"fully analyze the living text that is a man, it must be done four ways"
February 19, 2020 11:06 AM   Subscribe

To Dream of a Jewish President, Talia Lavin (on twitter as @chick_in_kiev) writes for The New Republic: "What would it mean for Bernie Sanders, America’s most famous Jewish politician, to become its commander in chief?"


Talia Lavin @chick_in_kiev
I wrote about Bernie. And what having a Jewish president might mean. And his life and being a Jew in public in America and how we do it.
...
At any rate, however you feel about Bernie (and I’ve felt a lot of different ways before arriving at my present admiration), this was an example of writing a piece I wanted to see in the world and hadn’t. And thank you for reading it.
posted by the man of twists and turns (55 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy fuck my heart. (He’s not even my first choice.)
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'll be THRILLED if Bernie is the next president. Off to read the article…
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


[One deleted; the article's about Sanders, let's stick to that rather than naming other Jewish political figures without further context.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:38 AM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]


I voted for bernie in 16, but will probably not be doing so this time around.

I continue to respect the shit out of the fact that he refuses to mince words about Palestinian liberation and Israel's occupation.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2020 [12 favorites]


He may not wind up being the best president, not the least because of Republican intransigence, but I feel he's the best person to become president. Warren is the other way around.
posted by rhizome at 11:57 AM on February 19, 2020 [8 favorites]


[One deleted; the article's about Sanders, let's stick to that rather than naming other Jewish political figures without further context.]

Well no, I don't think the article is about Sanders himself. It's about the impact of a Jewish President, and discusses Sanders in that light. So it's strange that it doesn't even mention Bloomberg at all. I don't support him, but he is another prominent Jewish politician, and is also running to be President. If we're talking about "To Dream of a Jewish President" then Bloomberg is worth discussing.

However you feel about either person, it's pretty remarkable that two contenders in the Democratic primaries are Jews.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 12:11 PM on February 19, 2020 [18 favorites]


"To Dream of a Jewish President" may be the title of the piece, but the piece itself is very specifically about Sanders. Titles are often created or chosen by editors, not the writers, but even if Lavin chose it herself, she very clearly wants to talk about how Sanders' Jewishness and his specific life situations affect her.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:15 PM on February 19, 2020 [6 favorites]


All this is so plainly Jewish that in a Jewish heart it strikes a chord of deepest recognition. What is familiar is not necessarily beloved; what is known is not necessarily wanted; but to be an American Ashkenazi Jew and listen to the speech of Bernie Sanders, and watch the motion of his hands, is to know he is one of us—a carbon copy of an uncle or a member of one’s synagogue. His hands thrust up in the air are ours; he, too, can illustrate the punch line of the old joke, “How do you make a Jew shut up? Tie his hands behind his back.” The rough cantorial rise and fall of his voice says Jew and Jew and Jew while it says justice and billionaires and health care.

This is beautiful. I remember the chord it struck in me when Biden dropped that malarkey line in his debate with Paul Ryan. For a second it was my great-uncle up there. What that would feel like in an atmosphere in which people were marching with tiki torches against us and there were mass shootings and hateful graffiti, I imagine it would resonate all the more, regardless of whether the candidate’s policies and yours align.
posted by sallybrown at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2020 [12 favorites]


The article does two things, and unfortunately conflates them. On the one hand, it talks in abstract about how much a Jewish President would mean to the author. On the other, it talks about Sanders' Jewish identity has affected the author. But they're not the same thing for the simple fact that Sanders isn't the only Jew running. Again, you don't have to like Bloomberg, but he does exist, he is Jewish, and he is running for President.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


Holy shit, for some reason I had completely forgotten Bernie is Jewish. Not that it matters to me, but that would be pretty interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2020 [7 favorites]


The article does two things, and unfortunately conflates them.

It really doesn't. She has several paragraphs dealing specifically with how his Judaism intersects with his leftism, for example. Bloomberg is a whole article's worth of different than Sanders, and obviously not one that resonated with Lavin.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:35 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


The article does two things, and unfortunately conflates them. On the one hand, it talks in abstract about how much a Jewish President would mean to the author. On the other, it talks about Sanders' Jewish identity has affected the author. But they're not the same thing for the simple fact that Sanders isn't the only Jew running. Again, you don't have to like Bloomberg, but he does exist, he is Jewish, and he is running for President.

It's not weird that the author isn't inspired by someone she probably considers loathsome. I'm Jewish and I think it's strange that you imply our personal narratives have to be apolitical in a certain way to be valid.

Personally I'd love to read a thoughtful piece about how Sanders and Bloomberg represent the best and worst of our community's elders but this article isn't that.
posted by dusty potato at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2020 [25 favorites]


It really doesn't. She has several paragraphs dealing specifically with how his Judaism intersects with his leftism, for example. Bloomberg is a whole article's worth of different than Sanders, and obviously not one that resonated with Lavin.

It really does. This is the first paragraph:
I am writing this article because I’m a Jew. I was asked to write about what having a Jewish president of the United States might mean to me, and in the course of both writing and researching the piece, I was reminded of how my ancestors broke down the texts they loved, how they sifted through the letters for meaning. To write about Bernie Sanders, I had to go to the fourth and the thirteenth centuries before reaching the twenty-first. I found it impossible to understand something so large and strange as the thought of a Jewish president—much less the meaning of a man, his already considerable life, his towering ambition, and all that might come to fruition if his presidency occurs—without turning to older tools.
It is about the amazing idea of a Jewish President, with the assumption that Sanders is that Jewish President, and therefore talks about Sanders. I don't think it's fruitful to go back and forth on this any more, if you still disagree, though. It may be worth noting that I am Jewish and I plan to vote for Sanders in my state's primary.

I only want to say that, though I claim no special insight or predictive ability regarding the Democratic primaries, from what I have read it is not unlikely that as they wear on the progressive elements of the party may coalesce around Sanders and the moderate elements around Bloomberg. This will result in the historic situation of it being a contest between two Jews to become the Democratic Party Presidential nominee. I think that is worthy of consideration in the context of the possibility of a Jewish President.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 12:41 PM on February 19, 2020 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't expect Talia Levin to feel obligated to include Bloomberg in this highly personal essay about what Sanders's candidacy means to her as a Jew any more than I would expect, say, Neera Tanden to feel obligated to mention Sarah Palin if she were writing about what the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren meant to her as a woman.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2020 [32 favorites]


Esquilax you should pitch a big article about Bloomberg and maybe they'll publish it with an apology for not including him in the previous article.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:52 PM on February 19, 2020 [17 favorites]


Fascinating approach, beautifully written. Thank you.
posted by mwhybark at 1:03 PM on February 19, 2020


There's a brief New Yorker piece on Larry Sanders, the candidate's ex-pat brother, which I found was rather sweet and heartfelt, and touches upon cultural aspects of growing up together in New York's Brooklyn borough.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]


I understand the reasons why an article about Sanders isn't the same as an article about Sanders and Bloomberg, and that they're very different candidates - and that as a personal essay, the author wasn't obligated to mention anyone she didn't want to. But the entire essay is about what it would mean to have a Jewish president, and then essentially defines being Jewish as being progressive and Ashkenazi and leftist. And while I agree that that is a huge part of the American Jewish experience, and one that as a Jew I particularly am proud of and identify with, I also find it crazy troubling that Bloomberg's name didn't come up in passing. It's getting awfully close to implying that Bernie is a real textbook Jew and Bloomberg... isn't? That because he's not progressive, doesn't have a Brooklyn accent, isn't Jew-y enough, he doesn't count. Or doesn't fulfill the dream of a Jewish president? Or isn't enough of a thumb in the eye of the people who hate us?

It just left me with a bad feeling, where adding literally one sentence would have made that go away.
posted by Mchelly at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2020 [8 favorites]


(I do think it’s worth noting that this was published a week ago, and therefore pitched and written before that. Not that Bloomberg hadn’t been running—he definitely was—but the limelight didn’t seem to move to him until this weekend and he didn’t qualify for a debate until this week.)
posted by sallybrown at 1:20 PM on February 19, 2020 [14 favorites]


To have a Jew in the Oval Office would at the very least complicate these theories. It is difficult to have a country secretly controlled by Jews if it is openly led by one. This would not mean a reduction in anti-Semitism, necessarily, but one wonders how such theories would adapt, whether the antagonism would become more pronounced or veil itself still more.

Given the history of the Obama presidency, I am very much afraid of the former. I’m sure most of the antisemitism would be veiled, much like the racism was, but it would be on full display.

Which is a good reason to vote for Sanders, all things considered.

I do question if an orchard is really more beautiful or useful than a mule, but I’m certainly not going to argue with a rabbi about it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2020 [13 favorites]


Thank you for posting this piece.
posted by flamk at 1:27 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


[One deleted - please read the article if you're asking "why does it matter to her", that's what the article is about.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:27 PM on February 19, 2020 [9 favorites]


Bernie Sanders is not my preferred candidate by policy or temperament, and I have expressed big doubts about his electability and his effectiveness, should he become President in another thread.

However, it is remarkable that the leading Democratic candidate is Jewish, and another Jewish candidate is rising quickly. I wish my Jewish father had lived to see this. A passionate supporter of civil rights, he died in 2006, sadly missing Obama’s election, too. (No idea whom he would have supported.)

Should either Sanders or Bloomberg become the nominee, it will be interesting to see the extent of anti-Semitism directed at them, and how they will handle it.
posted by haiku warrior at 1:29 PM on February 19, 2020 [8 favorites]


The full title of the article is:

To Dream of a Jewish President
What would it mean for Bernie Sanders, America’s most famous Jewish politician, to become its commander in chief?

On one hand the title tells us the article is about what a Jewish president would mean to the author.
On the other hand the sub-title adds a bit more specificity, telling us that the article is about how Sanders' Jewish identity has affected the author within the context of the dream of a Jewish President.
On the other other hand... Well, there isn't one, those two other hands accurately and fully describe the article the author wrote. From the title alone, the conflation is clearly intentional. In my personal opinion, broadening it to include another candidate who happens to also be Jewish would water it down. How do we know that the author didn't include Bloomberg in an early draft and her editor asked her to cut it for that reason? We don't know what happened during the writing and editing process. But, to criticize an article because it focuses on exactly what the title says it would instead of what you really wanted to read isn't fair.
posted by dchase at 1:30 PM on February 19, 2020 [7 favorites]


That's a beautiful piece and worth the long-read.

My personal Jewish answer to "What would it mean...?" - it would mean that hell had frozen over (I have little faith in the American voter at this point to vote beyond their biases). Still a frozen hell means ice skating, so maybe it's not all bad.
posted by kokaku at 1:55 PM on February 19, 2020 [6 favorites]


Sanders and Bloomberg are contrasting archetypes and one could actually write a good essay about that but a.) it's very possible this one was mostly written before Bloomberg was being taken seriously as a competitive candidate and b.) given where Lavin stands ideologically, Bloomberg would have been a thornier character to write about. Comparing Sanders to Schumer at least narrows it down to a smaller set of fraught contrasts.
posted by atoxyl at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


I will be voting for Bernie again for a lot of reasons, but one is certainly that he reminds me of my Dad, who also grew up in Brooklyn in the 40s.
posted by fraxil at 2:29 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]


To hopefully cut off this "but whyyyyy not Bloomberg" line of questioning, Lavin's reasoning (direct from her Twitter feed) is that:

1) It is a completely different story to tell
2) She wasn't asked to write about that story
3) He hadn't yet been in a debate or primary when she wrote it (it was published Feb 13, but that obviously doesn't mean she turned it in that day or even that week)
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 2:55 PM on February 19, 2020 [21 favorites]


Thanks for that link, Glegrinof. That it was written before he was in the race was all I needed to hear. Though I would have appreciated an editor's note to that effect. My point wasn't that the piece should be about both of them -- only that it was ooky that he wasn't mentioned at all.
posted by Mchelly at 3:00 PM on February 19, 2020


When I was a kid, I asked my mom if we would ever have a Jewish president, and she told me no.

I am very homesick. I grew up surrounded by people who talked like Bernie and looked like Bernie.

Now I have coworkers who can't grasp the concept of why they need to reschedule big meetings on Yom Kippur. They have a tree that they have decided to keep up all year now and decorate for every fucking Christian holiday. They do caroling at work on work time during December.

My company has scheduled new hire orientation on the High Holy Days for the past two years, even after I emailed HR and the diversity office (they told me that HR knows what dates they can schedule things on).

Verbal bullshit from my coworkers whenever there is a whiff of me being Jewish.

I think he's very smart not to have led with his Jewishness because this country is full of fucking bigots, but I almost cried watching him talk about his connection to Judaism on TV.

I enjoyed the article; thank you for posting.
posted by marfa, texas at 3:04 PM on February 19, 2020 [41 favorites]


That because he's not progressive, doesn't have a Brooklyn accent, isn't Jew-y enough, he doesn't count. Or doesn't fulfill the dream of a Jewish president? Or isn't enough of a thumb in the eye of the people who hate us?

Basically, yes. Until we can make people like Bloomberg feel like they don't count in our community, we won't be free. Anyhow, he currently "counts" billions of times more than any of us so I'll save my sympathy for the time being.
posted by dusty potato at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2020 [6 favorites]


The article's a bit of a mess, historically speaking. To start with, Disraeli was Anglican. The author goes to a lot of effort to claim him, despite that, but if you're making a comparison then surely this should be lampshaded: if his father had not had his son baptised, there could have been no Disraeli MP, later PM. That's a difference America can be proud of.

Then, too, the author is very careful to stipulate that she's restricting her comparisons to Jewish leaders "of a major Western power". Wikipedia actually has a List of Jewish heads of state and government. There have been many! Perhaps none of those positions are as globally significant as a modern American President or Victorian Prime Minister, but – Italy! France! Russia! Even the heads of smaller states should count for something: quantity has a quality all its own. I'd love to see some analysis of what these leaders meant for the Jewish communities of those countries. In fact, I'd have been interested in some actual comparison to Disraeli. The absence of any of this makes her article seem thinly researched.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:18 PM on February 19, 2020 [6 favorites]


Italy! France! Russia!

Léon Blum, Prime Minster of France three times 4 June 1936 – 22 June 1937 and 13 March 1938 – 10 April 1938 and 16 December 1946 – 22 January 1947 is a good comparison, a socialist and head of the Popular Front government that existed in the run-up to WW2. There's a profile of him from The Atlantic in '37, and some critical reassessment recently.

The same parliament that elevated Blum later handed dictatorial powers to Pétain.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:31 PM on February 19, 2020 [4 favorites]


Until we can make people like Bloomberg feel like they don't count in our community, we won't be free.

Until we stop telling other Jews they don't count, we won't be free, left to right, Charedim to atheist, and anything and everyone in between.
posted by Ruki at 3:43 PM on February 19, 2020 [13 favorites]


This isn't intended to be an essay on world Jewish leaders through history, it's a personal piece about the many ways she can see herself and people like her identifying with one specific, living, American leader. Why the hell should she spend more than the couple of sentences on someone like Disraeli (or Bloomberg for that matter) when the only personal connection is being Jewish?
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 3:43 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


I mean, to the people defending Bloomberg...

Do you really think the fucking memes about greedy rich Jews are gonna disappear with him in charge when very realistically Bloomberg as an an individual actually often represents those horrendous fucking stereotypical ideas about the entire Jewish community?

So yeah, maybe that might have something to do with the author associating being a Jewish President with being leftist and being a decent person. Maybe we're trying to get away from established negative stereotypes.

It couldn't possibly have to do with literally decades upon decades of vilification of an entire group of people and treating them all as if they're rich money-grubbers who control the world and as if Bloomberg doesn't fit that shit to a T. He's literally buying the fucking election.

Obviously, as a reasonable person, I get that this doesn't mean Bloomberg represents all Jews. Alt-Right nutters are not that kind of reasonable, and so giving them real ammunition for their little foibles doesn't seem like the best fucking idea.
posted by deadaluspark at 3:58 PM on February 19, 2020 [4 favorites]


Yes, because there are no established negative stereotypes about Jewish leftists.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:02 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


Yeah, and are those the ones being posted to /r/conspiracy daily, or are they ones where rich money grubbing Jews control the world? Yeah, it's the fucking latter.
posted by deadaluspark at 4:03 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and are those the ones being posted to /r/conspiracy daily, or are they ones where rich money grubbing Jews control the world? Yeah, it's the fucking latter.

I mean, there's both. Sometimes at the same time! The resurgent Judeo-Bolshevik myth dictates that the grand conspiracy is a coordinated two-pronged attack and that the Bernies and Bloombergs of the world are hatching the dastardly scheme together because they're actually all bosom buddies. Of course it makes no sense at all, the left and capitalism being clearly antagonistic, but fascism and coherence are oil and water.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:12 PM on February 19, 2020 [6 favorites]


I have no idea what's on /r/conspiracy, but I see lots of stuff about how Jewish "cultural Marxists" are trying to destroy America, and I see it on, like, Twitter. This is not exactly a fringe aspect of contemporary antisemitic thought. And there's a tinge of victim-blaming, like somehow Jews could combat antisemitism by being better people. Jews are not responsible for people hating us, and people are going to hate any Jewish candidate, including (and maybe particularly) Bernie.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:13 PM on February 19, 2020 [11 favorites]


This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


I think this person can write whatever she wants tbh and I think it's 100% okay to be Jewish, leftist, think that's the right position to take, and unapologetically assert it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:46 PM on February 19, 2020 [10 favorites]


also you definitely don't need to post a correction to make it less gross that this person had these feelings at this time; not giving your preferred political positions space in a personal essay is not unfair
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:49 PM on February 19, 2020 [7 favorites]


This really resonated with me. I'm both like and not like Bernie Sanders in a lot of ways, and he's like and not like people in my family, and so, see that paragraph sallybrown quoted above about the tension between "familiar" and "beloved" and "known" and "wanted" not always lining up.

Bernie to me means a certain type of yiddishkeit: it means people making Yiddish signs , and it means me talking my partner about the open question of, say, whether or not Bernie would have a Seder at the White House (and, if he did, how it would be with a Yiddish Worker's Circle Haggadah with no mention of God).

Bernie represents a very New York type of Jew, and it's a particular type of Jewishness that's hard to keep up outside of New York--I know other strongly socialist folks who were proudly areligious growing up in New York who felt the need to join a synagogue when they moved out of the tri-state area just because that was the only Jewishness available to them. And it's been interesting watching some of the media coverage having issues dealing with Bernie's brand of Jewishness (see, e.g., commentary on an article calling him "religiously unaffiliated").

Which is all to circle around to Michael Bloomberg also being a particular type of New York Jew, and that yes, this would be a very different essay if Lavin was meditating on "What if Jewish president?" in general vs. "What if Jewish president, and that president was a Jew like Bernie Sanders?"
posted by damayanti at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2020 [10 favorites]


also you definitely don't need to post a correction to make it less gross that this person had these feelings at this time; not giving your preferred political positions space in a personal essay is not unfair

Can't believe that I'm coming back into this thread, which has turned incredibly gross, but on the off chance that this is directed at me, I was commenting from a Jewish perspective, not a political one. Being disturbed at what looked like someone being intentionally erased from a narrative because they don't fit the writer's ideal minority description is not the same as requiring equal coverage or expressing my own political preferences, which frankly aren't for either of those two old white guys, Jewish or not.
posted by Mchelly at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2020 [7 favorites]


Sorry, he lost me at "Bern the witch".
posted by heatherlogan at 5:27 AM on February 20, 2020


I'm not defending Bloomberg the candidate. I am defending Bloomberg's Jewishness, in the sense that even in this thread Sanders is being positioned as the right kind of Jew and Bloomberg the wrong kind of Jew. And this really brings into focus for me exactly why Metafilter has long had such a problem with antisemitism and that topic we don't do well.

I volunteer for Warren's campaign, FWIW. It's really not about the politics.
posted by Ruki at 7:26 AM on February 20, 2020 [4 favorites]


Bernie is not my first choice, but I liked the article and enjoyed reading it. Maybe I'm not overthinking it enough.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2020 [2 favorites]


I am defending Bloomberg's Jewishness, in the sense that even in this thread Sanders is being positioned as the right kind of Jew and Bloomberg the wrong kind of Jew.

To be more explicit about something I didn't state directly in my other comment, though, I think it can be difficult for "Bernie Sanders type Jews" to express the full range of their feelings about "Michael Bloomberg type Jews" because one is caught between not wanting to give an inch politically and not wanting to frame anything in a way that plays into antisemitism. I meant it when I said I think one could write something really good about this, or about what each of these guys embodies about a particular generation of East Coast American Ashkenazim, but it would have to be really good because it's a hard thing to write.
posted by atoxyl at 11:27 AM on February 20, 2020 [6 favorites]


I feel like this thread is a perfect showcase for why many left Jews-- well, I'll speak for myself-- feel so smothered within our own community. It's literally impossible to discuss anything that prioritizes our values without people jumping in to complain that the thread has "turned incredibly gross" because their own politics aren't being centered, or that the space itself is antisemitic because Jews present are willing to call someone loathsome in our community loathsome. It's fucking exhausting.
posted by dusty potato at 7:40 PM on February 20, 2020 [5 favorites]


He IS loathsome! But you can't take away someone's Jewishness, make them, in your own words, not count in the community, for being loathsome! And I am a left Jew, too, though clearly not in the correct way for Metafilter. It's fucking exhausting.
posted by Ruki at 5:14 AM on February 21, 2020 [2 favorites]


I'm still hung up on the need to include Bloomberg in her piece at all. "Jews are not a monolith" is a fundamental concept for fighting anti-Semitism, but it's being completely ignored here. Why can't she just talk about Zayde Bernie because that's what she likes to do? Maybe she just really doesn't want to write another 5000 words about the existential horror of the possibility that the first Jewish President will be a fascist and a bigot. You don't have to like it, but all that means is that the article is not for you. She's not using it to judge Bloomberg's Jewishness, or mine, or anyone else's but hers and Sanders'. Why not just let her have that?
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:44 AM on February 21, 2020 [3 favorites]


I don't feel the way the author feels about Bernie at all, and I'm actually having an interesting/ slightly disturbing time trying to figure out why. I have a pretty visceral recoil from the guy, and I also really don't have any desire at all to have a Jewish president, because I don't want to deal with the massive amount of antisemitism that a Jewish president would definitely stir up and/or expose. And I'm worried that this reveals a kind of assimilationist impulse, a kind of Jewish respectability politics, that I'm not super proud of. One of the things that the past couple of years has laid bare to me is that I'm dealing with a shit-ton of inter-generational trauma, and it has deeply influenced how I'm coping or not coping with the current political moment. But despite, or maybe because of, my not sharing Lavin's perspective, I really liked this piece. I think it's much more nuanced and in some ways ambivalent than some people here are depicting it as. Lavin feels hope and dread at the prospect of a Bernie presidency. I just feel dread. But I totally see where she's coming from, and I think she's articulating some stuff about Bernie and Jewishness (especially secular, lefty, New York Jewishness) that I haven't really seen anyone talk about. And Bloomberg is definitely Jewish, but he's a different kind of Jewish, and that's a subject for a different essay.

Anyway, I was discussing this with a friend yesterday, and she had not realized that Bernie was Jewish. She caucused for the dude in 2016, and she had no idea. I was like "how could you miss that? You literally could not be more of a Jewish stereotype than Bernie." And she was like "I thought he was just New York. Isn't Sanders an English name?" Iowans are weird.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:25 AM on February 21, 2020 [6 favorites]


Being disturbed at what looked like someone being intentionally erased from a narrative because they don't fit the writer's ideal minority description is not the same as requiring equal coverage

Talking about a Jewish writer as having an “ideal minority description” is an incredibly gross way to imply that (1) leftist Jews are in the habit of trying to erase people with the wrong politics and that (2) it’s reasonable to assume that is what she is doing. This is what I’m talking about. She can’t have an unapologetic leftist view without you implying that it makes her—a Jewish writer—presumptively anti-semitic. I’m saying she’s allowed to be leftist out loud in public and that you’re wrong to talk about her this way.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2020 [1 favorite]


But you can't take away someone's Jewishness, make them, in your own words, not count in the community, for being loathsome!

There is absolutely nothing I can do to take away Bloomberg's Jewishness. In fact, I think it is an essential thing to grapple with as part of understanding cohorts within our community that do harm. When I say he "shouldn't count" I mean he (a Jewish person) shouldn't count! In the most relevant possible implication of this, it would mean that his existence does not demand the interjection of his presence into any particular discussion about politics by Jews. Liberal white supremacy is doing just fine, it doesn't need a volunteer marketing squad.
posted by dusty potato at 9:11 AM on February 21, 2020 [2 favorites]


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