Friday, December 14, 2007

"The War _____ Christmas": Fill in the blank.

While certain conservatives would have you believe the correct choice there is "on", I'm really thinking that it's looking more like "of".

I almost feel like I should apologize for the Christmascentric posting this week, but, seriously, the hits, they just keep on coming. Today's "Are you fucking kidding me?!" moment comes court-a-see of Pandagon, who made me aware of this story about a Jewish man attacked on the subway.

His crime? Responding to a "Merry Christmas" with a "Happy Hanukkah." On the last day of Hanukkah. Two weeks before Christmas.

Yeah.

So, basically, the story goes like this: A group of Jewish twenty-somethings are on the Q train to Brooklyn, when someone offers a "Merry Christmas". One of the men, let us call him Walter Adler (since that's his name) replies back with "Happy Hanukkah". Which, to reiterate, makes sense, given that it was, in fact, Hanukkah. And not Christmas. And he's Jewish. Not Christian. In a sane and rational world, the story would end there, or maybe with someone responding back "Happy New Year" or "Merry Kwanzaa" or whatever. In a musical, they'd all end up singing "Jingle Bells". Sadly, we live in neither a sane and rational world, nor a musical.

Instead, we live in a world where some twit... well, twelve twits, in fact... think that the appropriate response to being wished a happy Hanukkah is "Oh, Hanukkah. That's the day that the Jews killed Jesus" and to hurl anti-Semitic insults at the group of men.

Oh, and to beat them up.

That's the Christmas spirit, alright. If there's one thing worth celebrating at Christmas, it's Jesus' love of senseless violence and cultural/religious intolerance. I know Jesus, and he'd totally want us to beat people up, break their noses, and give them stitches for well wishing. He'd certainly want us to confuse the festival of lights- a holiday that celebrates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by Antiochus IV sometime around 160 or 170 BCE- with the celebration of his death. Which, in fact, the Jewish don't celebrate.

But many Christians do. It's called GOOD FRIDAY, people. For the love of... well, Christ... Good Friday is the holiday marking Jesus' death, not Hanukkah!

Ugh.

It gets better, though. One of the attackers, Joseph Jirovec, has already been convicted of an earlier bias attack against four black men in Gerritsen Beach, and, gods help us, claims that he's "trying to stay out of trouble" because he wants to "straighten out everything" in his life. Oh, and he wants to join the military after he serves his jail time.

Here's a clue, JJ: Staying out of trouble would involve not jumping people on the Q train. In fact, it would preclude beating people up, regardless of where they are. Ass.

Now he's claiming that the attack wasn't anti-Semitic, or religiously motivated. After all, his mother is Jewish, so he can't be an anti-Semite. Also, he wants everyone to know that he's a member of the Bloods, and most of his friends are black, so he can't be a racist, either.

There are photographs of Jirovec and three of the other attackers over at The Moderate Voice, if you want to see the face of this brain trust. The pictures really are worth a thousand words. To say that they glorify violence and a disturbing attitude towards women is an understatement.

Still, there's a bit of a silver lining to the story: A good Samaritan, in the form of Hassan Askari, jumped in to help the victims, and gave Adler a chance to pull the emergency stop cord. Askari came away with two black eyes, and some cuts and bruises, but his intervention probably saved Adler and his friends from more serious injuries. Several releases have noted that Askari is Muslim, and that there's some significance to the story about a group of Jewish youths being assaulted by a mob of Christians, but saved by the intervention of a Muslim. I have no idea exactly how to read that, but I think it's amazing that one guy decided to stand up to the mob and try to help these people, by himself.

When I'm thinking of what the Christmas spirit ought to be about, I'm going to be thinking of people like Askari.

3 comments:

baby221 said...

And which one's the religion of peace and tolerance, again? Yeesh.

Anonymous said...
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ouyangdan said...

OMG! where to start on that! why are things like 'happy holidays' and such met w/ such hostility? it makes christians look crazy and jumpy and closed minded...not to mention hateful that they can't be accepting...fuck that...even just tolerate other people's religious traditions...

i applaud that man for stepping in...there has been a lot of talk around the blogospere lately about why people don't step in to help more, and what is wrong w/ people! i wish there people could be more like that, in any walk or faith, to help someone...

this post was perfect roy!