we spent a couple of days in the tiny town of Kadoka, South Dakota, I don’t know why, but it was long enough for me, 7, to nearly complete defeating Susan, 10, in a game of Monopoly that luckily we’d brought along.
Did I inherit business-sense from my father? Or was it just my ability to focus so totally on the game in hand to the exclusion of all else? Was I contemptuous of the monopolist even while becoming a game-version of one? Well, I had learned to be a good sport so that others would not fear to play with me. Though before that, at 3, when I’d actually lost, I was said to have hit Susan on the head with the folding checkerboard.
But isn’t this about knowing right and left and how I learned to tell one from the other? Let’s get back to that question, and how it played out on our family’s cross-country trip.
Well, Clue Number 1: you need to know that until I was seven my father was the only driver in the family. Then in September 1951 we made the big two-month trip to California. Was there a ‘Why?’ My parents thought they (“we”? Did we ever buy into this idea?) would sell our home in Queens and move to California (!!).
Never happened. Many others made precisely that move but not us. There were two stories, more like myths, to explain this failure.
- One, Southern California was, according to my disappointed and ordinarily unpretentious parents, a “cultural wilderness.” At the time I thought this translated to “There was no equivalent to the New York Philharmonic and almost no theatre.” Maybe it also meant the left-wing political scene wasn’t very developed…?
- The second story was that my father, who tried out a job near Riverside for a month, could make only one-quarter what he was making in New York.
In any case, a side-effect of their California plan was that our mother learned to drive (Clue Number 2). And it must have been a little daunting to her when my sister and I sighed with frustration and impatience whenever it was time for her shift at the wheel, when we kept pushing her to drive faster. We were little underminers.
At the same time my mother had to deal with not only us but with the declining sun in her eyes — for that’s when Dad, each day, thoughtfully stopped the car and turned the wheel over to her.
But in the most dramatic episode — in Yellowstone Park — Susan complained so much about Mom’s driving that she was put out of the car. We drove off, as though Susan were being abandoned to the hungry bears. But it was daytime and the bears were napping and we collected a steaming but somewhat chastened Susan a few minutes later. Susan, unlike me, wasn’t scared of anything.
Okay, but here’s the key: Up until that trip, “Right” meant simply the side of the car in which sat my mother. “Left” meant my father’s side. But now, with my mother driving I wasn’t sure which side she was on. Was her “Rightness” portable, like cell phone numbers nowadays? Or was the “Leftness” of where the driver was sitting — either driver — primary? To be sure, the steering wheel itself remained on the left side of the car, but what exactly did this betoken? We already had a problem understanding the clock-change to Daylight and back to Standard time.
Naturally (as I think) I was confused about Right and Left for another year or more — maybe even till I was 12… That other kids my age already had it squared away used to amaze and embarrass me. I dread to think what extended confusion would have resulted in these years had we traveled in England, where even the steering wheel seemed to have no certain location…
Fast forward — starting from Dad in South Dakota, 1935: 16 years to our 1951 California trip, then 17 more to 1968. July 4th. My friend Al and I, plus his friend Ted, whom I’d not met before and wouldn’t meet again, are at Aqueduct not so much to celebrate our love of country but rather to watch the Suburban Handicap and the rivalry between thoroughbreds Damascus and Dr. Fager.
By this time, while I was an expert at left and right, these weren’t directions that adequately described the movements of the horses. Sometimes they were running left to right, like at the start and finish, but sometimes right to left, as when they entered the backstretch. There was something more for me to learn here: Their route was neither right nor left but — as horseracing people all know — counterclockwise.
I didn’t bet but I believe Ted made a bet on Damascus. However much he lost, how meaningless it proved to be compared to losing his life two years later in the Greenwich Village Town House Explosion. It is believed Ted was not in the sub-basement, where the courageous, misguided but in any case tragically bumbling Weather Underground women were trying to make a bomb; he was just coming in the front door. Sadly it’s hard to always know what’s right or best in the chaos of real life. This was a kind of counterclockwise movement of the New Left…
Because of that July 4th at Aqueduct, did it feel like I was close to these events and their ugly outcomes? No: too relaxed and too lazy; as though laziness and stupidity had the power to protect me…
Nevertheless, whatever my limitations, I’d learned a powerful political meaning of left and right that has stuck with me in the ensuing sixty years. Right-Wing meant “Reactionary,” according to my parents — said of a person that wanted to “turn the clock back.” Naturally that would have to be counterclockwise. Nowadays people on the Right are called Conservatives. Left was the side I identified with — the side of what I considered ‘progress.’
While I am aware that in most daily use, right- and left-hand have no political meaning, in a hotel I find that I feel more comfortable taking the left-side towels and leaving those on the right for my partner. If I wind up with the right-side towels I experience a feeling like mild shame…
Back up now 8 years, from 1968 to Spring 1960: Jamaica High School with its award-grasping, racist principal Louis Shucker.
First of all, it should be stated unambiguously, unequivocally and at once that KeSSeLabs, the chemicals and apparatus company I had founded in 1959, had no connection with the tragic Town House event.
It’s true that our premier KeSSeLabs customer Mad George Cole threw a pound of pure sodium — it had been packed in what looked like a canister of tennis balls — into Jamaica High’s beautiful Goose Pond and created a noteworthy spectacle…
It was rumored that the FBI had staked out Goose Pond in the hopes of apprehending a certain Civil Rights activist but this was never confirmed.5 George claimed that no one prosecuted or even approached him, left-handed as he was, in regard to the Sodium Spectacle.
Of course those were calmer times. And in those pre-New Left years, I was Captain of the Math Team, and one day I was proposed as a third-party candidate for student org president. The force behind this endeavor to shake the dominance of the established parties — themselves dominated by mysterious fraternities — came from the Math Team crowd, which was in turn energized by a little, non-mainstream Pete Seeger-folksinging crowd.
Though I sensed I was a mere figurehead in this quixotic attempt, I prepared a tight campaign speech for the delegates who would select the nominee of the Red and Blue party. When I got into the room where the delegates were sitting it was still more clear that the process’s outcome was a foregone conclusion: Even though my sponsors thought I was the only Math Teamer who could “pass,” I was still too academic, nerdish and uncool for this election. I certainly was not a member of what was considered the popular crowd.
A woman teacher directed me to a seat, as it happened, on the left side of the room. Fifteen nervous minutes later I heard mainstream candidate Steve G.’s speech.6 And then I had an opportunity to deliver my own speech.
I knew I was a minority: Of the 60 votes I expected 6 or 8.
But against Steve’s 40 I received 20 — far better than I’d imagined. So there was a lot more (unharnessed) discontent lying around…
By my twelfth-grade American history class I came out as decidedly of the Left. We had been studying slavery, the Civil War and the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. One day Mrs. Gottlieb asked us, how many thought the United States was mainly democratic, and then, afterward, how many mainly undemocratic? I raised my (left) hand for undemocratic. My friend Mike Borah exclaimed “All the girls and Jerry!” So perhaps this was when I made public my identification with the Left …
This buddy Mike and my “archrival” Pierre (nowadays a good friend) were on the Conservative end and as we walked to school we argued. Pierre was elected Vice President, on the Steve G. ticket. I believed that he supported the “fraternity-mafia” control of school elections (as I imagined it) until just this past Fall, when he told me that actually he was the anti-fraternity candidate…. But on these walks it was my Chinese-American (left-handed) friend Gerry, easily the best athlete of us all, and Daniel7 till he went back to France, who held up the Left end.
What Kind of Left?
But shouldn’t I be putting all these political bits in a separate Tirade or essay? Aren’t they kind of taking over the story? Can’t we get back to the quirky left- and right-side story that gets into driving and my father’s design and production of women’s undergarments and a monopoly game in South Dakota in 1951 and a Deluxe Chevrolet?
Okay, back to Jamaica High.
Our walk-to-school group later added a militant right-wing element. John Seel’s house was on the way and John was one of the three other ‘board members’ of KeSSeLabs, the chemical and apparatus retailing company that I’d founded; John was the first S; I was the K.8
John was engaged in guns and hunting and kept Brandy Alexanders in his freezer, but it was a year or two before I connected the dots. He was also on the Rifle Team, but as it turned out, so were the other two members of my company.
Not many years later John’s young life sadly ended outside Da Nang, in a fragging episode gone awry. A soldier had targeted a lieutenant who’d denied him a weekend’s R&R in Thailand or Singapore, relying on a bomb that would explode when the lieutenant opened his locker. The lieutenant would have died instead of John if intentions determined outcomes. Think of poor Ted Gold’s intentions as he crossed the threshold of that Town House… And years later this lieutenant was still alive and still able to keep denying others’ requests because he’d been too lazy to get up and had sent John to get the cigarettes from his locker… John believed in the official, government-sanctioned view of the war. Already a Dartmouth-educated lawyer with dreams of a political career, he had volunteered.
Ted’s death was almost the same year. For once, instead of the thousands and thousands of bombs raining down on the peasants and villagers all over Indochina, there would be a counter-bomb going the other way! — a single bomb to the home front, intended to point out the massive campaign of the hundreds of thousands of far more powerful bombs. The fragging soldier’s bomb was aimed at his commanding officer; did that make him an ally of Ted Gold?
Among other things that bombs don’t grasp is any awareness of either their own intentions or the intentions of those who wield them. Both bombs went astray.
Well, that was the clockwise story. There were several stories of John’s demise, some no doubt designed to protect the feelings of John’s widow Laura, who’d already suffered her family’s narrowmindedness when she refused to cancel her marriage to a Gentile. Perhaps she imagined a scene in which she shouted, “Are you happy now he’s dead?” — as if they had killed him or at least were responsible for his death and her unhappiness. The emotions if not the details fit this way…9
In any case, by the end of 10th grade Mike, Gerry and Daniel had all moved away, as it seemed every best friend did every year, and I was left with only John Seel and my archrival Pierre.
As it happens, a Saturday previous to Mrs. Gottlieb’s handraiser questions I had gone into downtown Flushing — where I didn’t remember ever having been before — to picket Woolworth’s, in solidarity with Black activists who’d been arrested in North Carolina for sitting in “Whites Only” sections of their lunch counters. We marched with picket signs, going counterclockwise like the horses Ted Gold and I had watched at Aqueduct… My mental picture of the anti-White Supremacist marchers in Charlottesville has them going clockwise…
Here’s where I began to put together a life that flowed from my developing values and anger at injustice.
In my final semester of high school I remember I was always arguing with the Cuban exiles in my Spanish class — seated to my left… I was positively impressed with the Cuban revolution but the Beato family had been so disaffected that they’d emigrated to the States. It was Fall 1960, six months before the Bay of Pigs, but they’d been in the country already a year. Eduardo wrote in my autograph book the memorable line, “Politics don’t count in friendship.” Too bad Eduardo’s dictum is now so out-of-date… His younger sister Vivien was sweet and pretty and many times seemed to suggest she’d like to be a lot closer to me, but she was young, and besides, her brother was right there….
But by that time I was already “leading” a little group of friends, boys who were not yet politicized. But the combination of the Civil Rights movement, the Sane Nuclear Policy movement and eventually what became the anti-Vietnam War movement — plus my familiarity and relative comfort with political action — contributed to molding them, eventually — to my amazement — into forceful, risk-taking political operatives.
I left for college and in January — this was 1962 — I took a bus to join the Peace March in Washington. I think I may have met up briefly with the young woman from my high school who became my first political girlfriend — and certainly the most sexually significant girlfriend up till that time. But a more likely route into that closeness was through the frequent (pre-email!) exchange of political and intensely personal letters — that developed into love letters and a Spring Weekend visit that employed a motel room and the use of an arboretum to find enough privacy to carry out intimate experiments…
After 9 months we lost track of each other. But separately we’d become members of the new Students for a Democratic Society. She was on SDS staff in Ann Arbor.
Between freshman and senior year I went through a political education that included the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights rallies, SDS’s Roxbury Project, the Kennedy assassination, and building resistance to the Vietnam War.
And with my New Left arrogance and pride, I dismissed the arguments of the “discredited” Old Left, from whose experiences we might have learned valuable lessons and further developed our reach and strength.10 And as for the Generation Gap, our clarity and stupidity (politely put, blindness) left the possibility of learning and taking strength from elders foredoomed to failure. Not altogether unlike the contemptuous tendencies in today’s left toward those whose attitudes and ‘awareness’ might appear to some to be imperfect.11
Meanwhile, with my personal life badly entangled with my political activities, I’d fallen in love with an impossibly beautiful Black woman I’d met during a summer in Chicago — Freedom Summer in Mississippi for some braver and more committed souls: 1964. But I’d met Marilyn not at a meeting or an action but on a July 4th trip to a lake beach near Kalamazoo — in an unbelievable bathing suit…. The relationship sputtered over a month or so but then really picked up steam with many letters around Thanksgiving. Turns out she’d quit Skidmore — to work full-time in New York, for SDS!
At the Christmas break I attended the New York SDS convention but she was so busy it was hard for us to meet up. Finally we’d get to have a drink at the White Horse Tavern, known for having been frequented by Dylan Thomas. Then we’d get to the apartment Marilyn shared with Andrea on Jane Street but we tried to arrange it so that “Andi” would be elsewhere — and thus not constrained to hear sounds likely to emanate from our intimate acts. More important, the thought of her listening would in turn distract and inhibit us.
The highpoint came in late January, a week between semesters for me, when I came back to New York. Andi had gone to visit her parents in Ohio, leaving Marilyn in sole charge of the apartment. We made the most of the chance to be altogether alone there. Each evening I would drive in by the Midtown Tunnel, collect her after she finished at the SDS office, enjoy that drink together, spend some quality hours with her, and drive back to my parents’ through the empty 3 a.m. tunnel. Briefly, it was too good to be true. And it felt as though having achieved this intimacy, having this girlfriend who was Black, was in practice already building a multiracial society, was working toward our political goals, We Shall Overcome. My eyes teared when we sang…12
Remember this was 1965. And in February came Selma. Marilyn was close to several people risking their lives in Selma, as she reminded me more than once. Me she criticized for being so focused on love and romance and staying in an elite college while committed people were courageously making changes. Pretty soon she had a different boyfriend. Our connection ended badly. Future girlfriends were no longer SDS types.
We Shall Overcome wasn’t going to be that easy after all…
The next phase began in Berkeley. A few weeks after my arrival the Vietnam Day Committee staged a march through Oakland. I marched much of the way with Carolyn, Marilyn’s almost equally beautiful twin sister, who’d married her Goucher College13 professor and dropped out of school, just before Marilyn dropped out of Skidmore. I’d met Carolyn in my 1964 Chicago Summer when, in the distance from a folkdancing group in Hyde Park I’d seen her fall — recognized her as Marilyn’s twin — and was the first to arrive to help her up — from what proved to be a broken leg! In Fall 1965 she was about to become a television news host for KQED.
More than her sister Marilyn, throughout the Sixties Carolyn had been the one who seemed to have everything worked out…. Sadly, in the late Seventies she was assaulted by a serial rapist and in 2000, at age 55, died of cancer.
I think of the three of them, John, Ted and Carolyn, as casualties of a confused and arbitrarily cruel society.
Besides John and Ted and his comrades, 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the war over Indochina that we on the left provided some help in bringing to an end — but not before the lives of two to three million local people were cut short by U.S. bombs and military muscle. Even that catastrophe doesn’t count U.S. complicity in millions more deaths by creating the conditions that brought the Khmer Rouge to power in Cambodia.
When I put on my socks the other day and checked the “L” and the “R” and compared one sock with the other, it occurred to me that in fact there may be — other than the letters “L” and “R” themselves — absolutely zero difference between the two socks; that they are the same in every way but cost 2 or 3 dollars more than the equivalent socks that lack the “L” and “R” and make no claim; that it is just another hustle….
Where does that leave us? Should we still wear socks? That’s choice number 1.
2) …with Left and Right wrestling sockless with each other over taxes on the poor and windfalls for the rich, rolling on the ground?
3) Or, can this be the moment when, using our openmindedness and compassion, our hearts and brains, establishing trust and working together with each other, it is possible we can change course and restore ourselves and our planet to real health and beauty…?
Let our clocks move forward…
But it looks like it has to be now.14
1 In Detroit on November 3, 1911 race car driver Louis Chevrolet and GM founder William C. “Billy” Durant co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Company. In those thriving but cutthroat early capitalist days, only 8 years after the Wright brothers 59-second flight, there were 270 brutally competing American automotive brands. That was then.
2 K. Marx based on David Ricardo: labor-power itself is a “commodity” whose price — just like a product like, say, corn flakes — is determined by either supply and demand (mainstream economics) or by the wage needed to keep a laborer healthy enough to work and to rear the next generation of laborers (heterodox economics).
3 At 7 I’d asked my father, why can’t you just get another partner? He said something about needing to really trust the person.
4 Mitchell, of course, site of the Corn Palace, which was ever after one of my favorite buildings to return to.
5 A friend of mine from summer camp years before had told me how the FBI had come to their apartment in Rego Park, in Queens.
When the agents asked, was his father home, he said no but he wouldn’t let them in. When they asked, was his father’s name such-and-such — his father was running for governor on a left-wing party ticket — he said he didn’t know.
6 Steve was popular and did well enough in some of my honor classes, and he was Captain of the Basketball Team and President of the Student Org., distinctions that likely contributed to his admission to Harvard. We would have made a rare two from Jamaica, but for some reason he decided, or his parents constrained him to decide, to decline the offer. When I saw him at Jamaica’s 25th Reunion he hadn’t aged well and was much shrunken — like Mark R. and others who had involved themselves in those small businesses, but a generation after my father and Mr. C.’s. It did not seem to me that Bonita Bra had shrunk and aged my father. But selling industrial chemicals might have, if he hadn’t been laid off so fast.
7 Daniel’s older brother Bernard (my sister and other girls in her grade considered him quite dashing), had a conservative bent in later years. But when the OAS rose up and attempted a coup in 1961 and the government distributed arms to the people, Bernard was said to have gone around defending the Champs-Élysées with a machine gun.
8 The second S was for Bob Spindel, a technology whiz who, in the late Fifties, built his own television and computer and later was heading an oceanography unit in charge of the found Titanic. The L was for Arthur Liolin, who played the organ, was interested in biology and was called “Albert Schweitzer” by amused and possibly impressed high school classmates. Much later he became Archpriest of the Albanian Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America and at the 25th Reunion referred to himself as We.
9 Back in high school Laura had been in my home room and afterward she was also my Michigan girlfriend’s best friend. But that was the summer Laura had broken up with John — under pressure, to be sure — and we’d double-dated with her and what proved to be her temporary boyfriend Richie, two years older and showing her off in a Corvette convertible. In high school she’d seemed tough and working-class but a year after graduating she was middle-class Jewish and gentle and appealing. Decades later she married a man from Wales, whose own reunion event across the Atlantic caused her to miss our 50th. She lived by that time in San Antonio.
10 Fifty years on, it is possible to imagine that, back in the cauldron of the Sixties and with half a million U.S. troops struggling to crush a powerful national liberation struggle, that the North Vietnamese leadership may have made certain key errors in judgment. Isn’t it possible to believe that with a little more patience could they have saved the lives of some hundreds of thousands of their supporters? Maybe they were more impatient than— by hindsight — they needed to be. No doubt, by hindsight, they overestimated the United States determination to conquer and maintain control over Indochina. And perhaps they lacked confidence that their own people would outlast the United States attacks. And lastly, I believe they underestimated the effectiveness of the U.S. anti-war movement, that — to augment the persistent effectiveness of the Vietnamese fighters — was making it harder and harder for the warmakers to continue to supply troops and materiel that they needed to continue that war…
11 In my lifetime coming together has often been a key challenge for the Left. It could be framed, “Do you want to have a nice little comfortable clique — or do you want to inspire people to respond to an injustice?” To stay isolated or to initiate actions based on human needs and values?
12 I was thrown into some confusion that Marilyn considered Jews “almost white”… Up till then I’d considered myself clearly part of the “white” majority in the country, which seemed to offer a kind of personal safety. To the extent that I believed that, and dismissed Marilyn’s point of view (which at the time sounded crazy), it would be embarrassing to admit that I had — or believed I had — a kind of protection that not everybody had. Protection that, for example, Marilyn did not have.
Even more embarrassing would be to admit to any secret hesitation to part with such protection.
On the other hand, if I could accept Marilyn’s point of view that in truth I was not altogether white, could I not then link arms with my ‘non-white brethren’ and join in the Festival of the Oppressed?
In spite of many Jews’ habitual disbelief that it was possible that they were being pursued, in the Trump era they are in fact the targets of white supremacists, lumped with Blacks, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, American Indians, women, members of the LGBTQ community and others.
And whether you believe it this time or not, just last century European Jews were in fact on the brink of annihilation.
I presume Jared Kushner is safe, but unlike most of us he has a lot of money and a connection with Trump’s daughter we couldn’t duplicate…
13 This was the first time I’d ever heard of Goucher College, and it gave me a favorable impression of the place. Subsequently I served as an Assistant Professor there.
14 If not now, it looks like there will be no ‘when.’
© Jerry Kurtz 2021