Oh No Jew Di'nt!

Hear about those two South Carolina GOP officials who wrote an op-ed defending Senator Jim DeMint by saying he's like a Jew "watching our pennies?" Oh, man, with friends like these.
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Hear about those two South Carolina GOP officials who wrote that op-ed defending Senator Jim DeMint? Oh, man, with friends like these.

If you haven't read it yet, here's the opener by Edwin O. Merwin, Jr. and James S. Ulmer, Jr.:

Recently your newspaper published a letter from state Rep. Bakari Sellers attacking U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and his opposition to congressional earmarks. There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves.

That can't really be a saying, can it? I mean, with that tortured sentence structure? A cursory search of the internets reveals that it was apparently Ben Franklin who said the actual phrase that Merwin and Ulmer think they're quoting: "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." But, as you can see, no Jews mentioned. Let's keep digging...

Seems Lord Chesterfield used the phrase in a letter to his son in 1747. "Take care of the Pence, for the pounds will take care of themselves." No Jews mentioned here either. Drat. Can never find an anti-Semite when you need one (Ed. Note: this is not actually a true statement).

If William Safire were still alive he would surely remind his compatriots in political rightery that George Bernard Shaw wrote, in Pygmalion, "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves is as true of personal habits as of money." No Jew here either. But, then again, Shaw also said that most of the victims of the concentration camps had died of overcrowding, so maybe he had Jews on his mind.

Merwin and Ulmer are perpetrating an old and insidious form of anti-Semitism that points a crooked finger at the Jews who apparently only care about money. Deny it if you want, but that's the subtext of this so-called "saying" that the firm of Merwin and Ulmer have invented (they do sound like a Jewish accounting firm, don't they?).

When I was ten years old, some kids gathered around me in the schoolyard and threw pennies at me. They yelled, "Pick up the penny, Jewboy." I was confused because I didn't know what that meant. Another kid told me that it means that Jews like money. Still confused, I answered, "Doesn't everyone?"

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