April 30, 2002
Nick Puts His Thumb On The Scales

Peter Pribik and Nick Denton have been arguing which is worse, European or American racism. No clear victor has emerged, and the contest will have to be decided on points. But this particular part of Denton's post (near the end) caught my eye:

Britain had an ethnically Jewish prime minister in the 19th century, France in the 1980s. And what was the US still doing in 2000: wondering whether Joe Liebermann's Jewishness would be a liability to the Democrat ticket.

If you're going to count Christianized ethnic Jews like Disraeli on the European side of the scale, you have to count them on the U.S. side as well. Thirty six years before the Democrats nominated Joe Lieberman (one N, please) for vice president, the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater for president. He was crushed in the general election, but that had little or nothing to do with his Jewish ancestry. After all, the six states that he won (Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona) have never been thought of as hotbeds of philoSemitism.

One reason I mention this is that I'm still irritated about the many smug Democratic claims in the last election that Lieberman was the first Jew on a national ticket. First practicing Jew? Absolutely. But surely ethnicity is at least as important as practice when you're worrying about prejudice or boasting about overcoming it. Most Jew-haters these days seem to care more about ancestry than religious practice, and not at all about whether the Jewish ancestry is on the father's side (as with Goldwater) or the mother's (where it counts religiously).

Of course, I was also annoyed by the claim that Nader's running-mate in 1996 and 2000, Winona LaDuke, was "the first Native American to run for national office" -- or even the second, after La Donna Harris, Barry Commoner's running mate in 1980. In fact, the first was Charles Curtis of Kansas, who ran for Vice President, and won, as Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. There is an interesting biography on the U.S. Senate website, with details of his life on the Kaw reservation, career as a jockey, and much more.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 30, 2002 10:34 PM