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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy New Year, Felix

Well, it seems that Virginia Sen. George Allen won't be celebrating Rosh Hashana this weekend, despite his recent discovery that his mother's family was Jewish. The Washington Post actually interviewed Allen's mother for this piece, where she says that she kept her religion a secret because she was afraid her husband's family wouldn't stand for it:

Allen's mother said she first began concealing her Jewish roots after meeting her future husband, afraid that she would not be accepted by his parents and fearful that her religion could harm his budding coaching career, which started at Whittier College, a school in Southern California founded by Quakers.

"He didn't want me to tell his mother," she said of the elder George Allen. "At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the church." Allen died in 1990.


Now, Allen has defended himself during the "macaca" incident by repeatedly waxing rhapsodic about how in his house, the meritocracy of the football field reigned. And yet, his own parents kept his mother's Jewish heritage a secret out of fear of other people in the family. Maybe Allen Sr. really did blaze a new, more tolerant course in raising his own offspring, although young George's fascination with the Confederate flag would seem to run counter to that.

In reading this article, one thing struck me: Allen's Jewish grandfather, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis, a story that Allen often mentions on the campaign trail. Allen's own middle name is Felix, presumably after Lumbroso.

But unlike many other lawmakers -- who revel in using their full names, with middle initial and the occasional "Jr." in tow, Allen doesn't go by "George F. Allen." In fact, Allen insists that the "F." not be used, and will go so far as to have his staff call reporters and needle them about it. Admittedly, "Felix" is not the world's coolest name, and Allen hay have many reasons to leave it out of his political persona. But given the powerful nature of his grandfather's experience, one wonders why he wouldn't try to extend the old man's memory a place of honor.

What's depressing about the whole thing has nothing to do with politics, but rather with a family's reluctance to embrace a part of its history. Allen's mother obviously felt that being Jewish was something to hide. Is it any surprise, then, that her son feels the need to boast about her "great pork chops?"

2 Comments:

Blogger Barking Up Trees said...

i'd say allen's a douche bag but i don't know if "douche" isn't yiddish...

9/26/2006 12:37 AM  
Blogger Barking Up Trees said...

... for something else...

9/26/2006 11:43 AM  

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