I know our VP has a tendency to run at the mouth, but this is too much:
Addressing the Legal Services Corporation at its 40th anniversary conference, Biden told his audience that his son Beau had informed him of the financial struggles US soldiers face while serving in Iraq, CNN reported.
“[P]eople would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being…I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas,” the vice president said.
I assume people know the origin of the word “Shylock,” from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (although…). The Shylock character is basically an anti-Semitic caricature, though it says something about Shakespeare that he still has that caricature deliver one of his most powerful soliloquies (“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”), attacking the foundations of anti-Semitism. Still, Shakespeare’s nuanced writing aside, this is one of those terms you just don’t use because it evokes too many awful stereotypes, and there are plenty of other ways to talk about predatory lenders without going where Biden went. Whatever heat Biden is taking over this is well-deserved.
UPDATE: Biden is sorry:
Biden responded in a statement, saying, “Abe Foxman has been a friend and adviser of mine for a long time. He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”