When I learned of Senator Dennis Johnson’s slur while debating a bill, I noticed something weird.
Most of my Orthodox friends were not as shocked or outraged as my non-Orthodox friends.
At first I wondered if Senator Johnson were perhaps unaware of the meaning of the slur. For example, I used the term “gypped” until recently, having been totally clueless that this term is a pejorative against Gypsies (Roma). I was likewise unaware, until recently, that “midget” is derogatory while “dwarf” is preferred, and that the Deaf community prefers Deaf with a capital “d.”
But when I watched the Senator’s weak apology, this explanation seemed unlikely.
So why am I not shocked or outraged? Mostly, because I am very “out” about my Judaism and am therefore totally aware, and even expect, to some extent, anti-semitism. I remember my grandparents telling me how some of their best Hungarian and Polish neighbors turned on them with a vengeance during the Holocaust. In taking a long view of Jewish history, this is the norm rather than the exception.
Do I think that Senator Johnson hates Jews? Nah. But neither do I fool myself into thinking that we’re well-liked out there in the world. Yes, even in America, and yes, even today. I would term it begrudging acceptance, for the most part. And I am aware that in the heterodox community, this is not a very popular view. Hence the shock and outrage anew each time a politician or celebrity slips in public with an anti-Jewish slur.
There’s a value to the shock and outrage, though. I think it draws us together as a people and reminds us that we are different. As you know, I think this a good thing.
In this world, there are some philo-semites and there are some anti-semites. The difference arises in your view of which category most of the world falls into.
What do you think?