October 24, 2008

The Lady from Kalamazoo

Yesterday a colleague, who listens to Rush Limbaugh, related a conversation he had just heard between Rush and a Jewish lady, who had moved from an Eastern city to Kalamazoo, Michigan. This guest explained that unlike other members of the Jewish community, she was supporting McCain. When Rush inquired why other Jews of her acquaintance were not behind this presidential candidate, the lady pointed to ?their guilt feelings? in relation to blacks. Whereupon Rush tried to explain why American Jews should be lining up behind McCain, because unlike Obama, he was good on Israel. The guest responded that she agreed with Rush?s reason for backing McCain, but because of their feelings about the need to improve the status of blacks, whom they view as horribly disadvantaged, her Jewish friends were voting for Obama.

In almost 67 years spent among Jews on several continents, I am still waiting to meet the kind of Jewish leftist described by the lady from Kalamazoo. Possibly such Jews exist, like the very small number of German Jews who recklessly mistook Hitler for a traditional German patriot. What I am suggesting ,however, is that we?re not talking about a common type. Jews who support the American Left because they feel personally guilty about the relatively low social status of blacks may exist somewhere, but not anywhere that I?ve been. Their counterparts are the Irish Catholics who vote for the Left because they adore minorities and sit up nights agonizing over the marginalization of blacks and Hispanics. Again such Irish Americans may be around, but I doubt that one could fill a broom closet with them. The Jews and Irish of my acquaintance vote for the Left because they dislike white Protestants more than they dislike blacks or Hispanics. The Irish are still reacting to the WASP establishment because it discriminated against their ancestors, and they see this now vanished establishment as their historic adversary, lodged in the GOP. And for Jews, the GOP stands for the Christian Right, which they anachronistically associate with certain unpleasant folk memories coming out of Eastern Europe. As far as I can tell, none of this thinking has anything to do with feeling guilt toward minorities, a pathology that thrives best among WASPs and in Protestant denominations. But to get back to the lady from Kalamazoo, I can only wonder why she keeps running into people I have never encountered. Indeed having read the publications of the mainstream Jewish liberal ADL, I find there attacks on conservative Christians and critics of AIPAC but nothing about feeling guilty toward blacks. Perhaps if I manage to live another sixty years, I could actually meet some of the people this lady and Rush were talking about

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