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Friday, November 9, 2012

Jews: The Other White People

Posted by on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM

A lot has been written about the huge electoral advantage Democrats hold with non-white voters. While Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote, Barack Obama hauled in 80 percent of the non-white voters who made up 28 percent of the 2012 electorate, including an impressive 93 percent of Black voters, 71 percent of Latinos, and 73 percent of Asians.

Well, despite Romney's concerted efforts to portray himself as the better friend of Israel, and Obama as an Iranian appeaser, it turns out that President Obama also earned an overwhelming 70 percent of the Jewish vote. That puts my people right up there with Latino and Asian Americans in terms of presidential preference.

Take that, Whitey!

Of course, most Jews are technically white. That's the box I checked on my census form. It's one of the things that makes us so scary: Our ability to pass.

But while things are certainly better for American Jews than they were a half-century ago, historically we've always been an oppressed and despised minority. From the dominance of Christian culture to the latent anti-semitism that still lurks beneath the surface, we know what it's like to be "the other," even if our grandparents knew it a helluva lot better than we do, and none of us have ever known it as well as African Americans.

I believe that it is this empathy for the minority experience that informs the Jewish electorate, and drives us toward the party that defends civil rights and embraces economic, ethnic, gender, and religious diversity.


Comments (32) RSS

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Posted by ROAG on November 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Thank you, Goldy. You're right. Every year at Passover, we're reminded that we were once prisoners in Egypt. Whether that's simply legend or not, the intellectual knowledge of several millenia of not being liked, to put it mildly, does affect most Jews. Romney couldn't understand that to many--possibly most--Jews, the current government in Israel is regarded no more highly than Bush's government was here, so waving the Israel flag as though that will get Jewish votes is counterproductive, to say the least.
Posted by sarah70 on November 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
Every time I hear Paul Ryan say "Judeo-Christian" I throw up a little.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Goldy 4
@3 I'm with you. I had a line about how offensive that "Judeo-" prefix is, but I cut it out, as it was kinda beside my point.
Posted by Goldy on November 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Don't forget that we are also instructed to "pursue" justice, not only for ourselves but for our neighbors.
Posted by Calpete on November 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 6
I bet us athiests don't belong in their Romney camp either. They're really talking about white Christians.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on November 9, 2012 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 7
I dislike the convention of refering to Jews as a race.

If I don't believe in God or Abraham, and think it was all made up, then there's no such thing as a descendant of Abraham and therefore no such thing as a Jewish race.

Right? I mean, that's where the idea of Jews as a race comes from, right? A decendant of Abraham? Or am I leaving something important out?

I know it's a completely lost cause on my part because as long as Jews think they're a race then that's what they're going to believe no matter what I feel. Still, I dislike it.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on November 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Doctor Memory 8
Now if only more of the American diaspora didn't have an explicit "Palestine exception" to tikkun olam.
Posted by Doctor Memory on November 9, 2012 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Goldy 9
@7 We are an ethnicity as well as a religion. (Well, two ethnicities, really: Ashkenazi and Sephardic.) In the same way that Irish Catholics are both Irish and Catholic. It is both a religion and a culture.
Posted by Goldy on November 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
stinky 10
I suspect that educational level correlates strongly with vote for the dems and that Jews have a higher educational level than average. Also, a higher percentage of urban dwellers. As we have seen cough-Israel-cough, empathy isn't necessarily a Jewish trait. Smugness? Maybe a little.
Posted by stinky on November 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this

I don't feel like a race.

It's cultural (Goldy often says he's a "culinary" Jew, and I know exactly what he means). In fact, it's a number of cultural traditions; Ashkenazi like Goldy and me have a very different set of traditions than Sephardim. And there are other Jewish cultures as well.
Posted by N in Seattle on November 9, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
PS. I am deeply saddened that 30% of my landsleit voted for that gonif Romney.
Posted by N in Seattle on November 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM · Report this
Afreet 13
@9 Despite the bullshit claims that various religions may have on the subject, no one is born belonging to a religion any more than they are born belonging to a political party. They are often, however, brainwashed at an early age.
Posted by Afreet on November 9, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 14
@9, Yeah, but I don't see catholocism as a race either.

Culture, yes, I can agree with that, because one can enter or exit a culture as one wishes. For example, even though I'm not deaf, I could immerse myself in the deaf community and identify with their culture. I could say I'm part of the deaf culture. But I couldn't say I'm deaf.

Race implies something you're born with that is unchangeable. I'll never be part of the black race, or asian race. I'll always be white. If I had any kids with a white woman, they'd always be white too. No matter what.

Catholocism's not a race, christianity's not a race, islam and muslim are not races, and judaism isn't a race (in my unprofessional opinion). Those are all cultures (and beliefs), but not races. Anyone can enter and exit them as they wish.

Irish isn't really a race so much as just the location someone was born. Like being a Mainer. Just because someone was born in Maine doesn't mean that's their race.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on November 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 15
@14 There is a genetic component. Not all Jews have a Jewish gene, of course, but a majority do as I understand it.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
I thought Latinos were the other white people
Posted by andrew on November 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Garfield 18
Well said, Goldy. And @2. I couldn't agree more.
Posted by Garfield on November 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 19
The way I heard it, the Klan and generic white Protestant bigots used to be as hostile to Jews and Catholics as to blacks. The phrase "Judeo-Xtian values" was supposed to get all the white conservatives together on the same team.

Which brings us to Newt Gingrich.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on November 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 20
Goldy, there's the other side of the coin, which is that every bigot feels picked on. Self-pity, feelings of persecution, victimhood, these are all traits of the bigot. So while some people can rise above their past history of being persecuted, it is not a golden guarantee towards enlightenment.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on November 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
TLjr 21

Posted by TLjr on November 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM · Report this
cressona 22
It's times like these I feel a certain pride in my fellow American Jews. The Republicans made an overwrought, fear-based campaign for the Jewish vote this year, as if (A) American Jews only cared about Israel, (B) American Jews are primarily Likudniks, and (C) American Jews are stupid enough to believe that Barack Obama is steeped in an anti-Western jihadist world view.

I see Dems' continued strength with Jewish voters as a combination of (A) American Jews still identifying ourselves as a minority, as Goldy writes, and (B) what stinky writes @10: I suspect that educational level correlates strongly with vote for the dems and that Jews have a higher educational level than average. Also, a higher percentage of urban dwellers.

Does anyone have a link for how Obama did for whites with a college degree or a post-graduate degree? He may not have won that demographic, but I'm sure he did a lot better there than he did with non-college-degree whites.

Posted by cressona on November 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
cressona 23
Goldy: Of course, most Jews are technically white.

This reminds me. I just came across this page yesterday: 15 Black Celebrities Who Are Jewish.
Posted by cressona on November 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
seandr 24
I would add that Jewish culture has traditionally placed a high value on rational and intellectual discourse, even within its religious institutions. That style doesn't really fit with today's Republican party.
Posted by seandr on November 9, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
venomlash 25
@5: Yeah, and it's repeated just to make it nice and clear. "Justice, justice, shall you pursue."
@7: We've been pretty insular in Europe, the Maghreb, and the Nile-to-Oxus region, partly because of our religion. We are, genetically, distinct from our Gentile neighbors. Not that we were racist about it, but most people in Europe didn't want their kids marrying Jews, and most Islamicate nations espoused a sort of immiscible multiculturalism that tolerated everybody but tried to keep them with their own kind.
@8: Word.
@17: Being a good friend includes having the courage to tell someone that they're making a bad choice, ya ding dong.
Posted by venomlash on November 9, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 26
Slimy spineless whining socialist like Goldy are why people hate us.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on November 9, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
JerryBear 27
I was able to rationalize it, but I'm afraid that those vitriolic "Jewish Republican Coalition" ads triggered antisemitic reactions among simpler folks who thought they were representing views of majority of Jewish people. I hope statistics like those from current post will help to clear their minds.
Posted by JerryBear on November 9, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
venomlash 28
@26: Nah bro, I'm pretty sure it's because of all the assholes acting like we're superior to all other human beings.
Posted by venomlash on November 9, 2012 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Man, there's a lotta jews on Slog.
Posted by jt on November 9, 2012 at 10:14 PM · Report this
If Romney had won, you'd have been a gentile. To Mormons, all non-Mormons are gentiles. It might have been kind of fun for you to have been a gentile for awhile.

Posted by crone on November 9, 2012 at 11:27 PM · Report this
It would be pretty shocking if more than 30% of American Jews had voted to live under a Romney regime. I assume most people who voted for Obama would rather have civil rights for most or all, rather than rights for a few. In other words, we were voting partly out of self-interest, whatever ethnicity we "technically" belong to.
Posted by livebio on November 10, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
We have always been the minority everybody loves to hate. We are ” other” alright, but we do not get our own box to check or benefit from any affirmative action. I always hate to check the ” white” box.
Posted by hitchcock on November 10, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 33
Obama in not a proponent of civil rights, not at all what so ever. He is an authoritarian centrist who's anti free speech, anti fair trial, anti gun and killing American citizens in direct conflict with the bill of rights.

Ironically he is perhaps the worst president we have ever had when it comes to civil rights.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on November 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this

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