Liquidity in Society

by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

The commentary to the recent response articulated by Senator Marco Rubio to President Obama's State of the Union Address awash in the media, particularly on TV, speaks to a breakdown in our society that has overtaken normal discourse.

As you know, as a result of the tension of the moment and as it subsequently was learned, the terrible heat of the lights shining on him during his rejoinder, Sen. Rubio, as so many speakers have experienced, as I have experienced, found that he was suffering from dry mouth. He went on as long as he could and then as is typical in such a situation, reached for a sip of water. Unfortunately, unlike the general practice of placing water in easy reach of the speaker, the available water required the Senator to reach sideways. Concerned that he would move from his “mark,” the spot on which he was to stand during the speech, his reach for a sip of the elixir of life was a bit awkward. This became the major news story of the coverage in the media.

One of the most disgraceful mockeries of this event was perpetrated by the “Rev.” Al Sharpton on his TV program. Speaking about the event, he first reached to his left, mimicking Rubio and secured a glass of water, speaking a bit longer, he reached to his right securing a liter of water and, after a few more words, he reached once gain to his left, this time securing a five gallon bottle of water used for water coolers.

I have always had major questions about the “Christianity” of Rev. Al. As was recounted in the movie depicting Sharpton’s role in the Crown Heights affair, dubbed as a latter-day mini-pogram, it was the “good” Reverend’s anti-Semitic diatribes that contributed greatly to this tragic event.

The car carrying Rabbi Menachen Mendel Schneesron, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe with its cortage following its police escort through an intersection, resulting in the tragic killing of an African-American boy prompted some unrest in the Black community of Crown Heights. This unrest was further aggravated by outsiders fired up by the anti-Semitic rhetoric of the Rev. Al. Days past during which the Jewish residents of the community were trapped in their homes, unable to walk the streets of Crown Heights, for fear of being attacked by marauding thugs. A rabbinical student was attacked and murdered.

All the while the Black neighbors of the Jewish community generally were helpful in aiding the trapped Jewish families in securing food, etc, while the outsiders, the troublemakers from other parts of the City urged on by the vitriol of Sharpton, roamed the streets looking for Jewish prey. The entire event was a shameful moment in New York history and for Mayor Dinkins himself, who, because of misplaced political considerations, turned a deaf ear to the plight of the Jewish community.

Al Sharpton has a long reputation of anti-Semitic remarks and, in general, a negative attitude toward white Americans. And yet, the news media, turns to him for commentary on many issues – particularly race relations in the United States. His involvement in the shooting by police of a black young man in New York, creating unrest and difficulties for the police and the community, based upon a false understanding of the entire situation has been well documented in the media. And now a cable news station has given him his own bully pulpit, to continue to spew forth his bigotry and hatred dividing, rather than bringing together society.

His mocking of a decent man, who, no one claims is motivated by personal aggrandizement, but rather is a young man brought up by poor immigrants to our country attempting to make his contribution as a citizen to society, is not only tolerated but is part of the general frenzy of the press in mocking Sen. Rubio. I have not heard one comment regarding the despicable actions of Sharpton criticizing him as one who claims to carry the message of the New Testament to society and by his actions and deeds, is the antithesis of all he claims to represent. Rev. Sharpton, you’re no Dr. Martin Luther King.

I, therefore, want to offer a simple quote from the Scripture which the good Reverend purports to be his guide in life. The Apostle Luke states (6:3) a general principle in the conducting of one’s interactions with his fellow man, “And as you wish others would do to you, do to them.” For if we are to have true liquidity in our society, the free flow of the fundamental cherished asset of the sharing of ideas and concepts enabling our society to move ahead in positive ways, the pure waters of each individual’s intellect must be allowed to contribute toward the quenching of our collective thirst for the development of our values as a society.

It is time that the citizenry of our nation demand of our political leadership and our media to embrace the degree of civility necessary to truly address the many issues facing our nation . Our role on the international scene, the issues of our society and our Republic can never be addressed when the best we can do when considering the ideas of a sincere individual is to mock his awkward attempt to quench his thirst.

Proverbs (17:27), “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint...”