12/15/14

Let's ALLLLLLL Relax . . .

This poor bastard got caught up in a firestorm like his Elf-inspiration
might never understand or feel. 
Well, people. You've done it again. You've gotten the American Jewish population all sort of riled up with you "attacks" on us and our holidays and our images and likenesses and our sovereignty. I, for one, will HAPPILY take it sitting down. Why? Because this is all just people making stuff up.

A few disclaimers . . . 1) I was not born Jewish and I don't have a lifetime of Jewish experience that might make me sensitive. I have, however, been overweight my whole life and fat people take their own heat from second to second and I'm Irish and Italian (drunk and pasta-obsessed much?) and I was CATHOLIC for 22 years (insert drunk, pedophile joke here). I have felt slings and arrows. No. bones. broken. 2) Not all Jews are the same and we all have our own sensitivities around our faith and culture (I try to remember that what is most sacred to me might not mean anything to anyone else and the rest falls under context). 3) I have read very strong, articulate arguments why Jews should take recent "slights" seriously that make me understand but not agree. You can go find them. Know that I respect the arguments.

What am I blathering on about? It seems that Jews are under attack in America in the form or two dastardly maniacal commercial products. What are they? Wrapping paper and a doll. Stop laughing. I (they - not me) are serious in this perceived attack.

Let me introduce you to the "Mensch on a Bench" (a mensch, for the record, is a person you can admire - they (it was once a term used only for men but not applicable to all of G-d's people) typically do great deeds and commit acts of kindness) and Hallmark's least popular wrapping paper since the Shroud of Turin (wrapping paper, for the record, is paper we used to waste money on to hide the gift we were about to give before gift bags and tissue paper became a more expensive and popular waste of money).   

What is the problem? Apparently Mensch on a Bench looks a little too cliche-Jewey for some (that's a real thing - read more here) and apparently this gift wrap has swastikas to intimidate we Chosen.


Yeah. So, uh. That is a real thing that upsets people. I thought about it and they may have a point. I found this swastika in this week's Sunday New York Times.


I also found this one while Driving around Wichita yesterday afternoon. 


Shame on you, Wichita and THE New York Times. Oh - one more thing - the swastika was a positive symbol (meaning "good fortune" and "prosperity") for centuries before Hitler and his regime took it to make it a sign of hate. It is, to this day, still used in some religions and cultures as a positive thing. I am not advocating for the use of it here, there, and everywhere but if someone was to focus on its much longer history and symbolism . . . that is sorta their choice, right?

Which brings me to my issue with people who think the Mensch on a Bench is little more than a trite, cliche, stereotypical view of a Jew and are offended by that.

Yes. Because we've never been boiled down to our big-nosed, curly-haired, base ever before in pop culture or other places. Let me also ask . . . do we know that Elf on the Shelf looks like (or unlike) every other elf? And is anyone in the Secular Christmas Club even remotely upset that this image of an elf is not inclusive? If so - I've not seen the calls and cries in the mainstream media (owned and controlled by the Jews anyway, the stereotyping critics point out). Sidebar . . . Mensch on a Bench really, truly COULD be my beloved Rabbi. I have nothing but respect and admiration for this lookin-like-all-the-other-Jews-Jew.

More over - read the book. The book, much like that horrible atrocity that is "Elf On the Shelf", is about doing good deeds to "deserve" your Hanukkah gifts. If you want to be offended by ANYTHING be offended at the notion that Jewish parents are so focused on keeping up with (secular) Christian parents that they had to run out and purchase a knock-off of their book to put a little more emphasis on what is otherwise a very small, not very consequential Jewish holiday/festival. THAT is the real shame. 

Let's be clear here. There IS Antisemitism (and specifically anti-Jewish sentiment (did you know not all Semites/Semitics are Jews and not all Jews are Semites?)) in the world. It is technically growing - according to a (dated - 2013) Anti-Defamation League survey the rise of "distrust" and "dislike"for Jews is at higher levels than it has been in a long time. There are acts of violence. including murder, committed against people for simply being Jewish. There is vandalism and graffiti and hate speech and eye rolls. 

You know who is probably NOT a Jew hater? The people who design gift wrap. The dude who invented Mensch on the Bench and used his years of expertise on how to make toys as appealing as possible to set the stuffed fella's likeness? 

Come on, American Jewry. Let's keep our proverbial powder dry for the moments where we are under attack, when hate comes our way, and when trouble comes. Fat, (formerly) Catholic, Bale, Irish men will thank you.