16 November 2016

Whose Shande, Bernie Marcus?

Word came over the transom that Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus rose to the defense of Stephen Bannon, the much maligned advisor to President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Bannon's infamous and bigoted news outlet, Breitbart News, reported it, printing in full Bernie Marcus's press release, written in his capacity as Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Here's what Bernie said:

"I have known Steve Bannon for many years. I have been shocked and saddened to see the recent personal attacks on Steve. Nothing could be further from the truth. The person that is being demonized in the media is not the person I know. These attacks on Steve are nothing more than an attempt to undermine the incoming Trump Administration. I have known Steve to be a passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel who felt so strongly about this that he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out. What is being done to Steve Bannon is a shonda."
I suppose gentlemen can disagree on whether word or deed makes someone a bigot. Breitbart, as has been amply reported, for alt-right bigotry, racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.  But under cover of Bannon being "pro-Israel" (though has he ever read Israel's Declaration of Independence, a decidedly un-Trumpian document of inclusion for minority rights?) Bernie Marcus declares that the attacks on his pal Stephen Bannon are a "shonda." 

This term, as may be well known, is a Yiddish term meaning a shame, an embarrassment, even a disgrace.   It's most popular use is in the phrase "a shande fur de goyim," meaning something that Jews do that's embarrassing for non-Jews to see.  

And so looking more deeply into Bernie's use of the term, one might say it doesn't really measure up.  After all, Bannon's language and political strategy elevating Trump to the White House may in fact be the greater shande, if you really think about it.

This is what Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the ADL, was going for when he issued his statement about the appointment of Bannon:

“The ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior advisor and chief strategist in the White House,” the organization wrote about one of President-elect Donald Trump’s first choices for his new team. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’ ”

I'm on Jonathan's side.  Truly.  

After all, is it not the greater shande for the President-elect to have deployed misogynistic language about women's genitals, breasts and menstruation as weapons in his battle to win the White House?

Is it not the greater shande for the President-elect to have mocked the disabled?

Is it not the greater shande for the President-elect to have derided a Mexican-American judge who is an American-born U.S. citizen?

Is it not the greater shande for the President-elect to shame the name and the family of a Muslim American soldier who sacrificed his life for our country?

The shande list goes on and on.  So much so that one can only conclude that at Home Depot, the rulers and measuring sticks are so bent out of shape that for a Jew to sell them to unsuspecting Gentile buyers is, well, a shande.

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