How grim is the state of the world? So dispiriting that even anti-Semites, a proud breed with sturdy traditions dating back thousands of years, seem to falter and fail in their most basic duty, the simple-hearted and passionate hatred of Jews.
Yesterday gave us two accounts of dereliction of the duties of proper bigotry. First, Jacqueline Kent Cooke, who was arrested last week after she allegedly said “hurry up, Jews” to fellow patrons at an Upper East Side restaurant before swinging her glass clutch and hitting an attorney named Matthew Haberkorn in the head, told the New York Post that she was the real victim here, and in no way an anti-Semite.
“We had a really nice dinner and were rushing to go to a friend’s apartment before the clock struck midnight. We were right behind Mr. Haberkorn’s family in the line, but they were taking a really long time looking for their tickets,” Kent Cooke told the newspaper. “So I—ticket in hand—told his mother, ‘Excuse me, I have to get through.’ She clearly didn’t hear what I said, and immediately screamed at the top of her lungs, ‘She called me a Jew!’”
Kent Cooke added that she is not anti-Semitic, and added that she has a Jewish grandmother, which makes her one-quarter Jewish.
The heiress is slated to return to court next month, where her account will likely be scrutinized. But even if you believe Kent Cooke’s explanation, you’d be harder pressed to feel warm and fuzzy for Wilda Rodriguez.
A columnist for El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico’s most popular newspaper, Rodriguez shared her views about who’s really to blame for the island’s recent Hurricane-related strife in a column entitled “What Does ‘The Jew’ Want with the Colony?”
Spoiler alert: The Jew, according to Rodriguez, wants money. Incensed with Puerto Rico’s debt, the Jews, the columnist opined, had mobilized Congress, which they control, to punish the struggling and gallant island. Such tactics, Rodriguez educated her readers, were hardly knew: Twenty years ago, she claimed, the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv ran a piece explaining precisely how the Zionist octopus had Washington in the grip of its tentacles.
You’d think that anyone espousing such old-school, classic, grade A anti-Semitic drivel would, come the backlash, have the courage of their conviction to stand up and defend their hateful views. But once the column started circulating and enraged responses started pouring in, Rodriguez was moved to apologize.
“I deeply regret that my writing is interpreted as anti-Semitic,” she wrote in what was labeled “an explanatory note,” attached to another apologetic note signed by the paper’s editorial board. “My path is clear. Prejudice and racial or religious hostility have never been part of it. I can understand the mental reaction of some to the mere use of the Jewish word. But the intention is not to provoke offense, but to contribute to public discussion. With that clear, I apologize to those who in good faith have felt hurt by my political allusion. I do not have and will never intend to aggravate them.”
I’m no apology expert like my colleague and friend Marjorie Ingall, but it strikes me that if you accuse Jews of exercising “vulgarly the prototype of true power,” say, you probably shouldn’t bother saying you’re sorry. Anti-Semites used to know how to be anti-Semites. The new breed of bigots should spare us their apologies. Having abandoned common sense, compassion, and civility, they should at least hold on to the courage of their convictions.