For those of you who read through my entire Q & A with Abe Foxman, this will be hard to believe: There was actually some stuff that didn’t make it in. One line was his claim that James Traub and The New York Times Magazine had tried to undercut his credibility by comparing him to Al Sharpton.
“It’s tempting to compare Abe Foxman with Al Sharpton, another portly, bellicose, melodramatizing defender of ethnic ramparts,” Traub wrote in his profile of Foxman last January. “But you never feel that Foxman is admiring his own performance, as you do with Sharpton.”
The P.S./punch line to all of this? Foxman and Sharpton issued a joint statement last week “regarding the series of recent displays of nooses and swastikas in our community”:
The recent epidemic of nooses and swastikas appearing in various places in our communities are acts of hate and are intended to intimidate and instill fear. Such acts are despicable, and we call upon all people of good will – of all races, religions and ethnicities – to stand up and say such acts will not be tolerated.
Together we call for swift passage of proposed legislation to modify the existing New York state law which prohibits the depiction of a swastika on someone’s property, to similarly prohibit the public display of a noose with the intent to threaten or harrass. Nooses, like swastikas, are remnants from a tragic period of history, and the impact of their display still resonates deeply in our souls and in our communities. They cry to their intended targets, “You still do not belong!”
We must encourage an open and honest examination of the underlying hatred and potential for violence that these recent rash of incidents represent. They are attacks against not just a person or a group but against democracy and pluralism. We must use these incidents to educate people—especially our youth—about the consequences of racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry and prejudice.