This past week I was introduced to the Rap stylings of Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. a/k/a B.o.B. I am not a fan of most Rap offerings as many of them incite violence, hatred, degrade women, and are rife with filthy lyrics. I don’t know much about Simmons but what I know is enough to cause anger to rise up within me and illicit a strong response to Simmons’ adding his own brand of ignorance to Holocaust denier David Irving’s outlandish claims.
The lyrics creating outrage among many Jews are:
Do your research on David Irving
Stalin was way worse than Hitler
That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a kippah
I’m a man ‘fore I’m an artist
Get a lawyer, and look up Richard Sauer
What’s the big deal many ask? Others are of the school mentioning the episode only gives audience to Simmons which is what he desires. Perhaps there’s a kernel of truth in both thought processes. And then there’s the part of me that must cry foul. The one that cannot remain silent.
We know we cannot undo the past. Not even G-d can do that. However, we can be the voice, today, tomorrow, and all the days G-d may grant us. As Jews we often say “Never forget” and I know it means different things to different people. Irrespective of the personalized, individual meaning we must know without a doubt it is our duty to remember that which was visited upon our people. We must speak out when lies are spread about our people, especially when our history is denied or mocked.
Many of our fellow Jews are very humble, very quiet, and most of the time I admire those traits. There are times humility appears as an abject form of apathy; of course that could be my “man of action” eyes misreading the ways of another. I’m working on it along with many other things though there are times I want to shake some people and stir them to action even if it is only telling me to “go away.”
I recently read the following from an unknown source.
“In general, humility is a good trait. Put yourself aside, and your purpose at the center. You’ll get more done working quietly in the shadows than forever jumping into the limelight.
But when you come to the defense of truth and justice, then is a time to stand up and make yourself heard loud and clear.
As for your humility—there are moments when even that must be put aside.”
Perhaps my reactions are considered overwrought by some. I get it. There are times I need to be reined in and put in check. There are also times we must cry aloud and spare not. I will always err on the side of speaking out against injustice and lies, especially about our people.
May we all be blessed with the courage to speak out and the wisdom to know when to speak, what to say, and when to remain silent.