Friday, September 28, 2007

the non-spiritual side

Courtesy of Slate, our favoritest former president, Richard Milhouse Nixon, on the chosen people, on July 3, 1971:
Nixon: Now, point: [Fred] Malek is not Jewish.

Haldeman: No.

Nixon: All right, I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved, Bob. See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We've got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish … do you understand?

Haldeman: I sure do.

Nixon: The government is full of Jews. Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a [White House Counsel Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House speechwriter William] Safire, and, by God, they're exceptions. But Bob, generally speaking, you can't trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?

Haldeman: Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do—which—is to hurt us.
And then on July 24:
Nixon: One other thing I want to know. Colson made an interesting study of the BLS crew. He found out of the 21—you remember he said last time—16 were Democrats. No, he told me in the car, 16 were registered Democrats, one was a registered Republican [inaudible] well, there may have been 23. And four were Declined to States. Now that doesn't surprise me in BLS. The point that he did not get into that I want to know, Bob, how many were Jews? Out of the 23 in the BLS, would you get me that?

Haldeman: [White House deputy assistant] Alex [Butterfield] is getting it.

Nixon: There's a Jewish cabal, you know, running through this, working with people like [Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur F.] Burns and the rest. And they all—they all only talk to Jews. Now, but there it is. But there's the BLS staff. Now how the hell do you ever expect us to get anything from that staff, the raw data, let alone what the poor guys have to say [inaudible] that isn't gonna be loaded against us? You understand?

Haldeman: Is Alex working on that?

Ehrlichman: Malek.

Nixon: Oh, Malek is. Oh.

Unidentified Person: [whispering] I'll get this to you today.
Well, tricky Dick gets three points for using the word "cabal" correctly. Malek gets ten points for coordinating the anti-cabal effort then and now being the national finance co-chair of John McCain's campaign. And I get fifteen points for holding in my vomit.

I know this is a relic -- well, I'm 90% sure. But it never ceases to amaze me that smart people, people in power, had these entrenched ideas about Jews. Mr. Ben's mother, my MIL I guess I should say if I can do so without fainting, recommended an excellent novel to me recently, Mary McCarthy's The Group, a very realistic, detailed, absoring look at eight Vassar women who graduate in the early '30s and go on to lead very different lives, mostly in New York City.

McCarthy presents the women's opinions about everything from shacking up with men to Stalin vs. Trotsky to breastfeeding and toilet-training with a matter-of-factness that never betrays how she herself feels about a subject. Which is great, most of the time, and unsettling when every woman's attitude about Jews ranges from distantly tolerant to politely hostile.

I don't know why I was surprised. I remember how disappointed I was reading Virginia Woolf's diaries -- she *married* a Jew and yet couldn't get over her genteel dislike of the people as a whole. I know how powered by anti-semitism the America First movement of the early war years was, and how Roosevelt's hands essentially were tied by it. And yet. I always expect better from this country -- or maybe it's more honest, if scandalous, to say, from educated people. Ugh & ugh again.

On the brighter side of things, Mr. Ben and I are going to the Vendy Awards tomorrow, a fantastic only-in-NYC kind of event that he helped pioneer when he worked for the Street Vendor Project. Tickets are a little steep, but food is included, and the experience (I hear) is not to be missed. Come support street food! I didn't know how much I loved it til I got to Japan and it was (almost) nowhere to be found.


Shira said...

the thing that always makes me bang my head against a wall is the number of jews who voted for nixon because he was "good on israel." my dad always says that he knew we were in real trouble when he had yahrzeit on election day in 1972 and all of the old orthodox men were planning to vote for nixon.

Anonymous said...

Yum!!! Have a hot dog for me!!! Yum

misterniceguy1960 said...

Anti-Semitism was pervasive in the Good Old Days. Even Eleanor Roosevelt was known to roll her eyes at the prospect of going to a "Jew party":

About those hot dogs:

ester said...

oh no, not eleanor! as carolyn hax says, i have three illusions left and i treasure them.

there was no hot dog eating, sadly, but i did walk out of the Vendies with quite a potbelly. mmmmm streetfood.