Delaware Valley NAACP president Rodney Muhammad has come under fire for posting a profoundly anti-Semitic meme on social media. The post included a misattributed Voltaire quote (actually from an American neo-Nazi), alongside an anti-Semitic cartoon of a Jewish caricature, clasping his hands and pushing down on a mass of people — a cartoon that has made the rounds on white supremacist sites for years. The post was repulsive. Muhammad removed it once it came under fire, claimed he “didn’t realize the image included was offensive to Jewish people,” and finally issued a weak statement saying he was attempting “to start a dialogue.” The local community, rightfully, is calling on Muhammad to resign — but is still waiting.
There hasn’t been much notice taken of this incident outside of local Philadelphia media and Jewish news outlets. It’s not a big story, apparently. It should be.
It should be a bigger story because at a time when our country is roiled by protests against injustice and bigotry, we need to stand united against hate of every kind. And it’s up to each of us, in our own communities, to demand accountability when hatred rears its ugly head.
The organization that I lead, the Republican Jewish Coalition, has been doing that for decades. Recently, we put our money and our good name behind the successful effort to defeat an incumbent Republican congressman, Rep. Steve King, in the GOP primary in Iowa, because of his inflammatory rhetoric condoning white supremacists and anti-Semites. The RJC PAC supported King’s primary opponent, Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra, who went on to win that race.
We called out anti-Semitism and bigotry on the right, because they don’t represent the values of the Republican Jewish Coalition or the Republican Party. But unfortunately the Left is silent when the hatred is on their side.
The NAACP chapter leader, in a major city in America, is not just sharing one anti-Semitic meme, but is regularly sharing posts to tens of thousands of followers from the Nation of Islam mosque where he ministers. He repeatedly calls Jews “Satan” and suggests his adherents should stone them, and defends the vile anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
Is this really the best leader that the NAACP, the “largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation,” can muster for the Philadelphia region?
In Washington, the RJC has also called out our Jewish community counterpart, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, for their silence in the Democratic primary in Minnesota. The anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments of Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) have been a feature, not a bug, of her public persona. Now she faces a serious challenge from a progressive, pro-Israel Democrat named Antone Melton-Meaux. But the JDCA has been missing in action about this.
Sadly, on many occasions, the RJC has asked Democratic Party leaders — from Speaker Nancy Pelosi on down — to disavow the anti-Semitic comments of Democrats in Congress, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), who shared a blood libel post that belongs in the Middle Ages — and to discipline the members of their caucus who think it’s okay to call for the destruction of Israel or use crude stereotypes about Jews on social media. Jewish Americans have been left disappointed there too.
We all have an obligation to respond against anti-Semitic memes, comments, and actions in the public square. The Jewish community also deserves to feel safe, to feel heard. We have terrible divisions in our society that need to be healed, and that requires that all of us stand up against hatred in any form, in any place. We’re here. Where is Rodney Muhammad?
Matthew Brooks is a Philadelphia native, and serves as the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition