Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I lived in Virginia just around the time when George Allen was elected Senator. There have not been good political leaders from Virginia since Jefferson, and Allen is an example of that. The latest bit of nonsense is whether he used the “n” word in college, and whether, after a hunting trip, he put the severed head of a deer into the mailbox of an African-American family in the neighborhood of the University of Virginia, where he was a student at the time. Mr. Allen denies both allegations. Not that this doesn’t matter, of course, if you’re deciding on who is going to get elected to run the “Ministry of the Prohibition of Vice and the Advancement of Virtue”, but that job is already held by another noteworthy Virginian, an ayatollah named Jerry Falwell.

To consider re-electing a Senator, all that the voters need to know is whether AS SENATOR, Mr. Allen did his job fairly and impartially, and effectively, not whether he was once a racist or a liar. People change. Americans are silly and too moralistic about these things. We consider character as something immutable, like gold. Well that’s not true. Character is neither immutable nor is it like gold. Character is potential, and the degree to which that potential is realized is the degree to which we say a person has character. An old friend used to say, laughing, “Maybe telling one lie doesn’t make you a liar, but suck one dick...” This is a reflection of that moral streak in Americans. I stole when I was a kid, and I don’t steal anymore. Maybe Allen used to say the “n” word, and maybe he doesn’t say it—or even think it--any more. But Allen’s got a bigger problem, now.

Three of his four grandparents were Jews, including both of his maternal grandparents. Allen only supposedly found out a month ago, but his mother “swore him to secrecy”. Who’s his mother? Madeleine Albright? It just reaffirms that in Christian America, it’s worse to be a Jew than to be a racist. Oh, the shame of it all. Now everyone will know the deep dark secret that family has been keeping for 50-some years, as opposed to the open fact the family understood for 2,000. Self-hating Jews are the worst kind, but you could have understood it coming from the paternal, Nazi concentration camp survivor’s side. In order to guarantee that it never happened to his family again, he may have wanted to obliterate all traces of Judaism from his life. Fair enough. Difficult problems make for extreme solutions. But the mother swore him to secrecy, and both her parents were Jews. This is an open demonstration of how desperately some Jews need to fit in. That’s the self-hating side. Miss Daisy, of film fame, was both southern and Jewish—it’s possible, but you have to have character.
Why would someone bring up someone else’s “alleged” membership in the J-Club anyway? In America, one must always ask about motive. Our foreign policy is like us: we make allies, not friends, and that instrumentalism is part and parcel of American social life. America is not always what its promise is. It’s not always about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sometimes it’s about surviving, escaping the past, and forgetting the sadness. Sometimes it’s also about what those around you will let you do, but it’s usually about what you let others do to you. Character.


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