It's Yiddish for shame. And that's what most of the people who have contributed to the bruhaha of the past several days by accusing Jim Webb of jew baiting should feel.
Oh how one small comment can blow up all out of proportion. In the May 19, Washington Post, in an article on a debate between Harris Miller and Jim Webb on Joel Rubin's "On the Record" television show, Jim Webb referred to Harris Miller as the "anti-Christ of labor."
Now, I'll admit that was an impolitic thing to say. And it was disrespectful of Christians. However, Webb was simply trying to convey the fact that Miller is anathema to organized labor and to many high tech workers in unions like CWA. It's a term that others have used to refer to Miller's stand on outsourcing, guest worker programs and even the union movement itself. Miller is on record for many disparaging remarks about labor unions and the harm they do to big business. Ok, he's allowed his opinion.
And Jim, next time, please simply refer to him as Darth Vader to the labor movement. You may lose the aliens from outer space vote, but then they won't make it back to earth for the June Primary anyway.
Meanwhile back here on planet earth, the Virginia blogosphere has erupted with charges against Webb of jew baiting. In this blog, Shawn Kenney gives a whole explanation of jew baiting and its history. Since he starts by attacking a piece in Not Larry Sabato, Ben Tribett responded that he was pissed. And then Lowell, at Raising Kaine, chimed in.
Apparently, real Jewish bloggers, Ben Tribbett, Lowell Feld, Josh Chernila, and I are all pissed at Kenney and even at some Miller supporters who've run with this charge. And here's why.
There's something really despicable about accusing an innocent person of anti-semitism. I'll be the first to agree that Jim Webb came up with probably a poor choice of language. But blowing it out of proportion for personal fun and profit as some Miller supporters and a lot of blowhard, pompous Republicans are doing is dangerous because it trivializes the real thing.
I know something about anti-semitism. My father came to the U.S. from Poland when he was 12 years old. Then he served as an American GI in World War II. He was one of the first Americans to march into one of the concentration camps. Because he spoke German, Russian, Polish, Yiddish and English, he helped translate. He saw a lot of sights and heard a lot of tales that caused him nightmares well into the 1970s. And I heard a lot of those tales from him. Plus the anti-semitism he endured as a child before he left Lublin, Poland.
I only say this because I resent mightily when the term anti-semitism is bandied about to score points off a candidate. Again, nothing is more dangerous than trivializing the charge because then when the real deal occurs, people won't believe it. If you cry wolf too often, someday you'll get eaten alive.
Nobody should realize that more than Harris Miller, a fellow Jew. Whatever else I think of his political stands and what he does for a living, he is a Jew, like me. He should realize how dangerous the flames of this thing can get if blown out of control. He needs to put a stop to it by announcing that he does not believe that Webb meant the "anti-Christ remark" as anti-semitic or as Jew baiting.
And it wouldn't hurt for Webb to say that he is not anti-semitic and that it never crossed his mind that his remark would be taken in that context.
And then lets put a rest to this whole ugly chapter. And those who can't let it rest should be exposed as the ones who really aren't the friends of Jews.