Controversial song by Tom Lehrer.

National Brotherhood Week was founded in 1931 by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. They were worried by the expressions of bigotry that accompanied the Hoover-Smith presidential campaigns a few years earlier.

By the mid sixties, it was clear that there was an increased need for a spirit of brotherhood elsewhere in American society. In his recording for That Was The Week That Was, Lehrer highlights the divisions that were around despite the NCCJ's best efforts. He mischievously implies that many forms of prejudice are normal, and that everyone will be relieved when the week is over.

The text below includes Lehrer's own introduction to the song.

"One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-Fun-Of-The-Handicapped Week, which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood - this year, for example, on the first day of the week, Malcolm X was killed, which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is.

I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that! Here's a song about National Brotherhood Week. "

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks;
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek.
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

All the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand,
You can tolerate him if you try!

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-Hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It's only for a week, so have no fear;
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

© Tom Lehrer; First appeared on That Was the Year That Was (1965). CST Approved. Lyrics appear with his written permission.

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