El Coyote Gordo (supergee) wrote,
El Coyote Gordo
supergee

Resistance is futile.

Science fiction prepares us for the future. In 1974, I read a new book called The Mote in God's Eye. One character was sly, swarthy, and hook-nosed; his sneakiness and greed propelled much of the plot. This sort of character was quite familiar, but this time he was an Arab, instead of a Jew. (In fact, his middle name was Hussein; you can't make this stuff up.)

Nowadays, much of America fears Arabs and/or Muslims, and one thing the latter are expected to do is "assimilate." As I heard that, I thought that some of the methods they could use have been tried and tested: They can change their names and have their noses surgically Christianized. And then I remembered something else.

As a Jew, I came in when things were getting better. I have read about Walter Lippmann, a generation before me, who probably earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for most organizations he was the First Jew in. The price he paid was assimilation: He couldn't be "too Jewish," and he had to join in condemning those who were.

I was born at the time when Adolf Hitler was bringing Jew hating into unprecedented disrepute. He was even nastier to the Jews than genteel gentiles found reasonable, he fought a war against us, and he lost. Finally, Lippmann could condemn him without adding fair and balanced bits about the Jews who did the sociopolitical equivalent of dressing provocatively.

But we weren't equal yet. In the 50s I attended a prep school with a 90% Jewish student body. I got a good education; we provided many of New York's doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. Along with English, math, & science, though, we had to take a course called Speech, which I now realize should have been called Gentile Emulation. Mr Baruth (widely believed to have been born Baruch), told us: Don't make Jew Gestures, avoid the dentalized T, don't sound like a "cloak & suiter." Prepare to be assimilated.

Some Jews say, "We had to do it; they should have to." Some say, "We had to do it; nobody should have to." I am one of the latter.
Tags: assimilation
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