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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: What does it mean to betray?

Benji Schwartz columnist

Columnist Benji Schwartz

Betrayal is all I can seem to do these days — which is odd, because I don’t think of myself as a traitor.

Take David Friedman, our president’s selection for ambassador to Israel, who has said that American Jews who support J Street are worse than the kapos — the Jews who helped the Nazis in their camps.

Or there’s always David Duke, masterful failed politician that he is, who believes that I’m a traitor to all whites for not voting for our current president. Then again, the wise and venerable Duke doesn’t really consider me white anyway, but hey, white I remain.

There are those on the far left who said I betrayed progressivism by voting for Clinton, both in the election and especially during the primary. And then there’s the slightly less-left that believe me to be a traitor for insisting that Nazis have the right to not be assaulted.

These revelations of the depths of my treachery befuddled me to no end — I had never really considered myself part of any group that I could betray by examining my values and reaching my own conclusions.

Now in times of my befuddlement I go to my coping mechanism — history, or with current vernacular in mind, I suppose we should say I betray the present. See, this isn’t the first time my family’s been branded a traitor.

My grandparents were communists back when it wasn’t such a popular ideology. The FBI followed my grandfather and kept some records for “surveillance purposes.” He was a traitor to this country, after all, so why not?

And, if you read my columns, you’ll know my father is a journalist — or an enemy of the American people. I guess I’m just doing a family tradition proud in my constant two-timing.

These reflections, while comforting, helped my befuddlement not in the least — the source of which was the naive belief that people with honest and well-meaning ideas could easily do wrong but could not betray. Oh, for such a time of ignorance.

But now that bliss has ended, and what is there left to do for such a traitorous wretch like me but to offer an apology. Forgive me if it’s a little rough — my time as a traitor to the Jewish faith has left me somewhat unprepared for offering a mea culpa.

So here goes. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that my dedication to the idea of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, means I am for the two-state solution, Mr. Friedman.

I’m sorry that I betrayed my race in the 2016 election because there’s more than one race in this country and I voted with all of them in mind, Mr. Duke.

To the left, I’m sorry that I don’t fall in line with whatever new litmus test you propose each week for the movement’s ideological purity.

And most of all, I’m sorry that this is a conversation and these are accusations hurled around by informed adults.

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