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I’m white and was raised Protestant, and I want to hear what it’s like for anyone who’s lived in our oppressive “corrections” system. I saw “What’s it like to be white, gay, Jewish, and a snitch in the D.C. Jail?” (12/2) as an interesting portrait of one person’s experience.
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But the author’s own personal comments, interjected throughout the article, not only got in the way of the picture painted, but also included harmful anti-Jewish statements. For instance, the author comments, “After a couple of hours with Moonblatt, one dreams of locking him away in some concrete bunker miles underground.” Jews face this kind of message every day: thinly veiled threats about being silenced or sent away.
As often goes with anti-Semitism, the statements hide behind the ridiculous idea that such feelings are “natural” (“hanging up on [the Jewish man’s] monologues would be a natural urge for anybody”). The author’s implied justification for his “dream” of locking the person away is that the Jewish man is loud: “miles underground, where [the Jewish man] could safely turn earthworms to mush through his sonic power.” Through these and other comments, the author showed what anti-Jewish oppression is like here on the outside—widespread in contemporary American culture and often subtle, yet powerful.
This article also describes an assault in which guards who supposedly had the Jewish prisoner in “protective custody” let him out with someone whom the guards knew would beat him up. That physical assault serves, for me, as a metaphor for how we still scapegoat Jews.
Mount Rainier, Md.