Toxic comments recently made by a leading figure in American politics that reflect a dangerous strain of ethnoreligious chauvinism might merit more widespread coverage if they hadn’t been uttered by a Democrat.
“We have the problem of assimilation. We have the problem of intermarriage,” said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Jews marrying Gentiles and thus diluting their bloodlines.
“We have the problem that too many generations of Jews don’t realize the importance of our institutions strengthening our community – particularly with the rise of anti-Semitism and global intolerance, which obviously we saw in horrific Technicolor in just the last week in Paris,” she continued.
Now, there’s nothing inherently prejudiced about Wasserman Schultz’s comments. She has correctly identified a troubling rise in anti-Semitic violence in Europe, and her concern over the gradual attenuation of the Jewish cultural identity is a fear that many Jews of all political stripes share. Her view was, however, articulated in such a fashion that it created the impression that Wasserman Schultz was advocating cultural separatism – a philosophy with a loaded history that has roots in racial animus.
It was not the first time that the DNC had to walk back the comments of its chairwoman, and it probably will not be the last.
The DNC is now walking back those comments, releasing this statement from Wasserman Schultz saying she does “not oppose intermarriage.”
“At an annual Jewish community event in my congressional district, I spoke about my personal connection to Judaism and in a larger context about the loss of Jewish identity and the importance of connecting younger generations to the institutions and values that make up our community. I do not oppose intermarriage; in fact, members of my family, including my husband, are a product of it,” the Florida Democrat said in a statement.
Stephen Miller smartly observed that the story that has garnered the attention of NBC News is the DNC’s apology for their chairwoman’s comments rather than the comments themselves. NBC’s Mark Murray and Leigh Ann Caldwell merely attribute Wasserman Schultz’s original inflammatory statement to the reporting of The Daily Caller (which merely aggregated the reporting of the Florida-based political blog, The Shark Tank). If the DNC chairwoman hadn’t apologized, how many would have even heard the Florida congresswoman’s initial remarks?
As an example of media bias, the general disinterest in reporting on comments that would have led the network newscasts had they been uttered by Reince Priebus is informative. So is the press’s general indifference toward how these comments might reflect on the party Wasserman Schultz plays a leading role in guiding. While reporters are hungrily seeking out every Republican they can find to go on the record about whether or not they support vaccinating children, no Democrats have been queried as to whether they support intermarriage across racial or religious divides.
I suppose that as a product of a marriage Rep. Wasserman Schultz seems to regard as an abomination, I have cultural license to feign grave offense over this insult to my parents and my heritage. If I so chose, I imagine that I could bristle with self-righteous and justified indignation, and demand satisfaction for the affront. But, largely because this woman’s Semitic jingoism is about as culturally relevant as those who oppose the decision in Loving v. Virginia, I will decline the privilege. Cultural miscegenation is an American value I was brought up to cherish; perhaps this was a conviction inculcated by my parents who shunned the Florida congresswoman’s separatist principles.
So, as you see, I could adopt a morally preening posture and scold Democrats for their unthinking and backward approach to intermarriage in the same fashion that the media is rapaciously attempting to paint the Republican Party as paranoid Luddites on the issue of vaccines. But that would not only be counterproductive, it would also be dishonest. Most Democrats do not think like Wasserman Schultz does on this matter, and we don’t have to get every Democratic officeholder to go on record and confirm that.
That would be the impartial approach to this controversy. If only we had an impartial media.