We’re just smarter, that’s why

Israel/Palestine
on 30 Comments

Over the weekend I watched Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on CSPAN (talking about a good issue, phone companies stealing from their customers in quiet unauthorized ways) and I thought what I always think when I see Genachowski: I was once his boss.

I was an editor at a New York journalism publication in the 1980s, and Julius was an intern or an assistant there for a time while he was an undergraduate at Columbia.

My wife likes to point out here that I got fired from the job, and it was the last time I ever worked in an office. But I have a different point to make.

I got hired to that job by an old friend, who just happened to be Jewish. The top editor of the publication also happened to be Jewish, and so did the managing editor (who was very pro-Israel). There was one editor who wasn’t Jewish. Smart guy, and a poet. He used to say “neckbolt” a lot.

Genachowski was Jewish, with European refugees survivors in his own family, I believe. And the guy who came in as an assistant editor after me, who I helped hire, was also Jewish.

On CSpan the other day, Genachowski shared the stage with Sarah Rosen Wartell of the Center for American Progress and Joel Gurin, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC. I’m guessing both are Jewish, but I don’t know.

Oh, and full disclosure: when I had a chance in 2008 to bring someone in as co-editor of this website, he was Jewish.

My friends and I came of age during the meritocracy. Standardized tests and all that. No more quotas. A good thing, too. Only the meritorious would get ahead.

But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like. I’m just too old to be that naive.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

30 Responses

  1. Pixel
    June 28, 2011, 11:40 am

    “But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like. I’m just too old to be that naive. ”

    You’re also self-reflective, courageous, and honest.

    Neckbolt, eh? Ha!

  2. Les
    June 28, 2011, 12:24 pm

    If you are referring to the weekly newspaper you used to work for, someone who recently subscribed (based on a dirt cheap rate) told me how astonished she was to see how extremely right wing it now was.

    • Philip Weiss
      June 28, 2011, 1:06 pm

      no Les, a journalism magazine. I didnt identify it just to be nice fer a change

  3. American
    June 28, 2011, 1:01 pm

    How Genachowski got from working for you to Chairman would be an interesting story. More kinship?

    • lysias
      June 28, 2011, 1:47 pm

      After graduating from Columbia, Genachowski worked in Washington for a while for Chuck Schumer, then a congressman. He then went to Harvard Law School, where he was a classmate of Barack Obama. He was Notes Editor of the Harvard Law Review when Obama was its President. After clerking for a while on federal courts, including the Supreme Court (clerking for two justices, Brennan and Souter,) he went back to working for Schumer in Congress. He was hired as a counsel of the FCC, and things went from there.

      • American
        June 28, 2011, 9:22 pm

        So it was Schumer kinship LOL…should have guessed…Schumer does a lot of that.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    June 28, 2011, 1:41 pm

    RE: “But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like.” – Weiss

    SEE: The Leopard (English version) 1963 UR 161 minutes (Streaming from Netflix until 6/30/11)
    In this war drama set in 1860s Sicily, Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (Burt Lancaster) attempts to hold onto the glory he once knew, while his nephew, Tancredi Falconeri (Alain Delon), has joined opposition forces and is being heralded as a war hero. As Falconeri begins to fall for Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), the daughter of the town’s new mayor, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa), Salina must learn to accept his changing political status.
    Director: Luchino Visconti
    Availability: Streaming, DVD and Blu-ray (Streaming until 6/30/11)

    • lysias
      June 28, 2011, 1:59 pm

      Great movie.

      “For things to stay the same, everything must change.”

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 12, 2011, 2:27 am

        Yes, that’s a great line. And an even more cynically clever modus operandi.
        I fear we might well see it used in Egypt, Algeria, Libya etc.

        …I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
        Take a bow for the new revolution…
        …Meet the new boss
        Same as the old boss…
        ” ~ The Who, 1971

    • DICKERSON3870
      June 28, 2011, 2:03 pm

      P.S. NETFLIX LISTING (The Leopard) – link to movies.netflix.com
      Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (American Trailer) 1963 – link to youtube.com
      Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (Italian Trailer) 1963 – link to youtube.com

  5. Bill in Maryland
    June 28, 2011, 1:55 pm

    “Neckbolt” does not show up in my Dashboard dictionary, but does evoke Frankenstein’s monster imagery, and I could imagine it being used such perhaps in a derogatory fashion (?).

  6. annie
    June 28, 2011, 2:21 pm

    My wife likes to point out here that I got fired from the job, and it was the last time I ever worked in an office.

    i love the way you tell a story.

    Oh, and full disclosure: when I had a chance in 2008 to bring someone in as co-editor of this website, he was Jewish.

    and when you chose a wife? all of a sudden choosing jewish wasn’t so important to you, following your heart was.

    • Philip Weiss
      June 28, 2011, 2:46 pm

      good point, annie!
      she was the first gal that could undo my frozen neckbolts!

      • Sumud
        June 29, 2011, 4:11 am

        she was the first gal that could undo my frozen neckbolts!

        Must’ve been how elegantly she runs into people in her Subaru…

  7. Shmuel
    June 28, 2011, 2:42 pm

    Anyone know where I can find me a kinship network? I could really use one.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      June 28, 2011, 3:50 pm

      The Italians are really nice. Not too clubby, either.

      • Shmuel
        June 28, 2011, 4:16 pm

        Italians are lovely, but they also invented the concept of nepotism (or at least made it an art form).

    • MRW
      June 28, 2011, 4:33 pm

      Move here.

      • Shmuel
        June 28, 2011, 4:43 pm

        Do I get a Jew card at the airport, or do I have to make some phone calls and tell important people what shtetl my grandparents were from?

        On second thought, I think I’ll stay where I am. But if anyone can point me to a cyber-kinship network, I would be most obliged. Besides being Jewish, I’m also male, white and wear a beard at least 8 months a year. One of these clubs should do it. I’m counting on you.

        • Chaos4700
          June 28, 2011, 10:18 pm

          You could always turn gay? I can tell you that’s actually a nice club to be in when you’re among friends. :) Your wife might be disappointed however.

        • Shmuel
          June 29, 2011, 3:06 am

          Thanks, Chaos. I will keep it in mind, although I do suspect that someone in the family security council will exercise her power of veto.

        • Sumud
          June 29, 2011, 4:18 am

          Well Shmuel you are Israeli so you could always just ignore such rulings :-)

        • Shmuel
          June 29, 2011, 4:37 am

          you are Israeli so you could always just ignore such rulings :-)

          Yes, but so is she!

        • Sumud
          June 29, 2011, 5:02 am

          Hehe, that’s true, you may face unilateral action :-(

    • Danaa
      June 28, 2011, 5:28 pm

      You can be my kin, if you want. Beware though, my little network is a bit eclectic. The one hard and fast rule is that you can’t think bad thoughts about kitties, much less be anything less than feline accommodating (well, I suspect some of the “kin” are pretending..but they do a good job!). Oh and there’s another rule – we don’t like two of a kind, but I doubt that would be a problem for you. Friends, family, significant others welcome – if they pass the initiation tests (can tell you about those later, but me thinks you can imagine some of them).

      It’s a good network – honest, and who knows…we may even turn into a tribe, if I can just get the starter theology kit to work (yes, that’s my task). We are kind of looking for a couple of prophets now, and someone to take over the nepotism department- our last senior nepotist has unfortunately been captured by another tribe (perish their memory! such nazis!). There are no openings for special conspiracy buffs, because we eat conspiracies for breakfast.

      Oh, and like all proper networks we really throw jobs each other’s way. Interested?

      PS do you really sport a beard 2/3 of the year? what happens in the other 1/3?

      • Shmuel
        June 28, 2011, 5:40 pm

        Thanks, Danaa. I happen to like kitties, but … am violently allergic to them (I hope that’s not a problem, since we are talking about cyber-kinship after all), except for 1 particular kitty that used to hang around my workplace – and my lap. Two of a kind will definitely not be a problem (I’m unique, you know!), and significant other and offspring are thoroughly feline-friendly.

        The tribe thing sounds promising, although I would like an independent assessment of the network’s actual and potential power, if that’s ok. I could certainly contribute to the theology department and am currently working on some wonderful and innovative nepotism technologies. Admittedly, conspiracies are not my strong suit, but I can gobble them at breakfast with the best of them.

        Could you be a little more specific about the jobs part?

        PS do you really sport a beard 2/3 of the year? what happens in the other 1/3?

        Yes it’s true. The rest of the year, I experiment with the full range of looks from smooth to grubby.

    • irishmoses
      June 28, 2011, 8:50 pm

      You can be in the honorable and venerable Irish Kinship Network but you have to buy the drinks. Also, we’ve been noted to cheat in golf, that is if you consider taking a Mulligan to be cheating. There is also a $500 nonrefundable Suitablility Review Fee. But, if you send it to me in cash I’ll make sure you get in with no problem.

      • Shmuel
        June 29, 2011, 3:00 am

        Thanks irishmoses, from the bottom of my heart. I will gladly pay for my round, although something tells me that’s not quite what you had in mind. I don’t play golf, so that shouldn’t be a problem. As for the review fee, I’m a bit short at the moment, so that if you or any other members of the honourable and venerable network could spot me – just until I get on my feet, you know – I’d be most obliged. Cheers.

  8. irishmoses
    June 28, 2011, 9:45 pm

    Hmmm,
    Phil: “My friends and I came of age during the meritocracy. Standardized tests and all that. No more quotas. A good thing, too. Only the meritorious would get ahead.”
    “But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like. I’m just too old to be that naïve.”

    This thread seems to be connected to an earlier one by Phil, “Forward says NYT is ‘unabashed about the Jewishness’ of its leadership”, in which Phil said:

    “As a proud Jew, I seek a description of the centrality of Jews to the rise of modern American journalism. I came into journalism when the city desk editor had a bottle in the drawer, and then he didn’t; and SYJ’s were blamed– Serious Young Journalists. The culture of the legal profession was also changed by meritocratic Jews. Wall Street trading, too. Corporate culture as well. American culture was changed generally, and I insist we young Jews were the straw that stirred the drink. Politics?! Heck yes. And my non-Jewish wife worshiped Freud for helping her discover her psyche. Credit where it’s due. The Jewish Century, as Slezkine says. Oh I guess we’ll talk about it when it’s over.”

    This generated lots of comments including some very ponderous and self-righteous ones by me. Nonetheless, it was a good discussion, at least until Hophni popped in to throw the anti-Semite bomb at everyone in sight and accuse Phil of “…providing grist for the mill for garden-variety antisemites”.

    At the time, I thought that Phil was serious about the above comments, but based on this thread I think I may have been conned by thinly disguised irony on his part, or else he had had one too many and inadvertently revealed the darker part of his soul. Actually, his comment about the city desk editor who had a bottle in the drawer was what really pissed me off because it was a thinly disguised bit of typical Jewish anti-Gaelicism. Since his comments clearly implied that righteous, meritocratic Jews had replaced the more indolent and drunken Irish who had previously occupied those professions (psychoanalysis and Freud excepted of course), he was providing grist for the mill for those garden-variety anti-Gaelics who lurk at this and other blog sites.

  9. irishmoses
    June 28, 2011, 11:05 pm

    My link to the prior thread didn’t show up: Here it is again:

    Forward says NYT is ‘unabashed about the Jewishness’ of its leadership

    Here is the actual link itself: link to mondoweiss.net