Eating Chinese Food on Christmas Is a Hate CrimeJim Goad
This Christmas, as hundreds of millions of normal Americans gather around the dinner table to savor their festive baked turkeys and delightful honeyed hams, a stubborn minority of spiteful Semites will dishonor this sacred annual tradition by eating at restaurants owned and operated by godless Chinamen.
This shameful practice is a slap in the face not only to the Baby Jesus but to all of those, believers or not, who celebrate Christmas every year. I don’t feel it is the least bit unfair or hyperbolic to describe this malicious custom as a collective hate crime against those who enjoy Christmas.
With all the kvetching one hears about “anti-Semitism” — and I’ve heard so much that I’ve almost lost my hearing — no mention is ever made of the fact that “Semitism” itself is based on an innately supremacist ideology that implies God didn’t choose anyone besides Jews. Claiming that you’re “God’s chosen people” is about as supremacist and “othering” as an ideology can manage to be. I can’t think of anything more innately supremacist than to say that your superiority comes not from an evolutionary accident but from a deliberate cosmic decision.
“Goyim” is a hateful term that Jews use to defame anyone who’s not a Jew. They’ll say you hate Jews merely if you note that Jews have a hateful term for non-Jews. Sometimes, they make it really difficult to like them. But only a fool or a liar would deny that American culture these days is far more inherently anti-goyimic than it is anti-Semitic.
Apparently some people feel that if you’ve suffered — justifiably or not — justice consists of making everyone within earshot suffer from your endless complaining until their ears start to bleed.
To claim from behind your gated community using your media monopoly as a megaphone that you’ve suffered more than anyone else in history is to be one vain and self-absorbed bastard.
To try to claim a monopoly on human suffering is to be a jerk. It also may lead people to start feeling that you haven’t suffered nearly enough.
The bratty custom of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas received national attention during the 2010 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan. When Lindsey Graham asked Kagan where she’d been on the previous Christmas Day, she said, “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant,” causing the room to break into laughter. After the knowing guffaws had died down, the cartoonishly Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer explained that “No other restaurants are open” on Christmas.
In her essay “Identity Takeout: How American Jews Made Chinese Food Their Ethnic Cuisine,” Hannah Miller writes:
Eating Chinese [food] has become a meaningful symbol of American Judaism. . . . For in eating Chinese, the Jews found a modern means of expressing their traditional cultural values. The savoring of Chinese food is now a ritualized celebration of immigration, education, family, community, and continuity.
The most extensive treatment of the phenomenon of Jews noshing on Chinese food on December 25 is the book A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to Be Jewish by Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, Ph.D. According to its third chapter, “We Eat Chinese Food on Christmas”:
Over the years, Jewish families and friends gather on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Chinese restaurants across the United States to socialize and to banter, to reinforce social and familiar bonds, and to engage in a favorite activity for Jews during the Christmas holiday. The Chinese restaurant has become a place where Jewish identity is made, remade and announced.
Good for Jews that they’re allowed to convene and celebrate their communal identity. It must be nice.
Plaut says that the first mention of American Jews eating Chinese food was in an 1899 issue of The American Hebrew that scolded Jews for eating at non-kosher restaurants, specifically Chinese ones. He says that the first purported mention of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas “dates at least as early as 1935 when The New York Times reported a certain restaurant owner named Eng Shee Chuck who brought chow mein on Christmas Day to the Jewish Children’s Home in Newark.”
As luck would have it, New York’s teeming Jewish ghettos happened to be in close proximity to its teeming Chinese ghettos.
There were plenty of Italian and German restaurants in New York City back then, but both kinds of establishments were likely to feature pictures of Christian icons. And both Italians and Germans, especially beginning in the 1920s, were viewed as aggressively Jew-hostile. Having had almost no historical experience with Jews, Chinese restaurateurs were not saddled with any prejudices — nor postjudices — toward them. And since they were largely not Christian, Chinese immigrants had no reason to celebrate Christmas, either.
Chinese cooking is largely dairy-averse, so there was little risk of mixing meat and dairy, a practice which is said to sorely vex the God of Israel. Jews who ate Chinese food were able to rationalize the fact that they were often eating non-kosher items such as pork and shellfish by the fact that it was chopped up and hidden inside wontons.
But eating egg rolls on December 25 is hardly the first time, or the only way, in which Jews have dishonored Christmas. Hanukkah, traditionally a minor Jewish holiday, was elevated in importance by Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who argued in an 1897 essay called “The Menorah” that to properly respect themselves, Jews should reject Christmas and celebrate Hanukkah. So Hanukkah, at least as it’s celebrated in America, is basically a Zionist “fuck you” to Christmas.
For at least a thousand years prior to the emergence of Chinese restaurants in lower Manhattan, one Jewish custom on Christmas Eve was the reading of the blasphemous Toledot Yeshu, which claims that Jesus was an illegitimate child who was conceived when Mary was raped while menstruating. The segment describing Christ’s conception is said to be so graphic that for years it became a primer on forbidden sexual acts. The Toledot Yeshu says that Jesus grew up to be a philandering practitioner of black magic who was bested by Judas Iscariot in aerial combat and died by being hung on a carob tree.
And let’s not overlook the fact that the Talmud has Jesus boiling in excrement in the afterlife.
In the sake of historical fairness, I’ll note that an essay by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein lists a litany of reasons for Jews to be unfavorably disposed toward Christmas. First off, there’s the insinuation that Christ’s birth renders Judaism obsolete. I can see why they’d resent that. Bookstein alleges that December 25 was chosen as Christ’s birthday because it dovetails with the traditional end of the weeklong pagan holiday of Saturnalia. He says that at the end of Saturnalia in 1466, “Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city.” He says that on Christmas Day in 1881, “Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Anti-Semitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw, 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped.” Bookstein alleges that old Jewish texts from Europe claim that on Christmas Eve, it was customary for European Christians to assault any Jews who dared to venture outside.
But as any student of Logic 101 understands, two wrongs don’t make a right. And things such as blasphemy and hate crimes never happen in a vacuum. They’re all intrinsic parts of age-old historical struggles over land, resources, women, and political power.
The sly genius of terms such as “anti-Semitism,” “misogyny,” and “homophobia” is that they imply there’s absolutely nothing that Jews, women, and homos could possibly do to make people dislike them. The fact that Jews have been mistreated in the past in no way implies they did nothing that would make people want to mistreat them. Likewise, it in no way justifies the fact that their entire ideology is predicated on the same sort of supremacist conceits for which they’re always — and usually without any factual basis — accusing the pale goys of the European diaspora.
C’mon, Jews. It does neither you nor us any good for you to keep tediously proclaiming your “otherness.” Pretend, at least on Christmas Day, that we’re all part of the same team. Leave the egg foo yung in Chinatown where it belongs, and buy yourself a turkey like every other goddamned red-blooded American. I even promise not to force a honeyed ham on you, because that would be anti-Semitic.
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Why is the term ‘Chinaman’ seen as racist and backward while it is still perfectly acceptable to use the terms ‘Irishman’, ‘Frenchman’, ‘Englishman’, etc.? I mean, I think we all know why, but it still sticks out to me.
It’s only racist if you say it while pulling your eyelids to the side.
I’ll never forget, I took a trip to tijuana with a Filipino coworker. The little Mexican boys who beg for money followed us around chanting “chino,chino, chino” which means “Chinese man” while pulling their eyelids to the side.
I agree. Not only is it sexist to refer to all people as a man, there is a wide variety of different types of Chinese people from all over their vast nation. Perhaps we should modernize the name to make it more inclusive. In keeping with current progressive trends, I suggest the gender neutral “Chinx” as the new moniker.
The “man” in Chinaman (or Englishman, etc.) does not mean male, it means person. But I’m being pedantic and you already know this.
We should say ‘Chinaperson’. No-one could object to that.
Don’t be so pessimistic, Middle Class Twit. People could object to it if they only try.
Those lucky slopes. Their restaurants filled to capacity with perpetually put-upon bitchy “oy vey”-ing Chosen Ones honoring a proud holiday tradition borne of spite and self-pity and who are notoriously “rousy tippers.”
Here’s what we think of you and your “peace on earth goodwill toward men” crap.
Everyone have a great Christmas.
“As luck would have it, New York’s teeming Jewish ghettos happened to be in close proximity to its teeming Chinese ghettos.”
FWIW, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the traditional location of filthy tenements housing Jewish flotsam and jetsam (see Henry James’ alarmed descriptions in his The American Scene, which I’ve compared with Lovecraft’s more famous ones in “The Princess and the Maggot” (https://counter-currents.com/2011/10/the-princess-and-the-maggot/) has been almost entirely taken over by Asians, I assume mostly spilling over from the previously merely adjacent Chinatown.
The Toledot passage is not mere scatology, but a direct response to Jesus’ sneer at the Pharisees for washing their hands before eating:
Matthew 15:10-20 AMPC
And Jesus called the people to Him and said to them, Listen and grasp and comprehend this: It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that makes him unclean and defiled, but what comes out of the mouth; this makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. Then the disciples came and said to Him, Do You know that the Pharisees were displeased and offended and indignant when they heard this saying? He answered, Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be torn up by the roots. [Isa. 60:21.] Let them alone and disregard them; they are blind guides and teachers. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch. But Peter said to Him, Explain this proverb (this maxim) to us. And He said, Are you also even yet dull and ignorant [without understanding and unable to put things together]? Do you not see and understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the abdomen and so passes on into the place where discharges are deposited? But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. For out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs) such as murder, adultery, sexual vice, theft, false witnessing, slander, and irreverent speech. These are what make a man unclean and defile [him]; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean or defile [him].”
It’s a remarkable thing that the perfectly reasonable and hygenic practice of washing your hands is denounced merely to provide a pretext to deliver a somewhat perfectionistic spiritual point. OTOH, washing feet, especially black feet, is considered an act of supreme virtue. As the Jews would say, Goyishe kop!
Is that all you gleaned from that scripture, the denouncing of washing one’s hands or food? It doesn’t even look like a denouncement or a disavowal to me, just a response to a neurotic Jewish fixation.
“I’m sure everyone will appreciate your historical point, giving them a greater appreciation of the context of Jesus’ words, and aiding their understanding of both the New Testament and the Talmud. But shouldn’t you also discuss the profound spiritual meaning as well, and your own critique of it?”
“Well, I don’t want to hijack the thread and divert it into a discussion of Christian moral theology. I’ll just mention that it’s rather “perfectionist” and that should be enough for anyone interesting in twenty centuries of theological and inter-faith discussion to get my drift.
[Cue the tubas]
I get your point about mocking the freaks who virtue signal by washing negroes’s feet (the current “pope” included), but Davidcito is correct.
The passage taken from Matthew hardly constitutes a denunciation of pre-meal hygiene. That is a remarkably tendentious interpretation.
Calling hand-washers “hypocrites” seems rather tendentious as well. Rather than just calmly making his point — what’s in the heart is more important that what’s on your hands — Jesus accuses them of being whited sepultures, filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanliness, etc. This kind of irrelevant, ad hominem attack is exactly what led Stephen to become the first martyr.
Anyhoo, the snow emergency here in Stars Hollow is keeping me indoors, and on further review it looks like far fewer Christians have taken the tendentious route than I supposed — most likely children with dirty hands. This nice Sunday School teacher explains that “Jesus wants you to do both.”
In my day, they used dirty milk bottles, not Pepsi and Mentos, but her students apparently know Greek, so who am I to question her? Now I repent myself, amidst the buckets under my half dozen or so leaks.
If I recall correctly, the Toledot Yeshu also features an amusing Harry Potter style duel of sorcery between ‘Yeshu’ (the thinly disguised Jesus of Nazareth) and Judas Iscariot before the court of Pontius Pilate. Judas emerges the victor when both sorcerers transform into birds and he ‘defiles’ (defacates upon) Yeshu. The text really does deserve to be better known! It must of course be seen as a satirical riposte to Christian persecution of Jews, and I suppose it could be held that in elevating an errant member of that tribe to their deity, the Christians created an ‘open goal’.
Why aren’t Jewish restaurants and delis open on Christmas Day?
Great question. Maybe they are. Or maybe their customers are largely Christmas celebrators, so there’s no profit in being open. There is something lugubrious and even racist about the narrative that Jews can’t find decent food on Christmas and are thus victimized by eating Chinese. So yes, it is a fair question if Jewish eateries do good business on Christmas.
They’re closed now or I would call and ask them but it looks like they’re open every day. Hymie’s. No, really. Pretty famous.
Hymie’s is open.
There’s a couple Jewish corned beef spots in cle that are certainly closed Christmas Day. Jews love Christmas, especially for all the retail sales at their businesses
The answer before my eyes the whole time. Many members of the tribe cleverly embrace being generically white if it seems there may be too much Jewishness afoot. But if they risk being sacked or critiqued, they morph into an oppressed Jewish member. Perhaps I need to find my inner ruach to call upon in such instances. It seems so many of us are a minimum 2% Jewish on 23 and Me genetic tests. TV show Seinfeld anticipated the woes of modern comedy when a goyim dentist (Bryan Cranston) converts to Judaism to be able to tell Jewish jokes. Give me a slice of challah with my ham, latke with my bacon and some 2% fringe benefits. Did you hear the one about when the rabbi, the priest and the altar boy went to sit on Santa’s lap?
Conversely when there is too much gentile stuff going on, I.e. Christmas, then it is time for the Jewish schtick of eating Chinese food and a day of no Torah study.
The Chinese have the only decent restaurant in my village. They even hire White people from time to time. In a act of perversity, I made a point of going to the store for pickup when every clown was whining about ‘wuflu’. No hysteria is going to keep me from my orange beef.
I never knew about the Jew thing eating Chinese food on Christmas until recently. It’s an affront I can live with. When I first moved to Boston in 1985, I wanted to chuck the Thanksgiving thing and had Thanksgiving dinner at a Pakistani restaurant in Central Square, and had a very enjoyable meal; it was nice substituting a mango milkshake for pumpkin pie. A lively crowd of Pakis and students helped as well.
I always make a roast for Christmas. Partly this came when my mother finally said she couldn’t handle the turkey dinner anymore, I told her roast beef is very English and actually predates turkey. She fixed roasts thereafter and was very happy, and I do this. The English tradition is true, although they, like the germans, prefer goose for Christmas dinner. I wouldn’t mind having goose. It looks like it would taste good, and I see enough of those damned, obnoxious geese around here, now a protected species. I think wiping them out for the sake of a good Christmas feed has its points.
I noticed on a lot of Seinfeld episodes the gang eats Chinese, but it always gets them in trouble. There was a communist who dated Elaine, and ate at a Chinese place because during the McCarthy period, his father and his fellow reds (Jews?) ate there to plan. Of course Elaine screws it up, ticks off the owner, and gets the communist blacklisted by the restaurant.
I always wondered why “Chinaman” is offensive. My mother always referred totem as “them Chungkings.” So there.
Goose is amazing. Goose breast has the texture amd taste of a well marbled ribeye and the fat around the breast has a taste very similar to bacon.
Jewish custom on Christmas Eve was the reading of the blasphemous “Toledot Yeshu”
In Did Jesus Live 100 BC?, Theosophist G.R.S. Mead argued that Toledot Yeshu contained some authentic material, whereas the Gospel accounts were just late fabrications. Although dismissed by mainstream scholars, the thesis might pique the interest of Dan Brown.
Goose, not turkey.
Loved you in Supervixens.
Great column from Goad. It’s so true. Many decades ago, I was involved in a Jewish wedding scheduled for Christmas Day. I was the only goy actually in the ceremony, and I may well have been the only one at the wedding at all (I cannot recall any others offhand). This scheduling was not meant as a sign of any kind of blatant anti-goyimism, but rather, something more amusing: my friend the groom told me (without a trace of self-consciousness or even knowing humor) that there would be extensive tax advantages if he could get married before the end of that calendar year; also, there was some kind of catering discount for Christmas Day weddings (it was a kosher caterer, of course). The bachelor party was two nights prior to the wedding. On the night (Christmas Eve) before the blessed event, sure enough, a huge party of us ate at an upscale Chinese restaurant. I had no idea this was a Jewish-American tradition. It just seemed totally natural and appropriate at the time.
I don’t know. I think observant Jews being all gung ho celebrating Christmas complete with ugly sweaters and Christmas carols would be just as cringe as evangelical Christians putting on passover seders and having Isreali flags in their churches.
The Chinese food and a movie is their unique way of vicariously enjoying Christmas without enjoying it. It is sort of subversive but also not in that there is a sort of celebratory element to it. It’d be different if a group of Ashenazi subversives were outside a Church during Christmas services flagellating themselves like shi’ite Muslims during Ashura. On a personal note, we once had gourmet Chinese food for Thanskgiving. While not the traditional means of observing the holiday it was nonetheless a tasty and memorable meal.
But going back to Jews and holiday observance; perhaps there is merit to the various laws and debates in the Talmud pertaining to how to observe x holiday given Mr. Goad’s grievance with the Chinese food. Chinese takeout as a Christmas meal isn’t a serious Christmas meal just like blowing a kazoo would not be considered a serious sounding of the shofar for rosh hashana. There is a Jewish comedian that does a piece about what if Christmas was in the Talmud. There would be all these arguements about what constitutes a proper Chirstmas tree, etc.
“So Hanukkah, at least as it’s celebrated in America, is basically a Zionist ‘fuck you’ to Christmas.”
Nowadays the U.N. is different, but there was a time — back in 1975 — when I respected its “fuck you” stance to Zionism.
What If we do japanese food instead?
“God’s chosen people” just means Jews were the original monotheists. But you knew that already.
Zoroastrians were the original monotheists.
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