Thursday, November 30, 2006

Now for a little comic relief (?): Michael Richards

I've ignored the idiotic brouhaha over actor Michael Richards' bigoted outbursts, but this story I just couldn't ignore.

It turns out that Richards's publicist said that Richards isn't anti-Semitic after all--he's Jewish! Leaving aside the question of whether one can be both Jewish and anti-Semitic (answer: absolutely), it turns out that Richards isn't even Jewish.

I must confess right now that I thought he was. Not that I really thought about it; but if I had thought about it, I would have thought he was (is that perfectly clear? Good.) His role on "Seinfeld" conveyed that notion, although it's always difficult (if not impossible) to explain what makes a person seem Jewish and what does not.

Anti-Semites the world over have myriad answers, of course. But we won't worry about what they think right now. For me, it's a certain sardonic and sharp sense of humor, usually of urban origin, but mostly a je ne sais quoi. And the perception of Jewishness can often be very, very incorrect, as in the case of Richards, who is most definitely not Jewish, whatever he says. Neither of his parents were, and he has not converted. That's pretty definitive.

Richards is laying low right now and keeping his mouth shut for a change--an excellent idea, I'd say (although apparently he's been talking to his psychiatrist--always a dangerous thing).

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