For about two years, while I was in college, I was a rabid bigot against Jews.
September 1973 began my freshman year of college. 40% of the student body of this elite, private university were Jews.
On Yom Kippur (October 6), a coalition of Arab nations surprise-attacked Israel, on the holiest day of the Jewish year. Much of that portion of the student body who were Jews, practically rose up. It was as if they wished the war were being fought on campus. As to a Red Cross blood drive, some men insisted they’d only donate if their own blood were sent directly to the front lines. An inscription over the front of the interfaith chapel read, “Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peoples;” an Israeli flag was hung to cover it.
One would be confronted angrily — and often — by Jews demanding to know one’s side. Everyone had to have a side, and it had best be the right side. Indifference or neutrality were not tolerated.
The breaking point, for me, came one night in a conversation in the dorm. It involved me, a born-again Christian; freshman dorm-mate Mike, an apostate Irish Catholic who normally bullied me; and Steve, an upperclass, blue-eyed Jew who wore his frizzy blonde hair in a big ‘fro. Mike said he was favoring Israel because he believed in freedom of religion; I nodded. Steve shot back, “The average Israeli is no more Jewish than you.” No more Jewish than two Christians? Mike and I just looked at each other.
The war ended on October 25, but my anger at this treatment boiled on for, as I said, a couple years. I did horrible things — none public, none ever known, but I did them. Such hatred of anyone was wholly alien to my background. I continued to be active in Christian social groups, but felt that I had turned my back on God’s love.
Four men who were Jews befriended me. There was Alan, the frum (Orthodox )Jew; Mike, the practicing Buddhist; Roy, the apostate Buddhist; and Doug, the atheist. Four very different men, all Jews. The accepted me as I am; they let me be who I am; it is notable that none of them was particularly zealous about the war.
I had felt my Christianity was lost. Four Jews gave it back to me.
This does not fit the classical model of bigotry, which I will shortly speak to elsewhere. It does show what happens when folk consistently violate the conscience of the naive. So, to my mind, likewise did the zealous dogmatism of political correctness that prevailed from 2014 to 2016 provoke the reaction that elected Donald Trump.