The Sound of David Mamet Shrieking Hysterically


The award-winning playwright's mid-life crisis is taking the form of guilt at not having put his life on the line in Israel all these years. Here's one of the less intemperate thoughts he's had on the topic:

I was strolling through Newton. There, before me, was a broken-down Volvo of old, the vehicle of my brethren, the congenitally liberal. It was festooned, as are its kind, with every sort of correct exhortation: "Save James Bay," "Honor Diversity" and so on. A most interesting bumper sticker read: "Israel Out of the Settlements." Now this is a legitimate expression of free speech. Israel has been involved, as we know, in a rather protracted real estate dispute with several hundred million of its neighbors. This legitimate political expression, however, had all its "S"s transformed into dollar signs. Here we have, one would have supposed, a civilized person (one would assume that one could reason with the owner of a Volvo) sporting a slogan which could best be translated as "Hook-nosed Jews Die."

It sounds like a dumb sticker, but is that really the best translation? Aren't the dollar signs more indicative of his congenitally liberal brethren's tendency to blame every social conflict on capitalism? Even if he's correct and the thing emits an odor of anti-Semitism, Mamet's phrasing it in the crudest and most bilious terms possible is indicative of the essay's tone. Other folks outed as Final Solutioners in the wings include all of the western media, the World War II Allies, any Jew who distances his or her own views from Prime Minister Sharon's, technothrillmeister Tom Clancy (always a supporter of Israel, and certainly an admirer of Israeli military prowess, I had thought), and all the critics who panned State and Main. (OK, I made that last one up, but the rest are true.) It's an amazing essay, unassailable through the sheer volume of its overstatement. Link courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily.