The Upside of the Madoff Mishegoss

Thank Bernie for reminding us that Jews shouldn't be WASPs
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2009 11:42 AM CST
Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, left, leaves US District Court in Manhattan escorted by US Marshals after a bail hearing in New York, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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(Newser) – Bernie Madoff, the professionally dishonest, gelt-grubbing financier, seems to conform to some of the worst stereotypes about Jews and money, writes Joseph Epstein in Newsweek. While Madoff appears to have made a particular specialty of swindling fellow Jews, he is actually less anti-Semite than "truly equal-opportunity son of a bitch." But for Epstein, the Madoff affair may have an ironic upside: a deceleration of "the WASP-ification of well-to-do Jews in America."

These days affluent Jews have undergone a "country-club drift," with kids named Hunter and Mackenzie and an "unseemly" mania for golf, writes Epstein—"a phrase like 'dogleg to the left' should never pass a Jew's lips." If Madoff's mega-scam drives a few Jews off the golf course and forces their children to work for a living, that may be no bad thing, Epstein claims; it reminds Jews that "life isn't going to be a smooth swim."