Tom Clancy's Mixed Moral Messages to Jewish Readers

Late Spy Novelist Peppered Works With Offensive Tropes

getty images

By Benjamin Ivry

Published October 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Tom Clancy, the author of bestselling techno-thrillers who died on October 1, was called the “novelist with the biggest ideological clout currently active” in a 2002 article by British writer John Sutherland. If this is still true, Jewish readers and others may have cause for concern.

Clancy, whose books such as “The Hunt for Red October”; “Patriot Games” and “Rainbow Six” earned him many millions annually, was profiled by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in a 1999 New York Times article which revealed: “Sometimes Clancy says things merely to prove his anti-P.C. bona fides, like when he uses the terms ‘Hebes’ and ‘’Chinks.’”

Tom Clancy
getty images
Tom Clancy

An equal-opportunity offender, Clancy was a gun-collector and NRA supporter, telling Goldberg: “What these antigun screwballs want is a complete ban on weapons. The political left wants to impose its antigun esthetic on everyone else. If you’re a homosexual, you’re a hero to them. But if you like guns, you’re a nut.”

This aficionado of ethnic slurs and weaponry was born and raised in Baltimore, attended a Catholic high school and Loyola College, a Jesuit institution in Baltimore. There Clancy claimed he was inspired by “ethics”: “You’re taught to be accountable, to do the right things instead of the easy things.” This might explain the repeated rants against abortion in Clancy’s novels, which even became a major plot element in “The Bear and the Dragon” (2000) in which the Papal Nuncio to Beijing and a Chinese Baptist minister are slain, trying to stop Communist Chinese authorities from performing a forced late-term abortion.

Some Jewish readers may be bemused by Clancy’s similarly lurid, melodramatic descriptions of the State of Israel in some novels.

“The Sum of All Fears” (1991) posits that an Israeli nuclear weapon is commandeered by Palestinian terrorists. An Israeli policeman kills an Arab protestor because the policeman’s “adulterous ex-wife left him as a punishment from God because he was not measuring up to what a Jewish man should be,” as Wikipedia summarizes the character’s motivations.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.