Jewish Editor in Florida Still in Denial Over Anti-Semitic Crack From Local Pol
There's a time when you have to take your lumps and admit that you're wrong. Dave Adlerstein has the lumps part down cold. As for being wrong? Well, let's just say he has a way to go on that account.
Adlerstein is the city editor of the Apalachicola & Carabelle Times, a small weekly in northwest Florida, where he has parked himself for the last dozen years.
As we wrote on Monday, Adlerstein quoted Franklin County commissioner Cheryl Sanders during a debate over salaries as saying:
“Today’s not the day to do it,” said Sanders. “We’re her (for Nabors’ salary), not to be up here jewing over somebody’s pay. I can’t believe that you all would put a man down who has worked here for 26 years because he don’t have a high school education.”
It was bad enough that Sanders said what she did and some people were caught by surprise that Adlerstein used the quote directly. As he should have. But what's gave this story legs are comments Adlerstein made to Jim Romenesko about why, as a Jew, he wasn't hurt by the remark.
"It doesn’t offend me, unless it’s used to describe someone who cheats you. But haggling and dickering? To me, it’s a proud trait of my tribe, and it’s a solid cut above cold-hearted stiffing someone with a pious grin."
Understandably, Adlerstein came under fire by commenters on Romenesko's blog (including me) for either being disingenuous or completely clueless. You'd think that upon further reflection he'd realize that there was something wrong about what he--and Sanders--said. Guess again.
As he told Annie Groer of The Washington Post yesterday the remark is "not being used as an anti-Semitic crack. If that sounds like I’m an apologist, that is not me. I am not a self-hating Jew and I am not an ignorant Jew who is unaware of the pain of my people.”
Adlerstein tried to show Groer he knows anti-Semitism when he hears it, because his father was head of the Anti-Defamation League in Columbus, Ohio. But that only makes his defense of Sanders even worse.
Let's take Adlerstein at his word that he's not a self-hating Jew. Yet, when he says "jewing" is not an "anti-Semitic crack," then what the hell is it? Throw out his lame rationale that it has an analog with "haggling and dickering" and you're left with only one choice. It's only a part of the vernacular among people who don't like Jews. Or just don't know any better. Or both.
Sanders, of all people, realizes this. “It was a bad choice of words and it should not have been made," the Tallahassee Democrat reported. "In no way, shape or form did I mean it to be derogatory or negative, and so I just want to make an apology for that.”
Putting aside the question of what did she mean "jewing" to be if not "derogatory or negative," Sanders, at least, realizes it was a dumb thing to say even during a heated debate. It's time for Adlerstein to do the same and become aware of the pain of his people.