Monday, February 17, 2014

‘National Brotherhood Week’

I try to remember to commemorate it every year, but sometimes I forget; while it isn’t even observed or remembered any longer—hasn’t been for decades—I still take a moment on The Magpie to bring to your attention National Brotherhood Week.

Click to enlarge.
Way back in 1927, the National Conference of Christians and Jews formed to offer an antidote to the religious bigotry that existed in mainstream public discourse—language that we in 2014 couldn’t imagine, but that passed for appropriate speech in living memory. Among the fruits of the NCCJ’s labors was the establishment of National Brotherhood week, an annual awareness campaign booked for the third week of February during which people of all backgrounds could celebrate their unity for a week no matter what their respective ethnic, religious, racial, etc. differences happened to be. It endured to maybe—perhaps, at the most—the early 1980s.

Naturally, it was ripe for satire during the decade of Civil Rights oppression, race riots, political assassinations, war, draft resistance, women’s liberation, and the rest of it.

Tom Lehrer, the brilliant mathematics prodigy turned satirical songwriter extraordinaire, was a big part of my growing up. (If you know me, and can’t stand having me around, the credit largely belongs to Lehrer, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Mad and National Lampoon magazines, and Monty Python, all of whom were amply represented in my childhood home.) So without further ado, here is the maestro, from That Was the Week That Was.


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