Normally, I walk away from angry poodles. Just let them be. Not that there are many on the streets of Santa Barbara. However, there are times when angry poodles may be rabid, i.e., dangerous to the public at large. It is just possible that this Angry Poodle column published on June 2, 2016, is simply espousing old fashioned anti-Semitic canards.
Nick Welsh refers to Bernie Sanders as a “commie Jew” and urges for all to unite behind Hillary to defeat Tourette syndrome–suffering Trump. Politics aside, do you see what is wrong with this picture? Is this language helpful in making his political point?
It is true that the fact that a Jew (of a sort) is a “serious, albeit distant contender for the White House” is a “genuine first.” Agreed. A fair point to make. It is also true that one may call some of Bernie Sanders’s ideas “communist” (of a sort). Let us concede that this, too, is protected speech under the First Amendment. However, in this case, one legitimate point plus another legitimate point does not equal two legitimate points. Instead, they equal a racial slur.
“Commie Jew” is not just two words put together — it is a well-recognized term of art in anti-Semitic rhetoric. American capitalistic society does not view communism as just another economic utopian system (sort of) to be considered calmly by intellectuals and discarded as a proven failure. By and large, Americans judge communism viscerally, as an oppressive, horrendous political regime — the plague of the 20th century. We view it as Evil. Rightly so, by the way, in my opinion. Now, by putting “commie” (clear and intentionally derogatory slang) and Jew together, our Angry Poodle evokes the imagery of Jews being responsible for this evil. Not unlike “Christ killer” and “money-hungry” — all those too familiar by now two-word hate slogans of anti-Semites. I am not going to try to prove to you that not all Jews are communists, or that not all communists are Jews. Terms like these have been used to discriminate against Jews for centuries, and it is up to us to remove them from our vocabulary.
All this, and I have yet to mention the reference to the Tourette syndrome — a serious neurodevelopmental condition that affects about 138,000 children ages 6-17 in the United States. It also was not cool. I would hope that The Independent would show more respect for all people.
Obviously, the author did not need to say what he said to make his points. This was done out of ignorance and prejudice. If no harm was meant by it, then there is hope for our Angry Poodle — ignorance is curable. On the other hand, if the Poodle was not so much angry as hateful — well, then it should reconsider puppy school.
Marina Stephens is a former Commie (as in from the Soviet Union) and currently very much red-blooded American capitalist who happens to also be Jewish and a boardmember of Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Anti-Defamation League.