Wednesday, September 20, 2006

George Allen -- a shonde for the goyim

The headline was just too weird for words: "Allen Says He Embraces His Jewish Ancestry." It was sort of like passing one of those small brick buildings on Route 7 out in Virginia that says, "TAXIDERMY AND TAX RETURNS DONE HERE WHILE-U-WAIT. COME ON IN FOR OUR $6.99 ALL-U-CAN-EAT CATFISH SPECIAL EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT. LIVE ENTERTAINMENT." Get a deer stuffed, have your taxes done and enjoy some good eatin' all in the same place? Who can pass that up?

Other than John Goodman's character, Walter, in "The Big Lebowski," I cannot think of anyone less likely to have secret status as a Chosen Person than the former governor of Virginia and its current Republican senator, George Allen.

Walk into the office of any Jewish lawyer, and among the items I guarantee that you will not find are these: a spitoon, a gun collection, a Confederate flag, a tree with a noose hanging from one of its limbs, and a photo wall featuring some handshakin' with local and notable segregationists. Dam gurnit if George Allen's law office didn't feature all of the above. And I'm pretty sure that your new Jewish lawyer wouldn't be wearing cowboy boots -- not unless they had just been unveiled at the new Barney's trunk show. Jewish people just don't do the down-home "wanna come see my new truck" thing. Jewish people will show you pictures of their new boat (the one permanently docked and never used); point with pride to an oversized ACLU gala fundraiser poster signed by Steven Spielberg; show off a photograph with a famous Gentile client, usually a sports hero (preferably an African-American) or a sultry sexpot(think Jessica Simpson, Angelina Jolie, Heather Locklear or perhaps some high-end porn star like Jenna Jameson.; and, if they're really well-connected, even show you their framed and signed photo of . . . Sandy Koufax.

Allen's Jewish roots came to light yesterday when a reporter asked him, during a debate with Democratic challenger James Webb, the following question: "It has been reported," said local TV reporter Peggy Fox, that "your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?"

Allen gave the "How dare you?" to Fox, and admonished her for bringing religion into the campaign. He lectured her on the importance of "freedom of religion and not making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs." Such a sensible statement from a man who has openly courted the Christian Right during his political career, sponsored the moment-of-silence legislation now in effect in the Virginia public schools, opposes abortion rights and equal rights for gays because that's what his Christian faith tells him and pointed out at least twice during the debate that he was "raised a Christian." Allen, according to multiple newspaper accounts, was pretty worked up over the whole line of inquiry. The question is, given his open flirtation with racist politics throughout his career -- he has labeled the NAACP a subversive organization, opposed the establishment of Martin Luther King's birthday and supported and signed "Confederate Heritage" legislation commemorating the Civil War as stand for states rights and territorial integrity -- whether his anger is rooted in a concern that some less enlightened Virginians might think he's Jewish or whether he doesn't like the idea of religious identity as a test to hold public office. Somehow, I can't imagine a reporter asking a question to George Allen, Jim Webb, or Maryland senate candidates Michael Steele or Ben Cardin that goes something like, "Sir, is it true that your grandmother's uncle was a Methodist?" Or better yet, "Sir, do you care to comment on the fact that not a single member of your family is gay?"

Politics is played from the inside out, not the outside in. John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, had to go before the public and claim that, yes, he believed in the separation of church and state and would not act as the Pope's de facto man in the White House; Geraldine Ferraro, our first and last -- so far -- female vice-presidential nominee had to prove that she could play tough with the boys; and Joe Lieberman had to reassure nervous voters that he would indeed make a medicinal exception on shabbos and push the nuclear button if necessary. In the end, who cares if George Allen has Jewish heritage or not; what matters is why it still matters. And there is no good answer to that, at least not yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Careful, you might be labeled as a "macaca"!

-Captain Malecek