Yiddish is back in style perhaps personified with the movie entitled "Dinner for Schmucks." According to three accredited Yiddish language sources the term "schmuck," "shmok," or "shmuck" is in no way a positive description of anyone's character. The least derisive definitions include a self-made fool, a boob, a jerk, and progressing either up or down the definitional scale is the term "son of a bitch" topped off under the subhead "obscene" is the word penis.
If you were to describe Glenn Beck in light of his August 28th rally in Washington, DC, to start with you could select any of the above descriptions of his character or his lack of character. He held his "Restoring Honor" rally at the same Lincoln Memorial location where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream Speech" in 1963.
To those who think it's an insult to the civil rights leader, the pugnacious provocateur says "Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln," although Beck might not be fully aware that whites owned blacks during Lincoln's days. With firm resolve he goes on saying "Blacks don't own Martin Luther King."
Beck has yet to paraphrase the ending of Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address to read "and that a government of my kind of people, by my kind of people, and for my kind of people, shall not perish from the earth." However, he may do so when surrounded by his kind of people on Saturday including Tea Party members and Sarah Palin.
Beck had enough chutzpah -- brazen nerve -- to stage such a self-aggrandizing event, and believes the mainstream media is to blame for the negative publicity it garnered by machen a tsimmis -- making molehills into mountains. Much of what Beck promulgates is pure narishkeit -- utter nonsense -- but he manages to remain in mitn drinen -- in the middle of it all.
Yiddish is probably an excellent language to describe much of what goes on in politics since it was nearly killed by the political action of both the Nazis during the Holocaust and by the young Israeli nation in the late 1940s. When Hitler murdered more than five million European Jews during the Holocaust, most of them were Yiddish speakers. The survivors who immigrated to Israel were confronted by a state that had its own Hebrew language, and who dissuaded the newcomers from using Yiddish which they considered the language of those who gave in to the Nazis.
In the United States, Yiddish -- that once vulnerable foreign language -- has become a venerable part of our daily idiom with a continual boost from Beck's much-despised mass media.
In a recent crossword puzzle, the clue for 19 across was Zaftig, and the word 'plump' was the five-letter answer. In another puzzle the clue "Lug Laboriously" led to the Yiddish word schlep.
An obituary in The New York Times described a journalist as being haimish (friendly); a Sports Illustrated article noted that Johnnie Cochran got bubkes (a trifle), a critic reviewing a play wrote, "There's plenty of kvetching (complaining) while noshing (snacking). It also described one character as being a mensch (decent person) and that both characters drive each other meshugeh (crazy).
Perhaps the latter is Glenn Beck's overall self-marketing strategy -- to drive meshugeh all of those who oppose any of his ideas and any part of his personal political agenda. These include the mass media, the left, progressives, civil rights movement leaders, and at times, even Bill O'Reilly.
Many of the above as well as some wary conservatives fervently wish that Glenn Beck would quietly gay avech -- just go away. It will be interesting to see now after Saturday, August 28th just how many want Beck and his ideas to stay.