Tom Clancy's Mixed Moral Messages to Jewish Readers

Late Spy Novelist Peppered Works With Offensive Tropes

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By Benjamin Ivry

Published October 03, 2013.
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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
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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.


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