Fred Malek and the Jews: Give it up, already
05/26/2010 - 11:13
James Besser

Am I the only person who's really, really tired of the Fred Malek story, which resurfaces every few years when Jewish Democrats think they need some new ammo to use against their Republican foes – as if they needed any, given the fact Jews continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic?

Okay, the guy worked for the worst anti-Semite in White House history, President Richard Nixon, and he complied when Nixon demanded a count of Jews working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of Nixon's demented obsession with punishing his enemies.

But Malek apologized, he hasn't offended the Jewish community in any other way since then, and let's face it: there were a LOT of people in the Nixon administration who must have witnessed their boss's anti-Jewish rantings and did or said nothing, and went on to have perfectly respectable careers.

Wait, not all; Pat Buchanan was also at the Nixon White House and went on to be a serial offender of the Jewish community, his latest offense being his complaint that there are too many Jews on the Supreme Court. But I digress.

The latest chapter in the Malek front started when Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, appointed him to a commission charged with reforming state government – which, the way the ultra-conservative McDonnell thinks, probably means cutting it down to almost nothing.

State Democrats, in an almost Pavlovian response, jumped on McDonnell with a reprise of Malek charges that had a distinctly broken record quality to them.

Interestingly, I haven't heard from a single Jewish group complaining about the appointment. When I wrote a profile of Malek in 1989, I noted that “Jewish leaders who have dealt with Fred Malek admit that there is no way to know what is inside the man's heart. But the weight of evidence, they suggest, points to a lack of any pattern of anti-Semitism in Malek's past.”

But like heartburn, the Malek story keeps coming back every time his name pops up in the news.

Today's Washington Post reports that McDonnell is pleading ignorance about the Malek controversy.  Seems like a silly distraction from McDonnell's primary job - making  Virginia a political Garden of Eden for his conservative Christian buddies.

Personally, I just don't care. I would like to hear Malek comment on Nixon's anti-Semitism, but that's true of a lot of aging officials left over from that best-forgotten administration. I just don't see the point in raking up the old Fred Malek story and tossing it around like a political grenade, year after year.

 

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