Understanding Anti-Semitism and other irrational hatreds

If you start with a slight prejudice, and have it confirmed a few times by your own experience, you will often come away with the firm belief that you were right to dislike the suspect fucks all along.

I am Jewish, from a once-large family ruthlessly pruned by European anta-semits almost eighty years ago.  As one of the few left from a family wiped from the world, strictly on the basis of our religion and social status, I am aware of the murderous power of rage channeled into an ignorantly opinionated and violent belief system. It is the same anywhere, where one group kills another simply because they hate and feel righteous doing so.

Jews were hand in hand with blacks catching hell down south during the Civil Rights movement.   Both of my parents were reviled as “Nigger Lovers”, which was the common phrase for their type back then.  Now, more often than not, Jews and blacks find ourselves on opposite sides of a divide that benefits only powerful haters.   The way of this imperfect world, I suppose, to randomly divide and control groups of people, and a subject for another time. [1]

Yesterday I had a graphic illustration of how this hatred of groups works.   I waited on a long line in a health food store in Queens to buy some vegetarian burgers we like.   At the cash register I was surprised when the bill was $1.20 more than I expected to pay for the two items.  

 Before you say I’m conforming to the stereotype of the cheap, penny-pinching Jew who only thinks about the price of everything and is always looking for the best deal, consider me as an aware consumer who knows how much the thing he buys regularly is supposed to cost.    The price ranges from $4.99 to $5.49, everywhere.   This store charged $6.09.

The line had been long, it was raining out, a 60 cent surcharge for each item was not hard to pay. Nonetheless, I was a little disgusted at the greed of the store owner, a store doing a brisk and lucrative business, as I went back out into the rain.

On the way home I stopped in another store to pick up something else.  The price was a little higher for this item than at other places, but I was happy to find it so I bought it.

  The cashier rang it up and charged me almost a dollar more than the price on the item.  I paid and left, then looked at the price again and thought “what the fuck?”

I went back in, the manager was called over and I was subjected to a convoluted rationale for why the store was legally required, contrary to the actual law, to charge tax for this tax-free item.  I have never paid tax for this item in any of the dozen stores I bought it in.  That’s because it is illegal in New York City to charge tax for this kind of ready-to-eat item.  I looked at the young Korean manager, who stood firm on store policy, said nothing, left the store, later ate the food.   Now, for the insight.  

Both stores were run by Koreans, no doubt future crazy rich Asians.   I called an old friend and told her I’d had a graphic insight into the workings of antisemitism.   I was disgusted by the practices of both greedy store owners, both of whom happened to belong to a certain ethnic group, and that, therefore, it felt quite natural to draw a conclusion about the group personality of these “Jews of east Asia”.  

Much to my surprise, my friend immediately jumped, with surprising vehemence, into an animated and detailed discourse on the sometimes shady practices of Korean store owners.

“Koreans are famously greedy bastards,” she said, adding a few of her direct experiences with greedy Korean store owners, reminding me how brazen they’d been at the laundry after losing articles of our clothes more than once. This happened because they combined the washes of customers, to be a little more efficiently profitable.

She gave them some credit for having invented the salad bar, though, of course, it was also a way to charge inflated prices for rotting food that they cut the bad parts off of.    

“Some of them are greedy bastards, no doubt, but we can agree that not all Koreans are like that,”  I said, but the point was made.   She was really disgusted by greedy fucking Korean store owners in New York City.   It was a pet peeve of her’s, being ripped off by the snippy, greedy, entitled fucks.

We all swim in a sea of outrage.  Our fellow swimmers are constantly kicking and clawing us.  It is good to remember, somehow, that succumbing to hatred of everyone else, while easy to do, is important to resist.   Every one of us is an individual with a soul of infinite worth.  Even greedy fucking bastards.

Oh, yeah, here’s yet another example of Korean entrepreneurship in a disappointing context.  This occurred between my trips to the two Korean-owned grocery stores and, even though completely innocent  on the part of the school operators, would have sealed the deal, if I was the sort to make that kind of deal.  

I went to pick up a couple of whole wheat everything bagels at the bagel place on Horace Harding yesterday.   The place has been there since I was a kid, open 24 hours a day, selling hot bagels (boiled and baked in the back) for easily fifty years.    I was in there about a month ago, the place smelled great, the bagels were delicious.    

Yesterday the bagel place was a storefront school where local immigrant parents send their children so they will all get into medical and law school.  

How many more examples do you need?

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[1]   Though it was hard to ignore the spectacle of Jews of various political orientations coming together to denounce an elected official, a black woman, a Muslim, who’d bluntly stated that Israel is immune from criticism in America, no matter how extremely it behaves, because it has a powerful, well-funded political action network here in our pay-to-play democracy.   Imagine that, a fucking Muslim woman complaining about a group of Jews using their wealth to influence American foreign policy!   How dare she?!!!  (Even if it is true).   Fucking anti-Semite!  

The case for her anti-Semitism strikes me as thin, particularly in light of what she said afterwards, the content of her apology for insensitivity, what she said in the actual remarks from which the indictment of her was drawn.   She made the point that you cannot criticize Israel’s actions without being called an anti-Semite.  The almost universal reaction to her selected remarks showed that this point was true.   She also said that we dehumanize humans who are being brutalized, in order to remove their brutalization from the discussion of right and wrong.   I agree.  

Did any Iraqi civilian child have anything to do with the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein?  No, but many were killed, a fact made much easier to bear if they can be made “other”…   This is an ancient technique.  You are justified in killing a terrorist, always.  If you kill freedom fighters, on the other hand, you are evil.   Now just tell me which one is which.

The clip of her uttering the offensive phrase “dual loyalty” (of American Jews to Israel) was played over and over, and referring to hundred dollar bills, called “Benjamins” by rappers, (after notorious Jew Benjamin Franklin)  to make the irrefutable case that this African Muslim bitch is out of line.  

Personally, I believe what she’s said, both in the remarks she was condemned for and her interviews and statements since the “sensational” story, which blew up big time because attacking the power of AIPAC is as politically stupid as denouncing the NRA or Big Pharma, or the Oil Industry.    

A black woman, a Muslim, criticizing the decisive role of  money coming through the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) in determining American foreign policy– well, the only explanation is that she’s an anti-Semite, and possibly, also, a supporter of terrorism.  That or a freedom fighter, but fighting for the wrong freedom…