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!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • 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.