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Intellectual Garbage Cleanup: Gene Epstein Edition

Avadim Hayinu l'Pharaoh b'Mitzrayim

Josh Micah Marshall writes:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: September 17, 2006 - September 23, 2006 Archives: The Post has a follow-up in Thursday's paper on the Allen 'I didn't know I was Jewish' saga. Staff writer Michael D. Shear interviews Allen's mom, Henrietta "Etty" Allen nee Lumbroso....

Lumbroso was raised as a Jew in Tunisia. But when she came to the US and married George's dad she pretended to be a Christian because she didn't think her husband's family would accept her and also because she didn't want her family to experience what she experienced in World War II. So she never told her family, until George confronted her about it last month. She admitted it was true. She said she was afraid he didn't love her anymore. But no, he said, "Mom, I respect you more than ever."...

At the debate a few days ago Allen said "My mother's French-Italian with a little Spanish blood in her. And I was raised as she was, as far as I know, raised as a Christian." That wasn't true of course. She'd already told him she was raised as a Jew. But that's okay because she'd sworn him to secrecy after the conversation in August.

Some more texturey details come through even in the carmelized narrative. As Shear writes "She said that she and the senator's father, famed former Redskins coach George Allen, had wanted [keep her Jewish ancestry a secret] to protect their children from living with the fear that she had experienced during World War II." Further down, there's a slightly different explanation.... Speaking of Allen's father, she says, "He didn't want me to tell his mother. At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the [Catholic] church."...

One of my failings as a reporter, when I was doing that as my full time gig, was my lack of sufficient cynicism: I remember back in 2001 sitting in the home of a retired ambassador and having him lie to my face. Of course, I didn't realize it then. I couldn't get my head around the idea he was just straight out lying to me....

I might be willing to believe that Allen's mother never told him her family was Jewish. I'm not silly enough to believe he didn't know. I've learned a few lessons.

For an "normal" California teenager like George Allen was once to sign up with the Confederacy is weird and creepy. For a half-Jewish California teenager to sign up with the Confederacy...

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