In the 1960s, I grew up in the largely Jewish-Irish Mattapan section of Boston. The James J. Chittick elementary school was filled with kids named Cohen, Bachus, Moody, O’Neil, McGuiness, and Carey. Our neighborhood barber, Al Milic, would show us the numbers tattooed on his forearm from his time in a death camp in Europe.The Jewish kids introduced us to pastrami and half-sour pickles, we introduced them to … gray corned beef boiled to death. We learned English, Math, History, Geography and Civics together. Our news was received from Walter Cronkite, and we actually read newspapers, which taught us to think critically.
To be sure, there were cultural and religious differences, and sometimes group fistfights. But on Friday afternoons, we all moaned and groaned as we marched off to either CCD classes at St. Angela school or to the Mattapan Hebrew school. In short, we learned to live and play together and how to get along, despite differences.
Today, I see supposedly highly educated people marching on college campuses supporting murdering, terrorist Hamas thugs and calling for “Death to Israel.” They apparently get their news from Tiktok and Instagram. They do not appear to know what “Civics” are. They do not know history or geography; they do not understand that the Jewish people have a biblical, historical and legal claim to the land called Israel. They did not visit Al Milic for a haircut.
I wonder, is this where a “progressive” education has brought us? Is this the “Great Society” that Democrats envisioned in the 1960s? Do we have less – or more – division, discord and racism because of our “illiberal” education system? I learned about tolerance and diversity in Mattapan long before they became boiler-plate talking points at BU and Harvard. This Irish-Catholic supports the Jewish people and the free and Democratic country of Israel and condemns the barbarians of Hamas.
And God help us all. Nazi-Hamas supporters are marching in Crown Heights in Brooklyn while Orthodox Jews bar the synagogue doors. “For young Willie McBride, it’s all happened again, and again, and again and again and again…”. (From “The Greenfields of France/Willie McBride”)
Al Milic would have recognized that song.
James W. Carnell, Quincy