The Clare Spark Blog

March 30, 2010

Who are you, this week, Jake Tapper?

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 9:19 pm
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Michelangelo's Horned Moses

[Added 3-31-10: I am now blocked from Tapper’s Facebook page, an odd move for a liberal. My only question is what in this blog prompted the silencing? (I should explain that I and a few others had not found his Twitter to be funny, and Mr. Tapper had multiple opportunities to acknowledge our feelings on his thread, but did not. Hence I had time to think about why I didn’t find his Tweet amusing and wrote this blog. It did not come at him out of the blue.)]

Jake Tapper, Senior White House correspondent for ABC News, and noted for his confrontations with authority, twittered this today and posted it on his Facebook page. “At the same time Jews worldwide commemorate being led out of bondage, RNC struggles with opposite dilemma.”   Tapper was referring to the recent report that some RNC members (not including Michael Steele) had improperly spent RNC funds for an evening at a S-M Club in Los Angeles; i.e. they were enjoying themselves with bondage fantasies. Some of his FB friends found this joke amusing; I and a few others did not—rather I was offended and said so. I consider this little dustup significant enough to blog about it, for it raises the question of what it means in Obama’s America to be an assimilated Jew, also the aggression that may be hidden in what we take to be humorous, for Tapper pounced on the RNC debacle with an attempt at wit in a field that prizes wit over precision, no matter how lame the “joke.”

   But first, some family history. Tapper is the son of a pediatrician and a psychiatric nurse, whom he characterized as “hippies” in a profile written by Howard Kurtz for the Washington Post. He attended Dartmouth College, majoring in history and visual studies, graduating magna cum laude, then briefly attended film school at USC. He is known as a liberal reporter, “pushy,” and within that group, something of a maverick as he attempts to maintain the aura of objectivity.

   Starting in high school, Jake Tapper attended Akiba Hebrew Academy, a “pluralistic” Jewish private school near Philadelphia that emphasizes training for future leadership. Surely, Mr. Tapper learned either there or elsewhere that the Moses-led Exodus that preceded the giving of the Ten Commandments is the central event in Jewish history, and indeed a landmark in the history of civilization. Certainly that was the impression I received from reading the Tanakh. To be sure, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement is said to be the holiest day in the year for Jews, but I am writing now of the core of Jewish identity, and whether one is a religious Jew or a secular one, the idea of emancipation gets at the core of who I think we are as a people, if indeed we are still a people.  Antisemites may wish to characterize us (along with America) as slave-driving capitalists or genocidal communists and Zionists with world domination (i.e., the bondage of non-Jews) as our goal, but I have never heard such ambitions voiced by any Jew, let alone in words written by Jewish authors, whatever their politics of the moment.

   I am not an observant Jew (my children are though), but the thought of juxtaposing the bondage of the Israelites under the Pharaohs with the theatrical “bondage” enjoyed by voyeurs in the RNC is not the funniest of linkages, and suggests to me that Jake Tapper, somewhere in his journey to the top of his profession (he is rated the third most influential journalist), lost his sense of history, of propriety, and whatever Jewish identification he may have carried from his teen-age years at Akiba Hebrew Academy (now renamed Barrack Hebrew Academy).  Call me a puritan bluestocking if you like, gentle reader, but at least my lips are not sealed.

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