Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How should we think about antisemitism?

This is the monologue for the latest episode of Why? Radio. The topic was “How to Think About Antisemitism” You can hear the whole episode online here. 

People think that prejudice is simple, that it involves lack of thought. The most common response to someone’s bigotry is that the offender just “doesn’t know any better,” and that he or she simply needs to get out more, meet new people, and be open-minded. While it’s true that lack of experience can make prejudice worse, this kind of ignorance is anything but simple. It’s built on history, attached to our common texts, and supported by all aspects of our lives. Most of what justifies our prejudices is so familiar that it is invisible to us; this is particularly true about antisemitism.

I am, no doubt, the first Jew that most of my North Dakota students will meet. Most of them will not even discover my background until midway through the semester, when it comes up in discussion. When I taught on the East and West coasts, my students recognized Weinstein as a common Jewish name, but not here. Most have no idea. But these young men and women who have never knowingly interacted with a Jew before me, feel they have a strong understanding of what Jews believe, of what our place in history is, of what’s wrong with us. Most have been learning about Jews since they were old enough to understand what Christmas is, and all regularly encounter jokes and slights about us on the internet. Almost everyone has seen who we are framed as incompetent, neurotic, and dominated, in almost any Ben Stiller movie. Meet the Parents, There’s Something About Mary…lessons on how Jews simply don’t operate properly in the world.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why? Radio needs your questions about antisemitism -- by tomorrow!

Dear listeners,

Tomorrow (September 3), Why? Radio will be prerecording an episode called “How to Talk about Antisemitism,” with guest Daniel Goldhagen, author of numerous books, including The Devil that Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism and Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.

Since we won’t be broadcasting live, we hoped you could submit a question in advance. We’ll try to get to as many as we can.

Send your questions to askwhy@und.edu or post them below.

By the way, the shorter version of the episode will be broadcast on September 14 at 5 central, and the longer podcast will be available around that time as well. As always, your feedback is most welcome!

Thank you in advance and, as always, thank you for your support!

-Jack Russell Weinstein and The Why? Radio team