Continuing along with my seasonally appropriate Jesus obsession, just last night a friend who's been following events in Iowa expressed amazement at the god-soaked nature of this Presidential race, and said that antisemitism is very much alive and well and more ready to roar back to life in America than most realize.
He described the roots of antisemitism as Christ-killer mythology, a perception of riches gained at the expense of others, and deep anti-intellectualism. This stuff goes back to the thirteenth century, he said, and is never too far below the surface.
Tonight, his point was driven home as I watched the 1968 Little Drummer Boy stop animation TV special with my kids. This was produced by Rankin & Bass, the same team that brought us the feel good Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer a few years later, as well as Frosty the Snowman.
In Little Drummer Boy, a small-nosed and fair-skinned family get wiped out by desert marauders just after giving their little boy a drum as a present. He decides he hates all people, and goes off to live alone with the surviving family animals. He is captured by Ben-Haramed, who has a huge semitic hook nose and full Jewish lips underneath his sinister looking mustache.
Ben-Haramed works in the entertainment industry, talks incessantly about being rich and avoiding work, and is always fondling his gold coins. Long story short, drummer boy escapes, but his lamb friend is injured in the process. He hooks up with the magi, comes to baby Jesus, plays his drum, and his half-dead lamb is suddenly good as new. The moral of the story is that we should love all people.
Except, apparently, the Jews.
In all fairness, Rankin/Bass seemed to be equal opportunity bigots. Their 1970 Santa Claus is Coming to Town features a German villain who spews spit with his more guttural accents. I suppose none of this is any more racist than was Jar-jar Binks, but in the context of a Christmas special, it felt especially appalling.