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ibstubro's avatar

Would you kill yourself because someone was spreading a rumor that you were Jewish? [Details required?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) April 2nd, 2015

Sorry to ask a question that has such local details, but I think it’s an important discussion.

MO Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican candidate for Missouri Governor committed suicide 2–26-15. Almost immediately the media began reporting that Schweich was upset because there was a whisper campaign that Schweich was Jewish.
Democratic party leader John Hancock was blamed for the Jewish whisper campaign.
Republican lawmakers in Missouri are calling for the resignation of state party chair John Hancock, after allegations surfaced that he spread anti-Semitic rumors that contributed to the suicide of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Schweich..

Okay. So, what am I missing? Last I looked, this is not Nazi Germany and being having rumors that you’re Jewish is not grounds for shame, much less death by your own hand. I’m not Jewish, but even I resent the implication that it’s something to be deeply ashamed of.

How has the media perpetuated this without being soundly called out on the hypocrisy?

Thanks, if you’ve made it this far.

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23 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

John Hancock is the chairman of the Missouri REPUBLICAN Party.

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @jaytkay. My poor homework. Since the Republican’s were calling for his resignation, I punted with Democratic. I actually read my OP, thought “Oh, no, the GOP can’t be against the GOP,” and, knee-jerk, changed his affiliation.
It seemed like the question took way too long to frame, but I was trying to get it as succinct as possible, given how local the news might be.

I don’t know that the basic question is changed by party affiliation, however?

ragingloli's avatar

You would have to be pretty certain that such a rumor would destroy your life to commit suicide over it.
Not sure if either Hancock or Schweich was antisemitic, but I think it is quite likely that both believed that their constituents were antisemitic.
Hancock, to think that these rumors would have an effect in his favour, and Schweich, to believe it would make him unelectable.
So all of this might show that Republican politicians think that Republican voters are all antisemitic.

ibstubro's avatar

Pretty keen observation, @ragingloli.
May I suggest the refinement of:
“So all of this might show that Missouri Republican politicians think that Republican voters are all antisemitic.”?

Darth_Algar's avatar

“actually read my OP, thought “Oh, no, the GOP can’t be against the GOP,”

They can. Like during the 2000 primaries when Bush campaigners in the deep south were spreading the word about John McCain’s black baby. Granted that’s a situation between candidates vying for the same position, but just shows that kind of inter-party nastiness is not unheard of.

ragingloli's avatar

Another indication of what republican campaign strategists think about the views of republican voters.
sure, why not. question is, are the strategists correct in their assessment of republican voters?
I say, yes, they are.

skfinkel's avatar

I might be biased because I am Jewish, but I think one would have to have other problems as well to commit suicide. If he was actually Jewish, and didn’t know it, it seems like a bizarre reaction. (Madeline Albright found out her parents were both Jewish, and it didn’t send her off the deep end.) I suspect he had lots of other psychological problems going on.

JLeslie's avatar

This is so ridiculous. If he wants to kill himself over this let him. I don’t think the other guy should have to resign. It sounds like he did have some Jewish ancestors.

I can’t imagine this one thing drive him to take his life. There has to be other things too.

Maybe I read too fast, but why did the “rumor” start? How did it even come up?

zenvelo's avatar

In Missouri it makes you unelectable to be called Jewish. It’s the opposite of California where we find that admirable but calling a candidate fundamentalist would lose that person a state wide vote.

@JLeslie, it was started as a whisper campaign so he would not get any GOP support.

Pandora's avatar

Yeah, I don’t see why anyone would kill themselves over that. Even if it killed his career. Unless of course he was a Natzi follower and he was afraid he would loose everyone important to him (fellow Natzi wife and kids and friends) if it got revealed that he was actually of Jewish descendant and he was pretending to be German or Polish Christian.

Most people would just go to another party if they felt it wasn’t going to work out.
Only other thing I can think of is that he may have been afraid of losing his job because he was deep in debt. Wouldn’t be the first guy to kill himself for fear of losing all his possessions.

Or it could be he was just mentally ill and couldn’t handle any adversity in his current condition. People commit suicide for so many reasons. Divorce, career, secrets being revealed, shame, losing your kids in a custody battle, death in the family, loneliness, health issues, or depression. This may have simply been the final straw.

filmfann's avatar

While this story was happening, I was sure I was missing a code word for child molester. On its face, it makes no sense to me.

Safie's avatar

I don’t know that i would go as far as killing myself for that or i would hope not for anything for that matter, I mean him killing himself what does it prove?... to me it actually makes him look more guilty that the rumor may hold some truth, the dead cannot defend themselves, so killing himself over this is sad I guess in his mind he would much rather be dead than be called a Jew /associated with being a Jew, and that’s a pretty extreme measure to take, but what he did does not help him or those who are left behind, guess the Jews are still very much a hated people so to speak.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora You said unless he was actually of Jewish descendant and he was pretending. He was a Jewish descendent on his father’s side. He can have Jewish bloodlines and be a Christian. This is why I tell Jews that even if they aren’t religious, and don’t care about their Jewish identity, they still might as well tell their kids they will be hated just for being born to a Jewish line of people. Antisemitism is probably part of what keeps the Jewish religion alive.

@zenvelo So what. If telling his constituents he’s Jewish means they won’t vote for him then I really don’t care. I remember the first time I saw a political ad that talked about the candidate being Christian, or having Christian values I thought to myself, where am I? Bible Belt. He certainly could have done something to show he is a practicing Christian. The Christians like the Jews right now. They think we are chosen, they assume we believe in God. We are perceived as being on the side of good against the Arabs and Muslims. Not that I am saying the “Jews” are against the Arabs and Muslims at large, but the Evangelicals see it more black and white than I do.

I read up on him a little more and I don’t think he himself was antisemitic at all. It sounds to me like dishonesty and corruption pained him greatly, I can identify with that, and he was having trouble dealing with it. I might be projecting, but that’s how it seemed to me.

He went to Yankee Ivy League schools, you know, where all those Jews go and Obama (and Bush) freely admitted to the press his paternal grandfather was Jewish. His mistake was choosing an antisemitic party I guess? Not that the Republicans are all antisemitic, far from it, but in his part of the country I guess maybe enough are.

I highly doubt he killed himself only because some yahoos thought he was Jewish. I think it was a combination of pressures including maybe the idea the race was slipping away for him.

Politicians know there will be negative ads and false statements about them that they will have to deal with. He couldn’t deal well I guess. I do have some empathy for the man if that was the case. It isn’t uncommon for men to be depressed and even suicidal when their “jobs” aren’t working out, or worse they lose their job. Especially, if they are going to hit a difficult financial time because of it. I have no idea his financial situation.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

If I was him, I would be way more upset with myself doing such a crappy job as the U.S. Coordinator for Counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan.
Opium production in Afghanistan is breaking records, year after year, and the President of Afghanistans bother has been tied to heroin trafficking and the CIA.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I read about this in the paper.

There has to be something more about this that we (the public) have not been told. There is some sort of sub-story that clearly connects the two suicides – and my guess is that it has nothing at all to do with being or not being Jewish. I have no idea what it is, but this whole story just seems really shaky to me.

Let’s examine the Jewish aspect. Although there are anti-semites all over the place, I doubt they are worse in Missouri than, say, Texas or Georgia or Mississippi, or for that matter, Massachusetts. And even if that were so, there are a large number of highly religious fundamentalists and pentacostalist christian religions that see Jews as the original christians, and therefore revere them (even though they want to convert them).

So just being labelled as having Jewish background seems like a flimsy reason for shame and killing yourself.

There’s something else going on. MY guess is that its more likely to be that there’s some sort of terribly embarrassing sexual misdeed going on – maybe the politician was photographed having sex with dogs, or maybe incest, or something that could never, ever be explained away. Or maybe they were in some sort of drug distribution ring?

Bottom line, to me, is that this doesn’t add up. There is something else that has nothing to do with being or not being Jewish.

jaytkay's avatar

I’m another one who believes that there’s more to the story. I don’t think being Jewish would repel a lot of voters, and it certainly wouldn’t be any kind of disgrace. Possibly he could have used his Hebrew heritage as a positive among Missouri voters.

Republicans evangelicals are rather obsessed with Israel. Republican politicians pander to that.

In a 2013 poll “Eighty-two percent of white evangelicals believe Israel was given to the Jews by God. Among Jews, only 40 percent find a divine hand behind a Jewish Israel.”

My guess is the guy was severely depressed and near suicide already. Maybe he was irrationally tipped over the edge by the rumor, or he left the accusation as a final “f*ck you!” to make trouble for Hancock. Or the auditor had a really scandalous secret that we don’t know.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, evangelical Christians “like” Jews insofar as they believe Jews must be in Israel in order for Christ to return. Aside from that many (if not most), in my experience, still view Jews as sneaky, not-to-be-trusted scoundrels who’d sell their children for a dollar (to put their view mildly).

ibstubro's avatar

I was a Missouri voter for 20+ years and I wouldn’t have given any weight to Jewish heritage, pro or con.

JLeslie's avatar

@Darth_Algar I never really thought about that way, but I’d have to agree that is probably true for a lot of people. We are just the slaves to bring the second coming; not someone to vote for to be a political representative.

Still, it’s worth saying many Christians are not antisemitic and do vote for Jews. It’s just that part of the country has a lot of bible thumpers.

Uasal's avatar

I’m confused. I thought Republicans liked Jews. Isn’t that why we’re giving all that money to Israel?

ibstubro's avatar

I was confused, too, @Uasal.
Actually, to me, it seems somehow inherently racist to imply that a man would take his own life rather than be considered Jewish, irregardless of the circumstances.

Uasal's avatar

Stu, I love you.
Please stop saying “irregardless”. It gives me hives.

ibstubro's avatar

No promises. :-D

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