Letters to the Editor

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Paycheck Protection Program Lending Window Closing

Dear Editor:

The last two weeks of the Paycheck Protection Program are upon us. The U.S. Small Business Administration continues to work with lenders to prioritize access to capital and loan forgiveness for those who qualify. Key to the success of this program is ensuring the cash infusion reaches all areas of our economy, including underserved borrowers such as socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, military veterans and their spouses, women, and rural communities.

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza recently reached out to the SBA’s lender network to ask them to redouble their efforts to assist underserved and disadvantaged businesses as well as nonprofits with PPP financing, allowing our federal agency to expand economic opportunity before the upcoming deadline of June 30, 2020. We’ve seen success in these areas thanks to the dedicated $10 billion of Round Two funding provided exclusively by Community Development Financial Institutions.

We recognize that SBA-approved PPP institutions like CDFIs, Minority Depository Institutions, Certified Development Companies, and Farm Credit System lenders are leading the way to serve individual entrepreneurs and small businesses in underserved communities. As it stands, SBA has already served more than 4.5 million small businesses and nonprofits through PPP, infusing more than $500 billion into our economy. Last week’s surprise drop in unemployment is a direct result of PPP keeping Americans on the payroll – and May’s retail surge of 17.7% is the largest monthly jump ever.

SBA is dedicated to sustaining our nation’s small businesses and retaining tens of millions of employees – a key priority for President Trump. With more than $100B still available, now is the perfect time for underrepresented small business owners to work with their preferred lender, or find a new lender at https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find to apply for their own PPP loan to help their business and their employees survive and thrive.

Steve Bulger
SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator


Remembering Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (OBM)

Dear Editor:

As his neighbor in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights and my role under him as youth director of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, I am profoundly aggrieved by the passing of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. He was a giant of leader in academia, Jewish philosophy, Talmud and education and “menschlichkeit.“ Very approachable, friendly and with a worldly wit, Dr. Lamm, my twin brothers’ classmate at Mesivta Torah Vodaath and following Rabbi Dr. Belkin as President of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Lamm is mourned and missed by thousands of YU graduates and ordained rabbis, students and youth directors.

Ray Kestenbaum


Takes Issue With Melanie Phillips

Dear Editor:

I started reading this column with interest in how the left (as well as the right) employ Orwellian tactics. I also agree Jews should not generally be implicated in cultures of white supremacy.

By the end of the article, however, I was aghast. Ms. Phillips’ points are inherently racist and reveal part of what is motivating this passionate call to overturn cultures of white supremacy. (That is, cultures/systems that are designed by, intended for, and used to elevate white people — usually white men. If you read the U.S. Constitution, that in fact is the system that was set up at the founding of the United States.)

Let’s break down the inherent racism in her article:

First, the idea that Black families are generally “shattered” and this “dislocation” fuels their “anger” is an old racist trope, long dismissed. There aren’t broken Jewish families full of angry kids? There aren’t classically “whole” Black families feeling the debilitating effects of racism? Before kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, did the cops ask if he was from a broken home or if he was divorced? Blaming Black people for being held down and murdered by police because their families are “broken” is like blaming someone suffering from homelessness for dying by exposure to the elements.

Second: lack of religion? Does Ms. Phillips know nothing about Black life in America, where faith and houses of worship play an integral part? Where many of the Black civil rights leaders are also clergy? Where the church is so integral, it’s where politicians go to get their message out to Black voters? Meanwhile, by Ms. Phillips’ logic, secular Jews and atheists ought to be “rootless” and, I guess, getting murdered by police as a result.

Third, those who “define themselves as descendants of slaves do not have a collective history they can take pride in”? Has Ms. Phillips never been to a Passover seder? Being the descendants of slaves and having a rich cultural history — which Ms. Phillips would quickly realize exists in the Black community if she ever bothered to interact with it — are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the Black community in America (and, I presume, in Britain) has a rich history of music, dance, language, poetry, theatre, film, art and more. So rich, it’s often been appropriated by white culture.

Fourth, as to “Black rage” (itself another old racist trope) taking advantage even in places where “there is no injustice”: I would love to know where she thinks the lack of injustice exists. What’s her defense of the police officers now charged with the murder of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks? When terrorists blow up buses in Jerusalem, does Ms. Phillips also criticize the “Jewish rage” that follows and encourage Israel to chill out?

Of course, Ms. Phillips’ arguments ironically go to disprove her own theory, as they are themselves evidence of the “endemic” nature of white supremacy in Western society, and how it infects even those it would otherwise seek to oppress. Diaspora Jews don’t need this kind of “defense” regarding white imperialism. Our experience of anti-Semitism and the Black experience of racism are not mutually exclusive. Nor should anti-Semitism stoked in the Black community by white supremacists (who would prefer minorities attack each other rather than systems of power) be used to justify inherently racist structures.

Lastly, Ms. Phillips’ seeming need to excuse white guilt and defend Western culture from being the racism bogey man (as though the existence of racism beyond the West is somehow exculpatory) leads me to wonder if, in fact, the one feeling guilty is not actually Ms. Phillips herself? In my opinion, she would have reason to.

Jesse Bernstein

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