The first Kishinev pogrom (in modern times?) occurred during the first week of the 1903 baseball season which was eventually won by the Boston Americans, the godparent of the Red Sox and almost a decade before Fenway was built. It also fell on the Russian Easter which traditionally has not been one of the Jews' favorite holidays. Soon after the pogrom Russia's ambassador to the USA "Count" Cassini blamed the Jews for this because we would not "soil our hands by being farmers but would rather sit on our Jewish asses and lend money. I'm paraphrasing what I read in Wikipedia which is more than Rand Paul can say. This was the same head-scratching logic that just 111 years later the Turkish prime minister would use in his recent remarks regarding the events transpiring in Gaza and Israel.
Yale chaplain quits in wake of letter blaming Israel for rising anti-Semitism
Israel-natch- being the prime cause of anti-semitism in the world. The "Count" if you're keeping a scorecard was the grandfather of the guy who designed the "Jackie" look back during the Kennedy Administration. It was this pogrom that inspired W.R. Hearst to ask the great Irish patriot and labor leader, Michael Davitt, to travel to Russia and investigate
the anti-semitic outrages. His book, Within The Pale, The True Story of Anti-Semitic Persecution in Russia, was published in October, 1903 -perhaps on the day Cy Young outpitched Brickyard Kennedy of the Pittsburgh team. I have always found the story of Hearst and Davitt fascinating - Hearst was sort of still at the beginning of his outrageous career recently cashing in from his unctuous role in the Spanish-American War and Davitt was sort of at the end of his more illustrative life of fighting for the poor and oppressed- something Hearst too had visions of at one time. In one of the appendixes of Davitt's book - a Reuter's telegram from St. Petersburg dated June 13, 1903 echoes the thoughts of the "Count"( and prime minister). It relates the recantation of "the famous Orthodox priest", Father John of Kronstadt:
"To my beloved brethren of Christ in Kishineff: From the newspaper accounts that followed those first published about the Kishineff catastrophe, I have come to the conclusion that the Jews themselves were the cause of those disorders and the murders committed on April 6 and 7. I have arrived at the conclusion that it is the Christians who have suffered in the end, and that the Jews have been doubly repaid for their losses and injuries by their own brethren and others...I say to Kishineff Christians, forgive the reproach I cast upon you alone on account of the horrors perpetrated. From letters of eye witnesses I am convinced that one cannot lay all the blame upon the Christians, who were incited to the disorders by the Jews, and that the latter are mainly responsible for the catastrophe."
It is ironic - almost poignant - to consider that one of the more noteworthy incidents in Michael Davitt's life had to do with a popular protest against unfair rents and how land sales were regulated in British-Ruled Ireland ( this was sometime around 1877 to 1881). Davitt and his co-organizer, Charles Parnell, to make their point, had the local farm workers stop their harvesting of the estate of a Lord Erne. Now this Lord's agent or supervisor was a guy named Charles Boycott. To make matters a little more trying for Mr. Boycott the locals closed their shops, shut the laundries , and his mail was not delivered - you get the idea. The protest against Boycott was a big time news story for awhile, making all the local and British newspapers. Mr. Boycott was pretty much isolated after this started and so the local government under the control of the British had to send in what can be considered the equivalent of our National Guard to help harvest the crops and, I guess, do the laundry and deliver mail. It costs the British Government - that is if Wikipedia is right - "at least £10,000 to harvest about £500 worth of crops" and Mr. Boycott gave all English speakers from that time to this a new verb to conjure. (He died at the ripe old age of 65, in 1897, 2 months before the first Zionist Congress)
Capt. Charles C. Boycott
There was no World Series played in 1904. I forget why, something about John McGraw refusing to recognize the American League's legitimacy? Oddly enough there was no pogrom on the record either. A second Kishinev pogrom occurred in 1905 almost a week after the last World Series game was played. The '05 series was one for the ages. And so was that second pogrom. But I digress- I must ( Note to my reader: You may have noticed that when the subject gets a little too overbearing for me- events too horrible to "read" straight I seek a lighter counterpoint to offset the heaviness of the occasion- it may seem sacrilege and absurd but then again what are you complaining about. Not to wade into the muck of philosophical prosody here but I have always remembered an essay of George Steiner's where he is wrestling with one of those Holocaust themes of interminable meanings for the whole damn human race - actually I think thats a phrase from Mark Twain - and he writes that one of the things that he " cannot grasp, trying to get them into some kind of bearable perspective, is the TIME RELATION." And as soon as I had read that phrase I knew what he was going to say next:
"Precisely at the same hour in which (_______) and (____) were being done to death, the overwhelming plurality of human beings, 2 miles away on the Polish farms, 5000 miles away in New York were sleeping or eating or going to a film or making love or worrying about the dentist. This is where my imagination balks. The two orders of simultaneous experience are so different, so irreconcilable to any common norm of human values, their existence is so hideous a paradox - Treblinka is both because some men have built it and almost all other men let it be - that I puzzle over time. Are there, as science fiction and gnostic speculation imply, different species of time in the same world, "good times", and enveloping folds of inhuman time, in which men fall into the slow hands of living damnation? If we reject some such module it becomes exceedingly difficult to grasp the continuity between normal existence and the hour at which hell starts, on the city square when the Germans begin the deportations or in the office of the Judenrat or wherever, an hour marking men, women, children off from any precedent of life, from my voice "outside" in that other time of sleep and food and humane speech. On the fake station platform at Treblinka, cheerfully painted and provided with window boxes so as not to alert the new arrivals to the gas ovens half a mile further, the painted clock pointed to 3. Always." ( In subsequent sources the clock was painted to read 6)
[This passage - actually the whole essay entitled "Postscript" (I hope-see I copied it in a notebook I maintained long ago when I was quite the conscientious undergrad- eager to make known all that I read and thought to the awaiting war wounded world - I kept the notebook- for some reason- and lost the eager lad.) The spell-correct feature on my Mac automatically underlines Treblinka and Judenrat thinking -Macs think? - I must have mis-spelled them because it (obviously) doesn't have such words pre-programmed; the young programmers never heard of them - I guess- they're unknown- and therein lies another digression - but later.]
Its a little too easy- this evocation of disjointed time- but what better illustrative have we to bespeak our common humanity or is it inhumanity? Clive James, the distinguished and erudite cultural critic from Australia- and what cultural critic is not Australian or at least erudite- in his magnum opus , Cultural Amnesia , assays a guy named Wolf Jobst Siedler who I remembered from the indefatigable Gitta Sereny's book on Albert Speer, which is why you read a guy like James in the first place - not only has he read more than you but probably in the original language and besides he is quite fun and articulate at the same time and while I'm offering this priceless advise read Ms Sereny's journalistic journey (sorry); her INTO THIS DARKNESS and ALBERT SPEER: HIS BATTLE WITH TRUTH are literally the closest many of us will ever get to, well, the heart of darkness. Anyway, Siedler, whom James describes as a "fair choice for the title of Most Civilized Man in Post-War Germany, was as it happened to be - Albert Speer's publisher; more like his champion in those post-Spandau years and according to Ms Sereny, was a very smart and successful publisher who came from an intellectual family - his father was very much a liberal and very much anti-Nazi; young Wolf was even imprisoned for a spell for his "subversive" activities and then forcibly sent to serve on the Eastern front. Aside his publishing career James tells us that his "most valuable" contribution has been as an essayist and though criticized by some for being too placating to Nazi/German history James is able to cite this passage from a collection of his essays which I believe offers a glimpse of the man's sensitivities. Here he is alluding to Kristallnacht- Night of Broken Glass, March 9/10, 1938:
"... the most misleading thing about this State was that on the very evening of the burning of the synagogues, an event which brought the Eastern Europe of the Middle Ages into the Germany of the twentieth century, everywhere in the cities of our country festively clad people went to operetta, theatres, and symphony halls, and that, six hours after the deportation wagons left the station platforms of Berlin, the trains for the seaside left also."