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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Excuse me while I pull on my jackboots and invade Poland

Some people mean well, but should really observe a 'cooling off period' - similar to the waiting period many locales require before a person can legally purchase a firearm - before hitting the send button on an email to a total stranger.

Exempli Gratia:

A while back I got an email with the following subject line:  "A surfer with a gripe". 

With that subject the sender was as much as admitting that he wasn't a regular (or even occasional) reader.  He was simply a surfer who had stumbled upon my site and felt compelled (not to mention entitled), to submit a complaint. 

That right there should have been enough to warrant a fast stab at the delete button... but as the name of this site implies, hindsight is my strong suit... not foresight (or whatever kind of sight might entail having the good sense to act wisely at the precise moment a sound decision is required). 

So, having opened the email, here is what I found [with my after-thoughts treppenwitz added in red italics]:

Hi David,

Surely you could have come up with another name for your website, than using a German author.[Um, it's a German word... not a German author, but thanks for getting right down to business without so much as a 'hi, how are you?']  You are Jewish, are you not. [I'll assume that was a question, even though that assumption isn't supported by the correct punctuation]  At least I know you live in Israel. [well played Clouseau!]  You could have called it Hindsight, or something.  [I like that.  I think I'll change the site name to 'something'.  Thanks!]  But to even get one person to look into German literature, well I think your sensitivities are lacking. [Are you suggesting that German literature is the reason so many Jews perished in the Holocaust, and not, say, the rise of Nazi-ism, Adolph Hitler, world apathy/appeasement... or even the Treaty of Versailles?!  Interesting theory.]  I get the feeling you took German in college, and are even proud of that association.  [BZZZT! Oooh, sorry... but thanks for playing.  Just for the record; the sum total of my knowledge of the German language would allow me to politely order between one and nine beers anywhere in Austria, Germany and a sizable chunk of Switzerland.]  Maybe I'm wrong, but for a Jew to flaunt a German banner is much like cutting our legs from under us. [Excellent simile!   Oh wait, you probably weren't trying for a simile there were you?  You almost certainly were going for a metaphor... as in 'Flaunting a German banner cuts the legs out from under your Jewishness'... which doesn't really work either, but hey, at least it isn't likely to make your high school English teacher cry.]

Wishing you the best. [Oh please, that goes without saying.]

BTW, That's a real nice pooch you got. [Uh-uh, No way...  you can't weasel your way into my good graces after a letter like that just by complimenting my dog.  Okay, maybe a little... but that's really not playing fair!]

Since I criticized you, here's your chance to get back at me;  If you visit: http://www.notbloodylikely.blogspot.com/ [If I visit.... what?  What happens if I visit your site?  Oh,I see, you forgot to finish the thought.  Just sort of left it dangling there.  So much for sparing your high school english teacher.  And BTW, that's not really his real URL, I changed it to 'notbloodylikely.blogspot.com... as in not bloody likely that I'm going to give your site free publicity after you were such a complete douche-bag to a perfect stranger]

Kol tuv!

[name withheld to protect the ignorant]

Posted by David Bogner on July 9, 2009 | Permalink

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I guess that confirms it: you're just a typical Zionazi.

Congrats.

;)

Posted by: Mike Miller | Jul 9, 2009 11:19:27 AM

So, is this individual's blog as bad as the e-mail?

Posted by: Safranit | Jul 9, 2009 11:57:51 AM

Ich kann mich nie verstehen diesen Leuter. You might as well never speak any language that existed during WW2, or buy any country's products, as nearly all of them were culpable in some way of the attempted destruction of Jewry. Let's grow up, "the ignorant." (Don't look up my grammar, Bogner. It's been too many years.)

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 9, 2009 2:26:59 PM

I enjoyed your comments. Obviously I am not as popular as you (as if I didn't know this already) since I don't get such friendly and insightful emails.
Der Mann ist an idiot.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Jul 9, 2009 2:35:50 PM

As my German grandma used to say, "Ach tu lieber Gott in himmel".

Posted by: Baila | Jul 9, 2009 3:06:32 PM

So David, what makes you think his mentioning your nice "pooch" was a reference to your dog?

Posted by: Bob | Jul 9, 2009 3:26:55 PM


My English can't be that rotten to not sense an interesting mashup of English words and somehow German punctuation (and syntax), can it.

Posted by: a. | Jul 9, 2009 3:58:36 PM

The one basic error he made is that "Treppenwitz" is not really German. It's Yiddish.
(This comment was intended to be read ironically, not literally.)

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 9, 2009 6:00:04 PM

Did you reply? I get the sense that he (she?) was not so much trying to be obnoxious (though he succeeded admirably), as much as he needed a little education.

(Maybe that's the optimist in me coming out after a few blissful weeks without my students.)

On another note, his command of English and literacy is not as terrible as you might think - if only you saw what high school students in an English-speaking country are capable of writing!

Posted by: Tanya | Jul 9, 2009 7:40:47 PM

A bad case of stupid seems to be going around. I think that I'll use that as the title of my next post. Either way, morons seem to be in abundant supply lately.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 9, 2009 10:12:34 PM

To quote the late Charles M. Schulz, whom I admired (who has a German surname, to boot): Good grief!

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 9, 2009 11:41:56 PM

Whether the name Treppenwitz is German, Yiddish, Judeo-German, or Apikorso-Yiddish, dos iz mir gonz sheiss-egal. I do not read the title alone, I read the posts. Heck, you could've even called it Jameel in the Beis-medresh or Yankie at the Muqata, and it would not change the reason for visiting.

However, if you ever think of renaming the blog, please do consult with me for some dynamite suggestions regarding Dutch terms that would be suitable. To even get one person to look into Netherlandish literature, well I think that would show an amazing surfeit of sensitivity.

By the way - not at all fond of dogs, myself, but for reasons I cannot comprehend, dogs just love me. It can't be just the headscritches and tummy-rubs, maybe it's the way I smell. All smoky and carnivorous. Must be.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Jul 9, 2009 11:53:44 PM

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: What a maroon!

Oh, my... I might wind up reading Schilling, Goethe, or Freud. Of course, there aren't any major Jewish works written in German (Rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch, Raphael Hirsch, Isaac Breuer, et al), or important Jewish historical figures who wrote in German (Rabbis YD Soloveitchik, Yitzchak Hutner, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chaim Heller, Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, Morah Nechama Leibowitz)... I suppose that my local yekke shul and chassidishe shteible should burn their copies of the Rodelheim siddur, with its German instructions (in Fraktur, no less); naturally, also, there aren't any German-speaking Jews currently living in Germany or Switzerland... oh, wait, sorry 'bout that...

The real question is why aren't more Western Jews learning German? The writings of German Orthodox Jews in the late 18th- through early 20th centuries provide tremendous guidelines and food for thought for anyone dealing with the interaction of Jewish and non-Jewish societies and cultures, and while many have been translated, many more have not (and the translations are often abridged, censored, or incomplete).

Grr...

Posted by: efrex | Jul 10, 2009 5:57:21 AM

"When you are a Bear of very little brain and you think of things, you find sometimes that a thing which seems very thing-ish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."

- A.A. Milne -

Posted by: psachya | Jul 10, 2009 9:09:50 AM

Funny Title. Award: 500 quatloos.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jul 10, 2009 9:21:28 AM

I would suggest that yours was a disproportionate reaction to just another blogger seeking reaction to his work. Not unheard of. Almost every blogger has written comments on more successful blogs, hoping some readers would click on the link, and they often try to say something controversial to seize attention. This was a pretty mild case.

You would think that scorn would have no effect on a blogger, since his web name is no more than a simulacrum; most bloggers are anonymous, so why should they care that people berate their writing? But my experience has been that you do feel bad when readers pointedly demonstrate that you've written something foolish.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 10, 2009 4:17:44 PM

I would suggest that yours was a disproportionate reaction

What do you consider proportionate. That is kind of a silly remark, really.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 10, 2009 10:13:47 PM

I see that in an earlier comment you called the writer stupid and a moron. Perhaps calling people douche bags is also part of your repertoire. So, calling my remark 'silly' is practically a compliment. Sorry, I didn't think he deserved the epithets. I probably should have begun my remark to David with "With all due respect." But David is a classic thick-skinned Israeli, (I'm also a Clouseau), and I think he can handle my mild critique.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 10, 2009 10:45:54 PM

yet another accusation that (an) Israeli is using disproportionate response ;o/

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jul 10, 2009 10:50:54 PM

I see that in an earlier comment you called the writer stupid and a moron. Perhaps calling people douche bags is also part of your repertoire. So, calling my remark 'silly' is practically a compliment.

Barzilai,

Reading comprehension is an important skill. I didn't call him either of those things, although I suppose you could infer those things. But I have a strong enough command of the language to be direct. And had I chosen to call the writer those things I would have.

But let's review your remark in which you said that David's reply was disproportionate. I asked you to explain why, provide some context. Instead of doing that you chose to misrepresent what I said, kind of a silly response.

Or maybe I can help you. A disproportionate response would likely include identifying the person/blogger that offended David and a request for the readers (us) to go ridicule him on his blog. But that is not what happened here.

Been nice chatting with you, I have to go club some baby seals now.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 11, 2009 1:54:28 AM

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