90 minutes from NYC - but thankfully not 90 minutes to the southwest, ahem - it's looking bad for the Jews. So many questions: Is it possible to sue the anti-Semitism out of a community? (Alas, probably not.) Is it clueless to imagine that anyone - or anyone white - can be welcomed as an insider anywhere in America? (Yes.) Is it anti-Semitic for one Jew to refer to a lawsuit regarding acknowledged (!) anti-Semitism as a "money grab"? (Yes.) Should we put a story of widespread communal bigotry( in a traditional Klan stronghold) through the same hoax-o-meter as smaller incidents? (Yes, everything needs to go through the hoax-o-meter, but this unfortunately doesn't sound like a hoax.) Is bringing in Holocaust survivors to speak at a school where the many of the kids are already anti-Semitic like the proverbial bringing in a former bulimic to talk to a bunch of middle-school girls already worried they're fat but not sure what to do about it? (Maybe, but they seem to have already figured out how to be junior Nazi sympathizers just fine.) Are Jews, even secular ones, who move to an area without a synagogue somehow asking to be victims of anti-Semitic attacks? (Huh?)
So, so many questions, but above all, this story riles me up in one particular way, which is that Jews so often stand accused of only wanting to live in cities or Jewish suburbs, of being clannish, etc. Then here are some Jews who want to live in a small town, and a regular small town, not a famous college town anchored by a Lululemon where one's neighbors are European and Israeli academics living in harmony that a couple generations ago might have seemed unthinkable. No, a normal town. ("At the edge of town, a big red barn is painted with a patriotic yellow ribbon. Across the street, a yard decorated with military equipment has a bomb painted with the words, 'God Bless Our Troops.' Billboards advertise 4-H clubs; stores sell tractors, snow blowers and soft-serve ice cream.") And what reward to these Jews get? Bullying at school, because kids, you know? Some "kids" are apparently 42 years old. (Let's just wait until the 'the human brain isn't fully developed until' crowd ups the ante to middle age.)
At that point, a pickup truck pulled up nearby, and a man emerged. The man, John Barker, 42, a mechanic, cautioned that “everybody watches out for everybody.” When asked about the presence of Jewish families, he blurted out, “We don’t want them in our town.”
“They can’t drive, for number one — and they already have Sullivan County. Who really wants them here? They don’t belong here.”We can too drive, idiot. Of course, some of us learn later than others, on account of Jewish families settling in NYC proper, on account of the apparently Jew-friendly Sullivan County not possibly having room for all of us.