Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tommy Thompson Needs To Do More Than Apologize

To deal with the uproar he caused with his ignorant portrayal of Judaism, Tommy needs to study religious and civil history.

His Washington, DC comments, widely reported by the Associated Press this way - - "I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances. ... What I was referring to ... is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion" - - indicate that Tommy doesn't understand that:

a) Historically, Jews were often forbidden legally from owning land or holding certain jobs, thus pushing or requiring them to engage in onerous money-lending or tax collecting.

b) Christians, on the other hand, were forbidden to engage in money-lending, setting up conflict with the Jews who did handle money and finance.

c) From England to Eastern Europe, these discriminatory laws and practices ostracized Jews in their communities. And resulted in violent anti-semitism, hangings, pogroms and also to the 19th century exodus from Europe by many Jewish families.

Their descendants make up much of today's American Jewish population, including many people in Wisconsin. Like me.

I am embarrassed that our former Governor doesn't have a modicum of historical understanding about how great religions and civil society and law and fear have interacted, and about how discrimination developes. and lingers today.

Tommy is never going to be President. His run for the presidency is an ego trip, on a par with retirees who go to baseball fantasy camp and put on the uniform and imagine they are in the big leagues.

But if Tommy was auditioning for the vice-presidency, or appointment to a cabinet position or a judgeship, that's now out the window.

Which would give him the free time he needs to catch up on his religious and world history, and get to know his Jewish constituents and the world he lives in a little better.

1 comment:

John said...

Having been "invisible" among Thompson cronies many, many years back when I was a work-study student in Madison (they never paid too much attention to the photographer or go-fer in the room), I found these sorts of casual, matter-of-fact remarks - - and follow-up "not that there's anything wrong with that" clarifications - - to be fairly common occurrences among "the boys."

I'm not surprised at Thompson's verbal gaffe or the clumsy apology.