Posted by: Catherine Lugg | April 15, 2011

Taking a bat to a human being

On April 13, NJ Governor Chris Christie denounced NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) for double-dipping, or for receiving her state pension while continuing to draw a salary as a NJ Senator. While such actions are perfectly legal, they are highly controversial, particularly in tight economic times.

But Christie’s comments towards Weinberg were completely over the top. In his presser, he said that the media “should take a bat out” on Weinberg. Weinberg, who was financially wiped out by fraudster Bernie Madoff and who is 76 years old, quickly pointed out that Christie’s words reflected his history of remarkably poor judgement, particularly on women’s issues .

Weinberg is being far too kind. Christie’s words are incitement to violence against an elderly Jewish woman who is a political rival. In the racist rural world in which I was raised, “taking a bat” to someone means beating a human being who belongs to a historically despised minority group (see African Americans, queers, Jews, etc) simply because of their identity. That a sitting governor in the most religiously diverse state in the US is publicly calling for the beating of a female rival who is also a religious minority is appalling beyond belief. He is openly hate mongering against women, the elderly, and Jews. Not to belabor the point, but Christie is calling for the beating of granny.

I’m in the midst of reading Hannah Arendt’s works—all of them–for a major multi-year project. While I’ve not been a fan of my governor, to say the least, I’ve tended to see him as fairly smart conservative pol who makes occasional ventures into buffoonery. But one of Arendt’s central points is that we are all moral actors in the political world. We must think, we must judge, but then we MUST act upon those judgements. Governor Christie has now shown himself to be a hate-monger, one who engages in Arendtian “thoughtlessness” (more on this later). He has invoked the rhetoric of Bull Connor, your local thuggish anti-Semite, and a knuckle-dragging misogynist. Christie’s call to violence against Weinberg MUST be denounced in every corner of NJ as well as across the US. Finally, the state Republican Party should replace him as Governor, for as Arendt would observe, he is manifestly unfit to be a state political leader in a supposedly democratic republic.

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Responses

  1. […] god, I’m living in the land of petty thugs who are elected officials. First Governor Christie wanted reporters to take a bat to Senator Loretta Weinberg and now the NJ Senate President wants to punch the […]


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