[Editor’s note: Pressley has issued a clarifying statement:]
“Last week, in support of a fellow Congresswoman, I chose a quote from Alice Walker. Like many, the Color Purple has carried deep meaning for me and I have evoked Walker’s words about ‘furious dancing’ in the past.”
Unfortunately, I was unaware of the author’s past statements. I fully condemn and denounce anti-Semitism, prejudice and bigotry in all their forms – and the hateful actions they embolden. I appreciate my friends, including my brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, who brought these statements to my attention.”
[In addition, I’ve turned off further commenting on this post. I’ve seen some commentary here that in my judgment, comes too close to excusing (by “contextualizing”) Walker’s notorious anti-Semitism. I don’t want to go within 1,000 miles of that. So I’m calling a time out for now. — Charley]
I know we face much bigger problems, but I don’t think we should let this tweet from Rep. Ayanna Pressley pass without comment:
I have to think that Pressley reads the news and knows that Alice Walker was most recently in the news after being criticized for praising the books of notorious anti-Semite David Ickes in the New York Times, and that that affair brought renewed attention to her 2017 poem, of which the following is an excerpt:
Where to start?
You will find some information,
By Googling. For a more in depth study
I recommend starting with YouTube. Simply follow the trail of “The
Talmud” as its poison belatedly winds its way
Into our collective consciousness.
Some of what you find will sound
Too crazy to be true. Unfortunately those bits are likely
To be true. Some of the more evasive studies
Will exhibit unbelievable attempts
At sugar coating extremely disagreeable pills.
But hang in there, checking
And double checking, listening to everybody,
Even the teachers with the twisted pasts
That scare you the most,
And the taped rants of outraged citizens that sound
Like madcap characters on Car Talk
Except they are not laughing
But are righteously outraged.
Study hard, with an open
If deeply offended mind,
Until you can sift the false
From the true.
Is Jesus boiling eternally in hot excrement,
For his “crime” of throwing the bankers
Out of the Temple? For loving, standing with,
The poor? Was his mother, Mary,
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?
Must even the best of the Goyim (us, again) be killed?
Pause a moment and think what this could mean
Or already has meant
In our own lifetime.
So if Pressley reads the news, what was the purpose of quoting Walker in January 2019?
I have a suspicion. I suspect that it was a calculated dog whistle, meant to appeal to progressives who approve of Walker’s views, to signal “I’m one of you, please give me your support” without taking responsibility for the forces she (Pressley) is encouraging. I hope she is doing this for reasons of expediency rather than personal conviction, but either way, it needs to be called out. Leave the dog whistles to the Republicans!