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The Lesser Schlep


I want a girl like Sarah Silverman. She’s as pretty as Sarah Palin, much funnier, a lot smarter and she’s a nice . . . girl. Plus, she’s got what it takes to come before the nation and shamelessly call out the lot of Jews who are closet racists. Her video titled The Great Schlep points out that despite our image and reputation as being guardians of the Civil Rights Movement, a lot of us are not-so-closeted racists; particularly the geriatric set in Florida.

Sarah goes on to implore young Jewish Americans to go visit their bubbies and zadies in Florida, and talk to them about voting for Obama – and also threaten to withhold future visits if they don’t comply.

The Yiddish phrases, “Schvartze” and “Shuch-chuh” may be a neutral or endearing reference; or a nasty slur, depending on the inflections. (Most Yiddish words can carry a spectrum of meaning, depending on same. We’re talking about a language and culture where “How are you?” is considered a provocative question.) Sadly, these words are also used as a proxy for the “N” word by some. Literally, they’re harmless.

Jewish people helped to enable the Civil Rights Movement. Many have been enabling the Republican Party since Reagan. Given the financial disasters of recent months, it is now feckless to argue, “Socially, I’m liberal, but economically, I’m conservative; so I support the Republicans.” Adam Smith was big on the Free Market, but also had a lot to say about a “Guiding Hand.” THAT would be government regulation of the banking and securities industries, which Ronald Reagan eviscerated. The tenure of Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve Chairman for 20 years was characterized by the assumption that greed will regulate itself. He was the guardian of the economy through five Presidential administrations. “Greed regulated itself” all right – like dominoes!

So the pretext for “liberal” Jewish people supporting the Reagan ideology has imploded. Now, some Jews profess squeamishness about voting for Obama because of wrongful allegations that he is a Muslim. (Colin Powell bravely asked, “So what if he is?) Some people want to believe that he’s a Muslim, as a convenient excuse for NOT voting for a black man, even though this rumor has been totally discredited. Much of it also has to do with the perceived right-wing support for Israel, and distrust of any politician who does not fully subscribe to the AIPAC line. Obama is pro-Israel in no uncertain terms. The attempts to depict him as anti-Semitic are laughable except when you consider that they come from a group called the Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Council. Why aren’t they challenging the McCain campaign for embracing brazen anti-Semites such as Andy Martin?

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Reagan shamelessly undermined public education and social services by eliminating vital programs, and taxes so he could argue there were no revenues to pay for social services and public schools. When Reagan first deregulated the banking and securities industries, I was fearful of creating a lot of ‘false wealth’ for the financial sectors that would eventually crash. As Reagan neared the end of his second term, I happened to move back to my hometown of Memphis. It was a giddy, heady time for Republicans everywhere, especially in the South. Why there? Because Reagan had also re-licensed and enabled racism, beginning with his campaign kick-off in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The code word was “States’ Rights.” All things Republican were then in full vogue, with neo-country music as a soundtrack, including the assault on public education, social services and the New Deal programs that helped rebuild America after World War II.

During the 1952 Presidential campaign, Thomas Dewey shamelessly attacked it as a threat to our economy. Dewey’s philosophy: “If you weren’t born with it or don’t have it now, you’re not entitled to any more.” Some of Dewey’s speeches later became staples of the Reagan-Bushes playbook; namely that the perpetuation of the New Deal would be the death of capitalism and the birth of socialism in Americ. Another scare tactic is falsely arguing that Obama will bring Socialism to America. Bush Jr. just nationalized the investment banking industry, and we have people worried about ending some ill-advised tax cuts. “Socialism” is one of those words that make less thoughtful Americans genuflect. It implies unwarranted give-aways to the undeserving. This is a gross perversion of the ideals of the New Deal, which created work for people, so they could apply their skills to public buildings, art, highway and beautification projects. It created work for construction workers, iron workers and masons. Many of those projects still stand.

Reagan revived the elitism of Dewey and packaged it with folksy populism. Here was Mr. Sunny Disposish telling us we don’t have to share the wealth or spend public money educating and feeding kids from the other side of the tracks. How Un-Jewish!

It’s time for Jews to cease the prejudices and misconceptions that seduced them with Reagan. We now see through the ludicrous claim that the only people who can save us from this mess are the people who got us into it. John McCain has given unqualified support to the legacy of Bush Jr’s efforts to obliterate separation of church and state, as a supreme disrespect to all religions besides Christianity. Call me old fashioned, but I say Jews shouldn’t support that.


H. Scott Prosterman

H. Scott Prosterman is a writer, humoristm and editor living in Berkeley, California. He was born in the '50s, came of age in the '60s, thrived in the '70's, barely survived the '80's and regrouped in the '90's." He holds a B.A. w/Honors from Rhodes College; an M.A. from The University of Michigan.