Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Sorry, Jews: My First Retraction (Sort of)

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After receiving numerous angry emails from fellow Jews, I feel a little bit like Philip Roth after writing about Jews masturbating in "Goodbye Columbus."  So, like a Supreme Court nominee, I feel it is important to clarify myself after writing my last post.

1)  I’m not really tired of other Jews.  I love Jews.  Sophia is Jewish.  My mother is Jewish.  Brooke, my long-time fantasy woman is Jewish, although she has yet to date a Jewish man.  Time will tell.

2)  I think Akaky had it right when he commented:

"Take advantage of your new ethnic hipness before the focus shifts to Armenians or Eskimoes or dyslexic Dravidian dwarves and being Jewish becomes so yesterday’s news."

Sophia, who loved the post, still said, "Neil, you are the schmendrik.  Better to be trendy and loved than hated, chased by Cossacks or Muslim fanatics."

3)  I actually think it is good that Walmart has its employees say "Happy Holidays" to its customers.  I don’t really want anyone saying "Merry Christmas" to me.  But if they do, I won’t drop dead on the spot.  But does it hurt you Christians so much to say, "Happy Holidays?"  We appreciate it.    Believe me, saying "Happy Holidays" isn’t the reason that Christmas has become such an overly commercialized, irreligious farce of a holiday.  Blame the retailers like Macy’s and the Gap and FAO Schwartz, all owned by…. uh, let’s move on…

4)  Recently I was quoted on this site.  It pretty much says what I believe:

Frankly, I think one of the things that makes our country so great is that the majority religion has tried so hard to make minorities feel comfortable. Where else have Jews and others been made to feel as equals and as comfortable with Christian holidays? Certainly not in many European countries where you are considered Jewish first, then a citizen of that country.

New York is not the rest of the country. I think it would be nice to bring back some of the religiosity to Christmas in big cities, so it isn’t such a consumerized holiday. Thank you, Christians, for being so good to the rest of us. You can now celebrate Christmas a little more openly.

However, things are different in smaller cities and towns around the country. Those places have a habit of mixing up religion and public policy. It is places like those where I don’t think it appropriate for the public sector to promote religion symbolism and ideology.

I think it is perfectly fine to have your friends and co-workers wish you a "Merry Christmas."  What’s the big deal?   But a "public" store like Walmart isn’t really the place  for religious exclusiveness.  And is Christmas in such trouble that it needs Walmart to save it? 

5)  I’m not into political correctness, but that doesn’t mean everyone should act like an asshole.  Unlike whatever Bill O’Reilly feels, I’m all for going all out with trying to respect minorities.  Christmas is not "under siege."  Look outside your window.  Christmas decorations were up five minutes after Thanksgiving.  Talk about shoving it in people’s face.  Sorry, but you’re the fucking majority and it’s up to you to be nice.  When the world is taken over by the billions of Chinese — and it will happen — let’s hope they respect us Americans as the minority.  (see Planet of the Apes for an example of what happens when the tables are turned).  Isn’t the whole point of the Judeo-Christian ethos to do unto others…

6)  Attacking political correctness has become so rampant that I firmly believe the MOST politically incorrect thing to do today is to defend it.  I had a long email conversation with Anne about whether Sarah Silverman is funny.  We both agree that she is.  But she is a professional comedian with a clever wit.  My fear is that every asshole will now think it is cool to tell slavery and Holocaust jokes at the dinner table and think they are the best thing since sliced challah.  I have a fear that everyone will laugh, not wanting to appear unhip, and the one who says that it isn’t funny will appear like a stick-in-the-mud. 

Sometimes, a little political correctness — when it doesn’t become the ruling party itself — can be good.

It’s weird that I use Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Silverman in the same sentence, but they are both talented entertainers making big money by saying outlandish things for people to blog about.   But in the real world, it is nice for people to say "Happy Holidays" and wrong to make racist jokes.  

Of course, as a high-paid blogger, I include myself as someone who can say whatever he wants without consequence.

7)  And finally, I’d like to apologize publicly to big-time blogger Andrew Krukoff.  I’m still not sure who you are, but congratulations on becoming a man.

Today on Blogebrity:  How to Tell if Your Cowboy is Gay  (about not only but also)

48 Comments

  1. I say live and let live, tolerance and a few less wars will do everyone some good. Cheers then!

  2. Next up:

    Sorry, Christians: My Second Retraction

  3. You are so killing me Neil. Great Post yet again!!

  4. Another typically Jewish trait: incessant apologizing where no apology is necessary. I consider people wishing me a Merry X-mas impolite (applies only to those who know me, of course; strangers is a different story). It’s like congratulating somebody else with your own birthday. I would however, wish a Merry Christmas or Hanukah to practitioners of either fate, out of simple good manners.

    Akaky: you might want to reconsider your amusing name theory if you’d know the surname Krucoff is, in all probablity, derived from Russian Krukov, which in English tradition would sound like Hook, or even Hooker. Now, which one would you prefer to be called, Small or Hooker?

  5. What would Sarah do? She wouldn’t apologize for her comedy. Neither should you. But great post.

  6. Don’t worry Neil, we Jews forgive you…just like we forgive the director of Goodbye Columbus for casting Ali McGraw as a Jewish girl.

  7. I suggest we all just wish each other a “Happy Boxing Day Bonanza!”

  8. Oh, for goodness’ sake. If your post needed a retraction, then my post REALLY needs one. But I’m not retracting. And neither should you.

  9. I read your previous post last night but did not comment coz though it was a good read, I have nothing to say. TOday, I see your headings and i say WTF?? What retractions?? (you’re joking right??)

    Hope you are. Not nice having you retract something after you wrote something you felt it’s not wrong. Sigh, does that mean you’ll stick to your sexual fantasy stuffs from now on? 🙂

  10. i assume you’re apologizing for the lack of genuine humor.

    accepted.

    being an annoying ranting jew like the thousands of other furnace whiners is really groundbreaking. congrats.

  11. I love all the Christmas bling, but separation of church and state is a huge issue for me, and I see it slowly but surely being eroded from all sides. I don’t like it. Feh!

  12. Yawwn, maybe I am just sleepy but I can’t tell if you are joking or not. Please tell me you really didn’t get nasty emails on that fantastic post. LOL

  13. i’m catholic, i’m not offended when someone wishes me happy holidays, but i also don’t mean to offend anyone when i wish them a merry christmas. it’s something i celebrate, i wish some people would allow me to celebrate my own holiday the way i want to and not think i have some sort of personal agendy against anything non christian. i’ve never heard of that big time blogger andrew whatever his last name is, but then again, i’m pretty sure he hasn’t heard of me. in my mind, i’m a big time blogger too.

  14. Are you really mad? Did you really get nasty emails? This post seems like a departure. Don’t get me wrong, I like it! Tell it! But did people really get mad?

    Perhaps if people don’t have a sense of humour, they shouldn’t be reading your blog, which is humour.

  15. Unbelievable. Anyone who didn’t understand that your previous post was a SATIRE should be forced to go back to high school English class and re-read “A Modest Proposal.”

    This is what my husband meant when he called such people “locusts.” They’ll blow past in another day or so. Sorry they did such damage in the meantime.

  16. i hate bill o’ reilly. sigh.

  17. Jeez, Waatup, how many comments are you going to send in one day? I actually liked the annoyingStein one the best. But I picked this one to display because “Annoying Ranting Jew” used to be my nickname in high school. Do I know you from my AP English class?

  18. Better safe &c: yes, but what would be your reaction if someone wish you a Happy Hanukah, Kwanza or Ramadan?

  19. Oy. Well, if you’re not making some people unhappy with what you write, you’re probably not doing it right.

    But seriously: oy. (And I’m half-Jewish, half-Irish/Swedish, so I can use whatever the fuck Yiddish I want…half the time.)

  20. You know I do believe in being politically correct until that correctness becomes what separates us. I do not believe Jews are the minority, a religion should never be considered a majority. It’s not a race, it’s a belief, a religion, a way of life not a definition of life. I get so pissed off when everyone is so damn worried about offending someone by saying Merry Christmas. You know what, if you don’t celebrate Christmas – stop listening. We live in a world where people search for something to complain about on a daily basis. Are there not more important issues to contemplate than whether Walmart is being politically correct? I’m all up for political discussions but isn’t here in the U.S. where we preach separation of church an state? So why is this holiday anything different? If you believe in Santa Claus, then damnit, believe regardless of what God you believe in.

  21. wow. after reading waatup’s asinine comment i completely forgot what i was going to say.

    something about sarah silverman… i know the words “vagina” and “gas chamber” were involved… maybe “nutsack.” nope, it’s gone.

  22. Neil you told me that I was your long-time woman fantasy.

    You tramp.

  23. Tatyana is so right when she points out the Jewish trait of incessant apologizing, but this post made me think. (Yikes! Stop it!) I’ve been on the warpath against the politically correct “Happy Holidays” for the past few years but if I really try to imagine myself living in a place where there were few or no members of the tribe (as opposed to the shtetl known as Los Angeles) I might feel creeped out if everything was Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. On the other hand, does anyone really believe that a “Merry Christmas” sign in a Wal-Mart or Gap has ANYTHING to do with the birth of Jesus Christ?? That’s why I can’t bear the yearly fear of “offending” people with Christmas greetings–they might as well be saying “Happy Shopping!” And it’s why this Jew enjoys seeking out the religious side of Christmas, I am a sucker for a good Midnight Mass.

    Even more creepy are the automaton TV news anchors wishing Happy Hanukkah “to our Jewish friends” as they cue the graphic of unattractive children gazing at a menorah. The marketing of this unimportant holiday into the “Jewish Christmas,” thus allowing Jews to spend equal time in the malls, was sheer brilliance.

    Maybe we should all celebrate Kwanzaa.

  24. Bravo Neil (on both posts)! Once again, you’ve gotten everyone riled up and it’s GREAT!! I usually say “Have a good Holiday” just because (not trying to be p.c.) and I wouldn’t get offended if someone wished a happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or Ramadan. And I agree with the other comment about religion not dictating minority/majority whatever! Honestly, I don’t understand why we have those “separations” anyways. I really enjoy reading your posts (even the ones I don’t entirely understand), so Thank You! You seem like an awesome person, and you have such a terrific way of sharing your view of the world!! Hope you have a Wonderful Holiday!!

  25. Grad School Reject

    December 15, 2005 at 8:40 am

    “I feel a little bit like Philip Roth after writing about Jews masturbating in “Goodbye Columbus.”

    Don’t forget “Portnoy’s Complaint”…and “Sabbath’s Theater”…and…have any of Roth’s books been without a masturbation scene?

  26. Whoa, everyone hang on just a cotton-picking minute here. A modest proposal was only a satire? You mean like Swift was just trying to be funny, he didnt really mean what he said about Irish kids at all………………….uh oh

  27. I’m a firm believer in it’s your blog and you can say what you want to. Don’t apologize for writing something that some (not all) disagreed with.
    Though I am a little offended that you didn’t say a word about kwanzaa. But I’ll get over it.

  28. Can I say merry Winter Solstice? Or am I offending the aliens? Oh, we are so earth-centric on this planet!

  29. I wasn’t offended, I thought it was a funny post. My boss got upset the other day when one of our clients “a large catholic hospital” sent her a Christmas Card with a pic of the Holy Family. She’s Jewish. She was upset that “a large catholic hospital” couldn’t be more sensitive to her beleifs. I told her that not everyone is on the bandwagon with sensitivity and she shouldn’t take it personally. I’m not christian or jewish and they sent me one too!
    I offered to hang a photo of Jesus next to her framed photo of Matthew M. (I have no idea how to spell that guys name) but she didn’t think it was funny.
    Oh Well —

  30. Did anyone see the Grinch on TV? That’s my favorite.

  31. Well said. To me, religion is a sort of grandiose flower arranging, but it can be quite well run and even sometimes help people live better lives. And if the people with poppies say “Hiya!” and the people with carnations say “Hello!” I’m lost as to the problem.

  32. Networkchic, when a group makes up only 3% of a population, that constitutes a minority. And people can’t just “stop listening” when an entire city is saturated with Christmas everything.

  33. Did you get threatened by the Trendy Jew Mafia or something? The thing about your ethnicity becoming popular is that it has to be from an interesting culture, which is why you never saw Trendy Scots with everyone wearing kilts and Madonna learning how to make whisky. So it’s a compliment when everone suddenly gets interested in your culture. Right? Sure, the backlash is a bitch, but ride high while you can.

  34. What, you mean I’m not your fantasy Jewish woman? Sigh. Tell me I’m at least in the top ten Neil. 😛

  35. Yes, I LOVE the Grinch, too! Ha! Nice subject change…I’m easily distracted!

  36. Hilary,

    You are so right. It is really easy to say stop listening. How about the reverse. How about stop stuffing it in our faces and forcing the issue.

  37. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been outed!

  38. I think you’re cool because you upset people. They wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t really care and I doubt any of them stopped reading your blog. 🙂 Rock on my Jew brother!

  39. oh geez, this is a day late.

    Better safe &c: yes, but what would be your reaction if someone wish you a Happy Hanukah, Kwanza or Ramadan?

    By Tatyana on 12.15.05 7:36 am

    Tatyana, if someone wished me a greeting from their culture, my first impression would not be that they were trying to offend me. if someone told me to f*ck off, i would be offended. i don’t quite understand how someone that wishes me well, or glad tidings, or whatever, using words from their culture, that i don’t believe in, can be offensive. they’re not asking me to join, they’re including me in a part of something they believe me, part of their celebration. is it wrong for me to respect that others have different beliefs than i do and that maybe, all they are doing is offering me something very simple, almost like a hello, but a hello that is part of what they believe in. i don’t actually understand why merry christmas has become so offensive.

  40. “angry emails from fellow jews”? are we over dramatizing the situation a little? there weren’t any negative comments on the post.

    it seems like you’ve now decided to adopt the long-held jewish tradition of throwing yourself on the altar and playing the victim but i can’t see how anyone would seriously get in an uproar over your points.

  41. Muc —

    OK, you got me. I’m a bit of a drama queen. Only two Jews, one a friend, really sent me an email, both wondering what was so bad about Walmart’s policy.

    I also got an email from someone who is Catholic, all gung-ho about me understanding the kindness of Christians over this Christmas-Hanukkah issue.

    And then an atheist wrote (I have no idea what religion) saying it was the Constitution that separates Church and State, and this has nothing to do with the kindness of Christians, since America is not a “Christian” country, despite what Bill O’Reilly says.

    And then some crazy anti-Semite wrote, saying something I really didn’t understand.

    But, Muc, you’re absolutely right — I took upon myself to take the traditional Jewish stance — and blame everything on fellow Jews.

  42. Here’s a fun puzzle. How do we determine the borders that define “minority”? I’m a straight white Protestant-born guy. If we’re talking about the USA as a whole, there are a ton of us around. But if we’re talking about Manhattan, we’re sparse on the ground — maybe 5% of the population or less.

    So, ethical question for the day: In the city where I spent 90% of my time, I’m a member of a minority. Do I get to act the victim and complain about the various big bullies and their insensitive-to-the-likes-of-me ways? Or do I have to keep all the bitching to myself, because after all those like me are so common in the rest of the country? Maybe so. On the other hand, I spend very little time Out There …

  43. Good point, if it wasn’t such a forced one. It may feel like the white Protestant male is the “minority” in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, but culturally I don’t see Hanukkah and Kwannza displays everywhere, with little Christmas trees in the corner. Or everyone going to “Holiday” parties where there are secret “Macabees” handing out gifts. I would hope that on the micro-level everyone would show a minority respect. For instance, if everyone was Jewish and Puerto Rican in your apartment building, I would hope they wouldn’t mock you for you playing Protestant music, like Perry Como, late at night.

    A better question would be — how are minorities treated in a place like Israel or an Islamic country like Turkey. My guess is not as well as in our country. Thank god for separation of Church and State — and a respect for minorities. Although this Christmas issue is a little stupid, I have to admit, it’s an interesting one to explore because it deals with the role of religion in American public life — and how to best handle it. As usual, the issue is being pushed a little too far, and becomes a little victim-like, but no one wants to go back to the days where all children in public schools were taught to sing religious Christmas carols. The question is what is the best way to keep an important Christian religious holiday spiritually meaningful to Americans without the religious aspects going too far into the public sector.

    Just so you know, I’m also against displaying of menorahs in public, although those who display it say it isn’t really that much of a religious symbol. I would be more comfortable with displays of dreidels.

  44. Neil, an atheist has no religion at all.

  45. Muc,

    That was an asinine comment and simply not true. But if you wanted to piss people off then you did it. Congratulations.

  46. Neil, small aside from your thought – who do you think are minorities in Israel and why do you suppose they are not treated well there?

  47. Actually, I think Israel does a pretty good job respecting other religions, considering…

  48. At least we can all agree on Kwanzaa…

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