Commentaries

WBUR Contributor Calls Out North Square Posting As Anti-Semitic

WBUR contributor, Erika Fine, says that a longtime posting, “THE NORTH SQUARE – Where it all began…” on the exterior of Sacred Heart Church in North Square is anti-semitic. She highlights the following historical description of Jews that settled in the North End.

[highlight]“Jews were also prominently present, especially around the Salem Street area, providing services and goods in their inimitable way.”[/highlight]

Ms. Fine takes aim at the phrase “in their inimitable way,” questioning whether such a reference to a non-Jewish group would be tolerated.

The sign reminds me that, even in America, even in a dynamic, progressive city like the new Boston, Jews might still, to some extent, be considered “other,” a group with its own “inimitable way,” a group that is not unequivocally part of the city or nation in which we live.

According to Merriam-Webster, “inimitable” is defined as “not capable of being imitated” as used in the context, “her own inimitable style.”

The freelance editor says she first saw the posting twenty years ago before returning more recently to seek it out again. She describes her surprise that the board has lasted through so many years of change in Boston.

Granted, the sign’s subtle anti-Semitism certainly wasn’t the overt and malicious brand that is the hallmark of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Nor was it the more genteel “country club” anti-Semitism of exclusion. Instead, the sign exemplified a milder brand of stereotyping — “good with money” or “sharp in business.”

Concluding with references to recent and historic targeting of Jews for murder, the author believes the posting is a form of anti-Semitism and should be removed.

Taken to an extreme, that “otherness” is what made possible the massacre of Jews in World War II and the willingness of ordinary citizens to let it happen and even participate.

The column does not mention whether the author reached out to the church or otherwise filed a complaint to have the post removed or the language revised.

Read the full article at WBUR’s website.

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One Reply to “WBUR Contributor Calls Out North Square Posting As Anti-Semitic

  1. Two different people could see this remark as a compliment. Inimitable means high quality; not easily imitated. Substitute other ethnic groups in the place of Jews, and we see the innocence of the remark. The sign is a part of history and is not meant to stereotype an ethnic group.

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