Global, Politics

Don't You DARE Insinuate That I Am A Jew

Watch Senator George Allen (R, Virginia) flip out when a reporter asks him about his Jewish roots.
Seriously, click on the video in the article.
UPDATE: Commentators on the left and the right agree that Allen’s response was inappropriate and angry. Marc Fisher, writting in the Washington Post blog, puts it best:

Clearly, this is a touchy topic for Allen, who greeted Channel 9 reporter Peggy Fox with utter contempt and derision after she asked him to clarify his mother’s background during the debate before the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. Fox was going after a perfectly legitimate piece of information; especially in this time of politicians touting their religious bona fides…. [The reporter] certainly got the senator riled up. His reaction was so bizarrely out of tune with the rest of the debate that listeners almost had to conclude that he was hiding something.
…Is any of this anything more than a matter of curiosity, another typical tale of reinvention in a nation of immigrants starting new lives in the New World? Well, that depends on what Allen knew and when he knew it, and whether he at any point decided that pursuing a political career in Virginia might be hindered by public attention to his Jewish roots. At the moment, there’s no evidence of any cover-up on Allen’s part–except for his hostile and juvenile response when the question was asked at the debate.
If that moment turns out to be the opening by which we learn that Allen has not been aboveboard about his background, then Fox’s question will have been no stretch at all, but a valuable window onto this very complicated senator.

18 thoughts on “Don't You DARE Insinuate That I Am A Jew

  1. He actually handled himself quite well:
    “Why is that relevant — my religion, Jim’s religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?” He remained composed throughout and one could hardly call his response a “flip out.”
    And I don’t even like Republicans!

  2. Please, ck. If the reporter had asked him about his personal relationship with Jesus, would his response have been as testy? Would he have insisted that religion is a personal matter? Of course not. He would have expounded at length on his Christian upbringing, because that’s the way to get votes in America.

  3. it was a stupid question. i don’t like this guy’s politics, but i don’t think i understand why the reporter feels the need to ask the question — especially using the tone she did — in the middle of a debate.
    she comes off very accusative. he doesn’t sound defensive. he sounds astounded that someone would use such accusatory language and tone in reference to someone’s religion.

  4. I don’t see the relevance of the question either. However, his use of the word “macaca” (derogatory word for a black person) when referring to a person of color and his mother being a french colonial who lived in Tunisia IS RELEVANT. Fucking asshole!!

  5. mikey d.: he’s a Republican so the “asshole” designation is assumed even w/o the “macaca” slur. And I agree with the Barkin – his response to the accusation of being a Jew was appropriate, what was inappropriate was the question and especially it’s tone. So don’t get all Abe Foxman on me EV – by the way, what exactly is your Jewish background? Wasn’t your Mother’s grandmother a Jewess too?

  6. I’m with the Barkin. His response was fine (for a republican). It was the “are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Jewish party” that got me.

  7. I was expecting to have a great new reason to hate Allen (I went to college in Virginia and have some experience with its politics and have disliked him for a long time), but I have to say I was put off by the question before the video even got to the answer. It would have been nice to see the context on the video, as well, since it was mentioned heavily in the article. But just the question being asked: “whether your ancestors include Jews” — shivers.

  8. EV:
    Where the hell do you come up with: Dont you DARE insinuate that I am a Jew.
    Did y’all forget how Madeline Albright reacted when the media “discovered” that she was Jew? Ya, and she actually is Jewish (I believe it was her mom’s mom) here is a guy whos mom’s dad is or may be Jewish and EV wants him to do pull down his pants and have a foreskin-ectomy!
    He handled himself very well.
    Furthermore, EV, asking him about his realtionship with Jesus is rather different than asking him about his grandfathers religious roots.
    What truly is offensive is the reporter’s question and condecsending demeanor which I frankly found anti-semitic. It was if she was saying are you one of THOSE?
    But of course he is a Republican, and he said macaca (do y’all know ANYTHING about the guy other than that slur? and what the hell is macaca – is it worse than you calling a black guy a shvartza) so he is the bad guy and the offensive one here.
    G-d bless you EV you partisan hack.

  9. first, the tone of the question didn’t seem praticularly attacking; rather like most debate questions.
    i think several of you guys missed the main point of the question. it wasn’t primarily about whether he is or is not jewish, but rather if he is sticking by statements that he is not which have been cast into significant doubt by the report in the Forward showing that he is most likely of Jewish ancestory.
    It is absolutely reasonable to ask a person who publicly speaks about his own religion and “heritage” so often and with such fervor 1) how long he has know he was Jewish and 2) why has he been misleading the public about it. Had he not made probably false statements earlier it would not have been an interesting question.
    he reporter should have asked the question more precisely but it seems at least marginally reasonable. That said, i’d prefer the topics have stuck to why 46M americans don’t have health coverage, why we are continuing to destabalize Iraq, why politics continues to be dominated by rich powerful industry lobbies, etc.

  10. Yes, we can all agree George Allen is an a-hole. But…I think more than anything else what was ridiculous about this clip is that the reporter was bringing up his possible Jewishness precisely as something that wouldn’t play well with Southerners. Thus why it was offensive. Thus why it was immaterial. And thus why it was just plain stupid.

  11. Merliner to answer your question about whether macaca and shvartza, we both know that shvartza can be used in a derogatory way when referring to black people. It all depends on context. Macaca is not only a primate but historically been used as a epithet used for Africans.
    I seriously hope that you are not condoning this type of word usage by a senator…

  12. I am not condoning but must this end his political career? He is being tarred and feathered for an “off-colored” remark. Have you seen any other instances where he expressed racism of any kind? I am not an historian – but I believe that if he did we would know about it.
    Do you recall when Hillary kissed Arafat’s wife (yes the one living in France receiving millions annualy earmarked for palestinan aid) and sympathized with her wild accusation that Israel was poisoning their water? She said sorry, she was a victim of propaganda or something and the press let it go.
    This guy apologized time and time again, personally spoke to his oponent who accepted his apology but the press and many of you all cant let it go.
    If a former KKK can become a Democratic senator for apologizing why cant this guy be forgiven?!

  13. Merlin Baby,
    I actually was offended by Albricht’s reaction as well. As for “partisan hack,” I am partisan and I am definitely a hack, but I don’t consider myself a partisan hack. I would react the same to a Democrat who bristled when presented with the possibility he has Jewish roots.
    I concede that when you read my “flipped out” and then click on the video, you might have expected him to start frothing at the mouth and chucking the podium into the press gallery. But the context I watched it was this: I had seen him on Meet the Press Sunday, and he was filled with nothing but pleasant evasions and slippery distortions when discussing the War in Iraq. Surely a quintessential politician’s demeanor could also have been applied to something much less incendiary than a civil war started by his Administration. A Jewish grandfather is not a civil war. I mean, in most cases.

  14. You know, I watched this video carefully several times. When I read this post, my interpretation was that George Allen was offended by being called Jewish. To the contrary, I consider the question to be completely inappropriate (it sounds like a witch hunt), and I think her question is much more offensive than his response. I also think the crowd was booing the journalist for asking it, not because they are hating on the idea of Jewish heritage.

  15. My deepest apologies, EV, certainly NOT a partisan hack:
    “I had seen him on Meet the Press Sunday, and he was filled with nothing but pleasant evasions and slippery distortions when discussing the War in Iraq. Surely a quintessential politician’s demeanor could also have been applied to something much less incendiary than a civil war started by his Administration.”

  16. Allen has a fairly long history of racial insensitivity including (but certainly not limited to):
    1) the confederate flag he dispayed in his home until political fallout forced him to remove it
    2) the noose he kept tied to tree at his law office
    3) the atlanta j-c reported that as governor he labeled the NAACP an “extremist group” and approved confederate heritage month
    4) Allen voted against the 1991 Civil Rights Act while in congress
    5) he opposed MLK day
    6) he defended trent lott following the segregationist strom thurmond nostalgia incident
    i generally assume that public policy actions are reflective of values. when a politician is hostile to minority right, voting rights, and civil rights, i harbor a suspicion that the person is a rascist. it doesn’t take much to confirm that suspicion. When a politician is supported by people of color who believe in him/her and makes inclusive policy decesions i am more likely to assume something like the macaca incident is a gaffe. In Allen’s case his comment is part of a long pattern of appealing to bigoted white constitutents with rascist methods. This wasn’t a mistake. The only mistake was that he didn’t mean it to be so widely publicized.
    Hillary has been a staunch supporter of Israel (at least the way we conventionally think about it). Her kissing mrs. arafat was more a sign of her political pandering than anything else. if she had a history of voting against israel, criticizing israel, and supporting palestinian causes, it would be analagous to the Allen incident. As it stands it is a poor analogy.

  17. Mikey D. “…his mother being a french colonial who lived in Tunisia IS RELEVANT. Fucking asshole!!”
    Does that mean that according to Mikey, any Jew living in what today is called a Third World must be a COLONIAL? Mikey never heard there was something like Tunisian Jews? Iraqi Jews? Bukharan Jews? Non-Colonial Jews? Non-Racist Jews? Good Jews? Mikey is a bit … ehm… a bit like Allen?

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