I should probably flag right at the beginning of this post that I am on heavy doses of cold medicine, though I will confess that this is something I have wondered about for some time.
Obviously having negative ideas about an entire race is racist.
If someone truly admires, say, Native Americans and finds them totally spiritual and groovy and adapts their rituals into spiritual practices that have lost something in translation, I think that's sort of lame and I understand the argument that it is racist, though I don't know that I 100 percent agree.
I absolutely get that it's annoying.
But I will confess that I've always thought that Jews were cool, collectively, as a people. And I wonder if that's racist of me. I don't have any specific expectations for any specific Jewish person whom I meet, but my overall impression is that Jews are funnier, more down to earth and miles hipper than people of my WASPy background. Many of the Jews I know have a very cool sense of identity, one that I've written before that I envied as a kid and probably on some level still do if this is the post I write when the DayQuil kicks in.
I personally don't feel this is racist of me. But I can't explain why I don't.
There are likely cultural reasons why Jews seem cool. My impression is that as a culture they value scholarship, maintaining the integrity of their group and a humor that manages to be self-deprecating without ever getting lame. (My observation is that much WASP self-deprecating humor quickly becomes tiresome.) Their cultural image is one of wry steadfastness. As one hears it, every Jewish holiday can be summed up in seven words: "they attacked us, we won, let's eat."
But the cultural justifications are not enough to make the general belief that Jews are cool not racist.
Because, to put it blunty, the assumption that Asians are good at math is pretty racist. One could argue that this assumption is a cultural thing given that Americans have the impression that Asian parents push their kids very hard to excel academically. But still, the general assumption has a racist feel.
To me thinking Jews are cool doesn't feel racist.
Is that just me fooling myself? If not, what's the difference?