My Interview With David Blumberg–Continued

I had the pleasure recently of interviewing financier David Blumberg.

David and his partner Michal happen to be gay. They also happen to be Jewish. Michal happens to be French. They happen to live in San Francisco.

What is extraordinary is that based on everything else, they do not fit neatly into a stereotypical box. They are proud republicans.

They are also proud Jews, and I hope that they and all the Jews of the world are enjoying a sobering and peaceful Rosh Hashanah. Today is also the culmination of Ramadan, as Muslims celebrate with Iftar dinners fit for kings. So Happy Holidays to those celebrating, as I take a two day vacation from politics.

Below is the second part of my three part interview with David Blumberg.

2) Are you “religious?” Is San Francisco as secular a city as it is made out to be? Do you feel some San Franciscans unfairly consider all religion to be equated with zealotry and intolerance?

My partner and I live a reasonably traditional, but not orthodox Jewish lifestyle. We belong to Congregation Emanu-el in San Francisco. We celebrate the Jewish holidays including Shabbat and are actively involved in the community through educational, civic and philanthropic endeavors. We are strongly identified with Israel and travel there regularly. We will raise our children with a strong Jewish identity and an organic connection to Israel.

When growing up in Fresno, California, I was impressed by the vibrant and diverse religious life of the community. Most of my friends in Fresno were active in their churches and most my Jewish friends were active in our Synagogue. We shared their holidays and they shared ours. In contrast, San Francisco is a very secular city. A seeming majority profess they are non-religious and are somewhat hostile to organized religion (except Buddhism) in general and to Evangelical Christianity in particular. In contrast, I respect and appreciate the Evangelical community. They are stalwart, patriotic Americans, friends of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. I know many Evangelicals, and while we may disagree on some issues, they are unfailingly respectful, polite and reasonable. I greatly appreciate their true love of the Jewish People and Israel. Sadly their views are poorly understood by most Jews and most of the secular community.

I have many deeply religious Jewish and Christian friends and none of them abandoned me when I came out as gay. They were respectful and have remained true friends despite theological condemnation of my orientation by their denomination. On the other hand since becoming a Republican, I have lost a number of long-time friends and had many unpleasant conversations and arguments with “Progressives” and so called “tolerant Liberals”. It is been far more difficult, painful and even dangerous to come out as a Republican among SF Liberals than to identify as a gay man to my Evangelical Christian and Orthodox Jewish Republican friends.

Sadly, the equation of Christian religion with zealotry is widespread. Like Dennis Prager, I think America is a better country when it is more religious and it is specifically better for Jews and other minority religions. I think the greater and growing danger is pervasive, dogmatic secularism of the sort pitched by Jeff Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris in their recent books attacking faith and religion. That type of radical, intolerant secularism is pushed by the ACLU and its various allies on the political Left. I try to make a point of thanking Christians for their support of the Jewish People and Israel at Jewish Community events. Sometimes I am looked at strangely, but more often than not, I also have fellow Jews come over and say, “Thanks for making that important point.” So I am hopeful for the future. I know that as the Jewish Community becomes more observant and the proportion of Orthodox grows, the relations with Evangelicals will improve. It is the secular Jews who have the most difficulty accepting and getting along with Religious Christians. I wish it weren’t so, but demographic changes are already making inroads.

3) You and your partner are Jewish, gay, republican men in San Francisco, and one of you is French. Do you face intolerance or bigotry, and is this from those on the right objecting to your being gay, or those on the left objecting to your being republican?

We have rarely faced bigotry from being gay anywhere in the US. We were called fags once in liberal, beautiful, buccolic Bolinas, CA were threatened in the Russian River, CA and faced real discrimination in Sharm-el Shaikh, Egypt, but we haven’t experienced much other in the way of anti-gay comments or problems. On the other hand, we regularly hear anti-Republican, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-business sentiments in SF and most wealthy urban centers.

4) How big a role does the gay marriage issue loom for you? What do you think of the marriages performed by Gavin Newsom? Some claim that it created a backlash, because the marriages were illegal. Is this valid, or cover for bigotry?

We think support for families with children is a good and worthy goal of society and government. We think that supporting equal financial, housing and medical rights for all couples is also important. We are not dogmatic about the term “Marriage” per se. I think overall it is a good goal, but I would like it to be approached by persuasion and through the legislative process, not to be imposed by judicial fiat. I am a follower of Edmund Burke, the UK politician and philosopher of the late 18th and early 19th century. He argued that social change needs to come first and then political change would follow naturally and organically without popular resentment. In contrast, when social change is imposed from the top as it was in gay marriage in Massachusetts, Row vs. Wade and similar cases, it inspires protest and backlash.

5) How do you want to be seen? As a Jewish person, or a person who happens to be Jewish? A gay person, or a person who happens to be gay? A republican, or a person who happens to be republican? Should these categories define you or be peripheral?

I think those categories are and should be peripheral.

6) In 1996 Bob Dole’s campaign returned a check from the Log Cabin Republicans, stating that the group did not adhere to republican beliefs. The group incredulously and correctly stated that their beliefs included lower taxes and less government. What political issues are most important to you?

I think Dole made a great mistake then and I think the lesson has been learned. I believe national security and a strong economy trump the social issues in a Presidential election. The President has real authority over the former and very little to clout regarding the later.

7) Has your partner faced any Anti-French hostility, and has that lessened since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy?

Yes (minor) and yes.

Tomorrow I will bring the conclusion to my three part interview with financier David Blumberg.

eric

14 Responses to “My Interview With David Blumberg–Continued”

  1. “organized religion (except Buddhism)”

    Buddhism is neither organized nor a religion, but I’ll say this: the form of Buddhism practiced by the yuppies on the West coast is a bit of a joke. I know. I spent quite a bit of time with them when I lived in L.A.. I had the pleasure of visiting the big temple down in Rancho Cucamunga – with all movie and television stars and yuppies with their Benz’s and Beemers chnating for wealth and success and lower alimony without a clue in the universe what Buddhism is all about. Silly bunch. Prosperity Buddhism is just as insipid and phony as Christian Prosperity Theology.

    “I respect and appreciate the Evangelical community. They are stalwart, patriotic Americans, friends of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. I know many Evangelicals, and while we may disagree on some issues, they are unfailingly respectful, polite and reasonable. I greatly appreciate their true love of the Jewish People and Israel. Sadly their views are poorly understood by most Jews and most of the secular community.”

    Wow. I could probaly think of at least a dozen things wrong with this statement. let’s just take a few…

    1: Evangelicals are to “friends of freedom” what Chinese hebalists are to “friends of black bear gall bladders.” No group in America is more authoritarian than Evangelicals – the rightwing ones, anyway, who are the majority of them today. If Evangelicals had their way, your Jewish children would be taught that homosexuals are abominations, Jews murdered Christ and will all go to Hell if never converted , and be made to say, or at least tolerate, Christian prayers in their classrooms at school. Oh, and if your daughter ever gets… well, you know… then expect to be the grandfather of a rapist’s child.

    2: Evangelicals are to “unfailingly respectful” what Fox “News” is to “Fair and Balanced.” They are about the most foul-mouthed, bigotted, prejudiced, nasty people you’d ever want to meet. You obviously just haven’t had the distinct displeasure of seeing them in their private natural habitat – and that gets to this…

    3: ” their true love of the Jewish People”

    Wow. Wanna buy a bridge? They HATE Jews. They only tolerate you in the vain hope that one day a united Samaria and Judea will bring forth a second coming of Christ at whic htime they will all be saved and you will be “left behind” with only Hell to look forward to. Yeah, they truly “love” you alright…

    Nonsense. You guys are living in a dream world. Lucky you don’t live in Jesusland – then you’d find out what most Evangelicals really think of you.

    JMJ

  2. […] My Interview With David Blumberg–Continued […]

  3. parrothead says:

    Jersey you are completely wrong about the evangelicals. Especially with regard to Jews. I have always found Evangelicals and Religious Mormons to be more respectful of my level religiosity and dietary concerns than my Jewish friends who are less so. I have lived most of my life in areas where Jews are scarce and not very religious with lots of intermarriage.

  4. Parrot, let me clear two points up here.

    Judaism is a foundational theology of the Mormons while the founding theology of Evangelicals is to convert ALL peoples to Christianity. That’s a pretty big difference. You can’t lump Mormons in with Evangelical Protestants. It’s inane. In fact, you can’t even lump all Evangelical Protestants together, but they all do have a few things in common theologically: being “born-again” and a focus on the miracles, crucifixion and ressurection of the Christ. From there, Evangelicals diverge. Some put a heavy emphasis on Matthew and John and Revelation, some more on Luke and Mark, most avoid Paul, some are conservative, some are liberal, some focus on politics and hot button social issues, some avoid such issues like the plague, some are literalists, some are scripturalists, some preach Prosperity theology, some don’t, etc. The largest block of Evangelical Protestants, in fact a majority of them in America all told, are conservative, literalist, and apocalyptic. The apocalyptic aspect is what has brought these folks to a historically new and unique relationship with Judaism.

    About 60% of American Evangelicals believe that the Christ is coming back soon and that Israel will accomodate and facilitate that occurance. So, that means that 60% of these people are complete morons, as opposed to the other 40% who are just partial morons. Why you guys would want to associate yourselves with these loony idiots is beyond me anyway, but I digress. These deranged buffoons believe that a new temple will be constructed in Israel, though why that would happen is beyond me as from what I understand the Arc of the Covenant is no where to be found these days. These people also believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old, dinosaurs with teeth the size of compact cars were vegetarians, the Grand Canyon was formed in a matter of days, the entire world in fact did flood one day even though there’s not enough water on the face of it to flood it, that there are people that have lived up to 600 years, etc. They believe in the literal inerrancy of Bible. They are dangerous screwballs.

    They are also hypocrites and phonies. Their “theology,” be that as it may, selectively takes what it wants from the Bible and disregards the rest. They take a Levitican and Paulist view of homosexuality, and otherwise disregard Leviticus and Paul. They completely invent out of whole cloth prosperity theology and their views on abortion, as neiter can be faithfully construed from the Bible, ostensibly through scripturalism, and otherwise disregard scripturalism for literalism. They put a heavy emphasis on the miracles, death and ressurection of the Christ, and practically no emphasis whatsoever on what the Christ allegedly actually said about anything other than his deity. Again, why you guys would want to assoctiate yourselves with people like this is beyond me. But there’s one last thing to consider…

    Evangelicals, particularly of the conservative variety, strongly and firmly believe that all Jews, in particular, must be converted and that this is a central tenet of their faith. If you read this now rather infamous statement from the Evangelical community earlier this year (http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/view.htm?id=1732) you’ll note a paradoxical but telling item: “We believe that it is only through Jesus that all people can receive eternal life. If Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, He cannot be the Savior of the World.” This means these people believe that all Jews MUST be converted for Jesus to return, that Jesus is returning soon, and so therefore Jews must all be converted soon.

    This Evangelical love affair with the Jews is a recent phenomenon. It has to do with the rise of the latest revival of the past thirty years. It took about 100 years to get American evangelicals to buy into a respect for Jews, and it was grudgingly at that. Though theologically, Evangelicals believe the covenant remains in place for Jews, they also see Jews as a means to an end, and that most Jews will be persecuted and killed before Heavan and Earth are once agan one. But conservative Americas, prior to their conversions to Evangelism, culturally saw Jews as about the worst people on the face of the Earth. That’s the reason we couldn’t take in the refugees after WWII, and why Truman took so much flak for recognizing Israel. These people believed all sorts of crazy notions about Jews and Zionism, thinking that all Jews were secret Zioinists, that the “Protocols” were actually true, and that Jews in general were cheap, scheming, malevolent little demons to be avoided. Now that these Evangelicals see a use for the Jews, they tolerate them. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the age-old animosity of the Jews by the conservative WASPs was simply washed away. It just has a new “loving” facade.

    One last point: A lot of people will say one thing amongst themselves and another amongst others. These people, for the most part, still believe the worst stereotypes about Jews, let alone other minorities. So, just because they smile for you, don’t think they sneer at you behind your back. Don’t be a fool, Parrot. People don’t change that easily, even fickle morons like Evangelicals.

    JMJ

  5. Laree says:

    Eric

    Imus in the Morning Lou Dobbs Interview why we don’t want a 700 Billion Dollar WallStreet Bail Out. Why not solve the problem the way we always do?

    Great interview worth listening to here:

    http://www.wabcradio.com/Article.asp?id=913480&spid=22807

  6. Laree says:

    Can Gwen Ifill be impartial neutral and unbiased? Imus has his doubts.

    http://imustimes.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/imus-questions-ifills-veracity/

  7. LAree, you cons have no one to blame but yourselves for why we now need this bailout. And Gwen Ifill is one of the finest newscasters in the business. Lou Dobbs is a pandering, demagoguing joke, and the Don Imus/Gwen Ifill flap came over something Lars-Erik Nelson told Ifill about something Imus has said. She was only repeating what was told to her. Imus is just a self-promoting hack. He’s not even funny.

    JMJ

  8. Laree says:

    “Sarah Freakin Palin” has her own Song and it is free for download here it is pretty catchy.

    http://www.myspace.com/jayspeight

  9. Micky 2 says:

    My back hurts, so I’ll be out of it for a day or two until we decide on a medication thats safe for a hope to die junkie/alcoholic like myself.
    But until I return I just have to point the biggest line of crap that can be said about this mess.
    JMJ:
    “LAree, you cons have no one to blame but yourselves for why we now need this bailout.”

    Theres enough blame to go around that even a kindergartener could point it out.

    🙂

  10. hey Micky, have you tried those lidocaine patches? Helps my back like you wouldn’t believe.

    JMJ

  11. Micky 2 says:

    Lidocain patches for me are like ants on Mt. Everest. Tried em a while back.
    Got two slipped discs and four pinched nerves.
    The surgery is a crap shoot 50/50. I could end up in a wheel chair or be free of meds forever.
    Right now were talking and extended release morphine with a detox protocol if ever needed.
    Yahooeee.

  12. Oh, I see. Have you tried any alternative stuff like accupuncture an such?

    JMJ

  13. Micky 2 says:

    Typical liberal.
    This calls for real sh*t.

  14. Yeah, well this “tupical liberal” suffers a lot of pain too, Micky – and I don’t take anything for it because I don’t like pills, and now that I stopped drinking, I just grin and bear it. I don’t even take pain killers after surgery and I’ve had quite a few of those too. Remember, pain is in fact, after all, all in your head.

    JMJ

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