Joe Ganley
Writing code since 1979
I have been a professional software engineer for over 10 years. I have written many kinds of software, but my particular strengths are interactive graphics applications, compilers and interpreters, and algorithms.

I also enjoy writing, woodworking, and home improvement. Also this.


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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jewish like me

I am not Jewish, but look quite a bit like I am. Once, in 1993 or so, I was on a flight to Chicago. I was in that pair of rows that face each other on certain Southwest flights, and the other five guys in those seats were all friends, and frankly were all obnoxious assholes. I spent the flight reading, but I heard with the small portion of my attention that was listening a variety of off-color jokes and remarks about Jews. I don't remember any of it specifically, but it was definitely nasty enough that I wouldn't repeat it if I did. As I say, these guys were real jerks, so I mostly tried to just focus on my book and tune them out. We landed in Cincinatti, but I was to continue on to Chicago on the same plane, so they got up to leave and I didn't. Just as they started up the aisle, the guy who had been telling most of the jokes caught my eye and said, in a voice dripping with venom, "See you 'round, Hymie." In a rush, their whole conversation replayed in my head, and I realized that all of that bile was aimed at me! I reeled, and unfortunately they were long gone before I could think of a retort, but I felt sick for hours afterward. It isn't exactly
Black Like Me, and it obviously is only a tiny taste of what it must be like to actually be Jewish (much less black or any other minority whose membership is readily apparent), but still I felt like it gave me a small taste of what it is like to be discriminated against. I spent much of my childhood being, essentially, discriminated against for being smart, but this somehow felt very different, and much worse. Even today, twelve years later, it sickens me to think about it; I can only imagine what it must be like to feel like that regularly for your entire life.

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I am likewise not Jewish, but have a common German last name which is usually considered Jewish in the US (not in Germany) -- I routinely get antisemitic garbage in the mail,and Campus Crusade for Christ posts ultimatums that only Christians are real Americans on my office door. When I was in college, I was one of the few people who wore a hat (due to sensitivity to sunstroke dating from heat exhaustion in Asia in the early 70's), and routinely was on the receiving end of antisemitic commments for that too. Anyone who thinks that religious bigotry is dead is dreaming :-(
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