Thursday, July 09, 2015

Kirchner's Shakespearean failure 

 This story about Kirchner's antisemitic fulminations:

 Argentine President Cristina Kirchner made an anti-Semitic remark during a visit to a high school that has infuriated the Jewish community in Argentina.
Last week, Kirchner said that in order to understand the economic situation in the country, pupils should read Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, a play by the Bard where Jews are described as scheming, vindictive, greedy money-lenders. [-]
In one of her tweets, she recounted how she asked children she met which Shakespeare play they were reading. The answer: Romeo and Juliet. “I said, have you read The Merchant of Venice to understand the vulture funds.
They all laughed,” she tweeted.“No, don’t laugh. Usury and the bloodsuckers were immortalized by the best literature for centuries,” she wrote in another tweet.

I never understand how both Anti-semites and Jews fail to read what the play actually says and shows, to realize that it does not immortalize the Jew as usurer bloodsucker. It actually works AGAINST this stereotype. Shylock is interesting precisely because he does not fit the stereotype Jewish moneylender. Had he been true to the stereotype, he would have accepted, happily, the offer of 3X the loan of 3,000 ducats he had given to Bassanio in return for his bond. Think about it: the moneylender Jew refused 12,000 ducats, a fortune and a windfall in those times. Let's not forget that at the time of the offer, he was totally destitute. Remember his daughter Jessica, who had run away with a Christian lover, robbed her father of all the money she could find in his safe, as well as jewelry he had kept from her mother. Remember, he also owed 3,000 ducats to his friend Tubal from whom he had to borrow the money to give to Bassanio. So what does a calculating, shrewd, money-grabbing Jew do but reject 12,000 ducats in return for tearing up a bond that would give him nothing but a pound of Antonio's carrion flesh? How is the portrait of such a Jew useful for Kirchner's message of Jews as controlling the banks and responsible for banking corruption?


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