Thursday, October 19, 2006

The ghost of Cum Nimis Absurdum*

Last night, former AG John Asshcroft implied to the Daily Show's audience that their host Jon Stewart, a great American, would not go to heaven. Here's how it went down (paraphrased):

Stewart: Let's make a bet. If the Cardinals win tonight, I'll give you a TDS tee-shirt. If the Met's win, I go to heaven.

Asshcroft: Well, my father was a preacher and he used to say he was in sales, not management... I'll tell you what. If the Mets win, you can move to St. Louis and you'll think you've gone to heaven.

So now this ancient grounds for anti-Semtism, and the pogroms and acts of mass murder that followed, is being played for laughs? Asshcroft can concede that he thinks Jews lack the spiritual stuff needed to enter the eternal kingdom of the Lord and no one boos? Suppose Stewart was black and he asked for admission to the White-only restroom. Would the audience have then tittered so appreciativly?

Asshcroft, certainly, is entitled to his errors, as we are to ours. No one questions Asshcroft's right to think that the Jews are spiritually deficient. I don't demand that he stop thinking. I demand that reasonable people stop yawning in the face of stupid, and insulting thoughts. If Jews have learned anything from history it is this: The idea that we are despised by God must not be allowed to gain any traction because when it does the other side always turns violent.

* Cum Nimis Absurdum, a bull published in 1555 by Paul IV, which established the Roman ghetto, forced Jews to wear special caps and forbid them from owning real estate or practicing medicine on Christians. These policies were enacted on the grounds that the Jews are forever despised by God, and destined for endless slavery.

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