Secret Message

April 5, 2012

My original entry was shaping up to be a silly rebuke of gourmet cupcakes, decrying that enormous whorl of icing eclipsing the nub of mealy cake, and then my husband showed me the ghostly word he’d discovered on the backside of the drywall panel separating the doors of our not-quite finished closet: kike.

Scrawled in Sharpie, it appears to have bled through the paint daubed over it, suggesting that it was not meant to be discovered, and yet the slur would not be concealed. Too many people have been in our house recently, contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, etc., for us to have any certainty about the culprit. And the work is not complete, which means he’s likely to return.

This is my first real brush with anti-Semitism. I’m not Jewish, but my husband is, and that’s how we’re raising our sons. I grew up Southern Baptist, but now I am nothing, and the void in my identity suggested by that phrase is not unintentional. I’d like them to be something, though probably not Christian. It’s nothing against Jesus the man; my beef is with Jesus the policy, Jesus the line drawn between saved and damned.

When I was nine I walked to the front of the chapel of my own accord and asked to be baptized in his name. Though my fervor faded, I still love that he radically allied himself with the downtrodden, walking among drunkards and prostitutes. I love that my great-grandmother freely invoked his aid when searching for a parking space. I just can’t think that much else matters beyond acting with kindness, whether per Jesus’ example or someone else’s.

I’m sad and a little queasy thinking that someone in our home, witness to our good little boys at play, noted a telltale symbol here and there or sized up my husband according to some vicious criteria and concluded “kike,” a sentiment so powerful it had to be inscribed.

This close to Passover, I am reminded that the Israelites marked their own houses—in blood, not Sharpie—so that the final, deadly plague would leave them be.



7 Responses to “Secret Message”

  1. Kellie Says:

    I’m appalled and this makes me so sad. You and Scott are the most wonderful people; I feel sad that there are such ignorant and hateful people in the world.

  2. Jeff Says:

    That’s incredibly sad to me and on some level, I’m embarrassed for my fellow non-Jews, though of course I have little in common with the cowardly sharpie wielder. When I was a youth, I was genuinely surprised when I first encountered antisemitism in the form of one of my classmates in junior high calling another a heeb. I didn’t know what it meant or that the target of the racism was even Jewish–not that that matters. What surprised me the most when I learned what the slur meant was the willingness of one human being to be so ugly to another for absolutely no logical reason. I do not like you, not because of some personal characteristic, but because you are one of them. Dumb is the only way to describe that kind of sentiment. On some level, the kind of stupidity expressed by my adolescent classmate is excusable as the ignorance of youth, though he was surely taught his ignorance by an adult who should have known better. For this intruder to your home, there is no excuse, just depressingly moronic dumbness. On behalf of the Goys of the world, I’m sorry you had to experience that.


  3. How disturbing to know someone was in your home and had the gall to write such a disgusting term. Shame on them!

  4. Liz Hollar Says:

    That’s horrible. I am so sorry to hear that.

  5. […] closet currently being built for us by contractors. As usual, the remarkable June Spence has the most appropriate response, but how could I fail to respond […]

  6. Jessica Portnoy Says:

    June and Scott, so sorry you were violated and insulted by someone’s stupidity. Doug and I had a similiar situation, it was horrible!

  7. junecspence Says:

    So many people have reached out to us over these past few days offering their support and love, I am completely humbled. Thank you for the kindness!

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