Open Letter to Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride


Dear Ms. Mcbride,

Although you recently apologized for using the offensive term “Jew her down”, I find there to be 2 peripheral issues that are very possibly a bigger problem than the usage of the term itself.

The first issue is the wording you used in your apology. Your words were as follows:

“I am apologizing to the community at large. Because in my position you cannot make anyone feel insulted or you cannot be insensitive to any ethnic backgrounds, so I am apologizing to the community at large.”

To be blunt Ms. Mcbride, I find your apology to be insincere, cleverly worded and clearly motivated by your desire to put out the fire, not in true contrition.  I base this opinion on the wording you used.  It may be lost to some but not to me that you do not actually apologize to members of the Jewish community.  On the contrary, the term “community at large” is a very clever way of appeasing your colleagues and constituency while avoiding an actual apology to the people you insulted. The Jewish people. It identifies the fact that not only do you not see anything wrong with the term, it gives the impression that you don’t particularly care for Jews in general.  I don’t read anything in your apology that indicates you understand why the term is offensive.  But why not look at your own words to clarify my point?

“I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down for $22,000 with pins in her knee that can never, ever be repaired.”

So since you and some of your supporters play dumb as to why it’s an offensive comment, let’s play a little game.  Let’s replace the word “Jew” with the word “bargained”.  Does that change the point you are making in your statement?  The point that you in essence felt that a woman got the shaft in a settlement of a lawsuit following an accident.  So “Jewing” someone down is clearly not a term of endearment. It’s a reference to that very old anti-Seimitic trope, the one implying that Jews are cheap and always looking for a bargain, be it fair or not.  But let’s be honest here. You know that and don’t care. You just wanted the controversy to go away. That is why you apologized to “the community at large”.

The second very troubling factor was the defense given to you by fellow council members, George Muschal and Robin Vaughn.  Vaughn’s defense was that “the comments weren’t anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people.”  If I am to give the benefit of the doubt to Vaughn that it is not about hatred, something I am not so apt to do, I do have to wonder why it’s only a problem if it is hatred.  Do we have to tolerate insults even if they are not motivated in hatred?  Would she tolerate that towards the community you come from Ms. Vaughn?

Muschal’s defense was even more troubling. He said: “You know, it’s like a car dealer. They wanted $5,000, you Jew ’em down to $4,000. It’s nothing vicious. The expression has been said millions of times.”  Well Mr. Muschal’s response is so preposterous all I can say to that is that there are many terms and words that have been said “millions of times” that are unacceptable.  Words and terms  I would have enough respect not to use.  Not even in this letter to make my point.

So you see Ms. Msbride, your comments are more important than you may be willing to admit.  You have a responsibility you are shirking.  One not only to the “community at large” but believe it or not to your personal history.

On May 14, 1958, the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said the following in an address to the National Biennial Convention of the American Jewish Congress.

There are Hitlers loose in America today, both in high and low places… As the tensions and bewilderment of economic problems become more severe, history(‘s) scapegoats, the Jews, will be joined by new scapegoats, the Negroes. The Hitlers will seek to divert people’s minds and turn their frustration and anger to the helpless, to the outnumbered. Then whether the Negro and Jew shall live in peace will depend upon how firmly they resist, how effectively they reach the minds of the decent Americans to halt this deadly diversion.

These are the words of greatness.  If you want to meet your responsibility to the “community at large”, use words and phrases such as these rather than words of insensitivity followed up by self-serving words designed to get yourself out of trouble.


David Groen





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