Joe Biden — who is, amazingly enough, the vice president of the United States of America — paid tribute to a long and ignominious history of anti-Semitic rhetoric on the Left when he referred to a group of detested bankers as unscrupulous “Shylocks.”
That Joe Biden said something stupid is not especially shocking; the shocking thing is that Joe Biden manages to show up at public events wearing pants. What was shocking was this response from Michael Barbaro of the New York Times and Yale, who wrote:
Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word “Shylock” before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?
Apparently, they are not teaching The Merchant of Venice at Yale these days.
Mr. Barbaro resides in New York City, where there are many theaters, some of which perform the works of William Shakespeare on a fairly regular basis, and there is a troupe dedicated to performing Shakespeare’s works in Central Park for free, in case Mr. Barbaro cannot afford tickets to see, say, Al Pacino in the role of Shylock. I hear that New York Times payday isn’t what it used to be; but then again, neither is Yale. Things are tough all over.
Not to belabor the obvious but always-worth-reiterating point: If Dick Cheney had deployed a defamatory ethnic stereotype in the course of denouncing some political enemies, the media’s pound of flesh would have been extracted with a degree of giddiness and brutality not seen since Trent Lott had the bad sense to say something nice about some decrepit old Dixiecrat coot on the occasion of his 100th birthday. One suspects that the exquisitely sensitive ladies and gentlemen of the Times would be rather less baffled, too.