Immigration: Part Three. Some of my subscribers have already seen this piece, which was sent to them in email from Hong Kong over year ago. But it seemed relevant to current events, and I felt that this time it could use a graphic to illustrate one of its points.
The Cornhusker Solution
In Hong Kong I met a fellow American in that distinctly American institution called Starbuck’s. He’s a business consultant who been here for several years, and is therefore more of an “ex-pat” than I am. He’s from the East Coast, and although I generally don’t seek out fellow Americans, it is nice on occasion to have a chat over cappuccino over some “American topics” with someone who really knows what you are referring to.
Cedric, (not his real name) is an African-American, and I gauge him to be in his late fifties. At first we talked amiably about basketball, New York, and growing up in cities. But one day he brought a business associate and the conversation took a disturbing turn. They began speaking pejoratively about a “Jewish” businessman they clearly did not like. That was not so bothersome, since it is not inappropriate to dislike a person who (although why does their ethnicity have to be specified) happens to be Jewish. What bothered me more was that they moved to a line that was unambiguously anti-Semitic, and Cedric added that “they” weren’t any “less trustworthy to deal with in business than the Chinese.”
I was shocked, but they must not have noticed because they kept giving me those “of course you know this to be true” kinds of smiles. Cedric’s business associate was British, and at first I was embarrassed that a fellow American, and an African-American, who should know about such racial characterizations, was speaking this way in front of him. In fact, Cedric had claimed to have been an activist in the American civil rights movement, but later claimed to have become disillusioned when “the Jews tried to undermine our social and economic progress,” as he insisted was part of their “conspiracy.” In fact, his associate seemed to be in full accord with Cedric’s views, and they seemed to have both read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Starbuck’s was beginning to sound a little too much like a beer hall in Munich in the early 1930s and I avoided it for a few days. But a week later I was back and Cedric and his friend appeared and asked if they could share my table. Cedric set down his copy of The South China Morning Post, on which there was a lead story about the Israeli Army’s troop movements in to the West Bank in response to Palestinian suicide bombers. There was no avoiding the subject.
Cedric discoursed chapter and verse on the “illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine,” linking it with “the complicity and financial support of the control of media and banking and the American government by international Jewry.” There was a vague reference to the assassinations of the Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King. Cedric claims he was “there” at the time King was killed and James Earl Ray “didn’t do it,” but he is “not at liberty to say who did.” His primary rhetorical stratagem is to aver that he knows from personal experience the “real story,” but can’t divulge it because of some vague danger to himself. The world was finally on to the Jews, he claimed, and they would soon be thrown out of their illegal state and the Middle East. They couldn’t hide behind that holocaust stuff anymore, according to him.
I didn’t want to ask him if the holocaust “really happened” because I was about ready to vomit at this point. But for some reason I asked where he felt the Israelis should go if they can’t stay where they are. Cedric looked at me as though I were an idiot that should understand that the Israelis would be exterminated and not need go anywhere with geographic coordinates. I guess I was supposed to say: “How silly of me. Of course, the ‘Final Solution’.”
Just then Cedric’s associate chimed in and suggested something I had not heard in some time. I call it “The Cornhusker Solution” and it goes something like this: America has always supported Israel; ergo, why doesn’t America take the Israeli’s in. The proposal goes that there is plenty of room in the middle of the USA (probably why he didn’t suggest the UK) to give them a place to live far away from suicide bombers.
Consistent with previous descriptions I had heard, Cedric’s friend specifically mentioned Nebraska and Iowa (could there be a little conspiracy here?). I can just visualize Sharon leading his people through the rows of corn as high as an elephant’s eye.
In the face of such irrationality sometimes the only defense (offence?) is to try to be as rational as possible. I felt this strange compulsion to strap ten pounds of French Roast and a pound of C-4 on my body and caffinate these guys to death, but I forced myself to feign serious consideration of their “solution”: Nebraska as the New Promised Land.
So I asked them to consider that Nebraska might not be a particularly good fit for the displaced Israelis. Nebraska is pretty much about two things. The first is corn, and there doesn’t seem to be very much in the Jewish tradition that is related to corn, nothing about unleavened corn or kosher tortilla chips. Not many jobs in corn either, most plowing, planting and husking is mechanized these days. I figured that being businessmen, Cedric and his associate would appreciate this analysis. But they just looked back blankly.
The other Nebraska thing is football. Nebraskans love their football team, the Cornhuskers. If Israelis can’t be real cornhuskers, how about football players. It would be a great way to fit in if they could help bring Nebraska another national championship. There have been a few good Jewish football players. Ron Mix, for example, a lawyer now, who made it into the NFL Hall of Fame, and Tim Rossovich, a mad-cap linebacker from USC, come to mind. I’m sure there are others.
The uniform of runningback Joshua Finklestein of Tel Aviv A & M’s Mighty Macabees will be empty next year as the Isreali star football player has transferred to the University of Nebraska in the USA.
But most Jews, it seems, squandered their chances for football stardom by spending more time in the campus library than on the playing fields. What are their chances, then, of out of the four or so million Israelis re-settled in to Nebraska that there might be a wide receiver with 4.6 speed, or a quarterback that can read the blitz (that’s blitz, not blintz) and thread the needle to his tight end in the red zone (not sea) for six points (like on the Star of David). Not very good I argued. Then there’s the problem of getting those names, Weinstein and Mandlebaum, etc, spelled across the backs of their jerseys. The team huddle would look like a marquee for a law or brokerage firm. I didn’t think that either the Israelis or Cornhusker fans would think much of the football idea. There would be the inevitable jokes about the Kosher Kornhuskers, or the Cohenhuskers.
Cedric said there’s always Iowa, then. There’s corn there, too, but the teams are called “Hawkeyes.” But that seemed a stretch, too. So many Jews seem to wear glasses; all that studying for the international conspiracy, you know. Hard on the eyes.
But then there is wrestling. Iowa is known for its great wrestling teams. And no need to get those long names spelled on the backs of jerseys. There have been Jewish wrestling teams, I said.
“Right,” Cedric’s friend chimed in, “in the Olympics.”
“Munich Olympics. 1972.” I said . . .
They both had curious little smiles, but said nothing.
So I told them that I think the Israelis feel they are better off right where they are. And if you bigots and suicide bombers don’t like that, there’s a solution to that, too. It’s the “Fuck You!” solution, and as the great Woody Allen would add: “And I say that with all due respect.”
©2002, ©2004, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.12.2004)