“Schvartze”

It’s my sad opinion that were he still alive, my grandfather… a life-long Democrat who often referred to African-Americans using the derogatory Yiddish term that is this diary’s title… would have gone into a voting booth in Fort Lauderdale and chosen Republican Senator John McCain over Democratic Senator Barack Obama.

By the zeitgeist of today (and certainly of this website) “Papa” would be referred to as a racist, but I, who loved him a great deal, and my mother, who certainly loved him more, would have tried to defended him as having a critical case of “generational- challenge”.

He grew up in a totally different world, living in all Jewish Skokie, Illinois, and though he often dealt, without any rancor or incident, with African-Americans at one of the book stores he ran in downtown Chicago, the “Schvatrzes” were different and different meant threatening and the only way to live with the fear of threat is to tear it down.

But times change, and my Papa produced my mother, Susan, who is a glorious, raging progressive and empathetic champion for anyone who has a shred of a soul.

And she in turn produced ME… a less empathetic, but more raging if profane progressive.

When Mom and I talk about the upcoming election, she worries about the generationally-challenged Jews currently living in South Florida… about the fact that Senator Obama will seem different and therefore threatening in so many ways… about how easy it will be to sell the very familiar, war-hero, “Israel loving” John McCain.

We both have come to conclusion that Florida is lost to the Democrats this year.

But this morning I remember… it doesn’t have to end that way.

Because one of the most powerful tools we modern day Jews… and Italians and Catholics and Hispanics and Iranians and Homosexuals for that matter… have at our disposal is the ability to cure the generation-challenge; to go into nursing homes and retirement communities, not to sell our candidate, but simply to tell the truth about how little difference there really is between a man whose father immigrated from Africa and whose mother gutted it out alone to raise a son with lofty dreams and their own lives.

After all, my Papa loved and accepted everyone he actually KNEW.

Now, I’m not sure Senator Obama NEEDS Florida to become the next President… likely he does not… but I’ll end with a allegorical joke that I’m sure Papa told me when I was a kid:

Jewish grandmother is walking with her grandson along the beach when a tidal waves appears out of nowhere, scoops the kid up and drags him out to see.

Grandmother falls to her knees, and pounds her fists on the sand, SCREAMING and CRYING for God to bring her beloved grandchild back.

A moment later… tidal wave appears again and redeposits the wet, alive kid.

Jewish grandmother looks at the kid, then at the sky, then back at the kid, finally turning her face upward to say with great disappointment, “when he left… he had a hat.”

In the face of tacit, generational distrust… even hate… just the Presidency is not enough.

3 comments

  1. …”ch-ch-changes”.

    • Edger on May 26, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    For “the generationally-challenged Jews currently living in South Florida“, buying into McCain’s bullshit could end up being their final solution to shvartzes, and to anything else.

    They, and we, may not have any solutions left for anything, after McCain gets through doing the damage he’ll do.

    They don’t have the luxury of time left to be generationally challenged, anymore.

    Neither does any one else.

    Armando at Talkleft, yesterday: Obama’s GE Margin Of Error: Nonexistent

    the latest McCain-Obama head to heads (forget the electoral college math problems for a moment) and here they are:

    Rasmussen

    Obama 44

    McCain 46

    Gallup

    Obama 45

    McCain 47

    Newsweek

    Obama 46

    McCain 46

    Great essay, Jeffrey!

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