Comment is Free published today, Bernie Madoff, Bad for the Jews, a slightly different version of a post I published here just after the Madoff scandal began. While I’m not surprised at the high number of deleted comments which apparently were anti-Semitic, I AM surprised at the number of commenters who argue that Madoff’s Jewishness and the religion of many of his clients has nothing to do with the story. One commenter argues that if Madoff weren’t Jewish I’d be writing the story quite differently. But that’s the point, isn’t it? He IS Jewish.
Are we so frightened of anti-Semitism that we should cover this story without making reference to Madoff’s religion? Even if he himself used his religion as part of the marketing of his financial empire? I’m not prepared to look at every incident as to whether it’s good or bad for the Jews (I didn’t choose the CiF title for my piece by the way). I’m not prepared to quake at the possibility that anti-Semites will come out of woodwork when we discuss this matter. Let them. If we DIDN’T discuss this, then the anti-Semites would point that out as well and they’d be right to do so. We have nothing to hide and nothing for which to be afraid or ashamed. It is vital that Madoff’s crimes be discussed and lessons learned including ones that relate specifically to the Jewish world.
Bernie the Ganoff will be his name from now on
Jeanne Capozzoli says
While we all are saddened, embarrassed, disgusted etc. when one of our sex, ethnic group, race, religion, etc. commit some criminal or unethical act, we are all very much aware that the rest of that group should not be judged by the act of one. Scam artists come from every religion. While Bernie Madoff is Jewish, the orgininator of the Ponzi scheme was Italian.
In reading about the Madoff mess, one cannot help but notice and admire the huge sums many Jews contribute to charitable causes.
John Dickerson says
“While I’m not surprised at the high number of deleted comments which apparently were anti-Semitic……”
It would not surprise me if a significant number of the deletions were of posts made by potty-mouthed B**l Pe**lm*n and his ilk. Do they not allow you to see the deleted comments? They certainly should. What if a deleted comment contains threats against you and/or your family?
James R. Becraft says
Madoff might have worn the label of “Jew”, but he was just about as “Jewish” as some “Christians” are “Christian” or as some “Muslims” are “Muslims.”
If justice, righteousness, love for all mankind are at the heart of each of these “paths,” clearly those who “claim” the title are often hypocrites and unworthy of the labels they choose to use as describing themselves.
Madoff’s crime was a crime against humanity and a crime against what many of us believe worthy of the character of G-d.
The ilk would use Madoff as an excuse for anti-semitism need to rethink their positions.
My take on Madoff and American Jewish Response:
Tom Buckner says
I think the Madoff affair is a reminder that society is continually undermined by a nefarious minority.
That minority is…
This is not a joke, not a metaphor. Mental health professionals will tell you that perhaps as many as 4% of the general population are abnormal; they lack a conscience and think only of their own pleasure. Their only true feelings seem to be happiness when they win and rage when they don’t get their way. Apparently there are fewer sociopaths in a society like Japan, where individual aggrandizement is frowned upon. In America, sociopaths took over the entire government and stole all they could. Does Bush look like he feels even a tiny twitch of guilt over Iraq or New Orleans? I repeat: I’m not joking!
I have suggested elsewhere that anyone who wishes to be put in a position of responsibility should pass tests designed to detect sociopathy, such as the Hare PCL-R.
I would confidently predict that Mr. Obama would easily pass the Hare, that Bush and Cheney would clearly fail, as would many of their associates. I don’t know enough about Mr. Madoff to say whether he is a sociopath. But you probably can’t swing a cat on Wall Street without hitting a few.
Madoff or Ripoff as he should be known and his so-called fellow investment associates should be thrown into jail and the key should be lost. What is he doing out on bail? All these professionals, fooled? by his Bull-Shit, were taking fees for “managing” your investments. They, as well should be locked up for not doing anything for these ill-earned fees? and ripping off their investors.Fund of a fund? Just an excuse to take your money and now they are putting all the blame on Madoff.
Throw them all into jail and confiscate all of their assets and also their families’ assets.
Tom Buckner says
I was thinking today, BTW, about how so many knowledgeable investors could fall for a Ponzi scheme. It seems to me that Madoff invented a new wrinkle; call it a Stealth Ponzi Scheme.
How is it different from an old-fashioned Ponzi, that wouldn’t have fooled most of these people?
1. The victims often appear on TV clutching computer printouts that look completely legitimate, even to stockbrokers. Madoff’s fund never claimed to be something new and amazing. It presented itself as something very like any other fund.
2. The returns against the investment were not unusually large. Again, it masqueraded as a normal fund.
3. It traded on the allegedly impeccable reputation of a man who headed one of the main stock markets. We can see in this case how important reputation is!
Trollope’s great 1875 novel “The Way We Live Now” demonstrates that this sort of fiasco is not new in the world.
Sadly, I think some people ARE afraid of being cast as anti-semitic, due in large part to the political culture which tries to label every criticism as anti-semitism and in doing so, diminishes the seriousness of *real* anti-semitism when and where it is present.
The real tragedy here is that many Jewish philanthropists (groups, organizations and individuals) were scammed by Madoff and I was watching a news program last night where a spokesperson for one such Jewish charitable organization said that many of the groups put their money into Madoff’s investments because he was Jewish and they trusted him- for those people, the betrayal must have been very difficult. So, given that, it would seem that Madoff’s being Jewish does matter to a certain degree.
“Ripoff” alias Madoff is still not in jail 🙁
he has admitted his guilt so why is he still out of jail? No trial needed as he has said by his own admission that he is guilty.
we only need a sentencing panel. No plea bargaining necessary and fellow criminals Noel and others should also be in jail ASAP. All monies received by employees and families should be returned together with inflated salaries received for doing nothing.
With over 30 years experience in investing I make myself available if needed?
and remember 40 years ago we had another Bernie!
Bernie Cornfeld and Roberto Vesco with IOS
and and who cares if Madoff is or was Jewish……personally i think that it is pretty narrow minded even caring what his religion or colour is……if a “black” guy does something wrong the media always says “black” however if a white guy does the same tort i never see the word “white”. Then again I am not American and you will now have a “black” president and it just sounds totally stupid to classifiy Obama as “black” as he is half “white” and half “black”. So to come back to Madoff and his Jewish roots, if he were a WASP i suppose that nothing would be said? 😉 and therefore to resume : America is more concerned with the wrong and rights of the minorities than the majority. The “melting pot theory” no longer works 🙁 because too many exceptions set by the minorities and considered by the politians are accepted in order to get votes. “Full” passports should never have been issued to non-Americans and indeed in the case of other countries too, without a transition period for the “new” citizen of intergration that should include mastering the local language and culture. Too late now for America and Europe to put back the clock and one day soon the minorities will become the new majority and history will again repeat itself.