Of Grease Monkeys and Birthers

Learning About Intolerance in the Auto-Body Shop

Intolerance Everywhere: You never know when you will learn a stern lesson about the opinions held by many fellow Americans.
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Intolerance Everywhere: You never know when you will learn a stern lesson about the opinions held by many fellow Americans.

By Leonard Fein

Published August 04, 2012, issue of August 10, 2012.
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It happened in the body shop.

With trepidation, I’d delivered my badly wounded car, (more exactly, the tow truck had), and now, while waiting for my rental car to be delivered, I was chatting with the owner of the body shop, a very well-spoken man on whose mercy I now depended and whose expertise was impressive.

Along the way, I asked him whether he favored Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. He chose Romney, and when I asked whether he was at all troubled by Romney’s secrecy regarding his tax returns, his answer was, “And what about Obama’s birth certificate?” Nor was that the whole of it: “And whatever he says, I don’t believe he ever converted to Christianity; he’s still a Muslim. Plus do you know that no one who was at Columbia when he says he was studying there remembers him, there are no academic records of his time there, there are no pictures of him while there?”

I’d heard about people with such views, of course, and had seen snippets of them from time to time on television, but this was my first up-close encounter. I was, to put it mildly, astonished. I briefly — very briefly — considered finding a different body shop, but decided that I could not in conscience subject all prospective craftspeople to an ideological test.

Mulling over the matter the next day (the matter being a way of thinking that is mean-spirited, irrational and disrespectful), I returned to my own weekly experience of abusive response to stuff I’ve written — in particular, the habit of so many bloggers to impute base motives to me. I’ve been called a kapo, a man on a mission to destroy Israel and, of course, a self-hating Jew. Just a few of the less inflammatory examples:

My hands will not be dripping with my fellow Jews’ blood!! Leonard Fein, along with quite a few other left-wing Jews, apparently, would not have any problem just washing off the blood from their hands. Or: For Fein and [Peter] Beinart, it’s more important to pose to gentile leftists to show you are a believer in the Leftist religion rather than stand up for Israel. Or: Fein should have only come over here to see how Israelis of all stripes rose to the occasion to assist Haiti, Darfur, and New Orleans, before most of his ilk had even decided what to buy at Zabar’s that morning. Or: Nothing to see here folks. It’s an old story: The author is yet another self-hating Hebrew who hates his own people.


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