A prominent association of children’s authors and illustrators recently put out a statement condemning the rise in Antisemitic hate speech and violence. The statement was, I thought, very well written. It contained a link to this article about how Antisemitism forms the core of White Supremacist ideology. Below is a screenshot of the statement, or you can find it here.
Isn’t that nice? Well, it was, while it lasted. But then SCBWI came out with an apology and stated that their Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, who was responsible for the original statement, is resigning over this issue.
I am both baffled and floored by this turn of events. It feels like an “all lives matter” moment, doesn’t it? I keep trying to find more background information, to find the missing piece of the puzzle that will make me say, “Aha. That explains everything.”
The best I’ve been able to find out is that after the post denouncing Antisemitism went public, one author asked when SCBWI would denounce Islamophobia, and subjected the organization’s social media to a barrage of anti-Israel and Antisemitic posts. She was blocked and all her posts deleted. There were harassment accusations both ways.
The organization’s apology did say, “WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU” in big shouting all caps, so I decided to write to them. This is what I said:
I am writing today to express my shock and dismay about your recent apology following SCBWI’s statement against Antisemitism.
Perhaps there has been some kind of misunderstanding; but to me and many others it looks like, faced with pressure from a Palestinian Muslim author and their supporters, you apologized for saying that Antisemitism is wrong.
This is an “all lives matter” moment: as with Anti-Black racism, it is acceptable to stand behind one group without having to acknowledge and list the many other groups who are also marginalized, which you apparently know because you failed to affirm your stance against Antisemitism in your apology.
It was spineless of you to not to stand by your Inclusion Officer’s decision as she tried to prevent the turning of a condemnation of Antisemitism into a platform for Antisemitism, which—if you even skim the complainant’s tweets—you will no doubt see.
If I were a member of your organization, your apology would make me feel neither included nor safe.
I urge you to clarify that you were apologizing not for condemning Antisemitism, but for your handling of the subsequent complaints. Acknowledge the pain your actions have caused your Jewish members who now feel unrepresented, silenced, and marginalized. Reiterate that you stand firm against Antisemitism, as you do against all forms of hate.
There is definitely a part of me that thinks I should keep my big mouth shut, delete this blog post so it can’t attract haters, not send that email. But if we all keep our big mouths shut our silence is interpreted as agreement; I can’t remain silent.