what's your favorite TV show?" It
was an informal poll on one of the endless array of right-wing talk shows in
the People's Republic of
"Well, my conservative friends are going to kill me," said the conservative caller to the conservative host, "but I really like Seinfeld."
The host laughed supportively and went on with his questions. My ears began to burn. No matter; they often do.
Soon after, I found myself absorbing the movie of Schindler's List; vicariously experiencing the clenched fist dependence of my ancestors; their desperate, almost comical adaptations; and ultimately, their stigma; indelibly rendered by a bored prison guard who mechanically slapped red paint across their chests as they passed by.
The movie brought back memories of my first college roommate who periodically fell into rants about the "Papa Joe Jews" (how it rolled off his tongue) who pushed ahead of him on lines. He had apparently spent much of his youth waiting piously and passively on such lines; a regular Lutheran Hopi, he was.
But I raucously joined in, out-baiting the baiters—the more sensitive the stereotype the bolder my joke. I was as impervious and impenetrable as today's hard-shell, mock-feminists whose analytic thrust is captured by the dual mantra: "Rape, schmape! Toughen up!"
Indeed, I thought, as the credits rolled, if this movement had a comedic guru, it would be Seinfeld, who wears the scornful, elitist teflon of the fully empowered. When he bothers with political issues, he lances every vulnerable target in sight; Lord, he's even ridiculed beached whales! His American Express ad chides a businessman for not pushing a store clerk around! If the sanitation of personal privilege is the magnetic north of conservatism, then Seinfeld stands alone as its delightful spokesman.
So why the apology from the right winger, I suddenly wondered, as the credits crawled to a halt, forcing us out onto the street.
I just as suddenly realized, the show is
ears in full burn, now, I relived a dream I had while living with that
roommate, at the height of my ethnic teflon phase. In the dream I am standing alone,
exposed. I guess I am a car, because I
have a license plate on my backside.
I was wrong, then, about those anti-semitic remarks.
I didn't think they hurt.