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I'm Brendan Loy, a 26-year-old graduate of USC and Notre Dame now living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee. My wife Becky and I are brand-new parents of a beautiful baby girl, born on New Year's Eve.

I'm a big-time sports fan, a politics, media & law junkie, an astronomy buff, a weather nerd, an Apple aficionado, a Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fanatic, and an all-around dork. My blog is best-known for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, but I blog about anything and everything that interests me.

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Unapologetic TN GOP whitewashes its Obama hit job, still misses the point

A follow-up to my post below about the Tennessee Republican Party's vile, ethnically and religiously divisive smear against Barack Obama... the Somali photo and the reference to Obama's middle name have been removed from the state GOP's press release, and the following note added at the bottom:

Clarification: This release originally referenced a photo of Sen. Obama and incorrectly termed it to be “Muslim” garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo. Also, in order to diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release - that Sen. Obama has surrounded himself with advisers and recieved endorsements from people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel - we have deleted the use of Barack Obama’s middle name.

This "clarification" is grossly inadequate to resolve the issue. In fact, in a couple of ways, it makes things worse.

First of all, consider for a moment the claim that the original press release "incorrectly termed [Obama's clothing] to be 'Muslim' garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo." Wait, what? Hold the phones. They're admitting they deleted it because it is "Somali," not "Muslim," garb. But how on earth did its alleged "Muslimness" make it relevant in the first place?

As best as I can tell, the Tennessee GOP is now explicitly stating that, in their opinion, if Barack Obama had been wearing "Muslim" garb, that simple fact -- standing alone, without regard to the photo's actual context -- would have made the photo automatically relevant to the party's claim that he "has surrounded himself" with anti-Semitic supporters. WTF?!? Someone needs to call them out on this, force them to explain themselves further. Are they suggesting that all Muslims are anti-Semites? That if someone is a Muslim, or is wearing "Muslim garb," that somehow creates a presumption that they're anti-Semitic? It appears they are saying precisely that; otherwise, the "clarification" makes no sense.

This afternoon, before the "clarification" was issued, I called the Tennessee GOP and left an angry (but respectful) phone message on Bill Hobbs's machine, asking why on earth they had concluded that the intentionally inflammatory Somali photo was in any way relevant to the press release. The "clarification" appears to answer that question, and it seems the answer is: "We thought it was relevant because we thought it made him look like a Muslim." That answer makes them look even worse.

A far better answer would have been: "Some intern added that photo because he thought it was funny. It was a mistake. We apologize." That, I could have accepted. Instead, they have elevated anti-Muslim bigotry to the level of official party policy! What was once implicit is now explicit. Astounding.

Secondly, the party claims it removed Obama's middle name in order to "diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release." Leaving aside the misspelling of the word "defuse," this statement is downright Hillaryesque in its mendacious spin, as it attempts to deflect the blame for the GOP's own inexcusable mistake by suggesting that "Democrats and the Left" are somehow the villains here.

Never mind that the folks attacking the press release included such liberal luminaries as former Republican State Senate candidate Bob Krumm and conservative blogger John Norris Brown (who condemned the release even though "I would never support Obama because he’s an empty suit with whom I have almost no policy agreements"), not to mention centrist independents like myself.

Never mind that Karl Rove and John McCain himself have specifically said it's inappropriate to use Obama's middle name against him. (And please, let's not pretend that the usage is somehow innocent. Nobody calls him "Barack Hussein Obama" except as a deliberate, divisive maneuver based on religion, ethnicity and race. In the actual context of reality, it is transparently bogus to claim that calling Obama by his full name is anything other than a conscious playing of the Muslim Card. We all know what's going on here, so please, don't play dumb.)

Never mind that it was the Republicans themselves who "diverted attention" from their own "main point" -- their tenuous-but-debatable substantive claims about Obama's "anti-Semitic" ties -- with the deliberately inflammatory and divisive use of that photo and of "Hussein." (There is no other explanation for the inclusion of the photo, nor the usage of "Hussein," except the racist/inflammatory/divisive explanation. Their presence in the press release makes no sense otherwise.)

Never mind that the Tennessee GOP was privately scolded by the national Republican Party and publicly rebuked by John McCain for the press release.

Forget all that. According to the state GOP, this whole controversy is the liberals' fault.

Well, I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. What's needed here isn't a "clarification," it's an apology. And until the state Republican Party owns up to the transparently obvious fact that they made a conscious, deliberate decision to use Barack Obama's racial and ethnic background, and his family's religious history -- and an utterly irrelevant photo of him in "Muslim garb" -- against him for political purposes... until it straightforwardly apologizes for that despicable tactic, and promises not to engage in such contemptible shenanigans again... my anger will remain intact. This mealy-mouthed "clarification" doesn't even begin to make things right.

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This is the same garden variety bullshit the college republicans pulled at USC. The peevish ass-hole-ish behavior of garden variety Republican zelots is what makes me not want to vote for them. The likes of Alasdair and Joe Mama tend to pull peevish crap too. The irrationality of which tends to do far more harm to their position than good--all in all rather annoying, but not to be taken seriously.

Wait a second, why wouldn't you take seriously a poster whose name is a third grade insult?

dcl, care to cite any specific examples of this sort of behavior by the USC College Republicans? I'm all ears.

As best as I can tell, the Tennessee GOP is now explicitly stating that, in their opinion, if Barack Obama had been wearing "Muslim" garb, that simple fact -- standing alone, without regard to the photo's actual context -- would have made the photo automatically relevant to the party's claim that he "has surrounded himself" with anti-Semitic supporters. WTF?!? Someone needs to call them out on this, force them to explain themselves further. Are they suggesting that all Muslims are anti-Semites? That if someone is a Muslim, or is wearing "Muslim garb," that somehow creates a presumption that they're anti-Semitic? It appears they are saying precisely that; otherwise, the "clarification" makes no sense.

As I've alluded to in your previous post, I think the TN GOP's release here was so politically tone deaf that I can't help but wonder if there's any GOP leadership in TN with half a brain. Nevertheless, I would posit that choice to cite Barack wearing "Muslim" garb was intended mostly to paint him as sympathetic to Farrakhan's radical and anti-Semitic branch of Islam (Farrakhan quotes constitute most of the PR's substantiation), not specifically to paint him as a Muslim or to suggest that Muslim = anti-Semite.

As for the Hussein part, I left my comment in the previous post explaining my thoughts on that.

dcl,

For someone who doesn't take me seriously, you're awful quick to gratuitously pull me into this discussion. I obviously have no idea what "peevish crap" you're referring to, unless perhaps you mean my calling you out on your own peevish crap, such as calling Supreme Court justices "racist assholes". Those kinds of obnoxious comments are the garden variety bullshit you spew out on a regular basis, which makes your criticism of "ass-hole-ish" Republican zealots in this instance -- and me -- all the more ironic, and of course completely hollow.

As for "Condor" trying to make fun of my blog handle, well, that's about all he can muster without hurting himself. Guess what jerkoff, you're not a bird of prey.

diffuse is not an alternative spelling of defuse. It has a different meaning, but with the same general intent. As in, when someone farts during the party, you hope to diffuse the stink, not defuse it.

Jim - Hu are you to critique the disclaimer ?

Especially since the Dems attempts to divert attention stink - hence a decision to "diffuse" 'em is a valid decision ...

(grin)

Joe Mama - *I* consider it an honour to be considered as in the same league as you

I would posit that choice to cite Barack wearing "Muslim" garb was intended mostly to paint him as sympathetic to Farrakhan's radical and anti-Semitic branch of Islam

That doesn't make it any better. What does Somali/Muslim "garb" have to do with Louis Farrakhan? NOTHING. The picture is totally irrelevant, and its purpose, even under your supposedly more charitable interpretation, was still to say: "Look! Look! He's a Muslim!" Or more specifically, "Look! Look! He's dressed like a Muslim, and that somehow means he likes Farrakhan!" It's complete crap.

It's more than just "stupid," it's wrong. I realize you're way too Machiavellian to apply principles of ethics and morality to something as mundane as a political press release, but I actually have a soul :), so I'm going to stand by my position.

Andrew, I was primarily thinking of every single flyer the college Republicans at USC printed while I was at USC. They generally made me think, "wow, these people are ass holes that have no functional grasp of history" as opposed to, "hmm, I'd like to engage with these people in a debate of ideas."

In other words, dcl's answer to Andrew's question of whether dcl cares "to cite any specific examples of this sort of behavior by the USC College Republicans" is NO.

i have a feeling this will be a pattern in the general election. some random republican group makes some similar sort of attack on obama, mccain denounces the attack, yet each time the attack gets attention from the mainstream media and mccain is able to stay clear from it. the general election will involve far more than the obama and mccain campaigns.

Every time McCain denounces the attack, it will drive a wedge between him and the hard-core Republican base that wants to see more red meat while the attack itself will reinforce stereotypes of Republican attack-dog politics.

I for one have no problem with Joe Mama's online handle, you want a handle that makes me take you less seriously? Try Wobbly's.

Alasdair, sorry but you aren't in the same league as Joe Mama by a long shot. While I disagree with him constantly, atleast he actually is capable of putting forth arguments, something you are incapable of doing, all we are left with from you is your condescending "grins", failed attempts at cleverness, constant use of the "well someone else did something bad too" typical far right attack strategy, and obsession with BDS and the D-List as your main posting points. Sorry Al, but you aren't even close.

Speaking of Muslim Manchurian Candidates, let's not forget Bush's late business associate from the 80s...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_bin_Laden


Wonder what the Tennessee GOP thinks of that?

I agree with David K.

Since Joe Mama has been my arch-nemesis, I can't agree with you David K. I prefer Alasdair. You may not like his tone or what he has to say, but he at least appears to have a sense of humor. Joe Mama reminds me of that guy who opened John McCain...ranting on about something to deflect close scrutiny of himself.

A&A, I'm hardly your arch-nemesis. You remind me of the guy in the Pinto who pulls up at the traffic light next to my Corvette and revs the engine wanting to race.

i have a feeling this will be a pattern in the general election. some random republican group makes some similar sort of attack on obama, mccain denounces the attack, yet each time the attack gets attention from the mainstream media and mccain is able to stay clear from it. the general election will involve far more than the obama and mccain campaigns.

You don't think there will be equal and opportune dirty tricks coming from the Dem camp aimed at McCain? Get real buddy, the NYT has already launched that effort with their insinuations that McCain had an affair with that lobbyist. This is only the beginning. Come November, there will be so much mud being flung back and forth, you won't be able to tell that McCain was the white guy in this race.

What does Somali/Muslim "garb" have to do with Louis Farrakhan?

Brendan, I understand your soulful position on this one, but I totally disagree (by the way, now I'm reading it is Kenyan garb, not Somali, which is fitting since Obama is half-Kenyan). The logic/associated chain is obvious: Farrakhan is a radical, anti-Semitic Muslim leader who supports Obama. Obama is in a Muslim outfit, ergo he is sympathetic to Muslim issues, ergo he is sympathetic to Farrakhan. That logic chain may not pass the smell test for you and me, but for most people it's sufficient to cast doubt on where Obama's true sympathies lie and increase his negatives, and that's why they originally included it.

By the way, I challenge you to explain to me why the average American shouldn't draw the conclusion that Muslim = anti-Semitic. Outside some local Persians I know, just about every Muslim I've ever met in the Middle East and elsewhere is stridently anti-Semitic and/or stridently anti-Israel. Ergo, it's perfectly sensible for the average American to doubt the sincerity of a Muslim's (or someone who maintains associations with Muslim) support of Israel. It's totally wrong to draw the conclusion that Muslim always equals anti-Semite, but like most things in life, people have to make choices based on limited knowledge and probabilities, so of course the vast majority of Americans would place their bets on a Muslim being anti-Semitic, and of course Obama's enemies will do what they can to encourage people to make that bet. Obama's going to have an incredible hill to climb here, dirty tricks or no.

I think it's well-established that Angrier & Angrier's arch-nemesis is Kelsey Grammar.

Sorry but whatever sense of humor you think Alasdair has, he can never ever back it up with substantive arguments. I'll take Joe Mama's sometimes disagreeable debate style to Alasdairs "humorous" yet entirely lacking in substance debate style any day of the week.

Good lord, i can't believe I'm actually defending Joe Mama...what is this world coming too! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!!

Heh. What timing!

You are right. Kelsey Grammar is now my arch-nemesis.

As for Joe Mama being a Corvette, that is just another example of how he needs to deflect attention away from his inadequacies. Something tells me Joe Mama is really the Pinto in more ways than one.

The logic/associated chain is obvious: Farrakhan is a radical, anti-Semitic Muslim leader who supports Obama. Obama is in a Muslim outfit, ergo he is sympathetic to Muslim issues, ergo he is sympathetic to Farrakhan. That logic chain may not pass the smell test for you and me, but for most people it's sufficient to cast doubt on where Obama's true sympathies lie and increase his negatives

Andrew, this is a totally amoral argument. You're arguing that it's effective. I never said it wasn't effective. I said it's wrong. You can't use Machiavellian arguments to dispute a moral, normative judgment. That's a total non-sequitur.

Put another way: if you're right that "for most people it's sufficient," that's simply evidence that most people are susceptible to cynical, divisive, indefensible tactics based on race, religion and ethnicity!

You haven't disproven my point at all. You're basically just arguing that racism works. I never said it doesn't! Of course it works! If anything, that makes the Tennessee GOP's actions worse, not better. If it didn't work, it would be easy to avoid the temptation of the tactic. It's precisely because it works that it's so important to avoid it.

I challenge you to explain to me why the average American shouldn't draw the conclusion that Muslim = anti-Semitic.

I would, but I don't need to, because you just did! To wit:

It's totally wrong to draw the conclusion that Muslim always equals anti-Semite

Ahem. So, to answer you question, "the average American shouldn't draw the conclusion that Muslim = anti-Semitic" because that conclusion is "totally wrong." The end.

like most things in life, people have to make choices based on limited knowledge and probabilities, so of course the vast majority of Americans would place their bets on a Muslim being anti-Semitic...

Yes, but a) Barack Obama is not a Muslim; b) there is ample evidence available about Barack Obama's actual views, such that it is totally unnecessary to judge him based on "placing one's bets"; c) instead, he can, and should, be judged based on the actual evidence, not bets or guesses or prejudices; and therefore d) it is TOTALLY WRONG for the Republican Party, or anyone else, to deliberately encourage people to make judgments on the basis of prejudices, which you yourself admit are "totally wrong," when there is much better, more reliable information available!!

How can you possibly defend this, Andrew?? Your own analysis demonstrates how wrong what the Tennessee Republicans are doing is! But you refuse to even consider the moral/ethical implications of the conduct you're refusing to condemn!

Instead you say "of course Obama's enemies will do what they can to encourage people to make that bet." Yes, of course they will, if they're lowlife scum with no sense of right and wrong. My question isn't, "Will they do it?" it's "HOW IS DOING IT JUSTIFIABLE???" Just because they "can" do it, doesn't mean they "should"!

You've essentially admitted that the purpose of these types of tactics is to encourage people to vote on the basis of bigotry and prejudice. But ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO VOTE ON THE BASIS OF BIGOTRY AND PREJUDICE IS WRONG!!! Until you can manage to somehow integrate that simple fact into your analysis, we aren't even having the same discussion.

Obama's going to have an incredible hill to climb here, dirty tricks or no.

The hill's a lot steeper when people like you refuse to admit that the dirty tricksters aren't just "stupid," they're actually behaving immorally and ought to be roundly condemned. (!!!)

Andrew, I know you're a died-in-the-wool Machiavellian, but for fuck's sake! This is one of those cases where it's really true that evil is advanced when good people do nothing. In response to my yelling and screaming about the Tennessee GOP's bad behavior, you sit here and say... that of course they're doing it, because it works? And it's inevitable it'll happen, so we shouldn't bother to condemn it?? WTF?!? That's not even an argument! Good grief!

[Sigh.]

You haven't disproven my point at all; you're just basically arguing that racism works.

I thought in the other thread that we had agreed to disagree on what truly constitutes racism. Your moral, normative judgment is that this is racist; mine is that it is not.

I have to run, I'll pick this up later....

Fine. You're basically arguing that prejudice works. Better?

If not, then for the love of God, tell me how it's not prejudice to, in any way, to any degree, judge an individual person -- in this case a candidate for president -- on the basis of "the conclusion that Muslim = anti-Semitic," even though you admit it's "totally wrong to draw the conclusion that Muslim always equals anti-Semite."

You say this judgment is made because people assess other people "based on limited knowledge and probabilities." Well, judging an individual person on the basis of group "probabilities" -- placing "bets" on the likelihood that they possess certain traits based on whether other members of their "group" possess those traits -- is the very definition of prejudice. (E.g., a disproportionate number of black men are in prison, so I'll assume a random black man I meet is a criminal; a disproportionate number of Jews are rich misers and have sharp noses, so I'll assume the hook-nosed fella wearing a Yamulke is a miserly ol' son of a bitch; a disproportionate number of Irish people are heavy drinkers, so I'll assume that redhead named O'Flaherty down the street is a drunk. Etc., etc.)

"The logic/associated chain is obvious: Farrakhan is a radical, anti-Semitic Muslim leader who supports Obama. Obama is in a Muslim outfit, ergo he is sympathetic to Muslim issues, ergo he is sympathetic to Farrakhan. That logic chain may not pass the smell test for you and me, but for most people it's sufficient to cast doubt on where Obama's true sympathies lie and increase his negatives."

George W. Bush saw into the soul of Vladimir Putin, ergo he is sympathetic to Putin's power grab.

George W. Bush worked with Osama bin Laden's brother in the 1980s, ergo he is sympathetic to the work of Al Qaeda.

George W. Bush held the hand of Saudi Arabia's King, ergo Bush supports Saudi Arabia holding telethons for suicide bombers in Israel.

Umm, I think I did cite specific examples. Every single flyer published by the origination from fall 1999 through spring 2003 was, in my opinion, childish, offensive, and tended to historical inaccuracy or misrepresentation. I apologize for not taking pictures of al the flyers so I could post them now for you, but I don't usually take pictures of trash.


A&A - when did you start writing for TalkingPointsMemo ?

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/02/obama-wrong-on.html

It's way too long to summarize in comments here, plus, it has way to much info to consider in comments.

This story is on the front page of cnn.com:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/28/tennessee.gop/index.html

Okay, long day, and now I have time to finish what I was trying to say earlier.

Ahem. So, to answer you question, "the average American shouldn't draw the conclusion that Muslim = anti-Semitic" because that conclusion is "totally wrong." The end.

What kind of puny logic is that? First, you conveniently left out a key word in my point; let's see if you can guess what it is: "It's totally wrong to draw the conclusion that Muslim always equals anti-Semite." It is not totally wrong to draw the conclusion that Muslim sometimes, quite often, or usually equals anti-Semite, and thanks to the hundreds of millions of Muslims who seem to chant "Death to Israel" in their sleep, non-anti-Semitic Muslims find themselves in a hole where they have to prove their bonafides, just as conservatives over the past few decades, led by WFB, have had to purge the John Birch elements of their movement and prove they weren't really ultra-nationalist racists.

Yes, but a) Barack Obama is not a Muslim; b) there is ample evidence available about Barack Obama's actual views, such that it is totally unnecessary to judge him based on "placing one's bets"; c) instead, he can, and should, be judged based on the actual evidence, not bets or guesses or prejudices; and therefore d) it is TOTALLY WRONG for the Republican Party, or anyone else, to deliberately encourage people to make judgments on the basis of prejudices, which you yourself admit are "totally wrong," when there is much better, more reliable information available!!

It is not the GOP's job to bring the truth about a), b), and c) to the American people -- it's their own job to find that out.

This reminds me of how the Bush Administration made arguments about the dangerous potential of Iraqi WMD being passed off to al-Qaeda terrorists, and the American people somehow took various two-second soundbytes from the evening news to end up forming the popular opinion that Saddam was connected to 9/11, when in fact nobody in the Bush Administration ever made that case. But the faulty impression only helped their cause, so they had no reason whatsoever to try to un-confuse people -- that was the anti-war folks' job.

Similarly, the TN GOP press release is not saying that Obama is a Muslim, instead they are calling into question his support of the state of Israel (Note: the press release appears to have been removed from the TN GOP site, but instead there is a link to this press release which repeats many of the same concerns as the original albeit sans references to Farrakhan). The Kenyan garb and Hussein citation was included to underhandedly help lead the reader to the same conclusion as what the TN GOP PR was trying to say in words. This is a dirty tactic to be sure, but again, I do not believe for a second that it is instrinsically racist.

How can you possibly defend this, Andrew?? Your own analysis demonstrates how wrong what the Tennessee Republicans are doing is! But you refuse to even consider the moral/ethical implications of the conduct you're refusing to condemn!

I am NOT defending the press release in question. Go read what I've written in both comment threads. I've said repeatedly that the PR constitutes dirty tactics and that it was stupid because they didn't take into account the backlash they'd create, which would more than negate the original point they were trying to make. All I have said is that what they did is not racist (and again, I thought we'd agreed to disagree on this) -- just politically tone-deaf.

I refuse to get on any moral high-horse here and condemn the TN GOP's tactics; they are par for the course and SOP for modern politics, and I think it's silly to stand here and shout that I'm shocked, shocked that there's gambling going on here. This particular TN GOP salvo backfired, but IMO, it's peanuts compared to the way Obama's camp has been using race to divide and conquer the Democratic Party as described in TNR. IMO, the Obama camp totally played you, the way you quickly jumped on your blog to denounce Billary for playing divisive racial politics when in fact the evidence shows it was Obama's folks who were doing precisely that. But I understand you'd rather relive Selma instead of consider that you were used like a tool by your political messiah's calculated cynicism (the "audacity of hope", indeed). You're a smart guy to be sure, but you need to learn one thing about presidential politics: Nobody's clean. Nobody.

Yes, of course they will, if they're lowlife scum with no sense of right and wrong.

Dude, welcome to campaign politics. Now if you'd kindly remove the planks out of the Obama campaign's eyes before you completely rip into the specks in the TN GOP's eyes, I'd appreciate it.

You've essentially admitted that the purpose of these types of tactics is to encourage people to vote on the basis of bigotry and prejudice.

That's a mischaracterization. What I am saying is that these types of tactics are used to encourage people to vote against your opponent. I don't want to get into another fruitless "end does/doesn't justify the means" argument, all I am saying is that it makes no sense to spend your precious campaign resources first cleansing your audience of prejudice and ignorance before making your sales pitch for your candidate. You simply make your pitch (in this case, Obama is bad for Israel), and if your audience is prone to latch onto certain parts of your pitch out of ignorance or prejudicial thinking, you have to factor that into the equation when making your pitch because, in the end, nothing is without consequence. Obviously the TN GOP folks who put this press release together are relative simpletons and ended up hurting their candidate more than they helped him because they went over-the-top to tap into ethnic imagery to strengthen their charge when they clearly had no need to do that, and when they are part of a region with a particularly ugly and divisive history when it comes to racial politics.

Fine. You're basically arguing that prejudice works. Better?

Hmm, a tad. The key is, everyone is prejudiced in some manner. It takes a lot of conscious effort to unlearn prejudice because in most day-to-day instances, prejudices are useful. For example, when many people walk into a restaurant and see the bathroom is dirty, they draw the conclusion that it's probably a dirty restaurant and become less inclined to frequent that establishment. Is that a fair prejudice? Why or why not? Whichever way you want to respond, hopefully you'll acknowledge that just about everyone operates on some prejudices, and that trying to eliminate that behavior is beyond tilting at windmills. Most people by now have at least accepted that they should not act out or provoke hostility based on their own prejudices, so you do not tend to see the kind of social friction you once did in American society, when a mere prejudice was sufficient to demean and oppress a minority.

E.g., a disproportionate number of black men are in prison, so I'll assume a random black man I meet is a criminal

Most people's prejudices are more sophisticated than that. It really depends on where you meet him. If it's dark and you're in the inner city, and he's wearing baggy clothes and not smiling at you, are you going to take your chances? Come on Brendan, don't lie. You might not cross to the other side of the street, but I bet you walk by him looking straight ahead and making yourself think, "Everything is fine, nothing's going to happen here -- Look, a poster of Voldemort!"

a disproportionate number of Jews are rich misers and have sharp noses, so I'll assume the hook-nosed fella wearing a Yamulke is a miserly ol' son of a bitch

Bill Handel tells the story of how he was buying jewelry in a Turkish bazaar, and the guy leaned over to him and said, "You can trust me, I'm a Jew!" And Handel responded, "And that's why I don't trust you further than I can throw a ham sandwich!" The point being, Jews are well aware that, in order to survive rough and adverse circumstances amidst inhospitable cultural hosts (e.g. the Europeans, the Turks, etc.), they've had to have sharper than average skills to survive and thrive. I'll never forget (and will always appreciate) when my Orthodox roommate in Israel told me, "Andrew, you need to start thinking like a Jew". I don't think I'll ever have the thrift instinct as down pat as he did, but I know I have benefited from understanding his thinking. I guess my point is, there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that Jews tend to be disproportionately wealthy and shrewd with their money, and it's quite a logical leap to develop a prejudice from such knowledge that "the hook-nosed fella wearing a Yamulke is a miserly ol' son of a bitch".

a disproportionate number of Irish people are heavy drinkers, so I'll assume that redhead named O'Flaherty down the street is a drunk. Etc., etc.

I've never met an Irishman who wouldn't take it as a compliment if I offered him a shot of whiskey once he introduced his Irish surname. Everybody knows the Irish are a drunk and happy race, which is why there are a few dozen Irish pubs to every English pub in any major city. It wounds me deeply that the genial St. George is forgotten at home while the drunks revel in the streets celebrating that putrid Patrick fellow by ruining their beer with artificial green. Suffice it to say that if Mr. O'Flaherty truly has a problem with me assuming he's a drunk, he must not really be Irish. :-)

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