My friend M, a libertarian, posted a Buzzfeed article which detailed much of what Kim Yo Jong actually (or is purported to be) up to in North Korea. He noted this as a contrast to how the liberal media is treating Kim Jong-Un’s sister and her attendance at the Winter Olympics (as if she’s the anti-Trump and the most wonderful thing to come down the pike since Trump took office).

Another friend of his replied ‘But the Left-wing press and the imbeciles who worship them think her classy, but murderous ways, are so lovely.’

And here’s where I fucked up. While I don’t worship the left-wing press, necessarily, I am decidedly a member of the left wing. I took it personally and did one of those things that drives those who are working for justice so mad when it comes from the other side.

People who have agendas against, for example, female empowerment or the desire of African Americans not to be judged guilty on the street for simply being Black often bring decidedly disingenuous questions to the table: ‘What about what this one woman did’, or ‘What about when some Black person did something else?’ But it’s not the responsibility of any one member to stand up for or denounced what any other member of any group does. If you’re honest about your position, you do the research and don’t waste the other side’s time. If you’re dishonest, you waste the person’s time (and the movement’s time) with basic education questions that have been answered multiple times before.

asshatI am an asshat: Instead of doing my own research and looking up recent reports in the news (both left and right) about Kim Yo Jong, I asked ‘Such as?’ M’s friend called me out as an ‘asshat’ in the context of his reply in such a way that I would never do with someone I’d never met. He then linked to a NY Times article that gushed about Ms. Kim.

My reply was, ‘That’s how you interact with someone you’ve never met? Wow.’

And he came back with ‘It’s how I interact with asshats who speak before they think and prominently display quotes from antisemitic dirtbags like Cornell West.’ Still not endearing himself to me, but what’s that about Cornell West? I have one sentence in my FB Intro: Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public. ~Cornell West.

Why? Because, as I mentioned in my reply to him, justice is key to how I try to interact with the world. I usually fail, but justice is the goal. And I like the conflation of justice with public displays of love. When one loves one’s fellow human being, one fights for their justice. The two go hand in hand and West’s single sentence sums it up.

Note that I know that I’m still giving the person who insulted me the benefit of the doubt, even though he reduced another human being (whom he doesn’t know) with a pretty despicable epithet.

However, time for more research. What else do I know about West? Um. He’s an African American public intellectual. Yeah. That’s about it. I search Google on the string ‘Cornell West Antisemitism’ and get conflicting answers to the question at hand from HaAretz and The Forward. Oddly, a DuckDuckGo search on the same string finds far more returns against West on this question, most having to do with Palestine.

I occasionally write on the Palestinian issue (which seems to be at the heart of the accusations of West’s antisemitism), but I try to admit to both a serious left-wing bias and a decidedly emotional response to the situation. For me, the occupation and the settlements are the elephant in the room regarding any solution. Friends on the ground in Israel point out the very complex issues of the various factions supporting the Palestinian cause and their long-stated goals of pushing Israel into the sea. There’s a lot to unpack there. I have a Palestinian colleague who didn’t endear himself to me when he saw my tattoo of the Hebrew word for truth on my arm. ‘Your truth is a lie,’ he told me. I’ve so far not cornered him on his experience, but one of these days, I’d like to. (I did send him links to blog entries in which I discredit the Zionist credentials he seemed to be affixing to me.) While I’m understandably unwilling to get into it with M’s friend what with his introduction to me, and his defense of it, I’ve got a lot to think about.

Image credit: Attila the Mom and her occasional Asshat of the Week posts.