Deb: What in the name of God is going on? Mel Gibson? Biting the hand that feeds you, Mel? Charlie Sheen? Yes, Charlie, it was anti-Semitic! John Gallianno? You love Hitler, do you, John?
Beyond my incomprehension that this is going on. I guess what really upsets me is the media response. There are tons of columns discussing the sordid ravings that are Charlie’s life and his addictions, and the details of his “Goddesses”. There is a lot of coverage about Gallianno and who will replace him at the House of Dior. Even more articles about Mel and the ponderings as to his future in Hollywood.
But where is the media outrage about the common denominator: anti-Semitism?
I am constantly struck––and always have been since I was a child––by the beauty and art and influence the Jewish race has brought to this world. Frankly, I am loath to think what we would be without them. Even Christmas––and of course we all see the irony in that––would be less joyful without the myriad of Christmas anthems penned by our Jewish brothers. I am not going to start a list here naming all the Jews who have enriched our lives, because this blog would have to be a hundred pages long. For me, off the top of my head, my life would be less fabulous without Chagal, Paul Newman, Woody Allen, Sally Field, Leonard Bernstein, Jack Benny, and Groucho, just to name a few. This is a teeny little sample of ONLY the well-known people from the Jewish community who have touched my soul.
When I was a little girl, my Dad, a passionate lover of the Jewish people, took pride in pointing out numerous Jewish people whom he loved and admired. My house was a lesson in racial harmony thanks to my parents and they would sing the praises of Negro (it was the 50’s and 60’s) and Jewish accomplishments louder, knowing that it needed to be louder. My Dad loved pointing out when I would admire someone aloud, “He’s Jewish, you know”.
Recently, much to my chagrin, I have had more and more occasion to visit hospitals. The one common thread throughout each and every hospital is the list of Jewish donors. And I am not speaking of Jewish hospitals alone. I am talking about every clinic, and every single hospital I am in. The selflessness of this community is saving the lives of so many people, some anti-Semites among them, I’m sure.
I have pondered this often, as many smarter people before me have, and I have no answers. Okay, maybe I’m grasping at straws, but is it the “chosen people” thing? Sounds silly I know, but are others jealous of this age-old label? Do they envy their accomplishments? Jealous of their ability to rise above centuries of sickening tragic circumstances? What? They exemplify the human spirit and yet they are punished for it again and again. I don’t know. I’m only ever left with questions.
Mr. Sheen, Mr. Galliano and Mr. Gibson, shame on you. I hope you are being ostracized. You deserve to be. It is not my business how you harm yourselves, but shut your racist mouths! And as for the media, speak the frig up! Fill our papers and our news and our heads with the shocking news that this type of thing is happening everywhere and all the time. It is our right to know the extent of it and it is our duty to show our disgust and disdain.
After all they have done for this world, it’s the very least we can do.
Barbara: Deb, I am as shocked and taken aback and, frankly, confused as you are after these series of unbelievable public remarks. Honestly, I wish we had no need to discuss racism at all anymore. But it seems that in the modern world of 2011, we still do.
The very idea of identifying people’s faiths when faith has nothing to do with the discussion at hand makes me really uncomfortable. If we’re talking about religion specifically and how it affects people’s lives, then of course religious background might be pertinent. But if we’re using religion to randomly insult and dismiss people, it’s just ludicrous and demeaning to us all.
So why racism in general and anti-Semitism specifically? Why target a whole group of people who have done nothing to hurt you? What purpose does it serve?
My first guess is that these outbursts come from a toxic kneejerk impulse to blame someone else for their own problems, to find a scapegoat. I mean, come on, how is Judaism relevant to train wrecks like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson? Did Chuck Lorre interrupt his set and force everyone to memorize the Torah? Did he divide his cast and crew between the “chosen” and the “un-chosen”? I don’t know Mr. Lorre—he might be the asshole some people say he is––but I’m gonna go out on a limb here (*sarcastic eye-roll*) and suggest his faith has nothing to do with how he behaves. Even less so the demure diners in that French restaurant sitting next to a hate-spewing John Galliano. Hats off to the grace of the innocent victims here: they didn’t sink to the same vile depths as their attackers to retaliate. No, they did what our parents always tell us to do: ignore them and they will go away. Or, better yet, post it to Youtube.
I think it’s time now for us to join hands with people everywhere in solidarity, not mouth off about the incidental things that keep us apart. Hate a specific person if you must, Mr. Sheen, but for godssake, for God’s sake, don’t blame the Messenger.