Truth, Revolvers, and a Jew in Cowboy Boots

Posted by Radical Jew on September 16, 2012

The other day in my creative writing class, a student delivered an essay which, for all its good qualities and potential, came to focus on stereotypes and caricatures of Jews. It was a humorous essay, and it was funny. But the joke came to throw the piece out of balance, shifting the essay’s subject. I was curious to see how the class would respond. One person cheered, “They’re just like that, those New York Jews. I’ve been to New York six times, and they’re just like that.” She was gleeful. I reminded her that I am a New York Jew.

“And you don’t think they’re like that?” she asked.

“No, I don’t,” I said.

A few looked at me to gauge where I was coming from. I offered them nothing more. I was not going to relieve them. Though I did wonder if those who cast those furtive glances, as though they did not know whether or not to let loose some secret, considered for an instant what it meant to feel that way.

Or would you call that my “Jewish paranoia?”

No one said anything. That bothered me more than the piece did. After all, the things we write should cross lines. And I like the student writer. I like them all. I’ve a great bunch of people. I try to remember where I live.

I wondered how the class would have reacted had the piece instead focused on caricatures of Africans or Italians or homosexuals or some other group. Somehow, I believe the reaction would have been different. I don’t know that. Actually, maybe not with homosexuals. This sort of thing is still generally acceptable when it comes to them and Jews.

What’s a Jew to do? Say anything, and you’re exhibiting another stereotypical trait: hypersensitivity. You know? The bit about how Jews see “anti-Semitism in everything.” Shit, “Jew ‘em down” is only an expression. Why do we get so upset? And, come on, “every Jew I ever met really was cheap.” I love that one. How do you argue with testimonies of personal experience. Yet every racist and bigot I’ve ever known–pick the target minority–has used that line.
You know how it is with the Jews: They can’t handle the truth.

Sometimes I hate that word “truth.” In the hands of some folks, it’s a revolver. Jews with their great noses and ugly attitudes are a given. To point out otherwise is like challenging a self-evident fact like gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. Fuck a duck.

Coincidence: The next morning, I stopped into Publix and went up to the counter where a woman I’ve known for years was working the cash register. It’s my local grocery, so we smiled at each other the sort of smile people of long but mild acquaintance have, the kind that is sincere enough but doesn’t make it all the way to your eyes. “When I look at you,” she said, “I think, ‘a Jew in Cowboy boots.'” Really, I thought. That’s what pops into your mind? For the past fifteen years?

“Right on both counts,” I replied and rode off.


  • Anjali says:

    Without question Jewish poeple have an historical hatred of Christianity. Hinduism, and ancient religions are irrelevant in this historical context. To bring in all these other belief systems only muddies the waters. It’s like saying the American Indian wars had nothing to do with European settlement of the West. The conflict between the Jews and Christians is completely contextual and started in laws agains Jews in the Latin Middle Ages. Jews were forbidden to participate in the craft guilds or to fraternize with Christians, etc. When laws relaxed they decided to get their revenge and they have this is the source of all this modern conflict. The massive carnage of ethnic Christians particular in Russia is a testament to this hatred. Icons were stolen, priests killed, and churches burned. The German holocaust was another example of revenge when Germany lost the war and hundreds of thousands of German women were raped and prisoners of war butchered, to say nothing of the fire bombed cities. Now it’s American’s turn to pay the price which is manifesting in the systematic destruction of the American middle class by Jewish bankers. There is no separation of State of Synagogue but the separation of church and state is taken to extremes. If religion could be eliminated I am positive that the religion eliminated would be Christianity and not Judaism which receives all kinds of government privileges from security forces to protect synagogues to paying for special street lights to operate on the Sabbath to rerouting public transportation so as not to disturb Jewish neighborhoods. Meantime, the crosses are taken off the Missions in the seal of L.A. County, despite the enormous Latin and Catholic popular of L.A. Let’s be clear about what is going on here and not generalize to minimize it. This website is trying to report the undercurrent of this undeclared war of religion. It is a war and it is all about religion and specific religions . without doubt.

  • Words have the power to create and destroy. Grenades can only kill you once. Words can do it again and again. They can also incite/inspire others to pick up or put down those gunpowder pineapples.

  • Also wondering as a cowboy from Saskatchewan, If when I wore corduroys instead of jeans back then, Americans thought to themselves "a cowboy in Jew pants…" ; ].

  • Jessica M. Bayne says:

    I was not aware you wore cowboy boots on a regular basis.

  • Rebekah Ruth says:

    You know, this reminds me of something that happened in my classroom a couple of years ago. Quite deliberately, I had requested that ALL of the school’s lower quartile students be scheduled to me. My classes were composed of some white students, but were primarily composed of black (I do not say African American, for many were from Haiti and other locals) males and females, as well as latino students. I chose to challenge them in terms of their thinking about civil rights and race. That year, for my 8th grade class, we read “Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands.” If you have never read it, it is an accurate account of the Jim Crow/Civil Rights movement right here in Jacksonville, and Apopka/Orlando. Not only does it chronicle the heinous activity of the KKK against blacks, it also bears witness to the many synagogue bombings as well. Names are named. Fuller Warren was a member of the KKK. (That’s governor Fuller Warren, in case you didn’t know.)

    I use whatever I need to use to get kids’ attention. I’ve found that candy (innocent as that may sound) still does it. I’ve company representatives that donate candy to me to use for incentives. When there’s little to look forward to in your life, you’d be surprised how sweet a pack of skittles, M&M’s or Sour Patch Kids can be. Even sweeter when you realize you’ve EARNED it.

    Well, this one particular day, one kid wanted another kid to share with him. We were reading the book I previously mentioned…and the other kid wasn’t being as generous as the first thought he should have been. “Don’t be a Jew, give me some.”

    My head snapped in the direction of the conversation. I was locked on the target. “What did you say?”

    “I said,” repeated the boy–completely unaware that this would not be A-Ok…”Don’t be a Jew, give me some.”

    I asked him why he would say that. He said he heard that all Jews were selfish and stingy. “Really?” I said. “Who told you that?” He couldn’t remember…and defaulted to “everybody knows that.” “Ah, I see. How is that different from saying that all black folks are lazy and stupid?” “Ms. Bliss, that’s racist.” “Yes, it is racist to say such a thing, but I’m not saying to you, I’m asking you what is the difference?” Children are so honest. “Well, I’m black and I’m not lazy and stupid–and I know a lot of black folks who aren’t lazy and stupid. So I know that it’s not true.”

    “So, you are judging individuals on their own individual merit then?”

    “Yeah. I guess.”

    “But not Jews?”

    “Aw, c’mon Ms.Bliss…I never even met a Jew. It was just something to say.”

    I walked over an shook his hand. Introduced myself. “Nice to meet you.” He looked as though he might cry. I patted him on the back and said, “Think about how your words affect others. Words are the most powerful things there are.”

    He and his brother still keep in touch from time to time.

  • You know, it's funny, Ari. I've known you for years and your "Jewishness" hasn't been in my consciousness unless you've mentioned it in some context. To pick up on a lesser point, I think many people believe and propagate the notion that all Italian-Americans are in the Mafia or know someone who is. Trust me, with my name especially I get a lot of comments about that!

  • Ari, I can honesty say I think of you as "an artist" in cowboy boots – And as someone who lived in NYC and having met so many different types and personalities of all races, I can say with some authority that there is no one stereotypical New York Jewish type – nor Italian or wasp or whatever – Just a whole bunch of different crazy ass people that I grew to love.

  • I suppose some things will never change. Just keep being a great teacher!

    • Batuhan says:

      2 problems.1;The Protocols SPECIFICALLY say we shall racpele religion (morality) with materialism (immorality) .Religion has always been the sole source of morality. Christianity and Islam being the 2main religions.Who is trying to eliminate Christianity and Islam?Jews..2; If God and Christ did not exist, why would the jew/satanists expend billions of dollarsin print, movie and radio to go out of their way to disprove someone who did not exist in the first place?They would not, unless God and Christ exist.Zionist have been savaging all religion for decadesto get any and all faithful to turn away from God.And it has worked incredibly well.People non-chalantly profess I don’t believe with aknowledging they have been brainwahed into saying that as much as believing the holohoax.Or any other of the jewish lies.

  • “When I look at you, I think…” That’s an interesting start to a sentence. It made me wonder what I think when I look at you, Ari. That’s a fun thought to think, about the people in your life. Although I’m probably an overthinker, I’m not sure I think anything at all when I see or imagine the people in my life. I think I feel instead. There are plenty of things to think about, but I think people should be felt. Certainly the people in my life are the ones who make me feel. something. The ones I have to think too much about I usually keep at arm’s length. Hmm… I’ll think more about this on my bike ride. Thanks for sharing this, Ari. :)

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