Stop calling me a putz, you putz

My maternal grandfather, a Jew born in Moscow, liked to call my uncle Kike Douglas. By all accounts, he was only playfully antisemitic (he died years before I was born, but I’m pretty sure I can tell truth from fiction in the family oral tradition). He’s not the reason that my uncle is such an incredible self-loathing Jew (although, to be fair, I guess my uncle only hates half of himself); the real reasons are that my uncle has spent his entire adult life trying to kiss up to the goyish white ethnics in his wife’s family and has lately gotten deep into a folie-a-deux with his wife, to the extent that they’re both completely estranged from my parents with the barest of explanations.

There was worse ethnic invective on that side of the family. One of his Asiatic-looking relatives (an aunt, if memory serves) had a habit of telling her own son, “You look like a Chink, you Chink.” Fine people. This may have been her way of acculturating to American norms as wished by my great-grandfather, whose main complaint was that “the problem with the Jews is that they aren’t assimilized.”

There was some nasty, honest-to-God antisemitism on the East Coast for much of my grandfather’s life. Discrimination was commonplace in public accommodations, especially hotels, into the midcentury. This discriminatory regime wasn’t nearly as bad as Jim Crow, but it wasn’t all that different in intent. My grandfather somehow found it amusing more than anything, especially since it was consistently my grandmother, a Scots-Irishwoman, who was taken for the Jew; I probably would have been more of a mind to put a two-by-four to the side of a front desk clerk’s head. The bigotry at play was no joke. It’s a damn good thing that it’s been forced deep into the shadows and all but purged from public life. We more or less learned our lessons from the Holocaust, and I, for one, am thankful for this. I’m not really Jewish, only a quarter by ethnic background, but I’m Jewish enough to catch the downsides of antisemitism. I don’t have any interest in doing aliyah or anything of the sort, but I do have an interest in having foreign armies chase officially antisemitic regimes back to the gates of their own capitol grounds. I’m Jewish enough for a Napoleon or an Eisenhower to come in bloody well handy from time to time.

There’s still some antisemitism in the United States. There’s apparently quite a bit more in Continental Europe and in the Arab world, the latter having imported it in whole cloth from Eastern Europe by way of Nazi Germany. The kind we have stateside is mostly quite mild, innocuous really. If it were a serious threat, or even a serious annoyance, I think I’d notice it. As I said, I’m Jewish enough to go on edge around antisemites.

But Jews say the damnedest things. Some of them, anyway. Just because there isn’t meaningful antisemitism doesn’t stop unscrupulous individual Jews from jumping on the ethnic grievance bandwagon and claiming the cheap points that amoral shysters in the mainstream media will obligingly award them for their trouble. Some years ago, I heard about a pathetic political scandal in which a Jewish politician claimed abundant offense because a goyish colleague called him a putz. Sententious talking heads intoned about how this term, putz, is offensive to Jews because it’s a crude reference to the male genitalia, and the gentile politician in question had a solemn duty to apologize to his aggrieved Jewish colleague. This entire scandal was an ex post facto violation of Godwin’s Law without anyone uttering a breath about the Nazis; that law was promulgated for a reason, after all, and yes, Godwin’s Law can properly be applied ex post facto.

I don’t recall who the fuck the Jew and the goy involved were, although I think the goy was an Alphonse D’Amato type from New York. In any event, no one in this media circus had the presence of mind or the courage to ask the aggrieved Jewish politician, “Well, were you being a putz or weren’t you?” Think about it: if the slur came out of nowhere, the guy might have said, “beats me what the hell got into him.” But methought the gentleman did protest too much. He was butthurt at being called out for his own prickery, and the only recourse he had, other than being a bit ethical and allowing his countervailing mitzvahs to speak for themselves, was to gin up a mob to tell goys that they dasn’t use that kind of ethnic slur.

But it’s not a fucking ethnic slur. It’s nothing more than a Yiddish equivalent to “prick.” Maybe the goy was a douchebag to calculatingly use a Yiddish term on a Jewish colleague, but good grief, why can’t a politician have a thick enough skin to not totally freak out because some dipshit colleague called him a dickhead? And who the fuck appointed him as the Sheriff of Yiddish, with the authority to approve or deny the goyim their recourse to one of New York’s most widely spoken ethnic languages? If he wasn’t a putz before the fact, the motherfucker certainly was by the end.

The problem isn’t politicians calling one another stupendous schlongs. If that were the extent of it, voters could easily enough decide whether the dick discernment in question was a fair assessment or, if it takes one to know one, prick projection. No. The problem is politically correctness putzes in the media going along with this outrageous Kosher White Whine that some cocksucker calling his peer a dickhead in Yiddish was an ethnic slur just because the recipient was a Jew and the insult monger a gentile. Shit, if that’s the state of American antisemitism, sign me up for a yellow Star of David. To judge from the furor over this spat, one would think that the poor bastard had been told to go take his Jew ass back to Israel or denied lodging or employment on account of his ethnicity, not critically butthurt by a schoolyard taunt from another adult politician.

More recently, Joe Biden caused an uproar on the Jewish grievance-trolling scene by referring to shyster bankers as Shylocks. I haven’t read The Merchant of Venice, but apparently Shylock is an aggressively sleazy piece of shit banker whose ethnic typecasting is a calumny upon the Jews, an outdated, offensive character whose name ought to be purged from the modern lexicon in the interest of Orwellian thoughtcrime abatement–excuse me, sensitivity to marginalized ethnic groups that are disproportionately represented in the financial sector.

It’s time for a moment of realtalk from your loyal goyish quarter-breed. The level truth is that there is a certain segment of Jews, many of them in high finance, who serve as excellent founts of other people’s antisemitism through the example of their own lives. There is also a serious corollary problem with Jewish organizations being hesitant to publicly tell these predatory shysters to go fuck themselves and stop making other Jews look bad. A similar pathology can be seen among cops: private citizens might have a more nuanced sort of fuck-the-pigs worldview if good cops unabashedly denounced bad ones like Manuel Ramos and Darren Wilson for tarnishing the badge.

Shylock, then, ought to serve as an important object lesson in the moral formation of at-risk Jews. Reputable Jewish parents can readily pick up a copy of The Merchant of Venice and tell their children, “See this filthy putz? He makes us look bad. Be a pal and don’t be a shyster like him. Then the goyim will get along with you better, although maybe not the really dense ones.”

Somehow, Joe Biden’s very apt reference to Shylocks was interpreted as an expression of antisemitism. I can’t even. Does anyone seriously, truly think that Joe Biden is an antisemite? I don’t mean that he doesn’t like you because you’re an asshole who happens to be a Jew; I mean that he has an abiding bigotry towards all Jews that makes it impossible for him to be decent and fair to the majority of Jews who are not vibe-killing asshats for the rest of their coethnics. Can anyone believe such a thing for half a second without rolling in the deep with Mr. McFeely? This is a truly bizarre proposition. It isn’t just crying wolf; it’s crying wolf while pointing furiously at a Yellow Lab who, at worst, is slobbering all over someone who isn’t totally into dogs.

Joe Biden would have gotten along wonderfully with my maternal grandfather. They probably would have kept each other up all night with Shylock stories. And my great-grandfather, hearing of ostentatiously offended ethnic grievance trolls suggesting that Biden is an antisemite on account of a perfectly apt Shakespeare reference criticizing specific antisocial bankers, would surely have been vindicated for his desire to assimilize the Jews into mainstream American norms of not being chronically butthurt over innocuous trivialities.

Until we meet again, shalom, putzim. Peace be upon the lot of ye.

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