Speaking as a [whatever]….


I’ve been thinking a lot about bikes lately. Partly this is because I am riding my own more.

I have two. Which may be one too many, but I can explain. The one shown above — leaning against the clavichord, which occupies the only sunny spot in my apartment — is my dear old fixie, inherited from a pal who traded up. Note the way-cool Brooks leather saddle, and the desperately dorky fender. When it comes to coolth, I cover the waterfront.

Lately however I have been covering the waterfront on this little item:


I got this bike last summer, mainly with the boat in mind. (Note the aluminum frame.) I have had the experience, in the past, of sailing up and down the coast, and finding myself in a marina or at an anchorage which is an inconvenient distance from the nearest grocery store. So having a little bike on board seemed like a good idea. Then the boat sank, leaving me with a boat bike and no boat to put it on.

However the bike has come in handy. I have a day job again, which requires me to cross the Hudson River twice a day. Now I could do this cheaply, by riding the bike down to the World Trade Center and then taking the brutish PATH train over to Joisey. But like Bartleby, I prefer not to. Instead I take the pleasanter (though more expensive) option of riding down to 39th Street and taking the ferry across the river.

Now the ferry people charge you a buck extra to take a full-size bike on board. But not a folding bike! So I can sorta economize, in an overall context of extravagant self-indulgence.

Folding bikes, by the way, have become very popular. Used to be, you hardly ever saw one. Now they’re probably a third or more of the rides I see on my commute.

I’ve also been participating more in my local cyclists’ mailing list. Again, this is partly because I’ve been riding more, and also, partly, because the list has been discussing the Five Borough Bike Tour’s anti-terrorist bag ban, discussed here earlier.

It’s been a lot of fun. There are two or three huffy wet hens with much-ruffled feathers, eager to leap to the defense of the volunteer Gestapo schtick the Tour’s managers have taken on. I’m lazy enough to like an easy target, and boy, do they provide one.

There was, of course, a certain shark — you can probably see this coming — which was bound to be jumped sooner or later. Here’s Comrade Adamantinus, jumping it:

Speaking as a Jew, I find repeated references to the actions of Bike New York being likened to actions taken by Nazis or their Vichy collaborators to be offensive in this “conversation”.

This locution has always puzzled me. Presumably Adamantinus is a Member Of The Tribe, so how else could he speak? I mean, he could hardly speak as a Gentile, could he? Or even as a Gentile does? To be sure, impersonating a Gentile is not a crime, but why would he want to do it?

Rosie O’Donnell, I believe, had a funny line about this: Speaking as a Lesbian, I’d just like to say… pass the salt.

There’s another perplexity. Presumably nobody, Gentile or Jew, likes being compared to a Nazi, or a Vichyssois for that matter. So why Adamantinus seems to think that a Gentile should be happier about it than a Jew baffles the goyische kop of this particular shaygetz.

5 thoughts on “Speaking as a [whatever]….

  1. Come on, you’re being perverse. What Adamantinus means that is that his opinion on rhetorically invoking the Nazis, being that of a Jew, matters more than another person’s might. It’s as if you needed a pull quote on Nazi comparisons, so you polled people until you found a Jew, whose opinion then definitely holds water. He’s Jewish, so you can just shut up with the Gestapo analogy!

    I don’t think it works too well; the Nazis are perceived as being everybody’s at this point. I think a comment by a black American criticizing a casual comparison to slavery, for instance, would get a more sympathetic hearing.

    This rhetorical strategy only works for a few groups. Start a sentence with “Speaking as a socialist” and you likely won’t get to finish it.

    • Took quite a while but –

      GUATEMALA CITY — A Guatemalan court on Friday found Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator who ruled Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

      Moises Castillo/Associated Press
      The verdict marked the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.
      Judge Yasmín Barrios sentenced General Ríos Montt, 86, to 80 years in prison. His co-defendant, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, who served as the director of intelligence under the general, was acquitted of the same two charges.


  2. They tried to talk me in to a folding bike after my single speed Torker was stolen (a flimsy sapling it turns out is not a secure structure) but wasn’t fully sold on the concept, i guess. I can see why they’re handy with small ass New York apartments and the lack of communal space in many buildings.

  3. Speaking as a long time reader of this blog, I am shocked, horrified and outraged by your insensitivity to the Six Million.

    I remember seeing some rabbi on TV complaining that mentioning the other victims of the Holocaust or World War II is anti-Semitic and an attempt to “minimize” the suffering of the Six Million.

    It never occurs to the people stridently gatekeeping Nazi references as a uniquely Jewish franchise or spouting off about the Six Million that they are minimizing the suffering of the other 50-70 million victims of WW II. Why should it? Nazi references are Jewish copyright because Jewish suffering is unique and more important than the sorrows of the lesser races.

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