Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Allen Suggests That Being Asked Whether You Are Jewish is an Aspersion

The Virginia Senatorial debates have started and they have been quite entertaining.

It seems that the progressive crew is scoring the meet the press showdown for Webb. A somewhat balanced quote from Raising Kaine:

*Allen is polished, but there's nothing really there. Webb isn't as polished, but there's a great deal there. Personally, I strongly prefer that a person of substance, not an empty suit spewing his party's mindless talking points, represent me in the U.S. Senate.

*Webb made it clear that he endorsed George Allen in the past because he thought at the time we'd get some good leadership out of him. Unfornately, we have not. Basically, Allen and Bush have led us into a "strategic blunder of historic proportions," as well as a "busted" budget and many other problems.

The big news though comes from a rediculous outburst.

Basically Allen was asked to comment on the report that his mother was Jewish. Though it isn't explicitly stated, I think the report is the Forward article that I blogged last week.

Wonkette's response is on-point:
This creeps us out on so many levels. The audience booing the very idea of Senator Macaca maybe being Jewish (or the audacity of asking him about it). And George Allen — whose mother was, yes, of the prosperous and well-known Jewish Lumbroso family — clearly so shocked — shocked! — at the question that he can’t bring himself to just fucking say “yes, my mom was a Jew, that’s why I bring up the fact that my grandfather was in a fucking concentration camp.” No, instead he suddenly (and temporarily, one presumes) becomes a First Amendment absolutist of a stripe we’ve never seen before: one who takes “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” to mean “the press doesn’t have a right to ask me if anyone in my family was ever a member of the Tribe in front of my milky-white constituents.”
In short, asking me if I am Jewish may be irrelevant, perhaps detracting from important issues facing Virginia/The USA/Our World, but please don't suggest that it is an aspersion. It is at worst a point of inconvenience for a fundamentalist chirstian to be a full-halachic jew but it ought to be a point of connection with the diversity of this country and a way to relate to the increasing number of americans who have blended heritage. So Mr. Macaca, it sounds like you really are a self-hating jew. I wish you'd get as excited about freedom of religion for this nation* as protected under the Constitution as he is excited about using that hallowed document incorrectly in a press sponsored debate.

*FYI, Allen recieved a 20% score from the ACLU which includes a prominant Freedom of Religion category.


At 9/19/2006 , Blogger aharon said...

I agree with your analysis, but I wouldn't ignore the fact that many non-Jews have a limited understanding of Jewish identity and don't really get it that Judaism is both a religion and an ethnic group with its own identity. Over the last year in Louisiana I've had at least five separate conversations with non-Jews who took pride in their ancestry being a gumbo of mixed ethnicities. This they either called, "being a mutt" or "Heinz 54"... and this in their mind was conflated with haing an American identity. There is something awkward and disturbing to them when they come into contact with groups who take pride in a single ethnic pride since it is so opposite with the casual acceptance of diversity they feel is founded on our mutual state of assimilation. And I think this comfort zone is predicated in the idea that you can be accepted as yourself in any social group mix. Benign racism is pretty closely related since with ethnic groups separated out by appearance, the imagined potential for acceptance and the anxiety that comes from the imagined lack of acceptance generates all sorts of narishkeit thoughts in these peoples heads. So it is much easier to think of Judaism in terms of a religion rather than as a people, because with a religion in America there is some assumption that it is something you would *choose* if you really wished to be religious. So Allen can score points by defelecting the question of ethinic identity to religious choice and still be seen as responding from a certain typical American attitude.


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