A member of government in America used the expression “Jew down.” She said it is a verb. Well, she was right about that. She used it as a verb. “To negotiate” for a better price.
Jew down is, of course, a derogatory, antisemitic trope. It stereotypes Jews as being unfair in negotiations, haggling down the price to the point the poor merchant will not make a dime because Jews are cheap. Oh those Jews!
Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride said her city’s assistant attorney was able to get the most out of a personal injury claim against the city, as they settled at a lower amount because they were “able to wait her out and Jew her down.” It was a proud moment for McBride. I am going to assume that she said this happily as they were able to save money.
Councilwoman Robin Vaughn from Trenton’s West Ward made remarks that showed support for McBride, saying the term “Jew down” was a verb meaning to negotiate fiercely, and in no way a hateful term. Vaughn told the New Jersey Globe,
“We really need to get a more acute meaning and understanding of ‘antisemitic.’ I believe her comment ‘Jew down’ was more in reference to negotiating, not ‘I hate Jews.’ Inappropriate in today’s PC culture absolutely, but to Jew someone down is a verb and is not anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people.”
Ignorance is bliss, but never a justification for derogatory, hurtful remarks based on race, colour, creed, religion or sexual orientation.I suppose what takes my breath away is that black Americans face derogatory remarks all the time; yet these women cannot see that what they repeated was a hateful stereotype. Are we all blind to hate toward others?
This was a learning experience that too many tried to explain away or justify.
My favourite was a swipe at the president of the USA, Donald Trump, blaming him “for creating an environment that fosters a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States” that led to McBride’s comment and Vaughn’s justification, when he has been the most sympathetic President toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel. The gentleman who accused the President added,
“It’s America in the 1930s again.”
He got that right. But the hate is not coming from the President or the right. It is coming from the Progressive Humanists on the left. People like Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, Rashid Tlaib, Louis Farrakhan, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the fact that not one Democrat leader has admonished any of these people. Perhaps that is the reason that Jew hatred slips off the tongue so easily.
But once gain I digress, as do the people who try to excuse hateful comments. Don’t make excuses. Wake up to the fact that what you said was inappropriate. Period.
When I was in my early twenties at the University of Toronto, I was walking down the street with a friend from class. Now, Toronto was not a diverse city at that time. It was, for want of a better description, like white bread. I can’t remember what we were discussing but she said and “I Jewed him down.” And I stopped and looked at her and asked her what that meant. She was apoplectic-terribly embarrassed. And I told her to just tell me what that meant. I am Jewish and had never heard that expression. I was probably one of the first Jews she ever met. So she explained it to me. And I understood why she had said it. This was, and remains, an expression that is popular. It wasn’t her fault that she said it. It fit the description of the event. But I doubt she ever said it again. She realized that it was hurtful. A hateful stereotype. A learning experience.
And then there is hateful sign language. Who knew? Belgians use the gestures of a hook-nose and side curls to represent Jew.
The Flemish Sign Language Center offered a defense. The videos used to teach sign language and depicting these gestures have been online for years. Well that justifies everything, doesn’t it?
Unlike my young friend who turned various shades of red and could not apologize enough, too many, today, try to justify their hate and blame everyone but themselves.
Enough already. Just grow up.
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”