I Got No Problem With the Colored Jews

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SF Chronicle columnist gets accused of anti-Semitism for calling Jews "folks of color." Before we roll out the Sammy Davis, Jr. jokes, it's worth asking why anybody would consider being called "of color" an insult. Nakao, an Asian-American, included the comment innocently enough, in the phrase: "Plenty of other folks of color became Eichler owners—Jews, Chinese and Japanese . . ." If anybody's acting like a bigot here, it's not Nakao but those who considered her comment offensive. Which is not to say you can't quibble with her racial categories, or with the precious phrase "people of color" itself (and some of Nakao's interlocutors made that quibble, in a jocular manner). But even here the history is fairly complex. Seth Sanders, my go-to man on Whiteness Studies, put it best in another context:

Fads (what rock's apologists refer to as "pop moments") have always been central to the enjoyment of rock, and one of the first things rock's detractors have cited as evidence of its status as "non-art." ("In my day, it was swallowing goldfish, now it's this Beatles stuff"). Film (or "the movies," as it was then known), was once just as disreputable — a fact of which it is the merit of teen comedies, action thrillers, and porn to constantly remind us — but at some point became art, and thus worthy of Criticism. Much in the same way that ethnic groups such as Jews, Irish or Italians eventually became "white."

To which I can only add: Italians are considered white now? Jeez Louise, are there no standards anymore?

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  1. I think all of us Caucasians should just go back to Caucasia – the mother land – where we could dance the ceremonial dance of the Caucasian.

  2. As a card-carrying Italian, let me go on record as stating that I do not find Tim’s joke about Italians being considered white in the least bit offensive; in fact, I thought it was pretty funny. Also, it was a reminder to me of how thankful I am that I’m not Irish. Oh, wait, I’m Irish, too. Never mind. Carry on.

  3. I got a tan this Winter in Mexico. Chalk me up for some reperations.

  4. “All right. We’ll give some land .. to the niggers and the chinks, but we DON’T want the Irish!”

    -Blazing Saddles

  5. Judaism is a religion, not a race. Jews are not, therefore, “people of color” any more than Catholics, Moslems, or Protestants.

  6. Perhaps this has something to do with a contemporary phenonmenon: in certain circles, you can’t criticize Islam without being called a racist. ?? I guess Islam is a race now? So perhaps Judaism is too.

  7. Heck, if a religion can become a race, why can’t any other personal belief become a race? I like ketchup on my hot dogs. And I think it’s high time that the oppression of my fellow ketchup-likers ends. We demand REPARATIONS!

  8. Ketchup on a HOT DOG?

    PERVERT. SINNER.

    Keep your filthy habits away from my children, I’M WARNING YOU!

  9. Maybe genetic engineering and cloning can serve a good purpose after all.

    They can find out how to shut off the gene that starts melatonin production and we can be done with this nonsense. We’d never sleep or reproduce but at least before we go extinct we’d all look the same.

  10. There is a great big race in Fl this weekend. Are those who attend members of the race, or just racists?

  11. I seem to remember from my Anthropology class that “caucasians” came from central asia, and displaced the original Europeans who lived there. So maybe we should go back to Uzbekstan, Kazakstan, Mongolia where we belong.

  12. Perhaps they were refering to Etheopian Jews. They could be described as being of color, and have been Jews for thousands of years.

  13. (Insert Italian Joke Here)

  14. Wait a minute…didn’t Archie Bunker always refer to “The Jews and the Coloreds”? If Jews were people of color, he wouldn’t have needed to add the extra couple words.

  15. I’d like to object to the rabidly anti-ketchup bigotry to be encountered on this forum. I, in common with many true believers, greatly enjoy the taste of ketchup on hot dogs.
    Therefore, I declare a Jihad against all Mustardites! A fatwa on your relish, INFIDEL!

  16. hey, we ketchups were here first. you yellow mustards and brown mustards (and don’t get me started on you krauts) have pushed us off the hot dog and into hermetically sealed little packets largely respected only by the hated french fries. if yer gonna dominate the weiner, as least let us open a casino.

  17. To whom ever wrote:
    “Judaism is a religion, not a race. Jews are
    not, therefore, “people of color” any more
    than Catholics, Moslems, or Protestants.”

    Don’t EVER say something like that to any of the non-practicing Jews that I work with. That sentiment is likely to get you punched in the nose.

  18. Is there any reason why anyone anywhere should care about anything written in the SF Chronicle?

  19. Ketchup – Divider of nations AND comedy gold!

  20. As for the “Judaism is a religion not a race…” comment, I say that is not correct. Judaism is both a religion as well as an ethnic/social identity. The majority of Israelis are completely secular in a religious sense, yet still claim to be 100% Jewish. That’s part of the difficulty of trying to classify Judaism simpy as a religion. I agree with Ted’s observation about the non-observant Jews he works with. If you tell an average non-observant Israeli that they are not Jewish because they don’t hold to the commandments from the Torah, you are in for a heated debate.

    It is more than a religion, and one example is to note the existence of certain genetic diseases that affect Jews more than non-Jews. I would offer that it is more like a tribe who happen to belong to the same system, which is called Judaism.

  21. Jewish, black, astronaut; it’s all the same really.
    Now fall before the High Holy Ketchup!

  22. Jewish, black, astronaut; it’s all the same really.
    Now fall before the High Holy Ketchup!

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