In a 1966 interview, John Lennon of The Beatles shared his views on religion with journalist Maureen Cleave stating, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that: I’m right, and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus right now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ’n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twist it that ruins it for me.”
The quote, originally published in London’s Evening Standard would resurface in the months to follow, making their way over to the United States where they would inspire rabid anti-Beatle sentiment, especially in Christian communities.
While modern pop culture has had an antagonistic relationship with religion (to say the least), it’s fair to point out that religion just might have been the very first example of ‘pop culture.’ It is, after all the opiate of the masses. That said, most organized religions tend to be territorial of their ideologies and the real estate that they hold in the minds and hearts of their followers. That said, any cultural or commercial appropriation of, or challenge against, those ideologies is usually met with aggressive backlash. Don’t even get me started on political conflicts. You’ve heard of The Crusades haven’t you (or the vast majority of wars fought throughout history)?
And while not all religion-fueled conflicts result in widespread bloody catastrophe, the connective nature of our society delivers so many of them to our proverbial doorstep (or into our newsfeeds) making them part of our daily lives. No, we’re not talking about the long-simmering and now raging debate over the treatment of illegal immigrants or the seeking of asylum. No. We’re talking about the kind of conflict that blindsided us the first time we scrolled past a headline. And that’s exactly what happened when we found out the Jews were coming for Ford.
Recently Ford Motor Company had announced that they’d be purging their lineup of cars (aside from the iconic Mustang) to make room for more innovative offerings. Admittedly, their cars had begun to feel dated and unrelatable, so it was a prudent decision, even if it reeked of self-resentment. This was, of course, the first stone cast.
Now, there are rumors that the lineup of Ford SUVs will also receive a significant overhaul. According to acclaimed author, Rabbi Avi Yosef, this is the second stone cast. “The Jewish community is rich,” he began, “in terms of our combined experiences, our shared suffering, and the losses we have suffered. In the history of man, no peoples of another religion or geographical origin has withstood such anguish. But God has a design, and through the circumstances that we endure, we enact the edict of God. In return, God blesses the Jewish people with exclusive right over self-loathing.”
And while Rabbi Yosef blames Ford for casting the first two stones of the conflict, only he can take responsibility for declaring war. Having taken to Twitter, he posted, “צו האַס זיך איז געטלעך.
(To hate oneself is divine) יהודים זענען די מענטשן פון גאָט (Jews are the people of God)”. The post was largely supporting by the self-effacing community that Rabbi Yosef represents. However it was accompanied by the hashtag “#Ford #MaynBobesTam,” the translation of which implies, loosely, “Ford is my grandmother’s taste.” While there was no clear correlation between the post and hashtags, no-one questioned it. After all, we all have that one friend or relative who uses hashtags like a developmentally-challenged hillbilly.
It was only when he repeated the same Tweet, adding the hashtags #EydishKulturTif (Jewish Culture Thief) #AMessaMasheeAfDeer (a Yiddish threat of violent death) that the message became clear: Rabbi Avi Yosef was waging war on Ford, based on his belief that self-loathing was the exclusive property of the Jewish community.
Proving largely divisive within such a predominantly affluent and influential group, the Jewish community is split. While half are threatening a global boycott of Ford products, the other half are unaffected having realized that Jews don’t drive Fords. Well, except for one New Hampshire man who just bought a Raptor, but he’s only half-Jew…and from New Hampshire.