This September a woman asked me, "Yom Kippur, that's the holiday you buy the tickets for?" I found this somewhat disturbing since it was my Aunt Sadie. 95, I chalked it up old age. Ageist humor aside, I'll not reveal the identity of the woman who actually asked it because she is a shiksa in good standing with me. But it got me to thinking.
It got me to thinking why it bothered me because I wasn't raised in a particularly observant household. Though my father did regularly say of his mother-in-law (my bubbe), "Couldn't Himmler have squeezed one more up the chimney?" a reference to Judaism, I don't think that counts. Growing up, my family life was best summed up by the t-shirt Al Goldstein wore "I yell because I care." Religion wise, I'm like my friend Jon Braunhut, who refers to himself as "a typical post Holocaust, atheist Jew". For me, substitute, "agnostic". I like to hedge my bets. I am a Jew the same way Freud described himself: No matter what I do, I am a Jew, for which the Tea Party is forever grateful.
What does this have to do with the Tea Party? My friend? No, she's not a member. She's a liberal democrat who plans on voting Obama. She would absolutely deny being an anti-Semite, so would the Tea Party. To be clear, I'm talking about the Fundamentalist members of the Tea Party, the ones who believe that Jews and Israel need to exist for the Rapture. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be someone else's go directly to salvation Community Chest card.
And if I shared the above thought with a non-Fundamentalist Tea Party member, I'd be greeted with that tone. You know the one, understanding commingled with subtle indignation as if explaining to a five-year-old or Barack Obama? "Oh no, this isn't want they mean." So what do "they" mean? For the answer I give you, Tea Party, unconscious anti-Semitism, and you say my people never "give" anything.
Then is my friend with the ticket question on equal level of the Tea Party's sentiment? And are they both on the level of someone who has a lifetime subscription to "Der Sturmer"? No, but they all are points on a line or parallel lines, actually parallel railroad tracks that lead to my father's joke, though I'm pretty sure he wasn't an anti-Semite. It is the unconscious that leads the conscious, if I may defer to the aforementioned Dr. Freud.
Case in point, racism and the Tea Party. While no Tea Party member would admit that they are racist, have any of them seen those Obama images that flit around the web like a Kardashian in a NBA locker room? You know the ones? Okay, I understand your guilt. You would never, ever look at these much less stifle a laugh over them. Since you don't know what I'm talking about, do a Google image search for "Obama, Tea Party, humor". Did you do it? Gotcha!
By now you're saying, "Ed, what's your point?" Good point. Absolutes are the evil. Period. Whether it's politics or religion. My friend who thinks she's a liberal and would never, ever be anti-Semitic might do better to think that liberalism is not the answer to everything. When you think it is, you end up making statements like the one she did. The Tea Party, well, they might do better reading the Constitution, especially the part about separation of church and state, than wearing tri-corner hats and trying to look like John Adams, who I'm pretty sure was an agnostic like me but uncircumcised. Or maybe just ask, "What would John Adams do?"
In the end to quote a noted American, "Can't we all just get along?" Only if we acknowledge that we can't all be right, but we can be right some time. At least I think so, maybe? Let's try to remember that as we had into the homestretch of the election. Oh, and if anyone has an inside track on Yom Kippur tickets for next year, it would really help me to get in good with the lady who asked me. Hey, I'm agnostic. I'm not dead.