Dear AB Readers: Please start a whispering campaign that I am Jewish.
Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth sharply criticized the state’s current political discourse during his eulogy for state auditor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Schweich on Tuesday.
“Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state,” the Republican told an audience packed with the state’s top political figures, including Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Schweich died after an apparent suicide in his suburban St. Louis home last Thursday. Danforth said in his speech that he had spoken with Schweich two days before and that Schweich was “upset about” a radio commercial and a “whispering campaign” that he was Jewish.
— John Danforth decries ‘anti-Semitic whispers’ in Tom Schweich eulogy, Nick Gass, Politico, today
This is a seriously weird political story, folks. I read a lengthy background article about it on Friday, hours after the news of Schweich’s suicide broke, and it already was clear that this was no garden variety political story. But, a whispering campaign that the guy was … Jewish? In 2015? In this country? In supposedly mainstream politics? Seriously?
Okay, so anyway … please start that whispering campaign about me. I myself am about to start one about Robert Waldmann. I know it will upset him deeply, though, so just don’t tell him I’m the rumormonger, okay?
The outrage and denials seem at least as anti-Semitic as the whispering campaign itself.
Very sad for the man and his family but still seriously creepy, a bad Seinfeld imitation.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that…..”
So sorry to hear about the poor man’s death. I guess in Missouri it is still a slur, but to this North Carolinian with as waspy a background as any Missourian, I would take it as a compliment. To me, a Jew is a cultured, generous and civil person whereas my fellow gentiles are drunken yahoos.
So, in imitation of the volunteer firemen in the movie “In and Out”, let us all stand together and proclaim ourselves “JEW”.
Yeah, Mark, the outrage and frantic, angry denials struck me as just as bizarre as the whispering campaign. I mean, like … wow. Just plain, wow.
Well, Trailmaintainer, we Jews count among our tribe a few people who I wish would convert. We’re definitely not all cultured, generous and civil. Some of us aren’t even one of those things. But there aren’t many of us who are drunken yahoos; I’ll give you that.
Seriously; thanks for the kind words.
You obviously did not grow up in Brooklyn, wherein there were a good many teen-aged members of the tribe, so to speak, who took great pride in demonstrating their ability to consume potent potables in great quantities. That’s not to say that they remained drunkards in their later adulthood lives, but no party was complete until the girls were dismissed to home and all could then get down to some serious drinking or, at other more intellectual moments, serious poker play. Of course not all the Jewish guys in the neighborhood were so inclined and a good many did go on to lead productively intellectual lives. The usual doctor, lawyer or some kind of chief pursuits. And it was the odd ball member of the crowd that did not at least attempt to earn a college degree at the very least.
What always struck me most about the people I knew in the significantly Jewish areas in which I grew up, was that there was so little inclination to violent confrontation. There were a few Jewish “gangsters”, but they were certainly the few and far between. There may have been a covert level of racism, but few instances of demonstrable hate of any other group. And that in spite of the frequent awareness of being seen as the odd men out in the more general society. That being a significant factor in so many members of my own generation not seeing the military as a welcoming world. A NY Jew in Ft. Benning, Ga didn’t send home very positive reports about life in the barracks. The fact that people can attribute a man’s suicide to false rumors that that man was Jewish says nothing good about those making the attribution, nor about those spreading the rumors. What a world we live in.
I’m from Miami, pronouced “Miamuh” by us old time cracker and Yankee imports who came here in the ’30’s and ’40’s. I can’t imagine how anyone would be attacked for being Jewish. When I grew up, we were all trying to be as smart as we could be. Together and as a group. The last thing we thought of was who was Jewish. Missouri has more problems than I thought. And that’s a terrible thought. NancyO
I’ve lived in Missouri (pronounced “Missourah” by those who grew up here) for the last 32 years, as has my lovely and talented wife. Both of us were beyond surprised that being Jewish could be a serious political problem here (let alone a trigger for suicide), even among the notoriously backward GOP. Indeed, I have a feeling there is more to this story than antisemitism. Yes, Missouri does have lots of problems, and they don’t look to improve in the near future.
Hard for me to understand why people are surprised at the waspy right’s anti-semitism. I have seen it my whole life.
The only reason it has not reached the level of racism towards people of color is the “problem” of identification and the “fact” that the Jews are protecting Jerusalem, which makes some of them “one of the good ones”.
Yeah, I am not Jewish either but I certainly see a fair amount of anti-Semitism. I thought in fact that the original KKK listed Jews, Catholics and immigrants as enemies along with African Americans. I have never lived in Missouri, but have a sister who has lived there for 30 years and once you leave the cities it gets kinda scary in general.
Jack, one more comment like that and I’m gonna start a whispering campaign that you’re Jewish. You and that Waldmann guy who fled to Italy—birds of a feather.
I lived in Missouree—metro St. Louis—for three years, and when I was there everyone told me that people who lived in the eastern part of the state were Missoureeans and people who lived in the western part were Missouruhans.
Anyway, I hated metro St. Louis—hated, hated, HATED it—but sure never would have thought an allegation that a politician was Jewish would kill his chances as a mainstream candidate for statewide office.
My partner is Russian from Russia, and watches a lot of Russian television. Antisemitism is definitely alive and well in parts of the world east of Nova Scotia.
Reminds me of another tangentially related story from this week though, Michelle Rodriguez saying that minority actors shouldn’t adopt “white” superheroes. I’m sure that the, yes, mostly male and Jewish children of European immigrants (Stan Lee, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster) would have had interesting things to say about their whiteness in the 1930s and 1940s when they were creating characters like Captain America, Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern, etc. Many of them had to work under partial or full pseudonyms, and meanwhile created characters that were intended partially to be aspirational representations of an America that didn’t exist yet, and later became very real standard-bearers for discussion of race in America.
A lot has changed when those guys are representatives of the entrenched “old white male” powers dominating society to anyone.
EMichael and Terry, on a childhood family vacation into southwestern Wisconsin, one of my sisters caught some really virulent stomach virus and was vomiting profusely. After plying her with Emetrol bought at a small-town (there were no other kind where we were) pharmacy, we tentatively began the trip back home. As we reached the outskirts of Baraboo, my mother asked my father to stop at a roadside coffee shop we saw coming up so that my father could get a light sandwich, grilled cheese or some such, and a cup of ginger ale that my mother thought might help further settle my sister’s stomach. So we drove into the little gravel parking lot and my father went into the coffee shop.
After a surprisingly long time, he walked out carrying nothing other than a strange expression on his face. He got into the car and told us he was unable to get served at the lunch counter. He said nothing more, and I of course assumed that they were just very busy. (I was 11 or so.)
My father didn’t really look Jewish; he had sort of a generic-white-guy look. Many years later, my father mentioned the incident and told me that he had been refused service because they recognized that he probably was Jewish. I was dismayed; I said, “Daddy, you don’t really look Jewish. Are you sure it was that?” He said, “Yes. The Baraboo area is a hotbed of Klan activity. They knew I wasn’t from around there, and thought I might be Jewish.” (Wouldn’t wanna take any chances, anyway! Better to err on the side of safety. So, a whispering campaign.)
Occasionally after that conversation, my father would refer to that incident. But I hadn’t thought of it in a long time—until just last week, when during the Scott Walker controversy I read that terrific article from last summer by Alec MacGillis that I mentioned and linked to in my Walker post last week.
Ah. Déjà vu. All over again.
“Many of them had to work under partial or full pseudonyms.” Ooooh, yeah, JGoodwin. And it was NOT just Hollywood. My mother had a cousin named Heilmeyer Cohen who after getting an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at NYU applied for acceptance to a PhD program at Columbia and was rejected. He changed his name to Hill Priestly (Cohen means “high priest, or some such in Hebrew), reapplied and—voila!—was accepted. My parents also had a friend, named Annie Adler, blond and blue-eyed, who after several rejections for jobs she applied for after her high school graduation in the late ‘30s, applied for one as “Annie Alder,” and – you guessed it.
My father was a big-city journalist at a major Midwestern newspaper, much of it in an era in which there was a distinct glass ceiling for Jews when it came to the top editorship positions. The only Jew at my father’s paper to reach who reach one of those positions, as late as the late ‘70s—a man named Maurice “Ritz” Fischer, who became managing editor—had converted to Catholicism in his early 20s when he became engaged to a Catholic woman. This is not to say that Jews were discriminated against in assignments—there were Jewish columnists, and Pete Lisagor, the nationally esteemed White House correspondent for my father’s paper (and a close friend of my father’s), was Jewish, for example. But, you get the picture.
Beverly, I live in the Milwaukee area and grew up in northeastern Wisconsin, but bought property in southwestern Wisconsin–about an hour due west of Baraboo–and have spent a fair amount of time there as a result. It is to say the least an interesting mix of militia types, Amish, frac sand millionaires, aging hippies, organic farmers and Native Americans, all overlaying the folks your family ran into many years ago. Wisconsin is actually the home of the GOP, the John Birch Society and of course Tailgunner Joe McCarthy. Scotty Walker is just the latest in a long line of right wing politicians who tap into the predominantly German tribalism in the state.
Ah. Yes, John Birchers, not the Klan. Now I remember, Terry. That’s what my father said.
Odd, though, that McCarthy and Walker, neither of whom was (is) of German ancestry, knew exactly how to manipulate the Prussia thing. Then again, wasn’t Wisconsin one of the states whose Dem Party was the Farmer/Labor. Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin? Largely Scandinavian, of course, but German too.
You and I both know that the second n is an undeniable brand of blatant goyosity, you teasing shiksa.
Terry, well the GOP was the left-most available abolitionist party when it was founded.
Free Land Free Labor Fremont.
Also Bob LaFollette and the people’s republic of Madison. I’ve never been there, but your “an interesting mix” seems to hit the nail on the head.
guess it could happen in Alabama, too:
Alabama GOP bill would allow judges to refuse to marry gay or Jewish couples
“Judges could refuse to grant a divorce if divorce was against their religious beliefs; a Catholic judge could refuse to marry a Hindu, Muslim or Jewish couple, Susan Watson, executive director with Alabama’s American Civil Liberties Union, said.”
Hmm, rjs. And to think I had thought that I already had figured out all of the terrific implications of the privatize-fundamental-governmental-functions juggernaut. Silly me.