FIRST-PERSON: Careless language
Posted on Mar 5, 2008 | by Richard Land
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--It has come to my attention in the last 48 hours that some people were offended by my reference to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as a "schmuck" during the Criswell Lecture Series at Criswell College, Jan. 29-31. In reviewing these criticisms I have learned some consider the word crude, if not obscene. I apologize for my ignorance of that fact. If I had known that, I would never have used the word. I always attempt to avoid crude and offensive language as a matter of conviction.
As Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News has pointed out, the idiom means "jerk," which was my intended usage. I truly apologize to anyone offended by my use of a word they perceived to be crude or obscene. I used the word "schmuck" in my reference to Senator Schumer solely in an attempt to employ a word that alliterated with Schumer's name and describe my perception of his behavior during the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- nothing more!
However, I am deeply offended that anyone would interpret my remarks as anti-Semitic. My entire Christian life I have been taught, and believe, that the Jews are God's chosen people. I have said on dozens of occasions in public that anti-Semitism is the most irrational of prejudices for a Christian, since Jesus our Savior was Himself a Jew. My entire public ministry I have denounced anti-Semitism, and I have sought to combat it wherever and whenever I have encountered it. Anyone who knows me knows this to be true. Once again, as Jeffrey Weis commented, "Elevating a relatively harmless insult into an accusation of anti-Semitism devalues real attacks on Jews and Judaism."
Anti-Semitism is far too dangerous and virulent in our world to tolerate the luxury of such a trivialization going unchallenged.
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.