Bintel Blog

Dept. of Mountains Out of Molehills: Reggie Jackson’s Jewish Joke

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

So baseball great Reggie Jackson, haggling with an artist over a painting, jokingly asked him, “Are you Jewish?” A foolish comment, made all the more foolish by the fact that it was made in earshot of a New York Post video camera. The cameraman followed up by asking Jackson why he said that, to which he replied, “because he’s always working me.”

The Post ran with it, UPI and Fox picked it up and now Jackson is explaining to the Post that he wouldn’t insult a Jewish person. “I am a minority. I don’t do that. I don’t go there,” he told the Post.

Was Jackson’s joke in poor taste? Yeah. Was it funny? No. Is it proof of any hostility to Jews? Not really. After all, Jews have been known, on occasion, to make similarly tasteless jokes, and sometimes they’re even funny. (Even if we don’t buy into — no pun intended — such stereotypes, they can make good fodder for humor.) And Jackson was always known almost as much for his big mouth as for his clutch hitting.

The artist himself, who is Jewish, told the Post that he didn’t think Jackson was antisemitic: “I think he was joking… that I had chutzpah.” Then again, he had a fiduciary interest in defending Jackson, who had just paid him $1,500 for his painting. (And no, I’m not making a Jewish joke.)

The worst part of this whole teapot tempest is that all-star slugger Ryan Braun — whose father is Israeli, but whose mother isn’t Jewish — is now being asked by reporters to weigh in. (As JTA’s Ami Eden cleverly quipped, “Braun is expected to play Abe Foxman instead of left field.”)

The best part of the brouhaha, however, is that it provided the Brewers outfielder with an opportunity to indicate his willingness to step up to the plate for the tribe. There had been questions about how strongly Braun — who has been dubbed “the Hebrew Hammer” by some excited fans — identifies as Jewish. But regarding being asked by a reporter about Jackson’s remarks, Braun explained, “I think that it’s something that comes with the territory. There aren’t too many Jewish athletes at the highest level. It’s something that I certainly embrace. But there are times when people expect me to be aware of issues, like that specific example. I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.”

Hat tip: JTA’s Telegraph


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ryan Braun, Baseball, Reggie Jackson

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.


Comments
Brad A. Greenberg Tue. Jul 15, 2008

I totally agree, Daniel. I thought I had some blog fodder when I heard Mr. October had said something anti-Semitic. But then I watched the video and thought the only one who should be angry was A-Rod, who Jackson implies, with a joke, like young ladies.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • 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.