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Posted at 9:33 PM ET, 05/28/2010

Whose 'politics of personal destruction'?

By Vince Rinehart

By Leonard Steinhorn
I wonder if other Post readers caught the irony in a story about Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s choice of former Nixon aide Fred Malek to chair a government reform commission [“McDonnell says he didn’t know of Malek disputes,” Metro, May 26]. When working in President Richard Nixon’s Labor Department, Mr. Malek undertook a minor inquisition against Jewish workers in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiling a list of employees with Jewish-sounding names and singling them out for demotion, which, according to Slate magazine, was “the last recorded act of official anti-Semitism by the United States government.”

Now one of Mr. McDonnell’s defenders, Bobbie Kilberg, claims that those who criticize the governor for his selection of Mr. Malek are practicing “the politics of personal destruction.” So let’s get this straight: In the world according to the McDonnell camp, critics of what Mr. Malek did practice the politics of personal destruction, whereas Mr. Malek gets a pass — and a high-level position reforming government — even after trying to destroy the careers of government workers simply because their names sounded Jewish.

In the memorable words of Lewis Carroll, “it would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”

By Vince Rinehart  | May 28, 2010; 9:33 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, taxes  
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Shortly after I married a man of German heritage, I applied for a secretarial job at an insurance company in Chicago. I got two interviews, and was told in the second interview that they'd love to hire me but they had "filled their quota". I had no idea what the interviewer was talking about, and told him so. He told me, not in the least embarassed, he meant their quota of Jews. I protested that I was not Jewish, to which he replied, "but your name sounds Jewish, and it would make trouble." That was in the late 1950s, about 10 years before the Nixon presidency, and a time when anti-Semitism was apparently still acceptable in Chicago, at least.

Posted by: vklip1 | May 31, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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