Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mother Knows Best

Earlier this fall during the onset of the incipient Occupy Wall Street movement and its local incarnation in Burlington, I was struck by what was clearly a blatant and historical revisionist bent to the group, not unlike some of the group's members previous and continuing involvement with the tiny Vermont secessionist movement. Not only did some embrace the conspiracist nonsense of racists and anti-Semites like Eustace Mullins, author of "Adolph Hitler An Appreciation", but they also engaged in creating fictions that evolved as need required. For instance, first the local Occupiers blamed a widely honored and acclaimed housing and homeless assistance group for having sent homeless people to live among the Occupiers, forcing the assistance organization, which has a sterling 30 year record of achievement on behalf of Vermont's homeless to issue a public denial of the baseless charge, to the Occupiers then claiming "solidarity" with the assistance provider. Flip, flop.

When the local Occupiers stumble, miscalculate or just plain screw the pooch, they resort to lies, misrepresentations or simply make shit up.

But it's been the ongoing undercurrent of anti-Semitic conspiracism displayed by some Occupiers similar to that of a Vermont secessionist blowhard, Thomas Naylor, who has claimed that a secession activist, Matt Cropp, was one of the "principal organizers of Occupy Vermont," as well as their sad continuance of making claims against Jews that's been going on for thousands of years that caught my attention. You'd think that the Occupiers, especially one in particular who's repeatedly contacted this blog, could pull their heads out of their asses and come up with something newer than age old Jew hatred.

That said, I thought I'd share something that recently appeared on the endpage of The Sunday New York Times Magazine:
Grabbing Life by the Horns
By Shalom Auslander
Published: December 16, 2011

When I was a child, my mother told me that everyone in the world hated me. They hated me, she said, because I was a Jew.

So? I asked.

So nothing, she replied. So they hate you.

Not just the people on our street, who were “classic Jew-haters”; not just everyone in the town nearby, who were “card-carrying anti-Semites”; not just everyone in the world now, but everyone who’d ever lived, ever: Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims.

I was sure she was wrong. I was sure they just hated her, which I could very well understand. She told me this when I was 6, when I was 13, when I was 15 and when I was 17. At 18, I went on a trip through Europe with some observant Orthodox friends; it was something of a symbolic trip, because we were at the age when we were getting ready to leave home, to head out into that strange new world outside the narrow religious one in which we were brought up. I was determined to find a new home for myself, something broader, more enlightened, less paranoid, less terrified.

One morning, we were on a train headed, I believe, for Paris, when we decided to pray. We had on our yarmulkes, zizit, phylacteries, the whole outfit. A U.S. Marine, in full camouflage, was seated in front of us, and he kept turning around, looking at us and smiling warmly. When we finished praying, he turned around again, and in a heavy Southern accent, with absolutely no malice or hatred whatsoever — in fact, with an almost endearing, childlike curiosity — asked me if I wouldn’t mind too terribly showing him my “Jew horns.”

Not, he added, if it’s like a big deal or something.

My first thought was that he was kidding.

My second thought was that he was serious.

My third thought was, Oh, no — Mom was right.

If he had just called me a dirty Jew, it would have been O.K. If he had just held me down and carved a swastika on my head — no biggie, I’ll wear hats. But he went all the way to horns — to the Middle Ages, Christ-killing, money-lending, shape-shifting stuff.

That was going to be a problem.

Not because of anti-Semitism. I could probably make it in a world fouled with ignorance. I could probably get by on a planet poisoned with petty prejudice and institutionalized hatred. But a world where my mother was right?

That was going to be a problem.

Shame on the Occupy Vermont group in Burlington for never having called out the bigoted, racist anti-Semites among them.

Shame on them!

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At Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 4:06:00 PM EST , Blogger Luaay said...

I am very interested in your article,unfortunately due to english being my second language i didnt quite get it.Could you scoop it up for me and give it to me as easy food?
Thank you and happy hollydays..

At Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 7:05:00 PM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

Willkommen, bienvenu, ברוך הבא, welcome, Luaay.

I appreciate your interest in the blog article. Since you didn't mention your primary language, I'd suggested loading the page of any post that you're interested in into the translator available from Google at


At Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 5:25:00 PM EST , Blogger Luaay said...

it s not that.I have rudimentary understanding of english.ur article has lots of idioms.Could you rephrase it please?

At Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 5:38:00 PM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

Probably, if you could be more specific about what expression is confusing to you. Please note that the SNYT magazine piece in the blockquoted section is by a different author.

At Monday, January 2, 2012 at 5:13:00 PM EST , Blogger Luaay said...

what is jewish horn?

At Monday, January 2, 2012 at 6:03:00 PM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

"Jewish horns" is not so much an idiom as it is merely one of numerous bigoted tropes that anti-Semites believe about Jews. It goes back for centuries in bigoted Christian lore.

Here's an example from Michelangelo's statuary representation of the historical/biblical Israeli known as Moses:


At Monday, January 2, 2012 at 8:11:00 PM EST , Blogger Luaay said...

Hey R!
this is very interesting!to me it would be worst to carve swastika on the head then this "horn thing"
but we are all different and have different values.
so,you are e jew?

At Monday, January 2, 2012 at 9:46:00 PM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

Really? An individual act of violence is more terrifying than a basleless smear against an entire people? Now that's interesting!

I've tried to answer your questions, so perhaps you might answer one or two for me, to wit, how is my ethnicity and/or race relevant to this discussion and where are you from?


At Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 1:49:00 AM EST , Blogger Luaay said...

that s fine!by your answer I know you are a jew,I bet.But that aint matter right?
because guess what?any group of people are in fact bunch of individuals and any personal attack to any of them is an assault to the whole entire group!

At Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:27:00 AM EST , Blogger Thomas Rowley said...

"that s your answer I know you are a jew, I bet."

An interesting conclusion.

At Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:55:00 AM EST , Blogger Harold Thomas said...


I am not Jewish, but I strongly object to anti-Semitism. All people are worthy of dignity and respect until their individual behavior shows that they are not.

Today, there is an additional reason not to accept anti-Semitism. Because if it catches on, it is but a very short step to "anti-Christianism."

"First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

"Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

"Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."

-- Lutheran pastor and German dissident Martin Niemöller


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