Sunday, February 18, 2018

  • Sunday, February 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
I have not yet seen Black Panther, but I was struck by a cover article in Time magazine about the movie and its place in black America.

The history of black power and the movement that bore its name can be traced back to the summer of 1966. The activist Stokely Carmichael was searching for something more than mere liberty. To him, integration in a white-dominated America meant assimilation by default. About one year after the assassination of Malcolm X and the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Carmichael took over the Student Non­violent Coordinating Committee from John Lewis. Carmichael decided to move the organization away from a philosophy of pacifism and escalate the group’s militancy to emphasize armed self-defense, black business ownership and community control.

In June of that year, James Meredith, an activist who four years earlier had become the first black person admitted to Ole Miss, started the March Against Fear, a long walk of protest from Memphis to Mississippi, alone. On the second day of the march, he was wounded by a gunman. Carmichael and tens of thousands of others continued in Meredith’s absence. Carmichael, who was arrested halfway through the march, was incensed upon his release. “The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over,” he declared before a passionate crowd on June 16. “We been saying freedom for six years and we ain’t got nothin’. What we gonna start sayin’ now is Black Power!”

Black Panther was born in the civil rights era, and he reflected the politics of that time. The month after Carmichael’s Black Power declaration, the character debuted in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four No. 52. Supernatural strength and agility were his main features, but a genius intellect was his best attribute. “Black Panther” wasn’t an alter ego; it was the formal title for T’Challa, King of Wakanda, a fictional African nation that, thanks to its exclusive hold on the sound-absorbent metal vibranium, had become the most technologically advanced nation in the world.
The people cheering the romantic era of the Black Power movement and its current Wakanda fictionalization in the Black Panther movie should really love Israel.

The idea of an enlightened world accepting Jews as equals, which sounded so wonderful for most of the 19th century, was torpedoed by the Dreyfus affair, and Zionism was born with the idea that Jews should control their own destiny rather than trust the world to treat them fairly.

Jews didn't have to make up a fictional Wakanda where they could be in power - they built a real state. A state that is more impressive than Wakanda.

Israel has none of the fictional "vibranium" - or, until recently, barely any natural resources to build its economy and citizens. The Jewish state had nothing but brains and bravery. There was little Jewish history of farming, and yet the Jews learned to be excellent farmers. There was little Jewish history of city planning, yet Tel Aviv was built from scratch. There was little Jewish history of military excellence since Bar Kochba, but the Jews managed to defeat combined armies sworn to its destruction.

Unlike Wakanda, Israel was surrounded by enemies from the start - and now its power, a direct analogy to Carmichael's Black Power, has helped make it the most stable country in the region. It deals with the world from a position of power, not of begging for help. It achieved technological excellence through hard work and investing in brainpower, not through a fictional super-substance. And as far as I can tell, Wakanda doesn't have to deal with enemy neighbors and a large minority population that may not share its national myths.

By any measure, the real state of Israel is far more impressive than the idealized, fictional nation of Wakanda.

The white people who are celebrating Black Panther should be even more enamored of the real-life Jewish state, a nation that changed the Jewish people from being eternally discriminated against into a people who must be respected.





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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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