Well, that was a close one. During a debate Monday with Democratic opponent James Webb, Senator George Allen was asked whether he could confirm a report in The Forward that his mother, Etty Lumbroso Allen, came from a prominent Sephardic Jewish family. Outraged by the question, Allen spluttered on about freedom of religion, and then denied the assertion.
Does anybody really care whether Senator George Allen's mother came from a prominent Jewish family? Well, yeah. I do.
Haven't we Jews suffered enough this year? Everywhere we turn there's another shonda (embarrassment), from Jack Abramoff to Joe Lieberman. We learn that Rep. Eric Cantor had a sandwich named after himself at a fundraiser at Abramoff's deli. We've got Kristol, Wolfowitz, Perle. Do we really need a Jewish George Allen?
Fortunately, Allen seemed outraged by the question. As his supporters booed, (suddenly, the very mention of religion is off limits to these guys-- or is it the horrifying possibility that he could be Jewish?) Allen delivered his lecture on religious rights and then characterized the reporter's question as "casting aspersions."
Finally, he said "as far as he knew," his mother was raised as a Christian.
As far as he knows? If you have a Jewish mother, you know it. A Jewish mother doesn't let you wear a Confederate flag lapel pin in your high school yearbook picture, or pimp your pickup truck with rebel flag bumper stickers. She might mention her religious heritage when you have your picture taken with white supremacist members of the Council of Concerned Citizens. And I don't think a Jewish mother visiting her son's law office would remain silent about the noose he kept hanging there, or that she'd fail to ask her daughter in law if hanging a Confederate flag in her son George's home was really the best interior decorating idea she could come up with. (There's much more juice on Allen--and not the kind that dribbles from his tobacco chaw--in my book Naked Republicans: A Full Frontal Exposure of Right Wing Hypocrisy and Greed).
I believe you, George. Besides, The Forward's story says the family was forced to convert to Christianity long ago, so it's entirely possible that his mother was raised a Christian.
Senator Allen mentioned several times that his grandfather was "incarcerated by the Nazis" but for political reasons, not because he was Jewish. Maybe the Nazis just hated him for his freedom.
Remember when Boychik George was a front-runner for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination?
Now, it looks like he won't be our first almost-Jewish President.
Such suffering we do.