Thursday, December 22, 2011

On tolerance...

"I hope you've all learned a very important lesson today. Just because Mordechai's people are different from us, and just because they may appear strange to us with their furry hats, beady eyes, and long sideburns, not to mention their bizarre customs and unnecessarily gutteral funny-sounding names. Just because they control ALL of the world's money, yet they are too cheap to buy their children anything better than spinning tops for presents, does not mean that we can't learn to love and respect them as our equals. Happy chanuyakah day 7, Mordy!"

The Hebrew Hammer begins with this speech by a teacher who represents "Hanukkah Past". For us Jews it kind of encapsulates the whole idea of being "tolerated" at Christmas time. Of course things have changed (sort of) since then, but I don't think I'm alone in the frustration over being merely tolerated in American society. And that's why I like this movie so much. Sure, it plays on on a lot of Jewish stereotypes, but that's a means to an end.

That end is so that we can have this little conversation about being tolerated.

    noun /ˈtäl(ə)rəns/ 
    tolerances, plural

    1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with
      • - the tolerance of corruption
      • - an advocate of religious tolerance

    2. The capacity to endure continued subjection to something, esp. a drug, transplant, antigen, or environmental conditions, without adverse reaction
      • - the desert camel shows the greatest tolerance to dehydration
      • - species were grouped according to pollution tolerance
      • - various species of diatoms display different tolerances to acid

Google seems to be under the impression that tolerance is the ability to put up with something that sucks: corruption, dehydration, pollution, and acid. So, because my religion doesn't suck. Because my holidays don't suck, because I don't suck as a person and am in no way similar to corruption, dehydration, pollution, or acid: STOP tolerating me.

You know what would be a whole lot better? Being accepted. Not being told, "Merry Christmas" by someone who knows I'm Jewish, because it's more important for the dominant Roman paradigm to subvert my people's attempts to stand up for ourselves and refuse to celebrate the holiday of another people. Hanukkah is out holiday this time of year. It may not be as important as Yom Kippur or Passover, but it is important because this holiday represents a people's refusal to be subjugated and forced to celebrate someone else's holiday.

So, stop tolerating me. If you don't like that I have a holiday that celebrates my people's differentness in a homogenized society, get over it. Don't tolerate it like some tension headache. Get over it. Move on. I don't tolerate Christmas, I even participate in some celebrations of it. If you don't like the "politically correct" greeting "happy holidays", get to know me well enough to wish me a "Happy Hanukkah and a Happy Secular New Year".

Or save yourself some effort and just get over it.

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