Here’s a bad idea: If you’re ever negotiating a personal injury settlement, and you think the other side isn’t giving you what you deserve, don’t say they’re trying to “Jew you down.”
Here’s another bad idea: If someone says that, don’t defend it.
The anti-Semitic comment was allegedly made by Kathy McBride, the president of the Trenton City Council in New Jersey, earlier this month. She was referring to a Jewish lawyer. She insists those things are not connected.
But her colleagues are now saying she didn’t really mean it like that and the bigger concern is how comments made during a private meeting were leaked to the public:
“We really need to get a more acute meaning and understanding of ‘anti-Semitic,’” Vaughn wrote in comments on Facebook responding to questions from constituents about the controversy, which were obtained by The Trentonian. “I believe her comment ‘Jew down’ was more in reference to negotiating not ‘I hate Jews.’ Inappropriate in today’s PC culture absolutely, but to Jew someone down is a verb and is not-anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people.”
Another council member, George Muschal, said the phrase was “just a statement of speech.”
As far as I can tell, none of McBride’s defenders are Jewish.
She hasn’t apologized publicly either, claiming she shouldn’t have to say she’s sorry for something she said behind closed doors (during an executive session). But she and Muschal apparently apologized to the Jewish attorney on Monday.
Still, the idea that she was merely negotiating with a Jewish lawyer and not saying anything beyond that is about as convincing as saying, “I’m not racist! I have black friends!” It’s hard to plead ignorance about the phrase when the word “Jew” is literally in it.
For anyone who says it’s just a verb, even Dictionary.com says the use of the word that way is considered “offensive.”