“If you ever forget you are a Jew, a Gentile will remind you.”
So the saying goes. And for me, it was true: I grew up in a Christian home and, aside from my last name, knew nothing about what it was to be Jewish. Except of course, for the jokes, which usually involved terms like “money grubbing.”
It seems today that presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson wasn’t aware of the stereotype that says Jews are stingy money hoarders, a slander that has been used to incite violence and foment malevolence. Here is what he told a group of Jewish activists, courtesy of Haaretz:
“I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that.”
Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the “accomplishments” of the Jewish religion.
“I just want to clarify something because I didn’t [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things,” he said.
It’s difficult to imagine someone being so oblivious, but he is running for president. That should be worth something. The headline from the Dallas Morning News’ religion blog says it all: “Next he’ll tell the NAACP that he loves that great fried chicken and watermelon they serve…”