Unexpected Jew-hatred: Government building edition

"Steve Feldman, land baron!"

It has a nice ring to it as I say it out loud.

Of course, it is patently untrue.  But that did not stop a United States Postal Service clerk from not only thinking I am a land baron, but also telling me so to my face.

I went into the post office (where I go multiple times a week) near my workplace to mail some items and to buy some stamps.  Usually, I buy either rolls of flag stamps or the sheets that feature America's national parks.

I approached the counter and asked for 100 national park stamps (which were not part of the display of stamps for sale!) when I noticed a stamp that caught my eye.  It looked to my tired eyes to depict a field and two rock formations.  I asked the clerk what the stamp was.

"That is the new Andrew Wyeth," she said.  "Would you like those instead?"

Nothing against the local renowned painter, but "no," I replied.  "I'll stick with the national park stamps."  I added: "I'd rather show off the natural beauty of our country."

"Yes, you probably own half of it," she replied.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted.  This clerk waits on me often as I mail items with a return address from a Jewish agency.  My name is another giveaway.  There is no doubt that the uncivil civil servant realizes that I am Jewish.

I have had pennies thrown at me.  I've been called "kike" and "dirty Jew" and "Jew bastard" more times than I care to count.  I've had "Jew" painted in red on a former car.  In my former career as a reporter, I covered Klan rallies, Farrakhan events, and assorted neo-Nazi gatherings, and I have been in the presence of even worse – such as the time a Jew-hater told me, "I'm going to cut off your head and spit down your throat!"

More recently, I have been at countless anti-Israel demonstrations to monitor them or lead pro-Israel counter-demonstrations – and I have heard it all and then some.

But none of those epithets or other instances of Jew-hatred disturbed me as much as what this postal clerk said to me.

While at the events noted above, Jew-hatred was to be expected, it was not to be expected at a federal office in this age of political correctness.

But this clerk felt it was okay to state that Jews own America.  Attacks against Jews today – verbally or otherwise – seemingly are politically correct.

Moreover, an age-old stereotype I thought had been thoroughly debunked apparently has not been.  Jewish (and other) agencies that help the poor have thousands of Jewish clients in my region alone.  I wonder if that postal clerk knows about them.

What was said to me was not nearly as dangerous as imams in California stating that Jews should be annihilated, or neo-Nazis in Charlottesville trying to scare and intimidate Jews in a synagogue.  It is not nearly as repugnant as those who support the anti-Jewish "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" movement that is the "in" thing on many campuses, nor paying Palestinian-Arabs a reward for murdering Jews in the streets throughout Israel – rewards funded by American tax dollars.  Those literally are existential threats.  But it was shocking nonetheless.

So after I took a millisecond to process the canard, I said, rather sternly: "Excuse me?!"

The clerk paused, snickered, and said: "Well, you know.  I was just making a joke."

"It's not funny," I told her.

I needed to rush back to work.  Plus, I figured, without a dozen witnesses confirming what occurred, the chances of anything meaningful happening to a civil service employee making an anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish person are slim to none.  So in the immediate moment, I did nothing.

But several days later, with some regret and circumspection (and at the urging of friends), I went back and spoke to the postmaster.  I told him I was not looking to get anyone fired, but the remark was crude and should not be tolerated.

He was emotionless.  No sense of surprise, anger, or anything else.  He assured me that he would talk to all of the counter clerks.  I told him it was only one clerk who made the remark.  "I'll talk to all of them."

Despite a federal employee's insistence that I am a land baron who owns half of our great nation, unfortunately, I'm not.  But what she did tell me that was certainly accurate is that Jew-hatred is alive, well, and out in the open, and those who harbor Jew-hatred feel free to pronounce it without a care in the world.

America is rapidly changing.  Europe already has changed, and its Jews are fleeing.  Jewish Americans and our non-Jewish friends have a lot of work to do – perhaps more so than ever before in America – to stamp out Jew-hatred.

All it took was a minute in the Post Office to remind me.

Steve Feldman is proudly American and proudly Jewish!

"Steve Feldman, land baron!"

It has a nice ring to it as I say it out loud.

Of course, it is patently untrue.  But that did not stop a United States Postal Service clerk from not only thinking I am a land baron, but also telling me so to my face.

I went into the post office (where I go multiple times a week) near my workplace to mail some items and to buy some stamps.  Usually, I buy either rolls of flag stamps or the sheets that feature America's national parks.

I approached the counter and asked for 100 national park stamps (which were not part of the display of stamps for sale!) when I noticed a stamp that caught my eye.  It looked to my tired eyes to depict a field and two rock formations.  I asked the clerk what the stamp was.

"That is the new Andrew Wyeth," she said.  "Would you like those instead?"

Nothing against the local renowned painter, but "no," I replied.  "I'll stick with the national park stamps."  I added: "I'd rather show off the natural beauty of our country."

"Yes, you probably own half of it," she replied.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted.  This clerk waits on me often as I mail items with a return address from a Jewish agency.  My name is another giveaway.  There is no doubt that the uncivil civil servant realizes that I am Jewish.

I have had pennies thrown at me.  I've been called "kike" and "dirty Jew" and "Jew bastard" more times than I care to count.  I've had "Jew" painted in red on a former car.  In my former career as a reporter, I covered Klan rallies, Farrakhan events, and assorted neo-Nazi gatherings, and I have been in the presence of even worse – such as the time a Jew-hater told me, "I'm going to cut off your head and spit down your throat!"

More recently, I have been at countless anti-Israel demonstrations to monitor them or lead pro-Israel counter-demonstrations – and I have heard it all and then some.

But none of those epithets or other instances of Jew-hatred disturbed me as much as what this postal clerk said to me.

While at the events noted above, Jew-hatred was to be expected, it was not to be expected at a federal office in this age of political correctness.

But this clerk felt it was okay to state that Jews own America.  Attacks against Jews today – verbally or otherwise – seemingly are politically correct.

Moreover, an age-old stereotype I thought had been thoroughly debunked apparently has not been.  Jewish (and other) agencies that help the poor have thousands of Jewish clients in my region alone.  I wonder if that postal clerk knows about them.

What was said to me was not nearly as dangerous as imams in California stating that Jews should be annihilated, or neo-Nazis in Charlottesville trying to scare and intimidate Jews in a synagogue.  It is not nearly as repugnant as those who support the anti-Jewish "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" movement that is the "in" thing on many campuses, nor paying Palestinian-Arabs a reward for murdering Jews in the streets throughout Israel – rewards funded by American tax dollars.  Those literally are existential threats.  But it was shocking nonetheless.

So after I took a millisecond to process the canard, I said, rather sternly: "Excuse me?!"

The clerk paused, snickered, and said: "Well, you know.  I was just making a joke."

"It's not funny," I told her.

I needed to rush back to work.  Plus, I figured, without a dozen witnesses confirming what occurred, the chances of anything meaningful happening to a civil service employee making an anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish person are slim to none.  So in the immediate moment, I did nothing.

But several days later, with some regret and circumspection (and at the urging of friends), I went back and spoke to the postmaster.  I told him I was not looking to get anyone fired, but the remark was crude and should not be tolerated.

He was emotionless.  No sense of surprise, anger, or anything else.  He assured me that he would talk to all of the counter clerks.  I told him it was only one clerk who made the remark.  "I'll talk to all of them."

Despite a federal employee's insistence that I am a land baron who owns half of our great nation, unfortunately, I'm not.  But what she did tell me that was certainly accurate is that Jew-hatred is alive, well, and out in the open, and those who harbor Jew-hatred feel free to pronounce it without a care in the world.

America is rapidly changing.  Europe already has changed, and its Jews are fleeing.  Jewish Americans and our non-Jewish friends have a lot of work to do – perhaps more so than ever before in America – to stamp out Jew-hatred.

All it took was a minute in the Post Office to remind me.

Steve Feldman is proudly American and proudly Jewish!

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