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Yesterday Amy Walters of NPR did a story about two fashion moguls. She introduced them in this manner (boldface mine):

Let me start by introducing you to Dov Charney, founder and CEO of American Apparel….  Charney is 44, Canadian-American, and he has a reputation for near-naked models , harassment suits – sexual and otherwise – and some serious trouble with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that pushed him to lay off over a third of his staff…

Do Won Chang, founder and CEO of Forever 21, is Korean-American, 58 and devoutly Christian. Chang also has his share of legal trouble, though – years of worker disputes over labor conditions and charges of design theft.

If NPR is going to identify people by religion, then it ought to tell us that Charney is Jewish (indeed, Jewishness, including family connections to the Middle East and the Holocaust, are very important to him, per his autobio). A small oversight, but revealing, I think: Walters’s reticence on this point reflects an inhibition on the part of journalists to identify Jewish business/cultural figures as Jewish because doing so would reveal the extent of our inclusion. Back when we were outsiders, it was fine to describe people as Jewish because it was a wholly different kind of signifier.

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“A small oversight, but revealilng, I think: Walters’s reticence on this point reflects an inhibition on the part of journalists to identify Jewish business/cultural figures as Jewish because doing so would reveal how included we are. Back when we were outsiders, it was fine to describe people as Jewish because it was a wholly different kind of signifier. “…Phil I’m guessing that’s not really it……not showing how included Jews are….Jews are pretty much everywhere on… Read more »

“[A]n inhibition on the part of journalists to identify Jewish business/cultural figures as Jewish” ? Well, perhaps, I’ll take your word for it. But THIS Jew is connected to 0– shocking — nakedness and harrassment suits, and we wouldn’t want to tell the NPR public that (euch!) Jews did such things.

OTOH, how exactly was “devoutly Christian” pertinent to the story? Run that by me again?

To be fair to the NPR piece, American Apparel doesn’t feature biblical verses printed on the plastic bags. Dov Charney may be Jewish and his religion might be important to him but he doesn’t bring his religion into his business the way Forever 21 does (also In and Out Burger has the bible verses as well)

funny that piece, which i heard in between jobs in the car. maybe a bit of anxiety also in there about the fading jewish superiority in matters financial. if i remember, the NPR story teller also made a point of comparing the relative success of the companies, mr. chang coming out on top by far. similarly, an asian professor from NWUniversity was on the local NPR affiliate the other day being interviewed as part of… Read more »

“If NPR is going to identify people by religion, then it ought to tell us that Charney is Jewish” So telling that you would say this. Forever 21 prints John 3:16 on the bottom of every bag. It’s therefore relevant to mention his Christianity. The owner of American Apparel may be Jewish, but it has little to do with his business or his merchandising. Chang performs missionary work, gives a tremendous amount of money to… Read more »