A Communist in Every Other
While the This Is Hell! radio show/podcast was on break, we missed the entire-ass Tasmanian regatta, Valentine’s Day, and my 60th birthday. I don’t think it’s too much of a reach to blame all this on anti-Semitism. You laugh. You say, “what?” You say, “A reach? You’re not even stretchy, yosephus. You’re chunky, stiff, and globular.” And it’s true. I can’t even fly. The faster I move, the more my toes stick to the ground. Thanks for reminding me of my pathetic mortal limitations.
You might not make the connection between anti-Jewish nano-aggressions and the Tasmanian regatta. Well, that’s your goyische privilege. Enjoy it, gentiles. You ride that gentile privilege right to the top! Right to the top of your industries!
You may not make any connections at all between reality and my current ravings. Allow me to quotate you a quote from a friend, Eric Zimmerman, video artist, producer, and writer:
Jews: Are we the other white meat? The other dark meat? Or just The Other?
If that doesn’t explain anything, and I don’t see why it would, perhaps additional disjointed raving will help.
Sarah Silverman, the comedian and Jewish sex symbol — and she’s the only one we have these days, so be kind — tweeted a link to an opinion piece in the New York Times called, “Is It Funny for the Jews?” For those of you uninitiated, that’s a play on the phrase, “Is it good for the Jews?” which is supposedly how most Jews have evaluated all newsworthy phenomena dating back to when the news first started being casually termed, “current events.”
The Times article is okay. It talks about Jewishness and current discourse around it in relation to identity politics, especially when it comes to representation in the entertainment industry. Jews have played an outsized role in that industry, compared to their percentage in the general population. But Jews are not immune from making anti-Semitic misjudgments. It’s a truism that Jews are wary of presenting too much Jewishness in mainstream entertainment. Seinfeld, according to the Times article, was originally rejected for being, “too New York, too Jewish.” Jews are rarely cast in the role of Jewish hero, from Moses and Jesus to Rosa Luxembourg and The Fabulous Mrs. Maisel.
While it irks me that Mrs. Maisel is played by a shiksa, it utterly enrages me that she plays a supposedly hilarious standup comic. I have yet to hear the character tell a funny joke onstage on that show. Yet she supposedly kills. Like, all the time. And all the time, her lesbian manager is funnier than her. If I was a lesbian manager I’d be shaking my head, saying, “isn’t it the truth, the straight femme woman who shows her tits gets the spotlight, while the actually humorous butch dyke who resembles Lou Costello does all the hard work.”
I’m offended, firstly and foremostly as a bottom-tier humorist, secondly as a wannabe lesbian, thirdly as a wannabe manager, and only a distant lastly as a Jew.
Jewish irritation with popular anti-Semitism has taken its toll quite notably on black entertainers. Whoopie Goldberg, no relation to my neighbors growing up, is only the most recent example. Arsenio Hall being reviled for booking Louis Farrakhan on his late-night talk show is a famous one. According to Arsenio himself, though, his show wasn’t cancelled because of booking that guest; he had submitted his letter of resignation months before that interview was even thought of, and I think it’s a symptom of anti-Semitism, including my own, that it’s commonly believed Jewish pressure got Arsenio cancelled.
It’s no secret that accusations of anti-Semitism are abused by us Jews ourselves, targeted to shut down discussions of Israeli military and US policies of domination and cruelty, as well as to distract from noticing, let alone addressing, the countless micro-propagandas we’re all subjected to daily. Eric Alterman, of what we call the “reasonable” anti-Zionist movement among the Jewish Left, alludes to this tension when he noted in a recent American Prospect column that “mainstream Jewish organizations hate IfNotNow [a liberal left group — y] far more than they hate apartheid in the West Bank (which, to be honest, most are pretty comfortable with).”
It’s also no secret that anti-Semitism is used by non-Jews to spread insane theories about insidious Jewish power, and to dovetail those Jew-baiting narratives with equally insane ones labeling everyone they don’t like communists. The left anti-Zionist Jew, and the left anti-carceral Black, and the Squad, along with the Clintons, the Obamas, the critics of Rogan, Chapelle, and Bill Maher, and drag queens who read stories to toddlers are all lumped in under communism, or “cultural Marxism,” to which is attributed all manner of evils, real, imaginary, and entirely divorced from even terrestrial paranoid fantasies: from teaching Critical Race Theory, to secretly sterilizing white people, to being child-molesting lizards and beyond.
So, between being massacred in synagogues by rightwing fruitloops and having communists help Palestinians push Israel into the sea, the easily-frightened Jew has a lot to worry about, real and imagined.
The rise of Nazism and Nazi-flavored populism around the world is, to me, though, a genuine thing to spend time opposing. I don’t have anything to prove in this regard. I won’t point to representation or tolerance of this or that person’s rhetoric and how it gets played in the news. If Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas want to make a biopic about the Marx Brothers starring the Jonas Brothers, fine with me. It won’t be any good, though.
But I will insist that the coalition of fossil fuel companies, libertarian tech kingpins, Q-holes, centrists in government, Evangelicals, rightwingers in Europe and worldwide, and Bannon-esque internationalizers of fascism — that coalition, enabled under a legal climate that privileges profit-seeking over any other motivation, is a threat to all life. And as far as anti-Semitism is part of the rhetoric keeping public discourse on that entirely wrong track, it’s objectionable.
When someone here in Laurel Canyon, who is a known anti-vax Trump supporter, says to some Jewish friends of mine, “Well, the Jews killed Jesus,” clearly without a clue as to the deep historical terrorism such a statement taps into, what’s the proper response? Is it counterproductive for me to point out, “The Jews didn’t kill Jesus, because Jesus never existed. He’s an imaginary character?” Or is it maybe good to sow the seed in this gentleman’s mind that his entire worldview is a self-felating fantasy? Might that realization bear fruit before he joins a militia, or maybe even — to up the stakes, as we in Hollywood say — just before he is about to rip a baby from her mother’s arms, a la Sophie’s Choice, and take it to the gas chamber?
Incidentally, Meryl Streep, who’s played Ethel Rosenberg among other Jewish characters, is a Germanic Presbyterian on her best day. That’s a fail. Not an epic fail, though. Ben Hur, with Charlton Heston as Judah ben Hur, is an epic fail. Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic fail.
But, y’know, if it’s not one thing it’s another. And if you still don’t see how all this is connected to the Tasmanian regatta, I don’t blame you.