It’d be surprising in most circumstances to hear a former state lawmaker criticizing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for meeting with the father of Jacob Blake, the man shot by police on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Adding to the surprise was that it was a Democrat — former New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind — who criticized the candidate for meeting a protest leader, Jacob Blake Sr., whose social media posts evinced support for Nation of Islam hate-preacher Louis Farrakhan along with other racist sentiments, including some directed toward black people.
“It is hypocrisy, it’s a double standard and people need to recognize that. It is just beyond comprehension. Someone who follows Farrakhan, the number one anti-Semite in this country, someone who preaches hate for the Jewish people … and Blake [Sr.] is a follower of Louis Farrakhan spreading his hate on social media to millions of people,” Hikind said Thursday on Fox News.
“So how in God’s name does the former vice president go and meet with this individual and praise this individual?”
The issue isn’t the fact that the person with distasteful views is Blake’s father.
If that was the whole story, this wouldn’t and shouldn’t be news. In fact, given the situation, even bringing it up might be distasteful; after all, the man’s son was recently shot and paralyzed from the waist down.
The problem arises when we look at the role that Blake Sr. has played galvanizing Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha and appearing on cable news after video of his 29-year-old son being shot went viral on social media. (The fact that police shot him in the back made the younger Blake the latest black individual’s shooting to draw nationwide protests.)
“Sometimes you get a little angry,” Blake Sr. said in one interview with CNN.
“Sometimes more than a little angry because we have been going through this so long. So long. And it’s only the brown faces … the brown-toned people that get treated in this way.”
The U.K. Guardian described a speech he gave Saturday to protesters in Kenosha as having “decried the local police to the crowd.”
“What gave them the right to think that my son was an animal?” he said at the rally organized by the Black Lives Activists of Kenosha, insisting the demonstrations would continue.
“We’re not going to stop. We’re still suffering because there are two justice systems. There’s one for that white boy that walked down the street and killed two people and blew another man’s arm off. Then there’s one for my son,” he said, referencing Kyle Rittenhouse.
In a message to white allies, he added, “My Caucasian counterparts, we love you, but you will never understand what we go through.”
He was also a speaker at the commemoration of the March on Washington just days after the shooting.
“There are two systems of justice in the United States. There’s a white system. And there’s a black system,” Blake Sr. said, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report. “The black system ain’t doing so well.”
“But we’re going to stand up. Every black person in the United States is going to stand up,” he added. “We’re tired. I’m tired — of looking at cameras and seeing these young black and brown people suffering.”
What’s clear is that this is a man who’s had a moment thrust upon him, but who’s also taken that moment and become one of the faces of the protests.
Fair enough. It was his son, after all.
His positions on race and ethnicity came under scrutiny just before his meeting with Biden, however.
On Wednesday and Thursday, three separate media outlets — Breitbart, Heavy and The Washington Times — published troubling reports about Blake Sr.’s social media posts, which frequently featured anti-Semitic language but also anti-black messages, as well.
Most of the messages came from Blake Sr.’s Facebook page, an account with the father’s photo on it from which the user posted, on the day Blake Jr. was shot by police, “My son is alive and stable.”
“A jew can’t tell me s– period,” Blake Sr. wrote on Sept. 13, 2017.
“The same pink toe Jewish people that control the interest rate control the media they control Minds and money,” he wrote on Nov. 6, 2017. (“[P]ink toe” refers to white people.)
“The Jewish media picks and chooses who is a terrorists and is not,” he wrote Nov. 5, 2017.
“A cracker jew can do whatever to a white woman for years but let a j– try it,” Blake Sr. wrote Oct. 11, 2017, using a shortened version of a longer slur for black individuals.
As for the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in October 2018, he employed another anti-black epithet, calling participants “[y]oung black c–ns.”
In 2019, he shared a post that said, “I’m with [Louis] Farrakhan.” The post coincided with the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader’s May 2019 ban from Facebook and Instagram.
“Don’t ban hateful pink ban Brown we truly hate you Facebook,” Blake Sr. wrote, according to Heavy.
(As a side note: According to the AP, most of the figures banned at the time were white and associated with the right wing in some way, including Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones.)
Other posts were anti-Christian in nature, including one showing a picture of Jesus in the toilet.
There was a smattering of misogynist language, too — including a post directed toward Monica Lewinsky in which Blake Sr. said “she gets no sympathy because a hoe is a hoe,” Heavy reported.
“Jesus ain’t doing nothing for you miserable broads,” another post reportedly read.
If this were just Jacob Blake’s father, this wouldn’t be a matter of scrutiny.
No parent deserves to go through what he’s going through right now, and our hearts go out to him in that respect.
Blake Sr., however, is in a position where he’s part of America’s cultural conversation on race and ethnicity at a particularly fraught period in the nation’s life. He’s also an outsized part of the conversation in Kenosha, a city subsumed with strife and riots.
Given that, his racist and anti-Semitic remarks deserve more examination than they would ordinarily merit.
This is far from social justice in action.
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