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Semitic Taunts Will Backfire "Jim Bunning is fully capable of still throwing that hard pitch from the mound, and his opponent is a switch hitter.
We don't want to change a hard right for a limp wrist." Kentucky State Senate President David Williams (2004) The "only reason" Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear picked former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson to be his running mate was "to attract New York and Hollywood Jewish money" for the campaign. Senator Jim Bunning's huge re election lead was in free fall due to a series of missteps made by the cantankerous Baseball Hall of Famer, State Senate President David Williams rode to the rescue, armed with a slew of gay baiting innuendos pandora for web about Bunning's then single, heterosexual opponent. It worked. Bunning's numbers steadied, and he squeaked out a 1 point victory. Today, David Williams' own November 2011 bid for the Governor's Mansion appears in far direr straits. Hobbled by his reputation as a bully, and by nearly weekly revelations of his and his running mate's profligate tax dollar spending, Williams trails the incumbent Governor Steve Beshear by more than twenty points in the polls, and more than $3 million in the campaign coffers. Alas, gay baiting won't stick this time: The Governor's been happily married for more than four decades. Instead, at least one of Williams' most high profile supporters appears poised to try a much older strategy, one that's been used successfully for gold pandora charms sale centuries: highlighting the Jewish faith of Beshear's running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. The local press has been on guard since Beshear named Abramson to the ticket. Both major state dailies have speculated about the potential impact of Abramson's Hebraic name and beliefs. Conservative columnist and Mitch McConnell biographer John David Dyche has repeated his mantra that the "verbose urban Jewish liberal" won't play well in rural Kentucky, lumping the former Mayor's faith in padora bracelet with a series of other negative GOP code words. As veteran political reporter Jack Brammer reveals in today's Lexington Herald Leader, Larry Forgy, the 1995 Republican gubernatorial nominee, revived a pernicious stereotype by alleging that the extremely popular former mayor with more than two decades of experience running Kentucky's largest city was chosen for the ticket only because of his connections to the Jewish financiers of Wall Street and Hollywood. The Williams campaign has made no comment about Forgy's absurd and offensive remarks. Fortunately for our Commonwealth, this dog won't hunt. I'll offer myself as Exhibit A: In 1999, I was elected Kentucky's State Treasurer, and then reelected four years later. Sure, my surname is Miller; I'm told I don't "look Jewish"; and my position was low profile. But I've always worn my religion proudly on my sleeve, and even wrote a nationally published book about my faith. More significant than my example is my experience. During my 14 years in state politics and public service, I never encountered serious anti Semitism. Just the opposite: When I spoke to rural crowds about the Talmud or my own spirituality, I was consistently cheap charms for pandora bracelets met with warm feedback. This certainly wasn't true in my childhood: A subtle, but very serious anti Semitism pervaded everyday life in Kentucky in the 1970s. But 40 years later, we face an entirely different social climate. Much of it stems from what in 2000 Jonathan Alter termed our "Post Seinfeld America." Alter sagely explained how Joe Lieberman's selection as a vice presidential nominee was paved in large part by popular shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and Saturday Night Live (and now, Glee and Grey's Anatomy and The Simpsons and.) that brought likeable and "normal" Jewish characters into the living rooms of rural Americans who'd never met a Jew. We are no longer strangers in our own land. Even more significantly, the message in the rural church has dramatically shifted. Recent releases of President Nixon's tapes reminded us of the stark and often brutal anti Semitism of prominent evangelical preachers such as Billy Graham as recently as the 1970s. But just as Graham has apologized, his modern successors are almost uniformly preaching from the pulpit their love of their Jewish brothers and sisters. The same rural churches that taught that the "Jews killed Christ" are much more likely today to remind their parishoners that Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the Apostles were all Jewish. And other than Jews, there is no organized force more supportive of a safe and secure Jewish homeland in Israel than rural, evangelical Christians. It is telling that the first ad released by Michelle Bachmann whose emerging presidential bid is targeting rural, religious conservative voters was focused on President Obama's "betrayal" of Israel. I'm not naive enough to claim that anti Semitism has disappeared entirely, or that there aren't some voters who might be manipulated by an anti Jewish appeal. And unfortunately, hatred and intolerance continue to fester in many areas of the state, particularly when it comes to gays, Muslims and recent immigrants.
But an anti Semitic appeal, even targeted at rural, conservative areas, is much more likely to backfire. We have a lot further to go as a Commonwealth and a nation to truly honor the Scripture's mandate to "love our neighbor as ourselves." But I'm confident and gratified that my own neighbors won't allow our political system to be corrupted by the kind of vile name calling that was used for so many centuries against my ancestors.
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