Thursday, June 2, 2016

The New York Times's Double Standard Re Religious Tolerance/Intolerance Really Stinks

Jonathan Tobin details it here. In brief, the Times praised the "tolerance" of a public swimming pool in Toronto providing chicks-only hours, specifically for the benefit of Muslim women who lived in the neighbourhood. However, the presence of a municipal swimming pool in a Brooklyn area with a large Orthodox Jewish population which makes a similar accommodation for Orthodox Jewish women prompts the same New York Times to detect "a strong odor of religious intrusion into a public space."

Two obvious thoughts spring to mind here. First, there is no way that the paper would ever make such an ugly comment about Muslims (nor, since smell is involved, should it).

Second, the idea that Jews have "a strong odor" is a classic anti-Semitic trope. Here's how one website unpacks it:
Since the Jews were associated so closely with the devil, they were believed to share his characteristics, notably his smell of sulfur. If Jews did not smell of it, Christians claimed they used Christians’ blood to rid themselves of it. Indeed, the belief about a unique Jewish odor was so powerful that it not only persisted throughout the ages, but also became the object of study by Nazi scientists.
Now, it could be that phrasing it this way was done in complete ignorance of "the Jewish smell" and its place in the history of Jew-hate. Even if it was, however, there is no way to read these words without getting a distinct whiff of something foul.

Update: Here's more on foeter judaicus, the Jewish smell.

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