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Two media figures signal new willingness to criticize powerful Jews

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Daniel Snyder

Daniel Snyder

A friend points out to me that there’s evidence that the era of the Jewish establishment has peaked in the fact that media figures are now more willing to call out powerful Jews than in days gone by. Two items:

–As we noted the other day, 20-year-old singer Miley Cyrus took a shot at Jewish recording executives– “this 70-year-old Jewish man that doesn’t leave his desk all day, telling me what the clubs want to hear”– and doesn’t seem to have been hurt by doing so. Her comments were widely reported, and on Fox television, two TMZ talking heads had no problem with the statement.

–Last night, in an excellent MSNBC piece on the need for the Washington Redskins to change their name, immediately, Lawrence O’Donnell brought up the Jewishness of owner Dan Snyder, whom he called “the George Wallace of the NFL” because he has said that he will never change the name of the team. After saying that Snyder missed the civil rights movement, which changed the American language, O’Donnell said:

The  goofy billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones  thinks he has the perfect defense for Dan Snyder. Jones said, “It would be a real mistake – a real mistake – to think that Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity regarding somebody’s feelings. I promise you that.”

Well then I have this question for Dan Snyder, “What are you favorite nicknames for Jews that non-Jews have come up with? And if you think as the rest of us do that those nicknames for Jews are utterly reprehensible, what gives you the right to use and try to profit by a nickname invented by the same kind of people who came up with all of those nicknames that we hate and condemn?”

(O’Donnell also criticized the coverup of head injuries in football and said, “The force of history will crush [Snyder].”)

Writes my friend, “Even Bob Costas did not go so far as to bring up the Jewish angle in his criticism of the Redskin name yesterday and today. He used the Negro analogy instead. But O’Donnell went on the air with exactly the critique I’ve been making to my [Jewish] family the last few weeks. I don’t believe O’Donnell would have dared even a year ago to go after Snyder in this way. The Times are a Changin’.”

Seven years ago at the Yivo Institute, Clyde Haberman of the New York Times acknowledged that Jews have considerable influence in the media, then said this influence is “a function of a generation or two; I don’t think it’s going to remain that way forever.” It seems to me he’s right.

Update:  The Anti-Defamation League has called on the Washington football franchise and Cleveland baseball franchise to change the teams’ names.

While it is not the intention of the fans, owners or leaders of sports franchises to offend, teams like the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians have a responsibility to be sensitive to the legitimate hurt that offensive names, mascots and logos cause. Tradition matters, but tradition should not justify the perpetuation of such names and mascots.

Good call, but Foxman’s being too soft on ownership.

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15 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    October 16, 2013, 11:22 am

    LOVE IT! Glad to see Jewish “sensitivity”: questioned. Pretty soon (O Lord) we’ll be hearing about Jewish sensitivity (outside these and similar pages, ahem) to Palestinian suffering and loss of land, community, and homeland. How soon, O Lord? Not soon enough.

  2. Cliff
    October 16, 2013, 12:07 pm

    If your career in the media is on the line, you will be afraid of upsetting the Jewish Establishment (no central headquarters, but rather an intelligentsia and social norms – something tangible and also philosophical/political [ideas, alignments]).

    People should openly criticize the Jewish Establishment. It’s anachronistic to bring up antisemitism when it absolutely does not apply anymore (Jews are mainstream and are NOT outsiders! They are the replacements of the WASPs).

    If we could talk openly about WASPs, then we should talk openly and criticize the power networks of the Jewish Establishment.

    The ADL, SWU, and all assortment of DISHONEST, lying Zionist organizations will conflate this w/ antisemitism – but it’s expected. The absurdity is that antisemitism is and has never been complex – it is a base form of prejudice like all others.

    And the criticism of the Jewish Establishment would only refer to Jewish identity as a label and not as something intrinsic to the human condition (all religions are man-made and not part of our DNA). So EVERYTHING should be up for criticism that we have control over. We have control over whether we are Jewish or not. People aren’t ‘born’ Jewish. There is no Jewish DNA.

    It is a choice. You either believe the intellectual framework of Judaism and other religions (which in the case of Judaism, deems someone a Jew or not according to certain rules) or you don’t.

  3. Citizen
    October 16, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Well, they could change the name of the Redskins to the Rednecks–that’s a very PC label and well-recognized across America and by TV reality shows.

  4. Krauss
    October 16, 2013, 12:44 pm

    For me, this began earlier.

    Look at the ‘Girls whiteness crisis’. As I wrote back when it happened, on this very site, there used to be a time when being Jewish wasn’t considered being white. It was always ridicolous, but people could say they were different somehow.

    So having an all-Jewish cast, even if all were white, you could still claim that you had a bunch of minorities. Seinfeld was the one show that was lauded for being so Jewish, by daring to be Jewish in white America. The implicit message was that although Jews were successful way before then, it was still a gamble.

    I never bought that message as I heard it over the years from older Jews(I’m too young to have watched it when it was on primetime and I’ve only dabbled occassionally in the DVDs on holidays), but the ‘Girls whiteness crisis’ shows that such a moment was over.

    Even if 50% of the Girls’ cast was Jewish, it didn’t matter. The distinction was long gone. I argued back then that it was a watershed moment. For most non-whites, the distinctions never made sense but for many whites and Jews, there was this invisible line.

    The creator of Mad Men, who is around 50 years old, tapped into this well when he stated in an interview from early 2009 that “Jews paid a price for assimilation, we had to become the white man”. For him, there was still this separation. I was reading that and shaking my head. Young people my age don’t see it that way at all.

    When Suzy Weiss, the younger sister of the WSJ assistant Op-Ed editor Bari Weiss(a young neocon), wrote her anti-affirmative action, she embraced her whiteness, even if she is Jewish on both sides. (She got rejected from Ivies and said it was because she was white). When people slammed her, they brought her whiteness, not her Jewishness.

    Of course, according to Ron Unz, there’s massive affirmative action for Jews based on the massive decline in Jewish achievement that he saw for the NMS(National Merit Scholars, people who have done very well on the SATs) where the Jewish share went from 30% during its peak in the 70s to around 6-7% today(yet Ivies still take in 25% or more Jews).

    So that was doubly the embarrassment for Weiss, although I’m not sure if she’s aware of Unz’s reporting.

    • Krauss
      October 16, 2013, 12:49 pm

      Speaking of Mad Men and whiteness, maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the rush for nostalgia(Downtown Abbey, Broadwalk Empire, Mad Men and so on) at least in part because directors, writers and others still want to be able to get away with a largely white cast? Even a show like Game of Thrones, while it isn’t being based on nostalgia(since the universe is fictious), you still model it on medieval Europe which wasn’t exactly a model of diversity.

      Or take the new show, ‘The Goldbergs’, which goes to the heart of this. It’s about a Jewish family in the 80s, even if most of the actors are non-Jews, and it’s yet another show that reaches into the past in order to exclude the increasing amount of actors of color.

      Matt Weiner himself has faced criticism for the lack of diversity and deflected it by saying “well this is how madison avenue looked like back then”.
      Maybe if he had been more honest he’d say “but I’m not that interested in diversity”.
      Weiner’s favourite book is Catcher in the Rye, which he wanted to paint as a book with ‘a lot of Jewish themes’ but of course it’s about high-end WASP society, something that Weiner has continued to be obsessed by, which is reflected in his show. And it does have one advantage for a guy like Weiner: it doesn’t need a lot of diversity, just like Mad Men, if you ever want to dramatize it.

      • Cliff
        October 16, 2013, 3:42 pm

        Or take the new show, ‘The Goldbergs’, which goes to the heart of this. It’s about a Jewish family in the 80s, even if most of the actors are non-Jews, and it’s yet another show that reaches into the past in order to exclude the increasing amount of actors of color.

        Very interesting comment, Krauss. I think you’re definitely on to something w/ the whole ‘nostalgia’ theme.

        I think if we do get diversity it’s usually the contemporary sitcoms that do it – which makes sense. Maybe that’s why Girls faced a lot of flack since it was very ‘White’ in spite of being set in a contemporary backdrop.

  5. goldmarx
    October 16, 2013, 12:49 pm

    What is ‘new’ about the willingness to criticize ‘powerful Jews’? David Duke and Mel Gibson have been doing this for years.

    • Cliff
      October 16, 2013, 3:39 pm

      Shorter goldmarx:

      Verb, noun, antisemite.

      Got anything to add beyond the hysterical Zio-whining?

      Have pukes like you ever taken a Social Inequality course in college? Did you go to college? Did you read the article? Do you read? Or do you roll your head across the keyboard immediately when you click a new MW entry?

      My sociology professor talked about Jews becoming ‘White’ in one lecture. We read passages from this book:

      Nothing antisemitic about the analysis.

      But people like you (dishonest trolls) take these social critiques and turn them into narcissistic fantasies (where everyone hates ‘you’ – as if YOU a little puke on the Internet, represents Judaism/Jewishness).

      • MRW
        October 16, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Sometimes you outdo yourself, Cliff. “roll your head across the keyboard.” I’m stealing it.

      • goldmarx
        October 17, 2013, 12:12 am

        Cliff: why is it whining to dispute the contention that there is something new about criticizing powerful Jews?

        And if all you can do is indulge in name-calling (hey, moderators, wake up!), then you have no case, and you know it.

  6. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    October 16, 2013, 1:09 pm

    “Seinfeld was the one show that was lauded for being so Jewish, by daring to be Jewish in white America. The implicit message was that although Jews were successful way before then, it was still a gamble.”

    Who was saying this? Sure, some of the characters were Jewish, but there was no sense at the time that I recall that it was daring or even notable. (The lack of African Americans in Seinfeld’s NYC got a lot notice, though.) It was notable because of the then-popular sit-com tropes it sought to break free of, but not because there were Jewish people in the show or that the main character was Jewish.

    • MRW
      October 16, 2013, 5:06 pm

      Woody Tanaka,

      I agree. I don’t remember in any sense that Seinfeld was successful because it broke some Jewish barrier. The only barrier I ever heard it discussed as was that a stand-up comedian got a TV series so he didn’t have to do the standard headliner stints in Vegas as he aged. I think even Seinfeld said that about himself.

    • RoHa
      October 16, 2013, 7:58 pm

      “it was still a gamble.”

      I thought the gamble was that it wasn’t very funny. But that’s been true of a lot of other shows billed as comedies.

  7. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    October 17, 2013, 12:31 am

    I am reminded of the Pew polling results in which younger Jews reported experiencing antisemitism with greater frequency than their older coreligionists. Although the specifics of getting Snyder to change the Redskins name is a worthy enough cause, one should be wary of celebrating the lowering of the taboo on saying “Jew” when “old man” would have sufficed. Celebrating the falling of taboos, I suppose a good thing. Hatred and the falling of taboos against hatred and hateful speech, not a good thing. C’est vrai, n’est pas?
    (Ani tzodek, lo?)

  8. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    October 17, 2013, 8:43 am

    “one should be wary of celebrating the lowering of the taboo on saying ‘Jew’ when ‘old man’ would have sufficed.”

    Would it have? You assume that she used it gratuitously, but based on what? (It’s clear that goldmax believes so because he’s a bigot and judges people by their ancestry.) But if she was using “Jew” to mean “religious Jew” or had a particular person in mind that she wanted to identify but not my name, than the statement, in the context of arguing about who should know more about what’s going on in the clubs and what the club kids would want, is clearly not “hateful speech.”

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