The Minority Report

A while back I heard a news story on the radio about an ex-felon who had been turned down for a job by a major corporation.  The company has a policy of not hiring ex-convicts.  The man, who is black, is suing the company, citing racial discrimination.  His reasoning is that since a disproportionate percentage of the prison population is African-American, not hiring him was tantamount  to a violation of his civil rights.

This struck me as an elegant argument.  Exquisite logic.  And it got me thinking about my own circumstance.  You see, I’m a minority also.  As you may have heard, I’m Jewish.    According to Wikipedia, Jews make up only 2% of the population in the United states.  So, I started thinking about all the ways I’ve been discriminated against in my life.  Often, without  realizing it.

As a freshman in high school I tried out for the basketball team.  I didn’t make the team and was devastated.  It’s common knowledge that Jews are generally not gifted athletes.   (According to Wikipedia, only .00000000000134% of Jews make it as professional athletes;  a much higher percentage will eventually own a professional sports team.)  So obviously , being Jewish  pretty much guaranteed that I wasn’t going to be talented enough  to make the team.  Therefore, not selecting  me simply because I wasn’t good enough (read: Jewish) was effectively discrimination of the worst sort.  If  I knew then, what I know now, I would have sued the bastards.  Where was the Anti-Defamation League when I need them?

Now that my consciousness has been raised,  it’s not hard for me to see a connection between seemingly isolated incidents.  The traffic tickets I couldn’t talk my way out of, the lousy tables that maitre des sat me at, the jobs I applied for that I didn’t get.  A clear pattern of discrimination starts to emerge.  Being a minority can be very hard.

And then of course, there were the girls who wouldn’t go out with me.  How could I not have smelled a rat?  And how about those “letters to the editor” that I sent to those smarty pants at the Times that never got published.  Clearly, blatant anti-Semitism at work.  I know, I know, a lot of those folks at the Times   and some of those girls are Jewish, but as my mother used to say, “self-hating Jews are the worst anti-Semites of all.”

Of course, I’ve considered that some, if not all, of this is in my head.  A kind of paranoia.  My father must have had some idea that I might go down this road as I grew older because he told the following joke to me when I was just a kid:

A Jewish man with a bad stutter applies for a job as a radio announcer.  He stutters through his interview with the station manager.  He’s turned down for the job.  As he leaves the office, he turns to the interviewer and says, “Ddddirrty Ant.t.ti-S.s.semite!”

Despite the prescience of that joke,  I’m not quite ready to give up my vigilance in being on the lookout for any glimmer of anti-Jewishness.  The irony in all this is that for years now, I’ve been a devout atheist.   I don’t pray ….every day….religiously.   And now that I’ve gone public, I have to also be mindful of any anti-atheism that may come my way.  I have a feeling that  being several minorities is  going to be really hard.

2 Responses to “The Minority Report”

  1. ed Says:

    You’re dizzy with discriminations! How do you keep your grievances straight?
    Whatever you do, do not put on a Conservative hat here in the Peoples’ Republic. The villification would break Caesar.

  2. Paul Paglia Says:

    I never knew how hard it was to be Neil Stein. I guess that’s why you’re always so cranky at work.

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