By Jack Engelhard
They needed a picture, a poster boy, to be the face of our economic collapse and as if on cue, here came Bernard Madoff.
They got their man. He’s Jewish. How perfect. The mystery is solved. They know whom to blame. The Jews.
Right after Madoff was exposed, I overheard this conversation in a restaurant: “You heard about this guy Madoff?”
“Yup – here go those Jews again.”
The other day, I read several newspapers that officially listed the biggest economic villains of recent vintage and most were NOT Jews. That doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’m tempted to list some of the names here, but the roll call of these NON-Jewish scofflaws is much too long.
One expert explains that “fund managers are the biggest villains; they control seven TRILLION dollars of our money, and have no ethics.”
Are they Jewish? Maybe a few of them are. Most are not Jewish. That still makes no difference. We still have Bernard Madoff.
Here’s Mitchell Zuckoff, an expert who wrote a book on Ponzi schemes, now writing in The New York Times: “Most have no idea whom to blame for the subprime crisis, credit default swaps or collateralized debt obligations. Bernard Madoff didn’t cause any of that, but he is a convenient personification of all the greed and mistakes that have crushed the economy.”
Exactly! Madoff is the convenient scapegoat. Madoff should rot in hell for all the troubles he’s caused, especially for stirring a pot that needs no further stirring. But he is one crook among many – among thousands. This is, after all, an economic tsunami. Within any news cycle, one or two crooks surface now and then.
This time around, like a fluke of nature, all the crooks surfaced together, like a Perfect Storm.
Madoff is evil, but he is only a symptom of an economy gone wild. Why does it matter that he’s Jewish?
Nancy Pelosi has access to our entire treasury. That’s like giving me, a chocoholic, the keys to Hershey, Pennsylvania.
She’s been availing herself of every penny she can get her hands on, for herself and for her friends. Do we know her religious affiliation? Do we care? No. Should we care? No.
Ken Lay, who brought down Enron and equally destroyed thousands of lives – what’s his religion? What synagogue does he attend? Turns out he comes from a family of Baptists. But I had to look that up. His faith was (properly) kept private and there was no one nearby saying, “There go those Baptists again.”
Of those thousands of other moneygrubbers, we know them by their names, their corporations, but nothing about their churches – unless it’s a synagogue.
Crooks have no religion. That’s the point. Some are Catholic, some are Protestant and, yes, some are Jewish.
My mistake. They do have religion, and it’s called Greed.
(Almost by coincidence, Leonore Annenberg died on the same day that Madoff was locked up. Together with her husband, Walter, the publishing tycoon, the Annenbergs gave freely of their wealth to hundreds of charities. Some put the figure at $2 billion-plus. Walter Annenberg, who died 2002, has been dubbed The Titan of Philanthropy. Let’s hear it this time: “There go those Jews again.”)
Novelist Jack Engelhard, author of the novel “Indecent Proposal” and most recently “The Bathsheba Deadline,” can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com