The Corner

Safe-Zone Violation!

In the current issue of National Review, I have a piece on safe-zone violations: the intrusion of partisan politics into spheres where they don’t belong. My focus, in that piece, is on sportswriting. But there are a million zones that ought to be safe from politics that are too often sullied by politics. For instance, this note just came in:

Jay,

For Yom Kippur, my family and I were in schul, as many Jews are. Our rabbi began her sermon with the Joe Wilson incident. Can we not have, at least on the day when we confess our sins, a politics-free zone? Reform synagogues might as well be Democratic Party headquarters, but still — on Yom Kippur?

I hear you. Could have been worse, though. Readers may remember that, at the beginning of this year, I did a long Impromptus on the subject of safe zones. (Here.) And I ended with this letter: 

A friend of ours was killed last winter (2007) when his twin-engine plane crashed on takeoff out of Wilmington, Dela. He was a good pilot, but no match for a combination of strong winds and a faulty flap mechanism. He was 40. We’d just gone to his birthday party a few weeks before. He had been married only two years and they had an 18-month-old baby girl.

So we’re at the service. He was Jewish, and the rabbi is presiding over this “celebration of life” for Dan. And she says something to the effect of, “At least he won’t be around to see more of Bush’s errors in judgment.” The audience tittered.

The thing is, I knew that Dan was pretty darn conservative and admired President Bush in many ways. We often spoke about it. The rabbi knew nothing about his politics. But she did know her audience — at least a majority of them. The rest of us didn’t count, I guess.

I have often thought of contacting this rabbi and telling her how inappropriate and just plain offensive her comments were. But I’m not Jewish and don’t even know her name. Like you, I believe that censure must come from the constituency of the speaker to make an impact.

The memory of that remark still saddens me.

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